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Old August 19, 2008, 01:38 PM   #1
Flyboy_451
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Making your practice time benficial

I think all of us would agree that the key to effective shooting is being proficient in fundamentals. These are the things that we all (hopefully) learned when we were novices. Stance, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control. But how often do you actually practice with a focus on fundamentals?? How can we incorporate this focus of fundamentals in our practice routine?

Everybody has their favorite routine of drills that they go through at the range, but how we conduct these drills can dramatically affect performance. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Next time you go to the range try the following ideas.

SLOW DOWN!
Make every movement slow and deliberate. Focus on economy of movement and proper technique. If you carry concealed, practice while dressed as you would normally be in public. Start by facing your target and getting your feet in position for a proper stance. When you draw, pay close attention to what movements are required to clear a covering garment, and attain a FULL FIRING GRIP on your handgun. Now stop!! With your hand on your gun, but the gun still in the holster, is your hand in the position it should be in for proper grip? If not, adjust your grip to get a feel for how your hand should be positioned, then start over.

when you are consistently getting a proper grip, slowly draw your gun. Are you pulling the gun straight out of the holster, or are you twisting it sideways, or rotating it forward or rearward? The gun should slide freely from the holster, without undue friction from misalignment. Move on to presentation when you have mastered this movement.

When bringing the gun onto target, are you swinging the gun up to the target, or pushing it to your target? If you swing your gun up to the target, it is very difficult to stop it at the proper point within the arc to have proper sight alignment. However, if you push the gun to the target, what I call "Punching the target", you will find that you actually pick up your front sight in your peripheral vision and can guide it to the exact spot you want to aim at. Your weak hand comes into play at this point too, making it necessary to evaluate its movement and position as well. If your weak hand grip is not proper, once again correct it and start from the beginning until you are consistently placing your hand correctly. When you have reached this point, you are ready for your first shot.

When you have presented your gun to the target, focus on the front sight, and let fly with one shot, concentrating on trigger control. After the shot breaks, follow through by reacquiring the front sight, and taking aim once again. If you consistently make a good center mass hit at this point, follow up with a second shot, but do not try for speed at this point. Focus on putting the front sight on the target, and breaking a second clean shot with precision. I call this a "controlled pair", rather than a double tap.

Now it's time to speed things up a little. Once again, do not try for speed at this point, but focus on economy of motion, and proper technique. Let your body learn the mechanics that are required. As you do this, you will find your body will speed up, all on it's own. Before long, you will have a smooth efficient draw that can be very fast. I am no speed demon, but using this method of practice, I can draw and fire a controlled pair, from concealment, making "A zone" hits @ 10 yards in about 1.15 seconds.


Give it a try and see if your technique improves.

Justin
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Old August 19, 2008, 01:55 PM   #2
andrewskaggs
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Excellent post. I'd also add that "punching the target" as you mentioned has the added advantage of enabling you to fire a round off at your target before your arms are fully extended which can be handy if a BG is advancing toward you rapidly as you draw.
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Old August 19, 2008, 02:20 PM   #3
Flyboy_451
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Andrew,

What you say is absolutely true. While the intention of my post was to encourage good fundamentals, there are a wealth of other techniques that evolve from them. This is why I feel so strongly about mastering fundamentals. Maybe future posts will include some of these techniques.

Happy trails,

Justin
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Old August 19, 2008, 02:29 PM   #4
NAKing
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This is a very good post. I've recently been going back to the fundamentals after I noticed that some of those 'simple' things were getting a little sloppy.
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Old August 19, 2008, 02:41 PM   #5
Keltyke
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Good post. I'll add one thing:

1. Practice one skill at a time. Practice drawing, or practice double tapping, or long shooting, or from the waist. When you get one skill down pat, move on to another.
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Old August 19, 2008, 06:27 PM   #6
Shawn Dodson
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Prepare a training plan before you leave for the range so you can develop your weak areas.
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Old August 19, 2008, 06:33 PM   #7
Brian Pfleuger
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Justin,

What is your background?
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Old August 19, 2008, 06:37 PM   #8
Flyboy_451
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Peetzakilla,

Former military, current law enforcement firearms instructor

Justin
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Old August 19, 2008, 06:51 PM   #9
ragwd
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Excellent post and replies. I have practicing with only one pistol, rather than taking several to the range. I will continue this until I feel that I have better trigger control. Basic thing trigger control but very important.
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Old August 19, 2008, 07:25 PM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Former military, current law enforcement firearms instructor

I saw that in your profile.


I was hoping for more detail.
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Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
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He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
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Old August 19, 2008, 07:39 PM   #11
Flyboy_451
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Peetzakilla,

Was not meaning to dodge the question, but the department I work for is very picky about being named. Their policy even goes so far as to state that I can not say what department I work for when giving concealed carry instruction. Their position is that they do not want to be legally implicated. Personally, I think our high ranking officials are not terribly gun friendly.

If you check out the thread I started on alternative targets, you can see a bit more of my background.


Justin

PS. I noticed in your profile that you are also a pilot. I earned my private in 2000, instrument in 2004 and am currently working on finishing my commercial and then moving on to CFII.
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Old August 19, 2008, 07:59 PM   #12
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
PS. I noticed in your profile that you are also a pilot. I earned my private in 2000, instrument in 2004 and am currently working on finishing my commercial and then moving on to CFII.
Sadly, that should be prefaced by "student" I had some hard luck in my early lessons due to weather and ended up out of green to continue.
First spring I started I had 58 out of 72 lessons cancelled due to weather (in 15 weeks).

Quote:
Was not meaning to dodge the question, but the department I work for is very picky about being named. Their policy even goes so far as to state that I can not say what department I work for when giving concealed carry instruction. Their position is that they do not want to be legally implicated. Personally, I think our high ranking officials are not terribly gun friendly.
No problem. No accounting for bureaucrats.
__________________
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---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
-----
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
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Old August 19, 2008, 08:00 PM   #13
Saab1911
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On the whole, excellent thread.

I would like to add that you keep a firm hold on the pistol when firing, and
after recoil, follow through should include letting up on pressure on the trigger
until it resets.

Also, dry firing practice away from the range is important. I practice at home
what I want to try at the range on the weekend. I would say that I spend
as much if not more time practicing at home as I spend at the range.

Cheers,

Jae
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Old August 19, 2008, 08:14 PM   #14
Threefeathers
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I'm doing just that as I prepare for LFI.
Today I went to the range and practiced draw and fire one round for 50 rounds. The draw and fire 2 rounds. I put the target at 25 meters because I want to concentrate on basic sight pic. Tonight in the garage I'll draw and use a snap cap at least 100 more times.
My draw is getting smooth but not super fast, but it is smooth and I end up with a solid two hand hold 95% of the time.
I use a modified Weaver because i want the same stance when I transition to my carbine.
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