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.


Accuracy: Tactical Accuracy is not an excuse for bad hits

Accuracy is one of the foundations of marksmanship.  The term acceptable defensive accuracy has been used as an excuse for not improving or paying attention to accuracy.  The most often used phrase with regards to this is “hits to center of mass”.

I first encountered this thinking even before I became active in pistol shooting.  A work colleague was talking about a defensive pistol course he took.  His two closely grouped shots on a target were considered too close because the bullets would go through the same wound channel.  It was his understanding that he needed to intentionally space out his shots on the target.  He stated that his shooting was too accurate.

Regardless of what the instructor meant the student believed that he was too accurate.  This downplaying of accuracy has not been uncommon.

Thinking of “acceptable defensive accuracy” of say a 8 inch group at seven yards makes less sense if you consider more factors.

It is often taught that under stress accuracy will goes down so we can expect that 8 inch group will get bigger.

To support the need for better accuracy the percentage of hits by police is around 20%.  What is overlooked for this statistic is the fact that we’re talking about a hit and not effectiveness.  Skipping in a bullet off the ground into the target’s shin is still counted.

Where does this disconnect from accuracy come from?

I think it is a result of having to rely on a gun for your safety as a law enforcement officer and budget restrictions.  You have to train a whole department of varying skill levels and do it with limited funds. So, having higher accuracy standards would require a larger budget.  Just because someone qualified or re-qualified only means they met a standard.

Is the standard high enough?

Rant over.

At the Range: Set Up for Success: Doctor Dave

The whole range was rented by Doctor Dave.  He brought his rifles and pistols and used a couple rentals.  About fifteen people were his guests.  I think most of them were doctors.

His pistols had red-dots and his rifles had bipods and optics. I think these two things really helped these novice and first-time shooters experience the fun of shooting.

The were all safe and they seemed to enjoy themselves.  Some seemed interested in shooting rifles more.

A win for the promotion of shooting sports.


Revo Files: Transitions

Shooting transitions with a revo is different from an auto.

When doing a 2-2-2 on three targets that are pretty closely spaced with a revo the limiting activity is the trigger.

Transitions and recovering from recoil takes less time than working the trigger to shoot the next shot.  It is opposite with autos.

This means you have to work the trigger the same time you’re transitioning, recovering from recoil and aiming.

Shooting with an auto you are already on the trigger before you transition to the next target or you’re ready to shoot before the acceptable sight picture happens.  This removes the “steering in the sights” or “cleaning up the sight picture” ability that you get with revolvers.

This means you stop working the trigger of an auto waiting for the sights to show.  This starting and stopping of the trigger manipulation is not conducive to smoothness on the trigger.  It isn’t at least for me and made me very jerky with my transitions.  Dry-fire with an auto made this even worse because I would do a double on a target and jerk the gun to the next target. The result in live fire was a mess.  Dry-fire with a revolver was a lot closer to live fire and ultimately I made progress with smoothness and speed.


The Zen thing: Ordinary Mind

Ordinary Mind is a mindset of ordinary.

Good things are ordinary.

Surprises are ordinary.

Bad things are ordinary.

When we operate from this ordinary perspective we will never get nervous, tense or choke.  We will have no doubt because success and failure are both ordinary.

We can also truly apply or full attention and energy to whatever our intentions guide us.  This is because the noise that usually distracts us is ordinary and does not command our attention any more than everything else.

It is good to strive to make everything ordinary in our lives.


Every good gun needs this!


Rather a boring requirement.  It is easy to get distracted from this by better…sights, trigger, rate of fire, grips etc.

People rarely say when buying a gun “I want the gun to always go bang when I load it and pull the trigger”.  It’s a good thing that they don’t because that gun doesn’t exist.

When a gun does start to malfunction many people go into denial.  It can’t be unreliable because the design is over 100 years old!  It’s a revolver. It’s a glock.  I shot thousands of rounds without a problem.

Problems happen.  As an engineer there are many factors that affect reliability.

You might think that reliability is something that is important mostly for defensive shooters.  It is a universal quality that everyone wants in their gun even if they are unaware they want it.

Competition is an obvious place where the shooter wants a reliable gun that shoots tens of thousands of rounds.  However, the gun owner that rarely shoots is probably presents the most stringent demand on reliability.  How many years do people own guns, rarely shoot them and somehow it can shoot when the finally do go shooting?

Fine Motor Skills

There is a constant thread of fine motor skills and not relying on them in a gunfight.

Here is and article that I like.

agree with this article and would like to add something.

Fred argues that training needs to get people to move beyond average. I agree. However, a driver behind the “qualified” shooter approach is budget constraints. The “budget” blinds people and departments in thinking that the level of proficiency needs to be lowered. This attitude is tragic. Proficiency level and cost is not always related. Getting a student to sweep a slide release or mash a magazine release with at thumb can be done in dry-fire. Emphasis should be on providing the student an understanding of measuring and improving their own skill. I’ve seen officer after officer show up to the range and just blast away at their target without any real plan to improve or assessment of their shooting and feel satisfied with just “hitting center of mass”.