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Old May 20, 2013, 09:53 PM   #1
fragtagninja
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In need of tips

Hello everyone I am sort of a new shooter looking to improve my aim. I do not have the money to seek pro help at this time, but don't want to stop progressing. So here is where I am at. As a kid a spent a lot of time shooting my dad's compound bow, my pellet guns, and my dad's long guns. I shot his .243 rifle and 12ga shot guns, and he once let me shoot his 9mm pistol. It has been years and my handgun time was limited to the one 9mm experience. I recently purchased a .40 S&W Sig and love it. That said I'm more accurate with my friends .45ACP than I am with my own gun. I am using a modern shooting stance with my feet shoulder width apart, knees bent, weight forward, elbows out, and wrists fairly tight with the thumbs forward grip. I'm not terrible and doing pretty well with it, but I'm having trouble learning how to increase my target acquisition speed, and recoil control. Part of the reason I purchased the .40 is because of its snappy recoil reputation. I figure if I start with something higher then I will be able to shoot almost anything later. Indeed the .45acp is much easier to manage. I also intend to purchase an alt .357 sig barrel since they are interchangeable on the 229. Any advice besides dry fire? I have been practicing this as well when I get the chance and it is helping, but the big thing right now I'm looking for is faster sighting after firing and reducing the muzzle flip. I am also working on riding the trigger. Practicing dry fire with an empty casing on my front site combined has done wonders for my trigger control especially combined with the long DA trigger mode on my sig. Still I feel like there is something I am missing. Do I just need to be patient? or are there some other things I can do to improve?


Thanks in advance guys. You are always very helpful.
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Old May 20, 2013, 11:36 PM   #2
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I suppose you could look for some milder target loads and try working with them for awhile. I think Winchester makes some and this might allow you to get better accustomed to the gun. Some people also feel like installing a different set of grips improves their ability to manage recoil.

I shoot a good bit of .40S&W and sometimes I think all this talk about the “terrible” recoil is a bit overstated. However, based on your experiences I suppose we can see even some urban legends are based in just a little reality.
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Old May 20, 2013, 11:39 PM   #3
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Dry fire every day. Set aside 15 minutes and dry fire 30 times to the best of your ability. Focus on keeping the front sight still as you press, and as the trigger breaks.
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Old May 21, 2013, 12:53 AM   #4
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Yes dry fire! Also get some snap caps (3-4) and a hand full of bullets. Don't look and mix bullets with caps and fill mags. Does wonders when shooting and you will surely see if your pulling off on your trigger. As far as your speed, slower and smooth=faster. If that makes sense. Also grip your pistol as high as can for less muzzle flip.
I also agree that the 40 is so over blown up about recoil.
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Old May 21, 2013, 10:28 AM   #5
Frank Ettin
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  1. I'll warn you that I'm a big proponent of good professional training. Among other things, there is really no good substitute for a qualified instructor watching what you are doing and coaching you based on what he sees. Remember that practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

  2. Practice also makes permanent. If you keep practicing doing something wrong, you will become an expert at doing it wrong. So some good training shows you what to practice and how to practice it. It thus helps you avoid bad habits which later on can be an awful hassle to try to correct.

  3. Before one worries about shooting quickly, it's best to be solidly grounded in the fundamentals. The first principle of accurate shooting is trigger control: a smooth, press straight back on the trigger with only the trigger finger moving. Maintain your focus on the front sight as you press the trigger, increasing pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks. Don't try to predict exactly when the gun will go off nor try to cause the shot to break at a particular moment. This is what Jeff Cooper called the "surprise break."

    By keeping focus on the front sight and increasing pressure on the trigger until the gun essentially shoots itself, you don’t anticipate the shot breaking. But if you try to make the shot break at that one instant in time when everything seem steady and aligned, you usually wind up jerking the trigger. Of course the gun will wobble some on the target. Try not to worry about the wobble and don’t worry about trying to keep the sight aligned on a single point. Just let the front sight be somewhere in a small, imaginary box in the center of the target.

    Also, work on follow through. Be aware of where on the target the front sight is as the shot breaks and watch the front sight lift off that point as the gun recoils – all the time maintaining focus on the front sight.

  4. Practice deliberately, making every shot count, to program good habits and muscle memory. Dry practice is very helpful. You just want to triple check that the gun is not loaded, and there should be no ammunition anywhere around. When engaging in dry practice, religiously follow Rule 2 - Never Let Your Muzzle Cover Anything You Are Not Willing To Destroy." As you dry fire, you want to reach the point where you can't see any movement of the sight as the sear releases and the hammer falls.

  5. Think: front sight, press, surprise.

  6. To get faster you'll want to be able to perform the fundamentals reflexively, on demand without conscious thought. You do that by practicing them slowly to develop smoothness. Then smooth becomes fast.

    1. It may help to understand the way humans learn a physical skill. In learning a physical skill, we all go through a four step process:

      1. unconscious incompetence, we can't do something and we don't even know how to do it;

      2. conscious incompetence, we can't physically do something even though we know in our mind how to do it;

      3. conscious competence, we know how to do something but can only do it right if we concentrate on doing it properly; and

      4. unconscious competence, at this final stage we know how to do something and can do it reflexively (as second nature) on demand without having to think about it.

    2. To get to the third stage, you need to think through the physical task consciously in order to do it perfectly. You need to start slow; one must walk before he can run. The key here is going slow so that you can perform each repetition properly and smoothly. Don't try to be fast. Try to be smooth. Now here's the kicker: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. You are trying to program your body to perform each of the components of the task properly and efficiently. As the programing takes, you get smoother; and as you get smoother you get more efficient and more sure, and therefore, faster.

    3. I have in fact seen this over and over, both in the classes I've been in and with students that I've helped train. Start slow, consciously doing the physical act smoothly. You start to get smooth, and as you get smooth your pace will start to pick up. And about now, you will have reached the stage of conscious competence. You can do something properly and well as long as you think about it.

    4. To go from conscious competence to the final stage, unconscious competence, is usually thought to take around 5,000 good repetitions. The good news is that dry practice will count. The bad news is that poor repetitions don't count and can set you back. You need to work at this to get good.

    5. If one has reached the stage of unconscious competence as far as trigger control is concerned, he will be able to consistently execute a proper, controlled trigger press quickly and without conscious thought. Of course one needs to practice regularly and properly to maintain proficiency, but it's easier to maintain it once achieved than it was to first achieve it.

    6. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

  7. Also, part of learning to shoot faster is pushing yourself a little beyond your comfort level. Start by shooting at your comfortable pace, then pick up the pace a little. Your groups will open up some, but accept that. And don't go so fast that the groups are opening up too much. The finish by slowing up a bit to tighten your groups to where they were before. You'll be increasing your speed in manageable increments.

    1. Do a lot of dry fire to build excellent trigger control. Excellent trigger control is critical. Conclude practice with a little slow fire to reinforce trigger control.

    2. Also practice your presentation so that when you have brought your gun up the sights are aligned. At that point your using the sight picture to confirm sight alignment; you're not aiming. That's the "flash sight picture." Here's how Greg Morrison describes the flash sight picture (Morrison, Gregory, The Modern Technique of the Pistol, Gunsite Press, 1991, pp 87 - 88, emphasis added):
      Quote:
      ...The flash sight-picture involves a glimpse of the sight-picture sufficient to confirm alignment....The target shooter’s gaze at the front sight has proven inappropriate for the bulk of pistolfighting. However, the practical shooter must start at this level and work up to the flash, which becomes reflexive as motor skills are refined. With practice, a consistent firing platform and firing stroke align the sights effortlessly. This index to the target eventually becomes an instantaneous confirmation of the sight-picture.

      ...Using the flash sight-picture programs the reflex of aligning the weapon’s sights with the target instantly....There is good reason for sights: one needs them to align the barrel with the target reliably....
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Old May 21, 2013, 10:35 AM   #6
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To simplify point 1 of Frank's post:

Upgrade the software (your head) before you upgrade your hardware.

Set aside $10 a week...or instead of buying 2 boxes of ammo, buy 1 and put the other $20 away until you have enough for some kind of training. Where I live I got 15 hours of defensive handgun instruction (over 3 days) for $150. We went through a few hundred rounds over that time. Every aspect of my shooting got better as a result of that training.

The three hundred rounds I fired during those 15 hours were more beneficial than the 2000 rounds I fired before that. There is no substitute for professional instruction. Save up for it, you won't be disappointed.
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Old May 21, 2013, 10:36 AM   #7
Brian Pfleuger
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Those first 5 points listed by Frank are essential in any sort of accuracy task.

I always say "Practice makes habit." It doesn't make you "good" at anything, except what you're practicing doing. In other words, if you're doing something wrong, you're going to get REALLY GOOD at doing the WRONG thing. As a result, you might eventually progress to the point where you are very, very consistently mediocre. Somewhat amusingly, you might be convinced by this that you're actually "good", because compared to most folks, who are at best INCONSISTENTLY mediocre, you WILL be good.... Alas, you'll be the proverbial "Big Fish in a Small Pond."

If you want to genuinely be good, you need to practice the RIGHT skills, and Frank has the treatise on that, above.
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Old May 21, 2013, 03:07 PM   #8
fragtagninja
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Thanks guys. I really am very happy with the pistol. I am planning on taking a CPL course before the end of summer, so I guess I should set aside a bit more for some extra training. Would you recommend pursuing target training before the CPL then? I want to make sure that I am at least a decent marksmen before I start carrying. Not going to be one of those guys who does not train properly and then hits an innocent bystander if I were to ever have need of the pistol.
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Old May 21, 2013, 05:39 PM   #9
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
...Would you recommend pursuing target training before the CPL then? I want to make sure that I am at least a decent marksmen before I start carrying...
Most classes designed to satisfy a state permit requirement provide very little or no actual instruction in the fundamentals. They usually cover just what the State requires as far as basic safe handling and law. So if you're really interested in becoming proficient you will want additional training -- either before or after the CPL class.

Most decent self defense oriented, basic level classes include a health dose of marksmanship fundamentals.
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Old May 21, 2013, 06:01 PM   #10
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Buy this guy's book:
http://brianenos.com/
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Old May 21, 2013, 06:06 PM   #11
Erno86
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May I suggest keeping the elbows slightly unlocked, so your elbows can absorb some of the recoil. Get a high grip on the gun as you can. Along with a thumbs forward grip...have your support hand {your left hand if you're a right handed shooter} pointed downwards at a 45 degree angle; so as to better control recoil.

Relax your shoulders and breathe {inhale thru nose and exhale with your mouth}. You might have to breathe in spurts, between trigger presses. If you do not like the suprise trigger break...you just might be better off in knowing exactly when the trigger breaks, so you can be pressing the trigger before the final trigger press, and trip the sear when you decide to take the shot. Treat your trigger finger as it's own entity.

According to Robbie Leatham...it takes around 50,000 rounds to teach your subconscious how to pull the trigger. That is...all you're self conscious has to do, is aim the sights while also being aware of your surroundings; and letting your subconscious pull the trigger. If you lack the ammo...dry fire the gun till the trigger press becomes second nature to you.

Press yourself to shoot faster during training, and backoff on the speed alittle during matches. You'll think that you're shooting slower...while the spectators will think that you're shooting very fast.
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Last edited by Erno86; May 21, 2013 at 06:27 PM.
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Old May 21, 2013, 06:11 PM   #12
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Unfortunately, there is just no substitute training.

Even if you have a friend that knows how to shoot well, he may not know how to teach.

If you have any friends in the law enforcement community, they may be able to put you in contact with one of their certified instructors who would be willing to "moonlight" a bit for a reasonable fee.

My neighbor is a retired firearms insrtructor from a federal academy and he's taught many individuals like you witrhout charge just for the love of the shootinf sports.,

good luck.
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Old May 21, 2013, 06:34 PM   #13
kirbinster
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I'm far from an expert, but I recognize good advice when I hear it, and there has been a lot given here. I find that confidence is important too. Don't try to shoot at 15 yards with huge groupings. Get confident at short distance first and then work your way out.

Also watch some videos on the net if you don't want to spend on training. There are lots of great videos on Youtube that will teach you all the fundamentals.
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Old May 21, 2013, 06:41 PM   #14
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirbinster
...Also watch some videos on the net if you don't want to spend on training. There are lots of great videos on Youtube that will teach you all the fundamentals.
But be careful. There's some stunning lousy and stupid stuff on YouTube as well.

This one is very good.
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Old May 21, 2013, 06:49 PM   #15
fragtagninja
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sounds good guys. My dad is a retired leo, but all of his training is well over ten years old, and he still shoots in the weaver stance with a grip that was designed for shooting revolvers. My old man still prefers wheel guns with the .357 mag being his round of choice. So thus far he has not really been forth coming with advice.
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Old May 21, 2013, 08:38 PM   #16
FireForged
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tip #1: Stay off of youtube

tip #2: IDPA is not combat training

tip #3: take instruction from those who spent their first career as a warrior

tip #4: If you are looking for physical speed, ditch the high pressure rounds and get a 9mm.
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Old May 21, 2013, 09:07 PM   #17
fragtagninja
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I appreciate the input, but to be honest I really do not care for the 9mm a whole lot.

Frank that guy can really shoot.

Last edited by fragtagninja; May 21, 2013 at 09:16 PM.
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Old May 21, 2013, 09:23 PM   #18
BuckRub
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Going to a 9 might speed things up slightly and really a 9 will do just as good as any with premium ammo. Maybe not be as good going thru car doors or windshields but really how many times do you need to shoot thru them?
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Old May 21, 2013, 09:33 PM   #19
fragtagninja
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Again I just did not really care for the 9mm when I shot it. I may own one in the future, but my only gun will never be a 9mm. Just does not have the feel I want when it goes off. Kind of hard to explain, but just really does not click for me.
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Old May 21, 2013, 09:41 PM   #20
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I don't own one either or never have but would like one. All that I've ever shot go bang and do real damage. I'm a 40 guy myself. Have a lot of friends who only like a 45auto, sometimes I think guys like a 45 because of a macho thing. I have a S&W model 1076 in 10 MM but its been in the safe for about two years straight now. I just love my 40s.
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Old May 21, 2013, 10:16 PM   #21
fragtagninja
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I like the crisp feeling of the .40 and the .45. The 9mm just feels squishy to me if that makes sense?
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Old May 21, 2013, 10:44 PM   #22
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IMO the worst thing about the 40 is it's kick that is generally packed into a 9mm size frame. Not all but many 40's are that way and when you have a kick harder than a 45 in a 9mm frame, recoil is going to affect your reacquisition time.

When people ask me I want a larger caliber than a 9mm in a compact and want suggestions I recommend the 45 even though I like the 40 a tad better.

For me it's all about recoil management and starting with a 40 in a standard frame is walking before you crawl.

That is just my opinion and I have known a few kids (now grown) who never crawled.

Frank pointed the way. You will find your groups getting tighter and your reacquisition pick up speed.

The hardest thing for me is these lighter frames. Not just the recoil management being easier for me but getting on target for the first shot.

It feels like nothing in my hands and almost begs me to not grip tight enough to keep the light thing from moving around when sighting the first shot because I know I need to grip tight enough to manage the extra felt recoil.

I added a Hogue grip and a couple more ounces to a little empty space on the back strap to make up for the light frame and it helped me tremendously.
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Old May 22, 2013, 09:10 AM   #23
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Quote:
. My dad is a retired leo, but all of his training is well over ten years old, and he still shoots in the weaver stance with a grip that was designed for shooting revolvers.
There is nothing wrong with either the Weaver of isosceles stance. A proper grip can be used for autos or revolvers in either stance.
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Old May 22, 2013, 04:18 PM   #24
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Weaver vs. Isosceles

It has been said that any Weaver position shooter that gets into a gunfight, will revert to an Isosceles position inadvertently; most likely due too stress.

I like my 45, 1911 Kimber, over a 9mm...because it has more umphf on my reactive targets.

A good dvd that you can get from Dillon Free Press: Three Grand Masters, or Magpul's dvd: Art of the Pistol
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Old May 22, 2013, 08:45 PM   #25
Ben Dover
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Quote:
Weaver vs. Isosceles

It has been said that any Weaver position shooter that gets into a gunfight, will revert to an Isosceles position inadvertently; most likely due too stress.
I can neither confirm nor deny that. But I will say that the isoceles stance just feels mnore natural and comfortable to me.
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