Tag Archives: Range Life

SKILLS: Dry-Fire Practice With Lasers, Part Three

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This is the third and final installment of this series by Team Springfield Armory’s Kyle Schmidt. It really works wonders! READ ON

laser practice three

EDITOR’S NOTE: I ran Part 1 of this installment a spell ago. Find it HERE to refresh your memory. Part 2 is HERE. Good stuff! And it really works.

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kyle Schmidt

In Part II of Dry Fire Practice With Lasers, I focused on Acceptable Sight Picture Drills. Let’s move forward now to some more-advanced laser drills.

REFINED TRIGGER PRESS — DRY PRACTICE DRILL
Once a shooter has identified (and hopefully improved) how well they are able to hold or keep the gun aimed on the desired target area — and they understand what an “acceptable sight picture” is, the next obstacle is to determine if they have the ability to press the trigger without moving the gun out of the intended target area.

To practice this technique, try my “Refined Trigger Press” (RTP) dry-practice drill.

laser target 1
LASER TARGET 1

RTP DRY-PRACTICE DRILL — PART I:
Place Laser Target 1 (with C-Zone side of the dry practice target facing you, above photo), at your desired distance.

Make sure the laser and sights are zeroed for this distance.

Aim the [unloaded] gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser.

While watching the laser, start pressing the trigger.

Watch the dot closely as you press the trigger.

Does the act of pressing the trigger move the dot outside of the C-Zone? If it does, then while you are pressing the trigger, you are also moving the gun. Ideally when you press the trigger, you do NOT also move, push, pull, jerk the gun out of the intended scoring zone. You must learn to isolate the trigger finger so that the act of pressing the trigger does NOT move the gun out of the intended scoring zone. Repeat this drill until you see a noticeable improvement in the movement of the “dot”.

Once you have mastered the C-Zone, repeat and master the RTP Dry Practice Drill on:
The body A-Zone (Laser Target 2)
The entire, head (Laser Target 2)
The A-Zone head (Laser Target 1)
Finally the black 1-inch square

Once you have mastered each of the above zones, move back from the target, re-zero the laser for the new distance and start all over with the C-Zone, eventually going through each of the zones.

You can gradually increase the difficulty at one distance by reducing the target size, and then increase the difficulty again by increasing the distance.

laser target 2
LASER TARGET 2

Ultimately you are trying to find the level that is difficult for YOU and learn to master that.

Continue to experiment at different distances to see how well you can press the trigger while keeping the gun aimed in the desired scoring zone.

INSTANT TRIGGER PRESS — DRY PRACTICE DRILL
Once you have mastered the refined trigger press (RTP), you cannot stop there. That type of trigger press is rarely ever used, but it’s a great starting point for you to learn what is happening to the gun as you are moving the trigger.

If you want to shoot fast, some shots require that you develop the ability to instantly move the trigger from its at-rest position all the way to the rear position to fire the gun.

Try my “Instant Trigger Press” (ITP) dry practice drills to hone this skill.

ITP DRY PRACTICE DRILL — PART I:
Place Laser Target I (with the C- Zone side of the dry practice target facing you), at your desired distance.

Aim the gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser.

While watching the laser, press the trigger as quickly as you can.

Watch the dot closely as you move the trigger.

Does the act of moving the trigger quickly move the dot outside of the C-Zone? If it does, it’s because you are also moving the gun. Ideally when you press the trigger you should not also move the gun out of the intended scoring zone, regardless of the pace you pull the trigger.

You may have to practice this drill hundreds of times before the movement diminishes on a consistent basis.

When you can easily pull the trigger quickly without moving the gun, move on to ITP Part II dry practice drill.

Once you have mastered the Instant Trigger Press in the C-Zone, repeat and master the ITP Dry Practice Drill on:

The body A-Zone (Laser Target 2)
The entire, head (Laser Target 2)
The A-Zone head (Laser Target 1)
Finally the black 1-inch square

Once you have mastered each of the above zones, move back from the target, re-zero the laser for the new distance and start all over with the C-Zone, eventually going through each of the above zones.

Continue to experiment at different distances to see how well you can quickly move the trigger while keeping the gun aimed in the desired scoring zone. It’s not as easy as it may seem, so I recommend practicing these drills on a regular basis.

 

SKILLS: Dry-Fire Practice With Lasers, Part 2

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Team Springfield Armory’s Kyle Schmidt shares some insight on a use of a laser sight that’s truly beneficial to shooting better. READ MORE

laser sight

EDITOR’S NOTE: I ran Part 1 of this installment a spell ago. Find it HERE to refresh your memory. Good stuff! And it really works.

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kyle Schmidt

In Part I of ‘Dry Fire Practice With Lasers,’ I outlined the following:

Creating the dry fire targets, specifically Laser Target 1 and Laser Target 2
Attaching and zeroing the laser
Holding / Aiming Dry Practice Laser Drills

Let’s move forward now to some intermediate laser drills.

ACCEPTABLE SIGHT PICTURE — DRY PRACTICE DRILL
One of the more difficult concepts to get people to understand is the concept of an “acceptable” sight picture. If you’re like me, you were probably taught that “perfect sight alignment” requires:

The front sight perfectly centered in the rear sight notch
Equal lines of light / space on each side of the front sight
Front and rear sight perfectly level across the top

perfect sight picture

That sight alignment should then be placed perfectly in the center of the target before you should even start to move your trigger finger to the trigger.

Luckily for me, I was “un-brainwashed” of this filth by my buddy Rob Leatham many years ago. Not all shots require the above-mentioned “perfect sight alignment.”

We must learn what an “acceptable sight picture” is based on the difficulty of the shot.

An acceptable sight picture is a relatively difficult concept to explain because there are so many variables that affect how the sights appear from one shooter’s gun to the next. Target size, target distance, the type of sights, the sight radius, the length of the shooter’s arms, even the head position can affect how the sights look in relation to each other and how they correspond to the intended target.

And although I immediately understood the concept of an acceptable sight picture, it still took me a long time to really be able to apply it regularly.

When instructing, I use this dry-practice drill to help others better understand what an acceptable sight picture is, for the difficulty of the shot. The latter part of that sentence is very important! I would recommend first doing this drill at a relatively close distance, maybe 3 to 5 yards.

center c zone

ACCEPTABLE SIGHT PICTURE DRY PRACTICE DRILL:
Place Laser Target 1 (with the C-Zone side of the target facing you), at your desired (and zeroed) distance.

Aim the gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser (above image).

Now look at the iron sights. They should also be lined up in the center of the target.

While watching the laser, start moving the front of the gun, and the laser dot, to the LEFT.

Try to keep the rear sight in the middle of the target and only move the laser and the front of the gun.

Stop once the dot from the laser reaches the left edge of the C-Zone (below image).

left edge of c zone

Shift your eye focus back to the iron sights.

If the rear sight is still in the middle of the target where you started, then look where the front sight is. It should be really far to the LEFT. If you are only a few yards from the target, the front sight will likely be completely hidden behind the rear sight.

This is how mis-aligned your sights can be to still be aimed in the C-Zone of the target. Pretty amazing, right?

When you are done being mesmerized and you’ve finished trying to convince yourself this can’t be possible, repeat this drill a few more times. Then move on to the right side of the target:

Aim the gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser.

Now look at the iron sights. They should also be lined up in the center of the target.

While watching the laser, start moving the front of the gun, and the laser dot, to the RIGHT.

Try to keep the rear sight in the middle of the target and only move the laser and the front of the gun.

Stop once the dot from the laser reaches the right edge of the C-Zone (below image).

right edge of c zone

Shift your eye focus back to the iron sights.

If the rear sight is still in the middle of the target where you started, then look where the front sight is. It should be really far to the RIGHT.

Now repeat the drill two more times, but use the top and bottom of the C-Zone.

top c zone

Make a mental note each time you do each drill so you can recall the positioning of the sights later.

Once you get a good feel for the C-Zone, use Laser Target 2 (flip the target over to the A-Zone side) and repeat the drill, left, right and top, bottom.

left a zone top a zone bottom a zone

Although the A-Zone is substantially narrower than the C-Zone (almost by half), notice that you could have quite a bit of sight mis-alignment and still be in the A-Zone.

Once you figure out the body A-Zone, move up to the head and see if you can keep the dot in the head reliably.

Next, use Laser Target 1 (flip the target back over) and move up to the head’s A-Zone.

Finally use the 1-in. black square of tape for your aiming spot.

You should continue to experiment at different distances to see how mis-aligned the sights can be, even out to 25 yards and still be in the corresponding scoring zone. (Remember you need to make sure the laser is zeroed with the sights for whatever distance you are experimenting at.)

As long as the laser is “aimed” in the desired scoring zone, the corresponding sight picture would be “acceptable.” All that is left is to fire the gun.

CHECK OUT LASER SIGHTS HERE

 

SKILLS: Chasing Time

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“The very first step to shooting fast is not to go fast at all but to literally stop the gun!” Steve Tarani explains all that next… READ ON

tarani

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Tarani

As a sworn deputy and later a federal employee, it was incumbent upon those of us carrying firearms to qualify with those weapons, meeting the minimum standard as set by that agency or department.

Technically speaking, you could squeak by your in-service qualification with a barely-passing score. However, to the rest of the team you’d be considered a second-rate schmuck if you didn’t hit close to that perfect score. The boys might let you slide if you were down one or two points, but any more than that was considered pedestrian, and you’d pay the price of choking on a giant mouthful of humble pie.

TO TOP QUAL OR NOT TO TOP QUAL
To keep your qualification scores near, or at the top, you must maintain your skills.

To do that, you need to train.

Whether defensive tactics or shooting, all physical (hard) skills are perishable. Although we would like to think that we would rise to the occasion, it was the ancient Greek philosopher Archilochus (680 to 645 BC) who said, “We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”

As state employees, we were subjected to, what one of my esteemed colleagues refers to as, “institutionalized inbreeding” — that which is taught by rote from generation to generation of department/agency — without question or personal edification. “Son, this is the way we’ve done things since the last world war.”

As an employee you are required to adhere to the institutionalized system.

TRAIN TO MAINTAIN
Again, if you want to maintain your current skills you must train — you don’t have another choice in the matter.

If you want to raise your skill level above the standards set by your organization, you need to step outside the proverbial box and seek outside instruction.

Receiving outside instruction can expand your knowledge base and raise your level of understanding, which, in turn will eventually help raise your level of performance.

TRAINING OTB
Recalling one of my first ventures outside the box, my instructor, Rob Leatham, asked me point blank, “What do you want from this training?” My response was, “To shoot faster and be more accurate.” To which he replied, “Don’t we all!”

After much contemplation, trial and error, sweat, blood, tears, and countless rounds, it turns out the very first step to shooting fast is not to go fast at all but to literally stop the gun! Hailing from an institutionalized training perspective, this was a completely foreign concept.

Ensconced in systemic protocol, we were programmed to “beat the clock” and indoctrinated with “Your passing score is 80%” dogma. Passing the qualification test (QUAL) meant you had to complete each string of fire meeting a par time. So, what was our mental approach to shooting? Chasing time.

PARADIGM SHIFT
Stepping out of the box also meant a paradigm shift in our mental approach to shooting. The goal was to be a better shooter. Whereas, inside the box, the goal was to pass the qual. Two very different mission objectives.

Back in the box, the range master would bark out commands for the next string of fire. “Shooters on the line, facing down range at the ten-yard line, deliver two rounds to the body in two seconds from the holster — stand by.”

Outside the box, you might here something like, “At ten yards, I want you to guarantee placement of two rounds in the “A” box of the body from the holster. No time.” If you can’t complete that task on demand minus a par time, then you have no right to be on a clock. Weak performance does not warrant measurement.

Inside the box we tried to “be better” but that translated to going faster. We tried hard to beat the clock. “Trying harder” meant chasing time.

BUT FIRST, SKILL
On the outside, the training objective is to develop your skill to complete the task. Once you can do this, on demand, and without error, then you have gained that skill. Only after you’ve gained that skill, can it be measured.

Outside the box, time is a measurement of skill.

Inside the box, skill is a measurement of time.

Let’s take this task:shoot a five-round drill:

All rounds inside the “A” box…
…at ten yards
…from the holster
…in under a three second par time

You have at least two diverging training approaches. One, is to really “try hard” to hammer those five rounds into the “A” box under three seconds. Running the same drill over and over again “trying harder,” you either drop a round or two or fail to meet par time. Either way your only remediation is to “try harder.”

Using this training approach, you chase time.

The other is to put your timer away for a while, and train to guarantee placement of your first round, then guarantee placement of your first and second round, then your first, second and third round. Who cares if it takes you seven or even ten seconds — you’re developing a new skill!

tarani timer

Training with the “get your hits and forget about time” approach, eventually you will develop the skill to guarantee all your hits. Each time you train, you consistently put all your rounds right where you want them — not by luck or by chance, but by repeatable performance.

Over time this becomes more comfortable. Eventually you develop confidence in your newfound abilities.

The day you feel comfortable and confident in your performance of that task, is the day you can dust off your timer and take a measurement of your skill.

To learn more about training conducted by Steve Tarani, go to Steve’s websites:

HandToGun.com

SteveTarani.com

About the author: Steve Tarani is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail and is the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), and others.

 

SKILLS: Dry-Fire Practice With Lasers

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Not everyone agrees on laser sights for handgun defensive use, but Kyle Schmidt thinks it’s a great training tool. READ WHY AND HOW

SOURCE: Team Springfield,  by Kyle Schmidtlaser sightAlthough some people seem to disagree on whether or not a laser on a pistol is a “good” aiming device for self-defense shooting. One thing about them is undeniable: lasers are a great training tool.

Occasionally, when I am training friends, clients, or co-workers how to shoot, I will attach a laser to their gun to help them better understand some basic shooting concepts.

Before using the laser though, I like to make a target that has multiple areas to aim at with some level of contrast so it is easier to identify exactly where the laser is aimed.

LASER TARGET TIME
I make a dry practice target out of 2 USPSA targets. I use USPSA targets because they are different colors on each side. USPSA targets have an upper head with an A and B-zone and a body with A, C, and D-Zones. You will need a razor or a pair of scissors. You will only cut one of the targets, the other will remain intact. For simplification, we will refer to the target that we are cutting as Target 1 and the target which will remain intact as Target 2.

TARGET 1 CUTS:
Cut out the A-zone of the head (upper target zone).
Cut the C-zone out of the target. The body A-zone is included in this cut. Be careful to leave the head attached (don’t cut off the head); You need to razor / cut under the perforations while trimming near the head.

Target 1 should now have two big holes in it; one where the A-zone head was and one where the body C and A-zones were.

Cut the body A-zone out of the C-zone piece you previously removed (Step 2). Keep the body A-zone, but discard the left over C-zone piece.

COMBINE TARGETS:

target 1

Stage Target 2 with the shoot side (tan side) facing up.
Stage Target 1 with the no-shoot side (white side) facing up.
Place what remains of Target 1 on top of Target 2.

This should make a white colored target in the D and B-zones, with the tan colored target in the C and head A-zones. Use small pieces of white tape to tape the top, bottom and sides of the two targets together.

This is your new Laser Target 1.

ALMOST DONE:

target 2

Flip the targets over so Target 2 (white side) is facing up. Place the tan colored side of the body A-zone (that you cut from Target 1, step 4) on top of Target 2 A-zone. If you have trouble lining up the A-zones, you can push a small push pin through the diagonal corners of the A-zone on Target 2. Use the push pin holes to align the corners of the body A-zone.

To finish the dry practice target off, I add a one-inch black square piece of tape to the center of the corresponding scoring zone. I like to measure the center of the C-zone’s height, as the perforated “A” is NOT the center of the A-zone.

This is your new Laser Target 2.

Now you should have one practice target that has 5 distinctly noticeable scoring zones; A-zone body, A-zone head, entire head, C-zone body, and the entire target. Additionally, you have a one-inch black piece of tape on each side of the target.

ATTACH AND ZERO LASER
Before you begin your laser dry practice, attach and zero the laser at the distance you plan to practice. This is critical for some of the drills we are going do with the laser. (Check out sights HERE.)

Here is how I zero the laser for dry practice:

Choose your distance and target.
Point / aim gun at specific spot on target.
Line up the fixed notch and post sights on target.
Adjust the dot (from the laser) so it is 1) centered (left and right) on the front sight and 2) the front sight covers half of the dot (up and down). Only the top half of the dot will be visible.

Because the laser is mounted so far below the fixed sights, the laser will need to be realigned with the sights if you want to try a drill at a different distance.

HOLDING / AIMING LASER DRILL
When I was writing this, I had just returned from Camp Perry where I was learning about shooting the sport of Bullseye. This is the ultimate challenge in fundamental pistol accuracy. It requires execution of some of the most fundamental techniques required for extreme accurate pistol shooting. If you are not familiar, all of the strings of fire are shot with your strong hand only, at 25 yards and 50 yards, on a target with the 10-ring measuring just under 2.5 inches. Bullseye, in short, is a very difficult shooting discipline.

One of the things I noticed as I am trying to shoot the 50-yard line strings is how much my gun is moving (or appears to be moving) compared to the center of the target. This is not only a problem in bullseye shooting, it is just greatly magnified due to the distances.

A shooter must know what their ability to “hold” on a target is, with varying degrees of difficulty. One of the best ways to test this is with a laser, and generally, it is easiest to see the laser in reduced lighting. Try this “holding” drill:
Get your Laser Target 1 — with the C-zone side visible.
Set the target up at the distance of your choice, let’s say 15 yards for this example.

With the laser turned off, use the iron sights to aim in the center of the C-zone. Make note of how stable the gun is while you are aiming in the middle. We are not pressing the trigger yet, only aiming the gun.

Now turn on the laser and shift your focus to the laser’s dot on the target. Make note of how stable the dot is on the target while you are aiming. It’s probably moving around more than you would think or like.

Try to keep the dot inside the C-zone — hopefully this is fairly easy. It should be readily apparent when the dot leaves the C-zone and enters the white background of the D-zone on the dry practice target.

When you can easily do this, flip the target over to use Laser Target 2, and repeat the drill.

First steady the dot in the body’s A-zone.

Once you are able to keep the dot in the A-zone of the body, move up to the head and see if you can “hold” the dot in the head reliably. This may not be as easy as it seems.

Once you have mastered the entire head, move to the head’s A-zone (on Laser Target 1).

Finally, test your hold on the 1-in. black square of tape.

target 3

You can continue to experiment at different distances to see how well you can hold in the different scoring zones.

WHY DOES HOLDING MATTER?
Quite simply, if you can’t “hold” or keep the gun aimed in a particular target zone, it is unlikely that your bullet will impact the desired scoring zone reliably.

You can use this dry practice tip to determine if you are improving your ability to keep the gun steadily aimed in the intended target area.

HERE is a great laser sight!