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Old December 21, 2012, 03:52 AM   #1
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whats your most common problem with new shooters?

I was talkking in a new threat and one of the posters sent me to a site that had a list of common problems. That got ,me to thinking- I do have a list of common problems with shooters. My experienced guys it isn't so much a fundamentals thing but a technique thing that needs to be modified for the task at hand.

The new people (my absolute favorite to teach) pretty much have the same problems in this order of frequency:

1. Jerking / staging the trigger
2. Staying up too long on a shot and snatching the trigger
3. Gripping too hard with their firing hand
4. Not concentrating on their front site.
5 No 2nd Site Picture / recovery
6. Sight alignment (sight too high or too low in rear sight)
7. trigger position

and one of my pet peeves - bad attitude that has them beat up on themselves for missing and letting it affect the accuracy of their subsequent shots. ( I know an an extremely excellent gunfighter that i can always beat as long as he misses early in the game because his mind goes to mush once he misses)

anyone out their really different?
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Old December 21, 2012, 04:45 AM   #2
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I can't answer as I'm a new shooter...
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Old December 21, 2012, 05:10 AM   #3
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When they out shoot me!!
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Old December 21, 2012, 05:46 AM   #4
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I had a buddy who just did not get the concept of how to sight in his scope. Over about 6-7 range trips with him over several months he continued to try and fire-and-adjust after each shot. I'm still not sure if he understands what a "group" is! He gets really ecstatic when he fires five shots, hits the bullseye once and misses the target with the other four...

I eventually sighted in his scope for him...

Nice guy though.
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Old December 21, 2012, 07:39 AM   #5
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Muzzle control.

A certain percentage of people seem to have serious problems remembering not to point the gun at things or people they don't intend to shoot.

I've never noticed any particular pattern to it; age, sex, race, income level, etc. Some people are just stone deaf to things they don't consider important.
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Old December 21, 2012, 07:58 AM   #6
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TRX - i forgot about that one :-)

no muzzle awareness and dangling the weapon.
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Old December 21, 2012, 08:04 AM   #7
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Across the board, trigger control.
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Old December 21, 2012, 11:08 AM   #8
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Safety in general...

As others have stated, muzzle control, dangling etc. They usually think the default position for the trigger finger is on the trigger. They forget that a string of fire is not complete until the weapon is safe and holstered. They finish firing, lower the weapon and turn uprange to get more "clips" or load more "bullets" or just discuss why their gun isn't "good" because it didn't shoot where they aimed it.

Never had one look down the barrel to do a chamber check but there's still time

God love them, and I do too. I love teaching newbies but DANG you have to watch them like a hawk! And they are FAST too!
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Old December 21, 2012, 11:15 AM   #9
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Safety and grip. I can usually get any safe handling issues worked out quick, but grip is always a struggle.
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Old December 21, 2012, 11:17 AM   #10
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I agree with Al, trigger control -- mostly snatching or jerking.

The second most common problem is gripping the gun too tight.
"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
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Old December 21, 2012, 11:35 AM   #11
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1. Jerking / staging the trigger
2. Staying up too long on a shot and snatching the trigger
3. Gripping too hard with their firing hand
4. Not concentrating on their front site.
5 No 2nd Site Picture / recovery
6. Sight alignment (sight too high or too low in rear sight)
7. trigger position
Wow. I've been shooting and I still have these problems.
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Old December 21, 2012, 12:53 PM   #12
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Al Thompson - I agree - if i can knock out trigger control problems then the rest is smooth sailing

Here is some stuff out of one of my instructors manuals. It might be disjointed if you dont have the rest but you should get an idea what i meant when i wrote it

1. Shooting mantras

This is the most basic and useful of the assistance drills. With newer shooters that are beginning to master the fundamentals of marksmanship the ability to remember and utilize the fundamentals and manipulate the weapon correctly (multi task) may be limited. The basis of this drill is simply to have the shooter’s coach repeat a lacking fundamental or priority fundamental over and over again in the shooters ear.

The most useful two mantras to repeat to a shooter are :

Front site, Front site, Front site …….
Smooth Trigger, Smooth Trigger, Smooth Trigger,

2. Ball and Dummy Drills (BAD drills)

The ability to correct trigger control problems equal the ability to correct the vast majority of all shooting problems. This drill is used specifically to diagnose a shooters trigger control abilities. When the shooter can focus specifically on their trigger control then gains can be made on fixing poor control.

The drill is done as follows:

a. An x number of rounds is put into the coaches pocket
b. The firing order is broken down into shooters and coaches
c. The shooter is lined up on the firing line 10 meters from his target
d. The coach is placed on the shooters firing side behind and to the side of the shooters holster
e. The shooter keeps his eyes downrange concentrating on his target
f. The coach either loads a live round into an empty magazine or doesn’t
g. The coach removes the shooters weapon from the holster
h. The coach points the weapon in a safe direction (45 degrees and downrange)
i. The coach loads the weapon with a live round or empty magazine and lets the slide go forward
j. The coach carefully places the magazine into the shooters holster.
k. The coach tells the shooter “weapon is ready”
l. The shooter presents the weapon from position one and takes a carefully aimed shoot while applying a smooth trigger pull.
m. The coach carefully watches the shooters front site from the side and watches for a dip during the trigger break.
n. The shooter carefully watches his front site during the trigger squeeze and looks for a dip in his site alignment.
o. The coach queries the shooter if a dip was observed.
p. The coach critiques the trigger pull
q. Steps e – p are repeated until the ammo is used or the trigger control problem is corrected.

3. Assisted Trigger Pull.

A second diagnostic procedure to identify if a shooter is having problems with trigger control is the assisted trigger pull drill. To accomplish this drill the instructor will move to the shooters firing side and physically pull the shooters trigger for him.

The drill progresses from pulling the students trigger while the trigger finger is placed straight alongside and above the trigger guard to pulling the trigger by physically placing the instructors trigger finger over the shooters.

This drill only works if the instructor applies steady, smooth, correct trigger pull straight to the rear.

To perform this exercise the shooter is briefed on the actions of the instructor and one of the two techniques is used. During the initial stages of the trigger control the instructor asks the shooter if his actions are not bothersome to the student. The steps that the instructor takes are:

1. Move to the shooters firing side
2. Place the instructors no firing hand (depends on shooters hand) on the students shoulder
3. Tell the shooter to present his weapon to the number four position
4. Tell the shooters to concentrate on the front sites and steady hold factors
5. Tell the shooter that you will take control of the trigger pull.
6. The instructor places his finger on the shooters trigger finger and pulls the trigger smoothly to the rear until it fires.
7. The instructor observes the shooters other fundamentals

If the shot group tightens up considerably from previous down / angled groups then there was a good chance that the problem was indeed trigger control.

4. The site on the rail mental exercise

The exercise is perhaps on of the best to improve a students trigger pull. This exercise is also one of the most difficult to effectively explain. The reason for this is simple it is all performed within the shooters imagination and cannot be observed or even known if the shooter is performing the drill correctly.

The drill is explained as follows:

This drill is done utilizing the shooters imagination
Imagine that the handguns front site sits on a rail on the top of the slide (many use the choo choo train analogy) and that the rail extends from the front to just in front of the rear site
The front site slide freely up and down the rail.
Imagine next that one end of a string is tied to the trigger and that the other end of the string is tied to the front site.
Imagine as the shooter pulls the trigger to the rear that the front site is pulled rearward towards the rear site via the string.
Instruct the student to visually watch the front site and imagine that it is being observed coming towards the rear site.
Tell the shooter that the site should not be stopping and starting and that the site is moving at a steady pace down the rail.
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Old December 21, 2012, 01:18 PM   #13
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New shooters are comparatively easy, they are a blank slate you can teach right from the get go. The hard shooters are those with years of bad habits but no formal or good instruction and resist being guided into safe gun handling. They scare the hell out of me.
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Old December 22, 2012, 11:34 AM   #14
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Hitting the target once in a while and deciding that's good enough to stop practicing.
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Old December 22, 2012, 06:43 PM   #15
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There two additional problems with new shooters and old shooters which have a great impact on shooting.

Breathing. They don't breath or breath while they are trying to shoot.

Foot work. If the feet are not positioned properly then they will not be able to shoot accurately. This is really shows up in timed and rapid sequences.
A simple test is to align up on the target and then move the left foot right or left front or back. The alignment of the weapon in relation to the target will change dramatically.
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Old December 22, 2012, 08:39 PM   #16
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I agree with Al, trigger control -- mostly snatching or jerking.

The second most common problem is gripping the gun too tight.
That's always an interesting discussion.

Mas Ayoob teaches "crush" grip and shoots with it very successfully.

My take is that, during a scary event such as lethal encounter, you're going to tense up and be gripping the gun hard as an automatic, uncontrolled reaction, anyway.

Learning to shoot that way might make sense.

If you're already gripping hard, you can't squeeze and jerk the gun when you pull the trigger, as Ayoob points out.

Don't know if any data exitst from real shooting re: grip. Those involved probably wouldn't be aware of it.

Last edited by Nnobby45; December 22, 2012 at 08:45 PM.
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Old December 22, 2012, 08:50 PM   #17
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Muzzle control.
Bing-O. That's always the one that bugs me the most. I don't care if you don't have good trigger control and jerk the shot, but not controlling that muzzle is a safety issue.
---Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.---

---Enlightenment is the ability to take infinite pains---
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Old December 22, 2012, 09:29 PM   #18
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norahc posted this shooting aid url
It might help.
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Old December 23, 2012, 09:47 AM   #19
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new or entry level handgun shooters....

There are some good points here.
I do not go shooting a lot but the few times I've gone with people who never fired a real, loaded pistol or revolver, I've noticed they always have their fingers on the trigger.
I constantly have to remind them NOT to put the finger on the trigger until they are ready to fire.
I think TV & movies have a lot to do with it. New or untrained shooters always say the gun; "went off" when they have a discharge. Not being aware of how they pulled the #%*+ing trigger!
I like the newer model Taurus pistols with the pad on the frame for gun owners to use "muscle memory" & keep the shooting finger on the trigger guard.
More handgun & defense sidearm designs should have this practical feature.

Some handgun shooters think a DA pistol or revolver must be "cocked" too in order to fire. This is a basic lesson that any instructor should address to avoid mishaps. I've posted a item before about a gun press article I read a few years ago. A older lady with no firearms training told her neighbor about her .357magnum revolver and asked him to check it. The neighbor found out she had kept the loaded .357magnum with a cocked hammer in her bedroom for nearly 20 years!
These are issues new shooters have.

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Old December 23, 2012, 01:19 PM   #20
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New & Old Shooters alike,

Getting them to understand the value of DRY FIRING. Hours upon hours of dry firing.
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Old December 23, 2012, 03:52 PM   #21
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Teaching them to be aware of the muzzle and their trigger finger.
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Old December 23, 2012, 07:38 PM   #22
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Preconceived notions based upon what they have seen on TV/movies, read or been told by their Uncle Bill who has a friend whose cousin was a Recon Ranger on the Delta SEAL team.
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Old December 23, 2012, 08:45 PM   #23
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Good instructors, training....

The same goes to firearm instructors/teaching cadre. I'm required by state div policy to qualify once a year. I've seen a few good instructors & a lot of bad ones.

Training cadre should avoid; "war stories", personal opinions, gripes, and other meaningless remarks. New students or shooting range members can become confused, annoyed or get the wrong impression.
Many students take a "be like Daddy" mindset & wrongly assume they can shoot weapons or use tactics way beyond their skill set(s).
In 2008, I took a armed class with a veteran instructor who packed a S-A 1911a1 .45acp. Of course, 3 or 4 of the students then wanted to get 1911a1 models too! Surprise!
Bad habits or poor skill levels come from students who get in way over their heads or try to do to much to soon.

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Old December 24, 2012, 12:31 PM   #24
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Gun handeling and safty at the range.biker
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Old December 24, 2012, 12:50 PM   #25
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Trying to get people to keep their finger off the trigger till they are on target and ready to shoot is a big one I can think of. As far as mantras go, mine has always been the Mel Gibson classic, "aim small, miss small".
Abraham Lincoln made all men free, Samuel Colt made them equal.
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