Temporal Pressure

I think this terms covers any kind of time pressure, the urgency of a defensive shooting situation, match pressure and also training pressure.

Pressure creates stress by definition whether it’s in shooting or in engineering.

Stress causes arousal.  In the cases we’re talking about arousal creates fear and anxiety.

It is how we deal with fear and anxiety that is what we train for.

Actually getting out to train is another pressure.  The stress is different.  It is more of a distraction to current tasks.  The “should I be doing something else” voice in our heads.  We go internally and start running simulations in our heads.  If we are well trained we are able to make decisions.

This kind of decision making also presents itself in a defensive shooting situation also.  Lanny Bassham calls it the anticipatory phase.  His context is in competitive shooting but I think this also applied so defensive.  How well have we prepared?


Flinch: A Control Loop Explanation

Flinch is a general term.  I’m working on breaking down the different kinds of involuntary actions when shooting.

Take a look at Mel Gibson in lethal weapon shooting his Beretta and you’ll see a massive flinch.  He blinks really hard.  This is one thing that I consider a flinch.  He’s only shooting blanks, I don’t want to see him doing live fire.

I also see a lot of shooters anticipate recoil pushing the gun down an instant before it goes off.

There is a an open and closed control loop description of what is going on.  When we do things slow enough we can see what we’re doing and correct for them.  When things happen really fast there isn’t enough time for us to adjust what our body is doing.  Something that happens quicker than around .15 seconds is usually too fast to consciously react.  The body’s nervous system sensing and controlling.  For elite sprinters that start with the sound of a gun there is a minimum time after the shot of the gun that the sprinters have take to react.  This is to eliminate anticipation of the sound.

Reaction time does a lot in flinching.  Because the body can’t react fast enough our subconscious anticipates the recoil and starts to push the gun down.

Allowing the gun to recoil and the sights to rise is a good exercise.  Group shooting is a drill to help.  It also helps overall accuracy and form.

Putting on the gas flinch can start up again.  This is where bill drills help.  Bill drills into the berm can aid in relaxing.

Milking the shots.  I see a lot of people shooting low and left, for right handed shooters low right for left handed.  I believe it is called milking because the shooter is tensing up the whole shooting hand when triggering.

Accuracy: Slot Machine Mentality

Some shooters have the slot machine mentality towards matches or even shooting in general.  They throw their bullets down range and have an expectation of a jackpot.  Maybe next time they’ll shoot well.

I think sometimes there is an element of luck like clipping a no shoot. But that is different from protecting one’s ego from consistent less than desired performance.

This concept of luck is also at work when people rush.  “Turning on the gas” or rushing breeds cutting corners like not actually aiming the gun.  It is accuracy by luck, a ready fire aim approach or “shooting by Braille”.

I’d rather save my ammo and use my time wisely rather spray and pray.

Stage Plan: No Hope

In my quest for faster stages I have found that I should avoid the “all or nothing” approach to targets that require accuracy.

This means that at a match the 15 yard partial doesn’t get “hopers” thrown at it.  I think there is nothing slower.

I don’t really think you can work out that this is slower in practice.  There isn’t the match pressure and you have set it up so there is a better feel of how accurate you need to be.

Once that buzzer goes off accuracy and IQ is reduced.

Match Prep: You will never be ready for your first competition

Okay, you will never “feel” ready for your first competition.

If you’ve got all your gear to do the match and you can perform the necessary skills safely you’re ready.

Mentally you will feel there is “just one more thing” you need to do or something to get.  Or you will feel you need to “just get a little better”.

Sorry, those feelings will never go away.  The people who go to matches just no longer let that stop them.  These feelings can motivate us to practice and improve for the next match.  It’s a wonderful never-ending cycle.

I can talk about the reassuring stories when I have, or someone else, forgot crucial things.  There was almost without fail someone who had an “extra”.  Extra guns, extra ammo, holsters, eye and ear protection, extra stogies to smoke, extra beer.  You name it someone brought spares.  It might be the nature of the sport.

To chime back in on safety.  For your first match if you feel uncomfortable doing anything talk about it with the SO or RO.

It’s up to you now.


Flinch: Convincing New Shooters it isn’t the sights

At the RO job yesterday and a guy’s wife waved me over.  The guy had just bought a swee P226 Scorpion in gray and blue with some really nice grips. At 3 yards he was hitting over a foot low.

He asked me to shoot his gun and tell me where it is aimed.  I gave a quick shot and hit the nine ring.  That got his attention.

I proceeded to do the diagnostic trigger drill with him, pulling the trigger for him while he aimed.  Ten ring hit.

That really got his attention…and started some beneficial confusion and questioning.  He was no longer suspecting the gun.

I then had him do a couple dry-fire shots.  A major flinch showed up and he connected with what was going on.

A live fire shot immediately after a half dozen dry fires to settle his sights a little bought the hits up a foot.

The lightbulb went on but more important it was clear on how to correct his low hits.  It seemed like it was a happy discovery with no judgement and beating himself up.  All of a sudden the thousand plus dollars he spent on this gun was worth it and he was beginning to get connected to his pistol in the way I wish everyone could connect with their guns.

I left him with instructions: if he is hitting low, do some dry fire shots to take care of the push down.  It will save ammo and improve accuracy.

Now was the crucial part.  His self-image was very vulnerable.  He was apologizing for saying it was the gun that he just spent over a grand on and didn’t realize it was what he was doing.  I complimented the quality of his Sig Sauer saying that he made a good choice.  I also told him that it is common to do this and asked “How do you think I knew exactly what was going on?”.

Smiles all around.  I love it when people enjoy shooting.


Weaver Speed Limit

Yesterday a fellow shooter was missing targets at a match.  He was using a Weaver style of stance and he was going seriously low left on the second shots on paper.

At first I asked about how much trigger finger he was using.  After looking at him shoot it was clear that it was his stance.

When shooting the weaver the Push-Pull forces are added to the force of recoil and coordinating the muscles at high speed is difficult.  This become even more difficult if there are arrays of targets.  It takes time to tense and relax muscles.

By using the isosceles there isn’t a push pull and tense and relax but only forces against gravity and those required to hold and aim the gun.

So, by having a solid and relaxed stance and only using the muscles to defeat gravity, the speed of shooting is no longer limited by the time it takes to tense and relax muscles.