Tag Archives: Standing position

Skills: Holding Better

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

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