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Old November 24, 2005, 07:32 PM   #1
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Join Date: November 24, 2005
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Exercises for one-handed shooting?

Hi all,

Long time reader, first time poster here. Hope you all can share some good insight with me on this one... I'm going for my NRA bullseye pistol qualification and I'm up to the Sharpshooter-Bar 1 level, and I've seem to have hit a plateau for a few months now and can't progress any higher. The qualifications at my current level require shooting at a bullseye target with a 1.5" black center at 25', and getting at least a score of 64 with 10 shots, slow fire, strong hand only.

I can reliably group my shots within 2" at 25 feet with a two-handed grip. But there's something about shooting one-handed that I must not be "getting". My stance places my feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, almost parallel to the line towards the target (off about 10-15 degrees), left hand in my pocket, right arm rigid and straight. I'm operating the trigger with the pad of my finger.

Is this just a matter of more practice, and just powering through the plateau? Or should I be doing exercises like stress balls or tricep presses to get my muscle stamina up? Or introducing a new way to shoot one-handed to my routine? Or all the above or something completely different!?

Thanks for any advice or tips! Oh, if it matters, I'm using an H&K Expert .45 and Fiocchi ammunition.
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Old November 24, 2005, 08:02 PM   #2
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Here are some notes I took about two years ago during a session with the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU). Feel free to use whatever applies to your situation.

Arc Of Movement: Movement of your sights on the target.
• Minimize your movement through stance, position, and exercises, but realize and accept that you will always have some arc of movement.

Stance: Comfortable alignment of body to itself
• Bring the sights up to your eyes, not your eyes to the sights
• Head level, in a neutral position
• Feet shoulder width apart
• Anchor your non-shooting arm so it does move under recoil and disrupt your stance

Position: Comfortable alignment of body to the target
• Natural point of aim--point of least muscle usage to maintain stance and position, usually at a 45 degree angle from the target.
• Sight drift indicates direction you should turn to get your natural point of aim--if the sights drift left, shift right until you bring the sights back onto the target.
• Maintain your stance but shift your entire body into alignment.
• Align pistol with groove of web of hand and inline with the forearm as much as possible, but don’t force it.
• Any time you move your feet, you must re-check your natural point of aim.
• As your body tires, you must adjust your stance to adjust to muscles shifting.

• Control of the pistol
• Squeeze (not pull) straight to the rear on the trigger
• Natural sight alignment
• Web of hand as high as possible on the gun

Trigger finger placement
• Most important component
• Will differ from gun to gun
• Pull the trigger aggressively, straight back, smooth without disturbing the sights
• The more finger you have in there, the lighter the sensation of trigger pull
• If front sight pulls to the right, you have too much finger; pulls to left, too little finger
• Test with dry firing slow and fast

**Trigger’s purpose is to align your sights.
**Allow the trigger to align your sights, within your wind of opportunity
**Imagine the front sight in on a rail attached to the trigger, and you are moving the front sight back into the rear sight as you pull the trigger
**With practice and training, your arc of movement gets smaller. You always shoot within your arc of movement

• Focus in on rear sight, then front sight
• Center aim gets a tighter group; 6 o’clock is more accurate to the target
• Concentrate on top of front sight, not sides; less to think about, and sides tend to naturally align.
• Pull with entire finger
• Watch the side lights on each side of the front sight.

Shot plan (for Bullseye competitions)
1. Take a deep breath and visualize correct sight alignment
2. Raise front sight above target and settle into the center of the target while exhaling
3. Stop your exhale as tower says “Ready on the firing line”
4. Once you start your trigger pull, focus on using the trigger to keep the sights aligned, no on the trigger break

Maintain your arc of movement on the center of the target

• Learn how many seconds it takes you to break a shot. Learn through dry firing. Begin next trigger pull as you begin recovering from recoil--just as you come back into the black. Time it.

Alternate Training Methods
• The following exercises are better when you do them closer to a wall than further away, because then you can practice anywhere (small room, hotel room, etc.).

Steady hold and holding exercises
1. Draw a thin horizontal line across the center of a blank sheet of paper
2. From stance/position, measure distance from top of sight to ground
3. Measure same distance on a wall and put center of paper target to that height
4. Align your sights so that the horizontal line “rests” on the sights.
5. With the sights aligned, keep the horizontal line resting on top of the sights for 1 minute, then rest for 1 minute. Do 10 repetitions.
6. Put up another sheet of paper with a line on it, only this time make the line a vertical one.
7. Align your sights so that the vertical line “cuts” through the middle of your front sight as it is aligned properly with the rear sights. Don’t worry about movement left to right.
8. With the sights aligned, keep the vertical line cutting the front sight in half for 1 minute, then rest for 1 minute. Do 10 repetitions. Don’t worry about movement up and down.
9. Put up a third sheet of paper if a horizontal line and a vertical line that cross in the center.
10. Align your sights so that the horizontal line rests on top of your sights and the vertical line cuts through the middle of your front sight.
11. Hold this sight alignment for 1 minute, then rest for 1 minute. Do 10 repetitions.

5-pound dumbbell
1. Put a 1” black spot on a blank sheet of paper
2. Put a small white dot at the very top center of the dumbbell (use white paint or WhiteOut)
3. Hold the dumbbell as would your pistol, and keep the white dot in the center of the black spot (or at the 6 o’clock position if you use that aiming method).
4. Hold this position for 1 minute, then rest for 1 minute. Do 10 repetitions.

Dry firing
1. Pull the trigger first and hold it
2. Pull the hammer back all the way
3. Release the trigger
4. Release the hammer
5. You are ready to dry fire (this procedure saves your sear engagement from wear and tear)

Dry fire pencil drills
1. Get a new, sharp pencil
2. Wrap masking tape around it in two places: Around the metal eraser cleat and around the middle
3. Wrap enough tape so that the center of the pencil will be near the center of the barrel when you insert it, but NOT so much as to be snug. The pencil needs enough room to slide.
4. Put 3 small dots on a blank sheet of paper
5. Put the paper on the wall same as in the Steady Hold exercises above
6. Insert the pencil into your barrel and cock the hammer as described in the dry firing procedure above)
7. Stand and extend the pistol so that the muzzle is 1 - 4 inches from the paper
8. Aim at the dot and pull the trigger. 10 repetitions for each dot
9. Check how many pencil hits you have and where they are. This exercise will show you how closely your shots are grouping and whether you are jerking the trigger (as evidenced by shot falling all to one side of the aim point)

Shot plot (done at the range)
• This exercise shows you where your shots hit as compared to where you think they hit. Forces you to pay attention to your sights at the time of trigger break.

1. Get 10 pieces of brass and two targets
2. Put one target down on your shooting table/bench. This target is your shot plot
3. Put on piece of brass on the target in the place where you thought you shot at trigger break (try not to look at where the shot actually hit the target)
4. Shoot 10 rounds, and then compare to the actual target.

Pellet gun or .22 cal. pistol
• Use for training at a lower cost
• Pellet gun is great for learning follow-through (holding on target after the shot fires) because the pellet moves so slowly that dropping your aim will throw off the pellet

Ball (live) and dummy rounds
• Great to see if you’re flinching or otherwise pulling a shot
• Need a partner for this

1. Have your partner load a dummy round into the magazine along with some live ones
2. Make the dummy round the last round (after 1, 2, 3, or more live ones) until you are good at clearing the dummy round from the chamber.
3. Have your partner watch you fire and note whether you flinch

Mental Management Programs
• US Army Marksmanship Unit: Advance Pistol Guide
• Mental Management For Shooting Sports (by Lanny Bassham)
• Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect
• Successful Pistol Shooting

Visualize perfect shots
WhyteP38 is offline  
Old November 25, 2005, 03:31 PM   #3
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whtyeP38 --

thanks for these notes... they're a great place to start!

Any idea why the Army Marksmanship Unit instructor said this?
Center aim gets a tighter group; 6 o’clock is more accurate to the target
Wouldn't a person's natural grouping be the same whether the top of the sights is a 6 o'clock or covering the target (12 o'clock)?
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Old November 25, 2005, 07:08 PM   #4
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He did, but I can't remember exactly why. I *believe* it had something to do with a 6 o'clock hold allowing you to see the target better. However, you're supposed to concentrate on your front sight, and I don't remember how the 6 o'clock hold and the target view are linked to concentrating on your front sight.

I didn't bother to write down his reason because I'm a self-defense shooter, not a bullseye shooter, so I shoot POA. I'm sure some bullseye shooters could clear that up for you, or you might be able to e-mail the AMU and ask them.
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Old November 27, 2005, 10:51 PM   #5
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The US army pistol marksmanship guide is good (see here
RichD is offline  
Old November 30, 2005, 03:57 PM   #6
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Posts: 1,086
I shot bullseye competitions and to advance you have to do daily dryfire excercises. I also practiced a bit with an air pistol, an old Walther LP53.

You have to lock your wrist up and to do so, you have to hold the gun quite firmly. Pulling the trigger back straight without jerking will help you to get better results. Watch through your fire and evaluate every shot.
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Old December 3, 2005, 01:57 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the responses, and the PDF manual really is some good reading! And dry fire is definitely in my future -- I used to do it, but not daily... I'll have to do that when I get my gun back from the smith.

Yes, the gun is in the smith's, because I checked my muzzle crown when cleaning it last week and discovered four rather nasty nicks on the crown. I never like to blame the gun for my inaccuracies, but blaming crown damage is another story!

Maybe that's why I've been not able to advance?! We'll see after I get the gun back. Stay tuned.
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