The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 15, 2020, 11:04 AM   #1
dyl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 31, 2009
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,310
How far can aimless practice go?

I'm not trying to apply this to myself, mind you. I'm curious as to how far a person who shoots a lot but thoughtlessly, can go. I'm sure you've met people who never read a single article, never received instruction, etc. But loved shooting so much they did it a lot.

How well did they shoot? Any interesting stories?

Some things like playing piano, guitar, or singing, have plenty of self-taught examples. But with those, the individual is constantly comparing themselves to a standard by listening to recordings, playing along, etc.
dyl is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 11:43 AM   #2
aarondhgraham
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 1, 2009
Location: Stillwater, OKlahoma
Posts: 8,638
There's an old saying, "Practice makes perfect".

I think only "perfect practice makes perfect".

Way back in time I was an aspiring Olympic archer,,,
My trainer would always say, "Never practice doing badly".

He would tell me to go to the line and shoot one 6-arrow flight,,,
If the cluster was tight and it felt good,,,
Go ahead and practice more.

But, if that first flight was erratic or it just didn't "feel right",,,
Put the bow down and walk away from the line.

His reasoning was to "Never practice doing something badly".

I'm still not certain if this is "The Way",,,
But he took me from a raw beginner to a valid competitor in just one season.

I know several people who are casual recreational shooters,,,
Their proper name is "Plinkers".

They have a great amount of fun with just "Minute of Coke can accuracy",,,
Who am I to tell them that they should "practice" to be more accurate than that.

I've had just as much fun casually plinking at cans with friends,,,
As I have doing serious practice to become better.

It supposed to be about having a good time,,,
One doesn't need competitive match accuracy to do that.

JM-ns-HO

Aarond

.
__________________
Never ever give an enemy the advantage of a verbal threat.
Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
aarondhgraham is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 12:37 PM   #3
NoSecondBest
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 7, 2009
Location: Western New York
Posts: 2,736
If you want to be a good/great shot, mindless practice will not get you there. No exceptions. You’ll do better than those who don’t shoot much at all, and don’t put anything into getting better, but forget about going somewhere and doing better than those who put the time and effort into it to excel. Shooting is no different than anything else. Whether it’s bowling, golf, archery, etc., without the basic fundamentals and attention to execution and repeatability, you’re not going to get good without putting the effort into it. I’ve won many state and regional titles in handgun, shotgun, archery, and three gun shoots. It was a result of a LOT of time and effort (and considerable expense for equipment) to get there. Casual and less dedicated shooters simply don’t get there. A caveat: in the end, the only reward is personal satisfaction and bragging rights. There’s no money in it and shooting isn’t a major spectator sport.
NoSecondBest is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 12:44 PM   #4
stinkeypete
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 22, 2010
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Posts: 1,185
My dad used to shoot with some nice cowboy action fellas as he had moved down South. I went to visit him and borrowed some of his guns.

"Maybe start off shooting the pistol plate on the right" he says.

I look, and look and look. "Pistol plate? I don't see it!"

"It's rectangular, on the far right of all the targets" he says.

I look and look and look. For the life of me, I can't see what he means. "I am just going to shoot the big round ones" I say- then knock down the round tip-over plates "boom, boom, boom, boom" I got all ten down, missing one. "Ooops, I really flinched one of them there. Careful, I still have a shot in the pipe." I put the Blackhawk down on the bench and open the loading gate.

My dad picks up the pistol, closes the gate, and shoots this huge bit of iron the size of a refrigerator, of which two are holding the plank that the 8 inch round tip-over plates were on. "That's the pistol target" he says.

The fellas were all looking at me like I had just eaten a puppy or pulled a dragon out of my hat.

"Did I do something wrong?" I asked.

"Those are the rifle plates" one of the fellas said. They walked off, muttering amongst themselves.

I reckon that's my story about what happens when people practice aimlessly. Real nice guys, and they had a lot of fun and comeradery at the range. It turns out a few of them what I met later were excellent marksmen- but they shot competition in the service or over at the other range too... the main body of fellas had no idea what a couple years of concentration on pistol accuracy could accomplish. I am only ranked "marksman" in NRA bullseye- the noob rank. You boys should see what a High Master can do- it will inspire or intimidate you.
__________________
I hunt, shoot bullseye, plink, reload, and tinker with firearms. I have hung out with the Cowboy Action fellas. I have no interest in carrying firearms in urban areas.
stinkeypete is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 01:10 PM   #5
Sevens
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Ohio
Posts: 11,683
For me it seems to be about priorities. I love my guns, shooting and handloading lifestyle but I cannot put it ahead of my family and part of what allows me to handle my role for my family is heavy work hours. I spend time on gun forums in bits and pieces. My actual shooting requires reserving an entire day.

Like most things I’ve ever done for fun... I seem to have a decent aptitude for it but nothing earth shattering and I’m fine with that. It occurs to me, like Aarond said above, that I need to take away from it exactly what I want — my enjoyment.

I marvel at what Bullseye shooters can and regularly do accomplish. I too would love to do that, but for where I’m at in life, I have no intention whatsoever to chase that.

Here’s another question that I ask myself often. On the whole, big picture that includes EVERYTHING and not just this hobby/lifestyle we chat about on TFL, but the whole shebang... am I happy? Are YOU happy?

My life is blessed. My skill level behind a handgun fits right in there perfectly.
__________________
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
Sevens is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 01:51 PM   #6
FITASC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 6, 2014
Posts: 6,260
Quote:
It supposed to be about having a good time,,,
Exactly, not everyone is practicing for home invasions, gas station car-jackings or the like.
__________________
"I believe that people have a right to decide their own destinies; people own themselves. I also believe that, in a democracy, government exists because (and only so long as) individual citizens give it a 'temporary license to exist'—in exchange for a promise that it will behave itself. In a democracy, you own the government—it doesn't own you."- Frank Zappa
FITASC is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 02:57 PM   #7
TunnelRat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2011
Posts: 11,980
Quote:
Exactly, not everyone is practicing for home invasions, gas station car-jackings or the like.
Agreed. It also doesn't have to be all one or the other. You can have fun or train and even, blasphemy I know, but train and have fun. I've done a lot of training courses. We still smiled, we still laughed even if the subject matter was serious.
__________________
Know the status of your weapon
Keep your muzzle oriented so that no one will be hurt if the firearm discharges
Keep your finger off the trigger until you have an adequate sight picture
Maintain situational awareness
TunnelRat is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 03:58 PM   #8
Aguila Blanca
Staff
 
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 17,739
Quote:
Originally Posted by dyl
Some things like playing piano, guitar, or singing, have plenty of self-taught examples. But with those, the individual is constantly comparing themselves to a standard by listening to recordings, playing along, etc.
But shooters have a standard for comparison. That's why targets have scoring rings. Any shooter can compete against himself/herself just by always using the same target (not the same piece of paper, but the same target number), and keeping a record of scores and group sizes. If, over time, the scores improve and the group sizes shrink, their practice is helping. If their scores don't improve and the group sizes don't get smaller, they're not really "practicing," they're just plinking.
__________________
NRA Life Member / Certified Instructor
NRA Chief RSO / CMP RSO
1911 Certified Armorer
Jeepaholic
Aguila Blanca is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 04:32 PM   #9
Unclenick
Staff
 
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 20,342
One unusual example that comes to mind is Jelly Bryce. He was self-taught and always shot by drawing a double-action revolver from a holster and firing. When he was recruited by law enforcement it was in part to be on their target shooting team, and he said he would compete for them only if he was allowed to draw and shoot from the hip, which he did and won matches that way. I have no idea what targets they were using in the 1930s police matches, but that's what he fired on. He survived 19 gunfights, IIRC, and apparently was constantly in fear of being ambushed in revenge, which motivated a lot his shooting practice. When he was recruited by the FBI it was in part to see if he could train other agents to shoot the way he did and to draw and shoot as fast as he did, which was in a fraction of a second. He used the crouch position for point shooting, but never could train others to do it as well as he could. In later years he admitted he had a natural advantage that others didn't, which was that he could see the streak of his bullets in flight (he favored the .44 Special, probably in part because it was easier to see than some others), and, like shooting tracers, that had enabled him to correct his aim. He also practiced almost incessantly. He was SAC for one FBI office for awhile (Oaklahoma City?), but was later put on other duty at least in part because he would spend much of every day in his office in front of a full-length mirror practicing dry firing by drawing and shooting so that he could always see straight into the guns muzzle (head shot shooting), rather than getting paperwork done.
__________________
Gunsite Orange Hat Family Member
CMP Certified GSM Master Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Benefactor Member and Golden Eagle
Unclenick is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 06:12 PM   #10
reteach
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 31, 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 369
This, I think, is a good example of training while you shoot, in a short period and with minimal ammo. My plan is to do this, or something like it, every time I go to the range. Then, ammo supplies permitting, I can shoot some just for fun. Of course, I can also spend more time on specific training sets now and then.

https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/...g-on-a-budget/
reteach is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 08:26 PM   #11
Frank Ettin
Staff
 
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 9,463
Quote:
Originally Posted by dyl
Some things like playing piano, guitar, or singing, have plenty of self-taught examples....
Sure, but how good are they?

Can you name any self-taught violinists who are now concertmasters with a major symphony orchestra? Can you name any self-taught pianists who have soloed at Carnegie Hall? Can you name any self-taught tenors who have sung Rodolfo with the Metropolitan Opera?

Enough natural skill and talent can take someone a long way. But no matter how much skill and natural talent one has, good training will take him further than he'll be able to go alone.

What's your goal? Karaoke night at the bowling alley? Or La Boheme at the Met?
__________________
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
Frank Ettin is offline  
Old October 15, 2020, 11:04 PM   #12
BJung
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 5, 2019
Posts: 769
My two cents

I learned by being introduced to the basics, and shot my bb gun a lot at twigs and sparrows maybe 20-30 yards away. Years later I volunteered a lot at a shooting range and had a lot of shooting time with my Romanian M69 .22 trainer with open sights. I happened to shoot a number of .22lr brands to find the best ammo for this firearm. My favorite position was sitting and shooting clay pigeon pieces at 100 yards using a sling. My record was a clay pigeon at 200 yards 1st shot. That took maybe 30% skill 70% luck since I had to really lob the bullet in. My pistol shooting is mediocre. I took a class once and never regretted it. I learned a lot and think of a class as a condensation of best practices that saves you time. If you're cheap like me, use the internet, read, and ask questions. Still cheap? find someone who is trained to shoot well and ask them to watch you shoot and correct any mistakes. That's good enough for me.
BJung is offline  
Old October 16, 2020, 12:19 AM   #13
Koda94
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 25, 2012
Location: Cascadia
Posts: 1,276
"Aimless practice" will never go as far as reaching any practical application. Plinking and mag dumps are fun but whenever I visit the public range Im amazed at how much ammo is expended. Im not a pro or anything but at least I know a few drills to practice and what they are for.
__________________
lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2
Koda94 is offline  
Old October 16, 2020, 12:44 AM   #14
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 24,460
It depends...

I used to work with a guy who liked shooting but had a bad flinch. He couldn't shoot a pistol for anything, and wouldn't believe he had a flinch. No amount of shooting was going to make him any better because it wasn't his technique that was messing up his targets, it was his flinch.

I've also known people who got to be pretty good shots without any kind of attempt at working to get better--they just shot for fun and gradually got better.

But if you want to get better, you're going to get better much faster if you practice instead of just plink. And you're almost certainly going to get better by actually working to improve than you will by just shooting a lot.
__________________
Do you know about the TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old October 16, 2020, 01:40 AM   #15
1MoreFord
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 30, 2014
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by aarondhgraham View Post
There's an old saying, "Practice makes perfect"............
As an ole ex legit musician the phrase was "perfect practice makes for perfect perfect."
1MoreFord is offline  
Old October 16, 2020, 02:11 AM   #16
fastbolt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 9, 2002
Location: northern CA for a little while longer
Posts: 1,914
It's not like it's a rare thing for some shooters to practice their bad techniques, or flinching, so they really ingrain them.

Burning up ammunition to keep doing a poor technique, or a technique poorly, or reinforcing a flinch (as a startle response), may simply be wasting ammunition (which isn't inexpensive nowadays).

I used to tell some shooters that I'd rather they shoot as little as a single magazine's worth of ammunition, focusing on doing a technique properly and well, than just burning through a couple hundred rounds and hoping they'd somehow "improve" by virtue of the amount of powder burned.

We've all been there at some point in learning our handgun skillset foundation.
__________________
Retired LE - firearms instructor & armorer
fastbolt is offline  
Old October 16, 2020, 06:48 AM   #17
shafter
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 23, 2009
Posts: 1,613
Quote:
Sure, but how good are they?

Can you name any self-taught violinists who are now concertmasters with a major symphony orchestra? Can you name any self-taught pianists who have soloed at Carnegie Hall? Can you name any self-taught tenors who have sung Rodolfo with the Metropolitan Opera?

Enough natural skill and talent can take someone a long way. But no matter how much skill and natural talent one has, good training will take him further than he'll be able to go alone.

What's your goal? Karaoke night at the bowling alley? Or La Boheme at the Met?
Some of this is comparable to a college degree. You can be whip smart but unless you have the paper credentials you aren't getting through the door. Same with music to some degree.

Shooting, especially pistol shooting at moderate range isn't difficult or complex. If someone understands the fundamentals and is able to focus on mastering them there is no reason why they can't become as good as their eyesight will allow. Where professional instruction comes into play is greatly reducing the time it takes to get there.
shafter is offline  
Old October 16, 2020, 09:54 AM   #18
aarondhgraham
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 1, 2009
Location: Stillwater, OKlahoma
Posts: 8,638
A generic term for a range visit is "Target Practice".

But every time I go to the range,,,
I'm not particularly going there to practice.

Quite often I'm going there just to turn money into noise.

That's "plinking".

I'm going to the range this coming weekend,,,
I have re-scoped several rifles and am taking three to zero at 50 yards.

That's not plinking,,,
The purpose is to achieve a practical goal.

The next time I go will probably be to plink at spinner targets,,,
One could say that is practice but in reality it will be just for pure trigger-pullin' fun.

Aarond

.
__________________
Never ever give an enemy the advantage of a verbal threat.
Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
aarondhgraham is offline  
Old October 16, 2020, 08:33 PM   #19
GarandTd
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 15, 2016
Location: Rural PA
Posts: 1,639
"aimless practice"? If I'm shooting, I'm aiming. Most of my shooting is plinking, but it's still shooting at targets. Part of the fun of plinking is hitting my targets. If I'm not making hits, I'm not having near as much fun. Also, a soda can is not a big target. To be minute of soda can isn't exactly shameful. I'm sure I could advance quicker with training and better equipment if that's what I wanted to do.
__________________
22lr, 20 gauge, 8mm Mauser, 35 Remington, 30-06, 5.56x45/223, 9mm, 380acp
GarandTd is offline  
Old October 16, 2020, 11:34 PM   #20
Big Shrek
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 6, 2009
Location: NorthWest Florida
Posts: 1,358
When I was younger I heard Tom Knapp say about his shooting,
"that he aimed for the center of the center, no matter how small the target".
That stuck in my head...and that's what I've always aimed for.
A man who can toss an asprin into the air and hit it with a .22lr...you listen to.
He could do it consistently.

And you don't wanna know how many bottles of asprin or thousands of rounds
of .22lr were bought after that, just to hit one occasionally...argh.
__________________
Marlin Specialist
Calico Specialist
A gun should be a tool in the hands of a deadly weapon, not a deadly weapon in the hands of a tool.
Big Shrek is offline  
Old October 17, 2020, 07:36 PM   #21
dyl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 31, 2009
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,310
Quote:
Can you name any self-taught violinists who are now concertmasters with a major symphony orchestra?
I thought about violin, since I used to play it and I purposely left that one out. I believe it's one of the hardest instruments because the cost makes it a bit prohibitive both for the actual hardware and lessons. Also proper form is rather conducive to consistency, and improper form is easily noticeable. And finally, classical violin might be considered one of the "higher class" instruments as opposed to say a tin whistle, and the audience, conductor, and whoever is the gateway to your achievements would care about proper form or appearances. Jimi Hendrix however, held his guitar upside down.
dyl is offline  
Old October 18, 2020, 10:17 PM   #22
5whiskey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 23, 2005
Location: US
Posts: 3,547
I grew up on a farm, and as a hunter. Basic competency with a firearm was expected, but I really enjoyed shooting. We would have informal .22 "matches" on soda bottles at varying distances growing up. We also got to a point where just hitting the bottle wasn't fun anymore, even shooting off-hand and standing. Then we had to shoot the tops off the bottles out to about 30 or 40 yards standing. Our "matches" then went from most people only dropping one or two shots and several acing the course, to no one aced the course.

Of course I only got better later in life with formal training. I can make shots now that I would not be able to were it not for being introduced to the concept and practicing the concept, which comes with professional instruction. On the other hand, I also think I have progressed more because of my background in firearms going back to my youth.

In short, you can become a decent shot and quite proficient without formal training. Becoming a gunfighter or a competitor... that's another story.
__________________
Support the NRA-ILA Auction, ends 03/09/2018

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=593946
5whiskey is offline  
Old October 20, 2020, 02:47 PM   #23
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 26,527
Quote:
Jimi Hendrix however, held his guitar upside down.
he was left handed...

Quote:
Can you name any self-taught violinists who are now concertmasters with a major symphony orchestra? Can you name any self-taught pianists who have soloed at Carnegie Hall? Can you name any self-taught tenors who have sung Rodolfo with the Metropolitan Opera?
No, I can't, nor can I name any self-taught people who WANTED to become the recognized masters of their art in the structured settings you have named.

People begin as self taught, because they have a desire to learn the skill. Those with the desire and the drive to seek the pinnacle of their art always seek some level of professional training along the way, and that removes them from the category of "self taught".
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 20, 2020, 03:58 PM   #24
Rob228
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 29, 2010
Location: Hampstead NC
Posts: 1,448
The biggest jump I ever saw in my pistol score wasn't from more or better practice, it was when I started taking blood pressure medication. I went from 500-1000 rounds a week to living in Japan where I only shot for annual qualification, the difference MAY have been that I had not shot in over a year and was absolutely focused on the fundamentals. But I'm pretty sure it was the blood pressure medication.

I'd rather have done better training than have high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate to thank for the increase in score.
Rob228 is offline  
Old October 22, 2020, 10:34 AM   #25
dyl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 31, 2009
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,310
Quote:
he was left handed...
Doesn't that put the guitar upside down? Wrong side up? It ain't natural I tell ya.

Good replies, good stories and I like the point that only those who already have an interest would even engage in frequent practice - with or without a formal goal in mind. Even for pure enjoyment. I guess it would be less likely for those who enjoy shooting so much not have the tiniest desire to improve. And at the least, they would unintentionally build consistency in the thing that is repeated.
dyl is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:49 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2021 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Page generated in 0.06735 seconds with 8 queries