Tag Archives: shooting skills

SKILLS: Cut Your Reaction Time (UHR)

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Trainer Steve Tarani shares his tips and tricks on increasing speed by decreasing time. KEEP READING

tarani

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Tarani

The martial arts offer an age-old perspective on something critically important to your shooting performance — reaction time. Employing a punch, a round kick, an edged weapon or a firearm in self-defense means that you’re reacting to a rapid and dynamic escalation of force. Your objective is to stop or gain control of that escalation. The single most important factor in meeting that objective is time.

TICK TOCK
Both your dearest friend (when in ample supply), and adamant foe (when turned against you), time, in any self-defense situation with or without a firearm, is a double-edged sword.

“Reactionary Gap,” is a term applied to the amount of space at your disposal in response to a real-world active threat. The greater the reactionary gap, the more time you have. The smaller gap, the less time.

Physical violence that causes you to go to guns in defense of life or limb, usually means a minimal reactionary gap. Relying on precision shooting when fighting for your life at extreme close quarters, may not be your very best bet. However, having true reactive shooting skills in your tool kit will help make optimal usage of time.

REACTIVE SHOOTING SCHOOL
Founded (more than 40 years ago) by former FBI Special Agent and renowned professional competition shooter, Bill Rogers, this is a reactive shooting school that trains you to do just that — shoot reactively.

rogers school

If you’re a student of defensive handgun and you’ve never been, the Rogers Shooting School, located in Ellijay, GA, is a very worthwhile training investment. Reactive shooting is unlike any other, in that, just like the real world, you don’t have much time to react. The Rogers system demands alacrity in both effective gun handling and marksmanship.

According to Bill, we humans have an average “Unit of Human Reaction” (UHR) time measured to be approximately .25 seconds. It’s the measurable amount of time your computer (brain) needs to process stimulus response. Although the aggregate may be about a quarter of a second, this is a very subjective measurement and can vary from shooter to shooter.

One way to find your UHR is to use your shot timer. At your next practice session, face down range. Load up. No target required. Point your muzzle into the berm and take up as much slack in the trigger (if any / as possible) without sending the round down range.

shot timer

BEEP, BOOM
With the timer set to random (to provide more of an unknown variable — like the real world), have a buddy hold it to your ear. When you hear the beep, break the shot. Beep — boom, it’s that simple. The time registered between beep (stimulus — your sensory input followed by computer interpretation) and boom (response — signal from your brain box down the neural pathways leading to your trigger finger) is your approximate UHR. Run it several times to find your average.

Taking this average as your par time, you can use it to measure that initial critical step (interpretation and processing of life-threatening information) in making rapid and accurate round placement from concealment. Depending upon your skill level, running this drill repeatedly will better familiarize you with operating in fractions of a second and, in the long run, eventually lower your reaction time (UHR).

Reducing your UHR allows you to get to your gun faster because it lessens the amount of time required in decision making — which is a significant and contributing factor in the processing time from initial stimulus to response.

Given that the purpose of defensive shooting is to make combat-effective round placement in a timely manner when reacting to an active threat, time is not on your side. Reducing your UHR by even one tenth of a second shortens your overall time in placing a warranted first round on threat.

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
In addition to using a shot timer at the range, look for and run other “drills” or training opportunities in your day where you may be able to work on reduction of your UHR. Such innocuous training as opening the microwave door during the countdown just as you see the one-second display, but prior to the beep, is a good drill.

Another training opportunity is when driving and sitting first in line at a red light. With your foot on the brake and your eyes on the traffic light — not on your cell phone — the split second you see the light change from red to green, move your foot off the brake pedal, faster than you normally would, but with good control to not stomp on that gas pedal. In fact, you want to make very light placement on that gas pedal. This action is similar to getting on your trigger quickly from the holster, in rapid control, but without disturbing muzzle alignment with the target.

Using these and similar reactionary gap training drills can help you to continually be cognizant of and work on reducing your reaction times. After a couple of months of running these, remeasure your presentation times. You may be pleasantly surprised with the performance benefits of cutting your UHR.

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: 3 Quick and Compact Drills For Your Sub-Compact Carry Gun

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Do not neglect range time with your small carry gun! Here are some fun and valuable drills to hone your skills. KEEP READING

XD-S Mod.2
XD-S Mod.2

SOURCE:  Team Springfieldby Ivan Gelo

One of the old mantras many of us continue to see and hear is that the sub-compact firearm is, “Carried often, but shot little.”

Let me just go on the record right now stating that I TOTALLY DISGREE with this old adage. Like many of you, my every-day carry (EDC) companion is a sub-compact handgun (the dark-earth framed 9mm Springfield Armory® XD-S® ), and I shoot it on a regular basis.

It seems this adage is often repeated by instructors because, in their experience, many of the subcompacts of the past were difficult to manage and the recoil was harsh. These “cons” resulted in little practice time with the firearm.

With the smaller versions of the Springfield XD® series though, I do not find this to be the case at all. I actually enjoy practice sessions with these small pistols.

SPECIAL CONCEALMENT ASSIGNMENT
Quite often I get requests from friends in the security business requiring assistance with multi-day protection details. A few days prior to receiving the Springfield XD-S® Mod.2® for evaluation, I answered one of these calls. After obtaining some of the specifics related to this executive detail, it was clear that a suit and tie were the “uniform” of the day. Knowing that 1) dress belts are not the best rig when carrying full-sized firearms and 2) blending in and concealment were the high priority, I opted to carry my sub-compact 9mm Springfield Armory® XD-S® as my primary firearm. My Springfield Armory® SAINT® was relegated to the trunk of my transport vehicle as the “back-up” weapon. Good choice, I know…

RANGE TIME REQUIRED
With the protection detail a short week out, I focused my range training specifically to the XD-S® 9mm and the .45 caliber XD-S® Mod.2® that I had not yet shot.

I decided to drill / practice three techniques:

One: Movement while drawing, with a concealment garment.
Two: Multiple round engagements, more than the traditional 2 shots per target
Three: “Failure drills”; multiple rounds to the body, followed up by rounds fired to the head.

ccw draw

DETAILS
ONE: Drawing from Concealment with Movement

Practicing the draw, and specifically drawing from concealment if this is your EDC mode, is a MUST. Incorporating movement during a draw is an additional skill set that should be practiced and perfected. Movement makes you a more difficult-to-track target and is therefore worth the investment.

As with all new shooting skills, If you haven’t previously practiced concealment draws or concealment draws with movement, dry draws are HIGHLY recommended first.

When dry drawing / dry firing, the gun is UNLOADED and condition VERIFIED. NO ammo should be allowed in the practice area. And, find a SAFE backstop (that’s able to stop a potential negligent discharge). Dry practice can also be done at the range if your facility permits.

Back to my drill…

There are several methods of drawing from concealment. Some of the more popular are:

Sweeping the cover garment with your strong hand.
Pulling back on the garment with your support hand.
Pulling up on the garment with your support hand.

I personally prefer the “sweep” method. This approach allows my support hand greater freedom to perform any of the numerous defensive empty hand responses, such as a palm heel strike, shielding technique, or deflection.

The Sweep Draw
Sweeping the concealment or cover garment involves only your holster-side (strong) hand:

The hand starts with an open palm, similar to your normal draw, however, the fingers are spread apart more than normal and the pinky and ring fingers curve in slightly.

Use those two fingers to hook the front of the garment and sweep it to the rear and behind / past the holster and firearm. Some instructors teach that during this process the cover garment is also “flung” back (which might clear the gun and draw better). Try both approaches and see which is best you, your carry rig, and the concealment garment you most often use.

With the holster area clear of the garment, draw the firearm as you have trained.

Appendix note: If you prefer appendix carry, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to first practice just the draw portion of this with an unloaded gun! Get that down before you live fire and/or add concealment and movement.

ccw training

TWO: Multiple Round Engagement
This drill does not have to be complex. One target is all that’s needed. I most often use cardboard USPSA or IDPA targets, as I like the zone markings.

Start close — 3 yards — just beyond contact distance. Move the targets out 3 yards at a time as your training progresses, and you master each distance.

The goal is to draw and fire 4 rounds in quick succession. Keeping all hits in the “0” zone or top half of the A zone is what I expect.

At this close range, even a shooter with a moderate skill level, should be able to accomplish this with some practice.

Use a shot timer and start with 1 second splits (time between shots). Decrease your split times by .25 seconds when you can repeatedly put all shots in the “center zone” on demand.

Remember, at this close distance perfect sight alignment is not required. The sight index, “flash sight picture,” or whatever term you use, should deliver good hits on target as long as you do your job keeping the gun aligned with minimal grip pressure increase or hand/wrist movement.

When you make it to the .25 second split time speed, you will have to move the trigger FAST. To do this, you will most likely be “banging the trigger,” but that’s okay. Learn to work the gun at this speed in training; especially when the threat is CLOSE.

THREE: “Failure Drill”
If you are justified in using deadly force on another human being and body shots are not stopping the lethal threat, then face or head shots could be one of the best ways to end the confrontation.

Using the previous drills as a base, after firing 4 rounds in the body at 3 yards, move the shot placement to the face or head area and fire 2 more rounds.

Given the limited rounds in the magazines in your carry sub-compact gun, shot placement is even more critical. Work at speed, but have the discipline to hit the center of the head zone area; the A zone on a USPSA target and the “0” zone on the new IDPA target are a good go / no-go standard.

Again, once you have made improvements at 3 yards, move the target distance out 3 more yards.

multiple round drill

DETAIL DRILLS COMPLETED
In my several training sessions through the noted week, I fired over 300 rounds of .230 grain ball and 50 rounds of duty / self defense .230 grain jacketed hollow point .45 ACP ammunition. As I expected, the Springfield XD-S® Mod.2® was enjoyable to shoot and had zero malfunctions!

So, ”Don’t be that guy…” The one who carries regularly but practices irregularly, especially if your EDC is a sub-compact firearm. Practicing with a sub-compact firearm might even assist with your focus on the fundamentals of shooting.

Once practiced up and proficient with your sub-compact pistol, check your local ranges and their match schedules for International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) matches. The events are set up with defense-minded scenarios and drawing from concealment is required on most stages. Additionally, there has been an increase in the popularity of back-up gun (BUG) matches, directly designed for your carry gun. Either event, IDPA or BUG, is great for confirming your ability to shoot your sub-compact carry gun under a little pressure.

And what could be more perfect? Take advantage of someone else setting up a match, so you can practice your pistol skills, all while enjoying a variety of challenges and courses of fire.

As a matter of fact, I’m one of those “someone elses” (match directors). If you ever visit the Phoenix area, I’d be honored to have you attend one of my events — 2nd Wednesday night of every month at Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club. DETAILS HERE 

See you and your sub-compact carry gun there!

SKILLS: The Myth of the “Perfect Stance”

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Adapting to any situation is a very important ability in handgun shooting, competition or defense. Here’s a few ideas on how to hit the target — no matter what!

Team Springfield

Rob Leatham stance.

We all strive for perfection — but sometimes perfection is not possible. When it comes to shooting stance, a scenario will often force you to use an “imperfect” stance. So how do you train so you can still make your hits?

FINDING THE BALANCE POINT
Expecting to obtain the perfect “training” shooting stance is all well and good. But it’s not realistic. When it comes to real-life fast-shooting or competition scenarios, your stance has to be about getting acceptable hits on target as quickly as possible. It’s always a speed versus accuracy equation. You sometimes have to make “less than optimal” work in order to win.

The fact of the matter is that driving your torso forward while you’re shooting (to accommodate for recoil) helps resist pushing your frame back, keeping you in control and on target.

Don’t let your balance move to your heels. Trying to be comfortable and statically balanced is wrong. You have to absorb and resist the forces of recoil — and that is hard to do standing straight up.

“PERFECT” IS JUST AN ILLUSION
Achieving the perfect shooting stance isn’t a reliable goal. In fact, there are drills you can try that prove that, even in a non-ideal shooting scenario, your body will know what to do to achieve a stance that still maintains accuracy.

Place a target at desired distance.

Put a short obstacle in your shooting area, such as a chair.

Begin moving around the obstacle.

Shoot at the target while continually moving around the obstacle.

Keep moving until the mag is empty.

The beauty of it is, your body compensates for the movement and learns how to move and find balance. So quit trying for perfection in your stance — your body will instinctively know what to do.

Check out the video HERE

Shooting Skills: Dry-firing Practice, Part 2

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Click, Click, Boom. Here’s three ways to get more from indoor practice. Read on!


By Glen Zediker


 Defined: dry-firing is shooting with no ammunition. Cock the gun, hold on a target, break the trigger. It’s a simulation.

Last episode we talked about the essence of dry-firing, the means. Here are more ideas on getting the most from this valuable venue.

1. When to make it “real.”
There are two fundamentally-differing approaches. One way is to use dry-firing as a means for technical or mechanical improvement. That’s main, and that’s the usual focus. Another, though, is as a way to rehearse a course of fire or another orchestrated shooting scenario. Some believe that the more “real” we can make dry-firing the better. I agree, and then I don’t. If the idea is to replicate a competitive event, for instance, that means setting up a firing point, running a timer, adorning all personal gear, positioning all kit items, and so on. I think that is a great exercise for newer entrants because, in NRA High Power Rifle, for good instance, it’s all the “other” things beyond shooting that can get in the way of progress. There’s a lot to remember, a lot to do.

1907 sling use
Something like learning to install a 1907-style sling onto your arm for support is decidedly not something you want to experience first at a shooting match. Such as this needs to be done over and over (and over) to learn. Best way is taking your time at home.

 Away from needs on the firing line, dry rehearsals are way on more than wise. If, for instance, you’ve never fired a gun at night, start experiencing that scenario sans ammo. If you’re a concealed carry person, figure out the smoothest and fastest way to get your pistol pointed. That might “go without saying,” but I just said it because it needs to be done. Anything, for that matter, that has changed or modified a firearm or the means to deploy it should be drilled over and over until you “got it.”

 It takes more than a lot of directed thought and careful planning to get a gun leveled through a car window, for example. Have you ever seen how fast you can get to another room in your house in the dark? If you think that might be valuable to file in the been-there-done-that archives, then be there and do it. It’s a kind of self-made “fire drill.” Doesn’t make much sense to put stock in something that’s really important without verifying that it’s workable… And it’s plenty easy enough. Just make sure the gun isn’t loaded.

When technical and mechanical improvement is the focus, I don’t think it matters even a little bit to attempt to duplicate “real” conditions. Just make yourself comfortable.

2. Do something different.
Once you feel like you’ve honed the skills of triggering mechanics, noticed progress in hold quality, and all-around have attained some satisfying improvement, take a stab now at dismantling the entire thing!

shouldering rifle
Same goes for working on the other essential elements in a shooting position, like learning to position the buttplate in the same spot each time. Here’s me first figuring out exactly where that spot should be…

Dry-firing is the time to run experiments, so experiment! These can be major changes, like a different holding or gripping method, or small things, like nudging the head a quarter-inch farther forward on the rifle stock. Everything and anything that’s not part of the “routine” is an experiment. Backing up: dry-firing gives the opportunity to really tune in to just exactly what your routine is. Competitive shooters often call it the “control” position. When you make a change to that control position, do it one thing at a time. Otherwise feedback might be less accurately reliable. Decide that the big change is worthwhile (even if only for more testing) before incorporating more changes along with it.

Use your imagination. As long as you have a place to return to, any side trip is a no-harm, no-foul experience. Try canting the rifle inward a little more, changing the position of your right foot, gripping more (or less) with the little finger, loosening or tightening a strap on the coat. You name it.

 And do by all means name it. Write everything down! Don’t end a session without making a few notes. State what you tried and then what happened. Add on ideas for next time. Don’t trust memory. It’s right then and there that you have the most keen sense of feedback.

air rifle
This photo is a many years old. If you’re training for competitive shooting, at the least, wear your coat, glove, and ear phones (if you normally wear them). I learned the very hard way to now give that advice. I used to shoot my air rifle without my coat or any other gear but a glove. My idea was to develop a standing position that relied that strongly on skeletal support. (My idea also was to stay cool and reduce set up time.) As a result, I got to where I could shoot really good targets just in a t-shirt. I worked and worked (and worked) on this. Well, then I put my coat on, and my hear-phones, and found out that I couldn’t duplicate my t-shirt position! Oops. I learned a lot but overlooked the future application of why it was that I was learning.

3. Test yourself.
Don’t over-stay a dry-firing session. There’s a time to quit, and that’s so decidedly for your own good. A yardstick for a competition shooter is no longer than the “official” duration of a string, plus 5 minutes more or 5 shots more for a little extra strength. Those among us who tend to be, well, a little hard on ourselves, don’t like quitting until they “get it.” After a point, which varies with us all, we experience a physical and mental breakdown where we then are running experiences through a tired mind and body. I’ve seen this in other sports. Hitting too many golf balls, throwing too many pitches, running too many laps on a racetrack. If you’re trying to teach yourself when you’re tired, you’re learning only how to perform when you’re tired. If you want to build strength and endurance, do exercises where that is the focus. Hold the gun to the point of exhaustion, just don’t drop the hammer! I think you’ll get more from lifting weights.

 Speaking of exhaustion, still considering the cautions just presented, find out how long you can hold on a shot attempt. This is important. Over-holding can kill a score, so can “over-staring” the sight. Pay attention to sight movement, and then, mostly, see when it’s just done with until the next attempt. This is valuable. It’s hard sometimes on a record shot not to continue to hold beyond the point you should have brought the gun down.

Dry-firing is not shooting… We all score more “10s” dry than live. So, point is that if you can bring dry-firing closer to live firing you’ll be hitting a lot closer to center a lot more often. As always, call each shot, dry or live. We learn all this dry-firing and then we hope to remember this on the range. That’s the whole point.


Last: Take all your dry-fring practice to the limit first trip out to the live range this Spring. Here’s how: Have someone load your gun for you. Or not… Right: it might fire or it might not fire. You’ll be slap amazed at what you might have learned. It helps to have a friend with a dark sense of humor. Remember: the idea is to take that dry-fired perfection straight to target center.


 Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Zediker Publishing. Glen Zediker has worked professionally with some of the greatest shooters on the planet, and he does pretty well on his own: Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information, please check ZedikerPublishing.com

Shooting Skills: Dry-firing Practice, Part 1

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The art of shooting without shooting. Here’s how to make a big improvement in your on-target accuracy come Spring, and it doesn’t cost a thing but some time… Read on!


By Glen Zediker


Defined: dry-firing is shooting with no ammunition. Cock the gun, hold on the target, break the trigger. It’s a simulation.


First: Will dry-firing hurt my gun?
No. Any and every centerfire bolt-action rifle I know of (that “we” use anyhow) can be dry-fired endlessly with no damage done, and it’s the same for pistols. If you are at all worried, use a “snap-cap,” which is a cartridge duplicate that provides a cushion. Midsouth Shooters Supply carries them. .22 rimfires people have different opinions about. The fear is peening the area around the chamber friom firing pin contacts. Ruger actually encourages dry-firing its 10/22 (so says my factory manual). Inserts are also available to cushion the blow, and even a spent cartridge case left in place will do the trick too.

snap-cap
A-Zoom Action Proving Rimfire Dummy round.

Check out a few products at Midsouth, if you’re worried…


Every shooting coach I know of sings the value of dry-firing. It’s a training staple for competitive shooters, and, as a matter of fact, me, David Tubb, and most others I know spend time dry-firing prior to an event to get mind and muscles warmed up. However! It’s the equivalent of stretching for a runner. As with many things, most things, as a means toward improvement, you get from it what you put into it. A big part of that is also in how you put into it.

First is safety! Make double-daggone sure there is no ammunition in the gun (of course) and also that there is none nearby. No loaded magazines in vicinity. I’ve heard stories from people who reloaded their handguns, in this instance, after a dry-firing session and then decided to snap just one more “for the road.” Yikes. Don’t trust memory.

Part of the point and advantage to dry-firing is elimination of distractions. We can then see and sense things when we’re in our little cocoons that may be obscured in live-fire at the range. I’m not saying that no one can tune in as keenly outdoors with a loaded gun, but can say there are always more distractions in that environment. The point is to see it dry-firing, and then experience it again at the range. That’s the idea.

The first and foremost conviction necessary to make dry-firing “work” is a commitment to two things. One is observation, close observation, of sight location and movement. No matter what, that’s the “it.”

You must be able to connect sight location at the instant you are aware of the audible “click” of the hammer or striker fall. Not just when the trigger breaks. There’s a few milliseconds in the interim. It won’t take long to, on its own, develop the skill of “calling” shots with more precision and realism dry-firing with this as a goal. (Calling a shot is providing an estimation of its location on the target based on sight location at the moment of firing.) It’s how a shooter learns to separate what should be and what actually is. If you are perfectly aware of the sight location on the target at the strike, that by itself may have improved followthrough. You are then “holding on” just a little longer, and I discussed the importance of that in an earlier article in this series. Experience will show you the difference between seeing the sight picture and breaking the trigger, and calling that result, compared to seeing the result upon the strike, and calling that result. It’s a small thing, but many small things happen in the time it takes for the bullet to exit. No matter what your last name is, everyone’s gun is moving. It’s also here that the shooter learns to watch closely for movement.

Dry-firing allows a shooter to discover perfection in natural point of aim. Natural point of aim (let’s cut it to “npa”) is a drilled and preached fundamental by every instructor or authority I know. Dry-firing gives the opportunity to honestly get in tune with it. At least three things you’ll learn: npa is a finite point, not an area. It has two components, vertical and horizontal. And it changes! Even among the very best shooters, it’s not likely to start and stop with the exact same body orientation for a full shot string.

A huge key to refining npa is watching for sight movement just before or just as the trigger breaks. That’s easy to see in dry-firing and more difficult with a loaded gun. I’m not exactly sure why npa sometimes “reveals” itself in this moment, but it does.

AR15 dry-fire device
Here’s handy for AR15 shooters. Renown AR15 builder John Holliger of White Oak Armament developed this device to help dry-firing an AR15 easy. It drops in and replaces the magazine and lets you reset the trigger using the lever on the device rather than racking the action each shot. Cool. Check it out HERE

The target you select for dry-firing exercises can be very variable. If you’re looking to replicate the same target you use outdoors on a small scale, a calculator and computer printer gets you close, and experimentation gets you closer. Otherwise, anything can work. Light switches are great for pistol practice. They look a lot like a USPSA-style “Milpark.” And, why not also try the “Holding Drill” targets shown last time?

dry-firing target
Scale a target for dry-firing. I can’t tell you exactly what size to make it, but a little math usually gets it pretty close. Due to varying appearance that results from distance outdoors, the one you train with dry-firing might need to be a tad different size than calculations indicate. Lighting conditions change the appearance of a bullseye, as can perception of sight picture relationship to same. This is what I use from 20 feet for rifle practice: the aiming black area is 0.700 inches diameter to replicate an NRA SR1 (200-yard target). That’s a little smaller than the calculation indicates. CLICK HERE  to download a .pdf ready to print

 Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Glen Zediker and Zediker Publishing. Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information and articles available for download visit ZedikerPubllishing.com

Skills: Holding Better

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Become a better offhand shooter over the winter, without firing a single round…


by Glen Zediker


Last time I talked about an offhand shooting method called an “approach,” where the sight is deliberately started at some point away from target center and then systematically and methodically brought to bear on target center. The shot breaks when the sight touches center. Technically, the rifle is in motion during the span of time and distance that encompasses employing this technique. And. There’s no question that this technique or method or mindset, whatever names it best, is the surest and simplest way to fire a whole lot of center shots.

Pursuing a quest to become a truly good offhand rifle shooter, however, still requires attention directed toward improving the hold. “Hold” is the static portion of a shot where the sights are on the target. Part of the reason for this is because, in refining and improving the hold, you are also refining and improving the shooting position. That is then the base and basis for the approach. Shooting on the move is way on easier and more productive and reliable when you don’t necessarily have to rely on it… The better quality the static hold is, the more control and finesse can be employed into the approach. In calm and quiet conditions, when there’s no time element pressing, then watching a nicely centered static hold is a true accomplishment as a rifleman.

A many years ago I had the pleasure to meet Troy Lawton at an NRA Silhouette Rifle National Championship in Raton New Mexico. Then USAMU Sgt. Lawton (United States Army Marskmanship Unit), best known as an ISSF Running Target ace, was also a dominant silhouette rifle shooter (two perfect 40-target tournament scores among his accomplishments). We discussed the importance of holding ability, even though we’re shooting moving rifles, including intentionally moving rifles (as in the tracking engagement that defines running target competition). Here’s the essence of a very effective training element he used to go from “good” to “world-class” in ability to calm a rifle.

HOLDING DRILL

holding drill
Manufacture a series of target circles as shown, or use this one, and affix it to a wall any place you can dry-fire. Make the circles using a template as found at an office supply, a compass, or, easy, a computer and printer. Dry-fire (and you know the gun is empty because you’ve looked into the chamber) and determine a circle size you can maintain the sight fully inside during the most comfortable segment of your hold. The idea is that, using the slowest, most deliberate trigger pull you can, the goal is to release a shot at any time during this holding period and land it inside that circle. You’re not even trying to hit the center of the circle. Then we make it smaller…

This drill is best done indoors. Distance from the target doesn’t really matter as long as it’s always the same.

Troy’s “Holding Drill” is pretty simple: To start, determine the area you’re working with. Do that by holding and watching the range or area the sight is covering. As said last time, this will be an orbital pattern, fluctuating around your natural point of aim.

So, this initial observation defines and draws the first circle. (Or you can just print out the included illustration and hang it at 15 feet distant and see where you stand.) That circle should be a size where you could slowly pull the trigger and hit within the circle, but not necessarily the center of the circle, at any point during the time you’re holding. We’re going to work systematically to reduce the size of this circle.

Click here to get a .pdf of the circles: msss_holding_drill_target

The targets as shown here are designed for best use with a scoped rifle. Crosshairs show up well and precisely show movement area. Modify the targets to accommodate iron sights. Try white squares with a post front sight, and the target area will have to be bigger to define the holding area because the sight itself is a good 5 MOA wide.

holding drill
No doubt, the smaller the sight orbit and more consistent its pattern, the easier it is to employ an approach, even if the movement in the approach is reduced to the pulse-induced rising and dropping to a perfectly centered sight picture. This drill helps you help yourself, all by itself. All you need to do is do it. Remember, the idea is to stay within this circle throughout the shot attempt.

Back to the drill: after you’ve confirmed your ability to hold within the original circle you chose, make a target with a smaller circle and go back to work. There’s no end to this: you can always try to hold a smaller area. It’s recommended to reduce the circle size by one-half-moa each step. You’ll need a calculator to figure out what that might be in inches for the distance you have.

Holding Drill
Now. A really good question: “how long…” How long to hold? That depends on the state of muscle tone, position effectiveness, and, mostly, how efficiently your body uses oxygen. The holding limit is reached when there’s clear deterioration in the whole state of the effort. You start shaking! Symptoms of oxygen depravation are fundamentally obvious. Take the rifle down and start over. This drill also improves this capacity. NOTE: I am dry-firing in these photos, and that’s why no ear and eye protection! Otherwise: ALWAYS!

Spend some time with this over the winter. Even a couple of times a week for 30 minutes a whack, and you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll shoot. This drill is one of those perfect “indirect” learning tools where you will specifically improve where and what you need to improve keeping only this goal in mind.


For more tips and articles, all free to download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

SKILLS: “Approach” Offhand Shooting Like a Pro

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Learn how to “shoot on the move” to improve your offhand shooting results. Here’s how!


by Glen Zediker


Firing a rifle off your hind legs can be a devilish venture. It’s tough to hold the sight still, or at least hold the sight still for long enough to get together all the other elements of a good shot: sight on target center, correct breathing status, deliberate trigger break. Not when the sight is bobbing and shaking around, darting on and off the target, and mostly off. A more firm hold, increasing muscle tension, can help some, or sometimes, but that’s not the answer. Not when there’s fatigue involved, and especially not when it’s breezy. Finishing off a center shot when the wind is blowing is a challenge.

offhand skills
Instead of being a slave to the unwanted but unavoidable movement inherent in a sight, take control of it, direct it, and use it. Drive the gun onto the target and take the shot. The movement and the shot funnel in together. It’s tough to get past the “freeze and pop” sort of tactic that a lot of folks use. Again, the sight is always in motion, and if it’s dead still for an instant, in the next instant it’s going to move. Don’t let it get away from you…

All good shooters work on their hold. “Hold” is the static portion of a shot where the sights are on the target. Working on the hold always seeks a goal to reduce the movement of the rifle at rest. But there’s always movement… So, if you can’t beat it, use it. This next idea is not universally adhered to by all top-level shooters, but it dang sho works for some of our best. He didn’t necessarily invent it, but David Tubb, 11-time NRA High Power Rifle Champion and winner of over 40 NRA Metallic Silhouette Rifle titles, uses an “approach” method to fire all his standing position shots.

It’s pretty simple, but, as with many things, details increase the scope of a technique. So, what it is, is, deliberate movement of the sight onto the target, firing the shot when the sight touches on target center. “Shooting on the move.” Don’t wait until the sight sits still on the target. Move it in, take the shot. But it’s not a rapid swing across, yanking the trigger as the sight streaks across the target. It’s a small, deliberate, controlled movement, and “controlled” is the key word.

Keys to warming up to and exploiting shooting from an approach are, first, that the natural point of aim has to be dead-solid-perfect. Since the sight is deliberately being started away from center, looking to a point that’s not on your natural point of aim, driving it then into center is arriving at the natural stopping and resting point for the sight. That’s very important. Another key is maintaining a strong focus on the sight. You already know where the target is, so eliminate that element of your attention. The closer you can learn to watch the sight, the sooner you’ll master this technique.

To use an approach to best advantage, the approach distance and direction needs to be the same each and every time. We’re following a deliberate pattern to get the sight to the target. Take the shot as the sight is going into the target, not after it’s gotten there and the next move is for it to twitch out and away from the target. It is, no doubt, a matter of timing! The sight has stopped as I break the shot, and it’s for a very brief time. But it has stopped. Just follow the bouncing ball… Fire when it lands. That’s the way I think of it.

Using an approach strategy reduces the time needed to complete a good shot, and it also condenses that time into a schedule, in a way of looking at it. It becomes a routine. This goes a long way toward battling fatigue, and reduces the number of “restarts” following over-held attempts. This is important in competition where we’re firing 20 shots in 20 minutes. That’s a strain, or it is when we’re trying to put them all in the 10-ring.

So how far off the target to start the sight? That varies a whopping lot, and the answer, as anticipated, comes from experiments with an eye on making this determination. I start pretty close, others start a good way off the target. I don’t think it matters as long as, as also anticipated, it’s something experimentation has shown works best for you.

approach sequence
This illustration shows a breakdown of Davd Tubb’s approach method. Total time elapsed: about 3 seconds. Now, I go the opposite direction: I start my sight on the right edge of an aiming black (at 200 yards it’s a 13-inch-diameter circle), take up the first stage in the trigger, and move it over. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, bang. To be very specific, I also start it a little high and bring it across and slightly down on a diagonal. I do this because, one, it’s the natural “wobble pattern” I tend to see in my static hold, and, two, it helps guard against the high shot I am prone to endure sometimes. All that comes from a whopping lot of practice.

I’m kind of “wound up” in my offhand position. I use a lot of hip twist to get my elbow down on my hipbone for support. I’m twisting toward my left, so I start the rifle off to the right. That way I’m winding in rather than spinning out. Others, like Tubb, tend to approach from the left because they prefer a more natural “uncoiling” direction.

A calm trigger break is crucial. That’s not slow or gentle, but one that evokes no anxious moment or sporadic reflex. The finger just presses back.

This is where the previously discussed advantages of a good two-stage trigger, and one with additional overtravel, show their values. Both provide a “ready-to-go switch” waiting on a shot green light. The extra overtravel means you don’t have to be delicate pressing the trigger back; the rifle won’t be disturbed like it might if the trigger stopped abruptly.

With experience, and a few experiences where you see that this, indeed, “works,” it’s possible to narrow down the approach to a short amount of time.


The preceding is excerpted from some materials I have worked with David Tubb to develop and publish. For more insight, articles, and tips, visit DavidTubb.com, and also ZedikerPublishing.com

Shooting Skills: Take a deep breath…

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…then let it out and read this to learn how to maximize on-target accuracy and consistency…


Glen Zediker


We’ve talked about what I call the “true fundamentals” of shooting. Put the sight on the target and pull the trigger without moving the sight… And we’ve talked about some of the mechanics, like natural point of aim, sight picture, and the trigger itself, that combine to assist this goal.

david tubb
Holding still sometimes takes more thought, and effort, than we might realize. Shooting well is a truly multi-faceted task that shooters like 11-time National Champion David Tubb have attended to through miniscule details, like being aware of the physical state continually while performing.

Another crucial and largely unknown element is controlling breathing. Right. That thing we do to stay awake and alive. Breathing can be a calculated technique among competitive shooters, and that is because the state of the body in the framework of making a shot is a defining element in the effectiveness of the shooting platform. That platform, by they way, is you!

I’ll break it down, and then offer a few suggestions on how to incorporate a better understanding of the dynamics of maintaining human oxygen supply.

When we are breathing when doing nothing in particular but living, we’re not taking the deepest breaths we can when we inhale, and we’re not expelling all the air we had when we exhale. We’re also not breathing in and out, in and out, in and out in constant successions. We breathe in to a comfortable level. Hold that a bit. We breathe out to a comfortable level. And then we hold that state for a bit. Then we very naturally breathe in again. These cycles are on a balanced rhythm, and a relatively shallow cycle. It’s a lot different than when we’re doing something strenuous, like running.

So. To fire a gun from our most stable state, make the trigger break in what shooting coaches call “the natural respiratory pause.” That’s the state between exhaling and inhaling. From a “human machine” standpoint, that’s when the body is most calm and stable.

breathing cycles for best shooting
Learn to use the natural pattern of your breathing to experience the most effective (steadiest) hold. When we breathe normally we don’t inhale as much air as we can hold and then blow it all out, and we also don’t breathe continually in and out, in and out. Rather, we simply inhale and exhale to levels that are comfortable to us. Take aim and fire the shot when you have reached what some call the “natural respiratory pause,” or the natural resting point prior to inhalation where we are “using” the oxygen we have retained.

It’s a narrow window. That window of opportunity varies widely depending on a lot of factors, but some experience dry-firing will show you where you stand.

When the body needs more oxygen, there are a few symptomatic results that get in the way of a steady hold. There are more eloquent ways to say it, but we get “the shakes.” The wobbles, the heaves and hos. It’s an unmistakable sensation. Visual acuity also diminishes. And, also, since we’re trying to finish something important (hit the target) anxiety takes over when we’re not getting cooperation between target and sight locations. Essentially, there’s an urge to slap the trigger and “get it over with.”

Do not “take a deep breath and hold it…” That supplies oxygen, to be sure. But it also creates tension in the body. Trying to keep that breath held has as bad an effect on stability as does trying to not breathe back in.

Breathing during a shot continually changes the location of the sight. Try it and you’ll see. Filling the lungs, emptying the lungs, both change the posture. From prone, it’s easy to see the effect on the vertical location of the sight. This, by the way, is the root of the “consistency” element of breathing. It’s very important to the goal to fire shot after shot after shot onto the same point.

Firing shots in succession, keep breathing, just time the shots with the natural pause. For a Rapid Fire event string in NRA High Power Rifle, which isn’t all that rapid (either 60 or 70 seconds to fire 10 rounds) I take a breath between each shot, and then settle down to my holding point. Now. Really rapid succession, like bam-bam-bam, it’s possible to fire quite a few well-directed rounds off of one pause. If that’s not enough, experiment with learning to take very shallow breaths in and out during the duration of the hose-down. I’ve used that “tactic” on very windy days when the standing position hold was a tad amount fluctuating, to avoid frequent restarts. It “works” for a couple of attempts to get a breakable sight picture, before muscle fatigue sets in.

Speaking of: there’s no question that the better physical condition someone is in, the better able they’ll be to extend a steady hold. Pulse also factors mightily: a beating heart moves the rifle. This is really evident shooting prone from a sling-supported position. A regular breathing pattern with no overt highs and lows combats heart rate increases. Taking in huge amounts of air prior to mounting up a rifle actually can backfire; that often causes a “spike” in body movement about 15 seconds afterward. Pulse quickens and becomes more intense when oxygen levels drop.

Main point here is do not “over-hold.” When you’re out of air, you’re out of time. Break it down, and start it again.


For more shooting tips and articles visit ZedikerPublishing.com; all are free to download.