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Old March 28, 2006, 08:53 AM   #1
DunedinDragon
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Defensive pistol skills..what to work on first

I don't want to start a big controversy here, and I suspect this subject may have been discussed before, but I wasn't able to find it under search.

At any rate, I just began IDPA defensive pistol type shooting. I'm not formally competing, just a weekly thing they hold at a local range. Clearly I need to work on a number of things such as moving and shooting, smoothing out double-taps, quicker sight picture..and so on.

Where should I start? Should I go slow and ensure better accuracy and then work on increasing my speed, or should I work on keeping my speed up and smoothing out my accuracy?

Do most shooters in these types of situations really focus that much on their front sights, or is it more of a rough aiming (indexing) situation?

I'm just looking for some good technique pointers to give me something to work on here as I go along.
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Old March 28, 2006, 11:46 AM   #2
j1132s
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Accuracy first, then speed

Hi,

I just started competitive shooting at the local club level too. The advice I've been given is to be accurate and don't force my speed (it'll come naturally).

I've only shot 1 IPSC due to the distance of the club match, but plan to go this weekend (and its only tuesday). After that 1st match, I realized that knowing how to do double taps can be very useful, since almost all the targets called for 2 shots COM. So, if I move at my slow speed, knowing double taps would easily decrease my overall time... would is in a way related to speed.

Hopefully more experienced members will chime in. I only have limited experience, but I hope I make sense.
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Old March 28, 2006, 12:27 PM   #3
Needforspeed3685
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I too am a new IDPA connoisseur, but have not yet competed in the local IDPA club match. I've done lots of reading on "training" for the IDPA and even set up a simulation course in my back-yard to practice moving with target acquisition.

There's lots of "official" or well-known practice methods out there you can find with a quick Google Search. Aside from these, however, I find myself practicing and honing my skills when I'm bored:

I stand or kneel in front of my tv (usually when my wife is watching one of her shows...Maury being my favorite "target") with an unloaded BB pistol and everytime a screen transition or camera change occurred, I'd draw the pistol and "dry fire" shots to the head and body of whoever appeared. Of course this isn't any way of judging your accuracy, unless you got a very accurate suction-cup dart gun! However I've noticed improved target acquisition and focusing abilities, and it decreases your weapon draw time slightly by teaching your arm the routine.

Other days I'll load my 9mm with an empty magazine and practice my tactical and emergency reloads. My 9mm has a last-round hold-open, so dropping the spent magazine and loading a full one is something I've been focusing on a lot lately. Any movement you can find to cut fractions of a second off your time, work on it. You may look like an idiot drawing a bright orange toy gun at Maury or Oprah, but you should notice a difference when you line up at the next IDPA match.

It's important to focus on the IDPA rules and equipment regulations when practicing for a match. There's restrictions on when you can let an empty magazine fall and leave it behind, and when it must be properly stowed. You can get the IDPA full rule book on their website in Adobe PDF form. I printed it and bound it together to make a handy field-reference until I get the rules memorized and get used to everything.

Good luck!
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Old March 28, 2006, 12:59 PM   #4
Lurper
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Dragon, always shoot for accuracy first. Otherwise, you will end up behind the curve. I learned that the hard way (after Brian Enos beat it into my head). I am as fast as anyone, but always drop a lot of points on standards, etc. Work on keeping a good sight picture (front sight in focus w/iron sights/target with optics) through recoil and transitions. Practice being able to call your shots before you check your targets. Let the sight picture dictate the speed. When you practice, push yourself until you are getting about 70% "A" hits. Start and end each practice session with accuracy drills, be patient and speed will happen. Learn to be smooth and remember the equation: speed = economy of motion. I can offer some specifice drills/techniques if you would like.
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Old March 28, 2006, 02:08 PM   #5
DunedinDragon
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Thanks Lurper,
I kind of thought focusing on maintaining the sight picture was going to be key. Doing so, of course, makes me feel like I'm going at about half-speed from everyone else. I guess I just need to go by what Wyatt Earp said about what made him successful in gunfights,

"Aim carefully, but do it quick."

Any other tips/techniques/drills you want to share I'd be happy to hear them.
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Old March 30, 2006, 07:17 PM   #6
38_Super
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IMHO

Three most important things for novice practical shooters - these are the hardest things to learn at first-

1, focus on the front sight
2, don't jerk the trigger - pull it straight back - as if pulling throu
3, keep the finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target
3(A) Be conscious of your muzzle, keep it down range - don't sweep yourself/others.

Hint - plop your finger up along the slide unless engaging targets.

Don't worry about speed - speed will take care of itself over time - go for accuracy.

Expend a good bit of effort practicing focusing on the front sight -

Practice dry firing (safely) around the house, consciously focusing on the front sight. This is not natural and is a little difficult, but you need to do this till it becomes second nature without conscious effort.

Practice pulling through the trigger straight back - not jerking.

Practice your grip - gripping correctly, high on the gun. Being sure to lock your grip and have a firm solid repeatable grip.

Practice mag changes, making sure your finger is off the trigger.

Practice moving and making mag changes while moving, making sure your finger is off the trigger -


Practice moving and keeping the muzzle down range until it becomes second nature, finger off the trigger.

Read the rule book and understand the rules.

I have had a long layoff from shooting IPSC, since before IDPA was in my area - but these suggestions should work well for any practical shooting with pistol.

Oh yeah - when you practice at the range -

get someone else to load your magazines and you don't look at them when you insert them - have the person loading your magazines either load a dummy round or only load a few rounds - when the hammer falls and nothing happens you'll see how much you're jerking the trigger _big grin_
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Old March 31, 2006, 07:21 AM   #7
DunedinDragon
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38_super: Thanks for the info, but I'm fine with shooting fundamentals. I was just looking for insight related specifically to IDPA-specific shooting.

I went to the normal shoot last night and concentrated in the first stage on developing a good sight picture for all shots. The second stage I concentrated less on a "perfect" sight picture and reducing my double-tap time.

Interestingly enough, my second stage went MUCH better than my first, I was actually competitve with many of the shooters. Since I'm already a pretty decent range shooter I think I may need to refine my fast aiming techniques just a bit more, but work primarily on moving smoothly from target to target. Finding that right balance is not as easy as it looks I guess.
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Old March 31, 2006, 09:07 AM   #8
Lurper
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What's a "fast aiming technique"?
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Old March 31, 2006, 09:17 AM   #9
Jim Watson
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Some of the high end coaches say they can TEACH a fast shooter to be more accurate easier than they can TEACH an accurate shooter to speed up. But that is for professional instructors.

Most of us are pretty well on our own and if you cannot hit the target, nothing else is worth much.

Needforspeed, I think you have about studied it to death. Enter a match and expose yourself to timer radiation and watch others in action. Learn to tell who is doing it right and who is not before you try to emulate.
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Old March 31, 2006, 09:48 AM   #10
Lurper
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I would say that it is easier to make an accurate shooter fast than vice versa. Anyone can learn to shoot fast if taught the proper techniques. However if they can't hit the target then it means little. The problem is that accuracy shooters become fixated on a perfect sight picture while accomplished fast shooters have a "perfect enough" sight picture to make the required shot. Which was the point in asking Dragon what a fast sighting technique was. There isn't a "technique" it is all what you see. If you can learn how to call your shots, you will be way ahead of the game. As your skill level increases, there are many things you can do to increase your speed. At your level, one of the biggest improvements will be learning to move properly. For example:
If you have just finished shooting from box A and have to move to box B to engage the next array, you should be ready to fire when you enter the box. If the targets are within about 15 yards, you should fire your first shot when your leading foot is in box B and your trailing foot is in the air. That means that there are several things you need to do before you arrive. I won't go through the entire process here because it takes up too much space. But for beginning to mid level shooters that is one of the big leaps you will make in trimming time.
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Old March 31, 2006, 05:34 PM   #11
38_Super
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DunedinDragon
38_super: Thanks for the info, but I'm fine with shooting fundamentals. I was just looking for insight related specifically to IDPA-specific shooting
You're welcome _grin_ No problem. Someone else may come along and find it some benefit _bigger grin_
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Old March 31, 2006, 06:40 PM   #12
DunedinDragon
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Quote:
The problem is that accuracy shooters become fixated on a perfect sight picture while accomplished fast shooters have a "perfect enough" sight picture to make the required shot. Which was the point in asking Dragon what a fast sighting technique was. There isn't a "technique" it is all what you see. If you can learn how to call your shots, you will be way ahead of the game. As your skill level increases, there are many things you can do to increase your speed. At your level, one of the biggest improvements will be learning to move properly.
Fast sighting technique is my way of saying "perfect enough." More or less finding the balance between speed and accuracy. Having focused most of my shooting primarily on tight groupings it's just a matter of finding out how far I can push that "perfect" sight picture before I lose too much accuracy. I think that's why I did so much better on my second stage last night. I didn't look for a perfect sight picture, just a good indexing on the target. Interestingly enough I scored about the same number of hits as my first stage, but was quicker.

I agree moving is a factor, but this is IDPA not IPSC, so no boxes. Just shooting on the move and from around cover, so again it's a balancing act between speed and smoothness. LOTS of stuff to work on....
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