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Old August 2, 2013, 05:39 PM   #1
dstryr
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I need practice

You guys have probably seen this or a variation of this hundreds of times but I'm going to tell a short story anyway.

Yesterday I went down to the IWL range with a couple standard 100 yard rifle targets set up at approx 15yds and fired about 8 mags of 10 shots at the five circles on the sheet. Groupings were about 3" with a few 6-10" flyers, not bad for taking about 4 months off I thought.

Then I found a silhouette target that had only a couple of holes in it so put it up and moved it to about 7 yards, loaded 2 mags with 10 rounds each and shot in groups of 5, 3 torso, 2 head, very rapid fire.

Learned that I need practice and that I better get better in case I need to be. Most shots were left of target, may have grazed an outer body area, but clearly not center mass shots. The 4th set of 5 was a little better, not much.

It is one thing to shoot 2-handed slowly at a target, another thing entirely to rapid fire. May need to look into IDPA or similar to improve and correct the left pull. Perhaps I need to borrow a 9mm or .45 and see if the recoil makes a difference. Either way, I need practice.

Thought I'd share.

FS
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Old August 2, 2013, 11:30 PM   #2
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You don't say how long you've been shooting nor what caliber. It must be bigger than .45 if you call that less recoil. I would suggest 9mm for less recoil. Less recoil will help, but it sounds like you've got more problems than that.

I think any kind of action shooting will improve your shooting. If you are concerned about self-defense, IDPA and USPSA are both good practice. I do both every week.

Find a professional instructor to give you a private lesson to evaluate your shooting. He will look at stance, grip, trigger pull, and other things (flinching, recoil anticipation, etc.). A one hour lesson shouldn't cost more than $50 or so and is well worth it. He will give you things to work on.
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Old August 2, 2013, 11:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
...very rapid fire.
Generally speaking, it's been my experience that when it feels like "very" rapid fire, it means that I'm trying to shoot faster than my ability will allow me to.

On the other hand, shooting within my ability never seems to feel really fast even when the timer says otherwise.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it takes time to progress from shooting slowly and accurately to shooting rapidly and accurately and that progress is best made by trying to eliminate wasted time as opposed to trying to go fast.

From a practical standpoint, what does that mean? It means a lot of things, but here are a few to work on.

You don't need to stare a hole into the paper over the front sight. Once you see a good sight picture, you're good to go--let the shot break. If it doesn't hit where the sights are pointing then you yanked the trigger and you need to work on trigger control.

Don't waste time blinking and don't lose track of the front sight. If you have to open your eyes after every shot and reacquire the front sight, you're wasting time that is better used lining up the front sight. If you're not seeing muzzle flash for each shot then you're blinking and that's wasting time.

You can shoot or you can score, but you can't do both well. While you're shooting, SHOOT. Make sure you're working your fundamentals properly and the on-target results will take care of themselves. Resist the temptation to count hits or keep score between shots. When you're done shooting THEN you can score.

You need to be able to maintain your grip through the entire shot string. If you find that you're having to adjust your grip between shots, or every other shot, then you need to work on your grip, or look for a handgun/cartridge system that fits you better.

You shouldn't be having to work to line up the sights for followup shots. If the gun isn't settling back into a decent sight picture after recoil then you need to work on controlling the gun. You can't keep it from moving, but you can adjust your grip and stance so that the recoil causes the gun to move consistently and settle back after recoil so that it's more or less in the same position it was before the shot.

Don't let your trigger finger get lazy. Don't RUSH, but try to keep your trigger finger in motion. It should always be either pulling or releasing the trigger.

Don't let the gun push you around. If you're finding that the cumulative effect of recoil during a shot string is pushing you back or changing your stance, then you need to work on a more aggressive stance. Lean forward a little bit, position your weight a little more on your forward foot and keep your knees bent a little bit.

In other words, you want to make your shooting more efficient, more smooth. That will pay immediate dividends in speed without costing you significantly in terms of accuracy. As you continue to practice, you will find that your speed increases even more--but the focus should never be on TRYING to go fast, but rather on trying to be efficient.
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Old August 5, 2013, 10:06 PM   #4
dstryr
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GJ, I've only been shooting handguns for about a year and a half, and have a couple of FNP40s. I have for the most part tried to take advice from here and work it into my practice sessions and generally have trained myself away from flinching and anticipating the recoil. I've shot a few other calibers but don't see much difference when shooting a full sized gun. On the other hand, shooting a LCR .357 leaves quite an impression, and a colt 1911 .22 hardly moves or makes a sound when I shoot.

John, thanks for the advice also. When I shoot, I will change my stance occasionally to find the most stable position. Not blinking is where I need work and while I try to watch the shell fly and gas discharge, I most often blink anyway and need to keep the front sight in sight. I'm working on that and will work on the suggestions you gave.

Appreciate the help,
FS
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Old August 6, 2013, 08:39 PM   #5
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For the most part, JohnSKa offers good advice. I might add that if you are a right handed shooter, you are probably anticipating the trigger break which causes you to yank the gun to the left.

Further, develop your accuracy and the speed will follow. An important element of developing your marksmanship and speed can be accomplished in the comfort of your own home without having to spend tons of moola on ammo. Dry practice will take you where you want to go by refining trigger and breath control. Pick your"target". When the trigger breaks your front sight should be exactly where it was prior to the break. Practice, practice, practice. Develop your accuracy and as I said, the rest will fall into place.
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Old August 6, 2013, 09:04 PM   #6
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I'm not an expert but I think that, for a right-hander (I'm a lefty) shooting to the left is not recoil related; it's often caused by contacting the trigger too close to the tip of the finger (too little finger). Shooting to the right would be too much finger.
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Old August 7, 2013, 01:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Not blinking is where I need work
One trick to learn to keep your eyes open is to force them wide open in an exaggerated manner and then pull the trigger.

When focusing your eyes, you can have the rear sights or front sight or target in focus. Focus on the front sight. The target will be a little fuzzy, but that's OK. Always focus on the front sight. See the front sight all the time; see it rise and fall back.

There should be a 70%-30% (some say 60-40) balance in grip strength between your weak or support hand and your strong or trigger hand. When you squeeze too tightly with your strong hand you interfere with your trigger finger which needs to move smoothly and easily. I find my own accuracy is always better when I grip strongly with my support hand.

As JohnKSa said, don't look at where your shot went until you are done shooting. This is because you will look too quickly and mess up your follow through.

Also, if you are learning to shoot for self-defense, than you need defensive like shooting practice all the time. When the SHTF, you will be under a lot of stress and will automatically do what you trained to do, which isn't necessarily what you want to do if you didn't train correctly. Your fine motor control goes to hell. You get tunnel vision. That's why some kind of timed competition helps because it puts some pressure on you. It will give you a good idea about tunnel vision. It's also important to learn to clear jams. Once way to practice is to get some snap caps (dummy rounds) and in a magazine of 10, place two or three randomly. Make sure you don't know where they are. When your gun goes "click" instead of "Bang", you'll have to rack the slide. This will also help you notice if you are anticipating recoil or flinching.
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Old August 7, 2013, 01:11 AM   #8
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I need practice

If you think you are inaccurate there, go shoot a competition where you actually have some pressure. It will make you a better shooter, and it can help in the event that you ever have to use a firearm to defend yourself.
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Old August 7, 2013, 01:29 AM   #9
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The thing about rapid fire is that it doesn't necessarily mean emptying a whole mag at one target as quickly as possible.

Try two or three shots and then switch targets. Make each shot carefully and concentrate on follow through.
Try to make your speed by retaining your sight picture and bringing you gun back in line. Trigger pull should be smooth.
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Old August 11, 2013, 09:15 AM   #10
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Concentrate on hitting COM with the FIRST shot. That's the most important one.
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Old August 11, 2013, 10:49 AM   #11
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What worked for me was moving the target close enough to hit and ignoring the looks and s******s from everyone else. Which turned out to be close enough for powder residue on the paper...

When I could hit the target reliably at that range, I moved the target back a yard until I could hit it reliably again. Wash, lather, repeat.

Past a certain point I start patterning like a shotugn, but I know what my group size should be at any given range. My gun is just fine, I'm just a lousy shot... but I know fairly accurately how lousy I am, and in a tactical situation, I can make an informed decision about whether it's safe to take a shot or if I'm more likely to be shooting scenery.
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Old August 11, 2013, 11:02 AM   #12
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Several things needed.

Get a dummy all metal 'non-gun' that is the same dimensions as your defensive gun.

Also, if possible, a .22 version of your defensive gun.

In the house or garage use the non-gun to practice drawing, pivots, retention shooting, concealed draws, weak handed draws, etc.. that way alot of your gun handling skills will be learned before the range, not on the range.

Then on the range a .22 version allows you to go back to the basics and again practice. Try to draw and fire no more than 2 shots per string. Re-holster and do it again. All shooting should be from the leather (or Kydex as is used alot today.) You can practice such things as hip shooting, transitions, weak handed and strong handed shooting, etc...

Go slow at first and by then end of the session speed up some.

Then go to your defensive gun and redo the basics all over.

By the end of the session your shooting arm should be very tired and sore the next day.

After a few months (with weekly shooting practice and nightly gun handling skills with the non-gun) THEN go do a IDPA match!

The IDPA match is not training but a test to see WHERE YOU ARE with your training. Note weak performance areas and adjust your training to get better in those weak areas.

And then make this a hobby/avocation and not a chore to do and you will find your skills far better than you ever though they could be.

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Old September 23, 2013, 11:41 PM   #13
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Another quick comment: Rapid fire drills need to be developed by starting slow and working your way into speed and accuracy. If your rounds are left, assuming you are a right handed shooter, it may be one or a combination of two different faults. The most obvious is that you are slapping the trigger anticipating the trigger break and/or you are squeezing the gun too hard. You should have a relaxed grip on the gun with your support hand pushing isometrically against the strong hand to keep the gun from moving laterally and reducing muzzle flip. Keep your eye on the front sight and back on target between shots as rapidly and as comfortably as you can. It is a skill that must be developed. Don't exceed your skill level...it must be built up.
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Old September 24, 2013, 08:27 AM   #14
Louca
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Quote:
Rapid fire drills need to be developed by starting slow and working your way into speed and accuracy.
Amen! I was a martial arts instructor for several years and everyone was always trying to throw fast strikes. I always told them if they wanted to go fast, they needed to go slowly. Of course, their response was, "What?!"

The problem when trying to go fast is the "trying" part of it actually keeps you from going fast. Instead of concentrating on speed, concentrate on smoothness. As the smoothness improves, the speed naturally increases. My MA students quickly found themselves throwing faster and faster strikes "naturally" without actually trying to do it.

I sometimes think speed is overrated. In competition, it is everything, but in true SD situations, I am not so sure. True, there are situations where the second shot of a double tap came just in time to prevent a shot from being returned. But that can be said for any speed. The product of speed times accuracy is sometimes thought of as a good indicator of effectiveness. But I am thinking shot placement trumps speed. A poorly place fast shot is probably not as good as a well placed slower shot.

Anyway, this is a fantastic thread with great advice from so many. I think I am actually going to print it out. Thanks folks!

Lou
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Old September 24, 2013, 08:50 AM   #15
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Amen! I was a martial arts instructor for several years and everyone was always trying to throw fast strikes. I always told them if they wanted to go fast, they needed to go slowly. Of course, their response was, "What?!"
Agreed. Learned that from Goju Ryu. lol..took a few bloody noses.

OP, I've been shooting pistols since I was 12 years old. Never allowed to do rapid fire or double/triple taps. My uncles and my father always brought me to the range to shoot target. As I got older and before the police academy I started training. Not just shooting, but training. I went above great because of all those years adding up in over a decade of shooting, learning trigger reset and recoil management was an excellent muscle memory tuning that I was blessed with, but at the time I didn't understand why they didn't let me. Also, a lot of ranges here in Miami don't allow it anyways.

My eyes opened up like Daniel-san in Karate Kid, with painting the fence and waxing the car. You gotta crawl before you can walk.
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Old September 24, 2013, 10:08 AM   #16
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Have a look at this past thread on How to improve speed while maintaining accuracy with semi-auto pistols?. There were some good tips there.
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Old September 24, 2013, 11:50 AM   #17
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As it has already been stated but , make sure you have mastered the fundamentals enough before trying to improve speed and accuracy.

Stance: Knees unlocked, Upper lean driving the pistol to the target. Head and shoulders forward.

Grip: proper finger/thumb placement. Proper placement and grip of supporting arm. Proper resting position and use of it as well. Palms to chest, weapon pointed down range.

Trigger: Proper finger placement. Fluid pressing/squeezing trigger even quickly so long as your not jerking.

Sights: Proper sight picture does not mean perfect shot bulls eye aim. It's close picture, press, recover, close picture press recover.

If one thing is off, grip, stance, trigger pull, go back and work on it. get those fluid and memorized to muscle. Then work on speed.
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Old September 24, 2013, 01:07 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Wreck-n-Crew
As it has already been stated but , make sure you have mastered the fundamentals enough before trying to improve speed and accuracy....
Or to put it another way, to shoot quickly and accurately you first need to be very good a shooting slowly and accurately. Shooting quickly well is primarily an matter of being able to execute the fundamentals very well, quickly and without conscious thought.

To lay it all out:
  1. 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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