When I discovered practical shooting I was employed in the machine trade building plastic injection molds 40-55 hours a week. I knew making it to the top level in shooting would require me to become a student of the sport. In order to reach my potential I had to be committed to find a way to make practice time and to learn as much as I could.
Here are ten tips to set you in the right direction:
• Regular Dry-Practice. Include draws, presentations, reloads, trigger manipulation, transitions, and movement. This will speed the learning curve and increase efficiency on the range when you practice with live ammo.
• Bend your arms. I like to get my shoulders behind the pistol and keep my arms on an even plane. This helps me control recoil and reduce recovery time between shots.
• Concentrate on the basics. Grip, stance, sight alignment, trigger control and follow through. All five skills are important, but I think many shooters do not understand the fifth one. You must follow through, which means keeping the sights where you want to hit when the trigger is pulled and while the bullet is traveling down the barrel. Many think they are doing this when they shoot because of the speed which the bullet is traveling however, what they are doing is jerking the pistol downward (usually) slightly before the shot breaks. Follow through will help you learn to call your shots. Keep your eyes open when the shot breaks. Trust your sights. Remember to keep the pistol pointed where you intend to hit as the trigger is pulled and to watch the sights lift as the shot breaks.
• Wide base when stationary. This means the feet are at least shoulder width apart when static. This will create a solid foundation to shoot from and set you up for an explosive exit to a new position.
• Narrow your base and stay low with a deep knee bend when shooting on the move. This helps stabilize the pistol and provides the best combination of balance and power to accelerate and decelerate.
• Take long strides when possible. You will cover more ground this way when moving to another position.
• When approaching a new shooting position, stay low with a deep knee bend for the most efficient set up and presentation speed.
• Lead with your eyes during transitions to another target. This will allow you to locate the target faster and prevent an over swing. Use your knees when transitioning from a static position. In other words, point your knees toward the direction of the shot.
• Create drills on the range to challenge yourself. Decide which part of your shooting needs the most work and concentrate on it before moving onto other skills.
• Be prepared. Create a training plan and take notes.
Where To Focus
Keep both eyes open if possible and position the sights in front of your dominant eye. Look at the target and snap your sight picture onto the spot you need to hit. If it is a really tight shot, reference back to your sight picture and have the patience to break the shot only when you see everything necessary to make the hit. The time for this focal change up happens in fractions of a second which explains why a typical full target at 7 yards may take someone .12-.25 seconds to score two A’s while a 35 yard split may take .40-.75 seconds. The level of target difficulty should dictate the speed of your shots.
One Simple Drill
One of the first ranges I practiced on was an outdoor static firing line and did not permit 90 degree shots. Something I did to help my accuracy was to shoot one and two shot drills at 2”x4” rectangles marked on a sheet of paper at 7 yards. At 25 yards I would use a plain white sheet of paper and aim for the center. With this simple drill I learned (1) the importance of trigger control (2) how much time I needed to make a hit and(3) to track the sights and to follow through on the shot. As I progressed I would add more targets and change up engagement order to learn transition skills.
In time I found a range which allowed me to use the entire pit including 90 degree shots into the side berms, so I was able to work on other skills. I began taking notes in practice and competition, concentrating on areas I felt need improvement, tracking progress made and finding ways to get better.