Of course, during the Rangemaster Instructor Certification Course I paid attention to my own shooting performance.
Shooting around 1000 rounds over 3 days actually isn’t a lot compared to numerous other “weekend training” courses, but again, this was predominantly a class about building instructors and not all the time was out on the range.
We shot the new FBI Qualfication course, the new Rangemaster Instructor qualification course, and a host of other drills and tests. With that, here’s some things I came back with regarding my own shooting skill.
In the past, long distance shooting has been a weak spot. Even 15 yards was tough. Not so over the weekend. I was fine at 15 yards, and 25 wasn’t horrible, but wasn’t good either.
I do know one problem was my gun. It had been shooting left, and upon closer examination we saw the rear sight had moved. TXGunGeek gave it a whack (this was a couple weeks prior to class), but the sight was much looser in the dovetail than expected and the sight really moved! TXGunGeek did his best to recenter it, and it looked good to both our eyes. In initial testing, I swore it was a little off to the right, but couldn’t eliminate that it might be me, then we ran out of time so I said “good enough” and moved on. Upon later examination, turns out that yes it’s just off to the right. It’s hard to see except under the right light conditions, but it is “just off”. And while you can’t notice it in closer shooting, it’s sorely evident in 25 yard shooting.
However, that’s only a small thing. And frankly, given how off I was in later drills, I can tell you the performance is all me and not the sights. 🙂 I could have corrected them but didn’t want to risk making the problem worse during the weekend. Besides, it wouldn’t have mattered. It was all me.
Discussed with Karl, and he gave me some things to try. Alas, it’s mostly live-fire, which is a tough thing to do these days (ammo situation). So I asked if there was any dry fire stuff and he said: “Other than dry firing at smaller targets there’s not much to do to work on type 4/5 shooting dry fire.” He also suggested I check out Ben Stoeger’s books.
Karl came up with a fun way to describe the grip you need: Homer choking Bart. 🙂 It works surprisingly well at getting the point across.
I’ve been inconsistent in my grip. I need to choke Bart. More specifically, I need to ensure my pinky is involved in the grip. This is something I learned back in Kuk Sool regarding grip. When you hold a champagne flute you extend your pinky, because it’s a delicate thing. When you grip a hammer, you use all your fingers and hold on. A gun has a lot more energy behind it than a hammer, so you really need to hold on. You will have MUCH more grip if you involve your pinky. Heck, when deadlifting, involve your pinky and your grip will be happier.
I just need to be consistent.
Press-out / Present
I was taking an approach of extreme slowness. I think it was after watching so much FAST Drill stuff, like this video of Mike Brook. You can see how the press-out looks so slow. Well, that’s what I was doing, but I was slower. I received constant feedback about how smooth my present was, but it was slow and I know I wasn’t getting out with enough time to then do the rest of the work I needed to do — which was all the work (drawing is just the first step to get you there). I could get things done, but I’d have to rush it a bit.
Why was I doing that? Well, primarily I was doing it in an effort to “see enough”. I was really working on getting the gun into my eye-target line, ensuring I could see what I needed to get, getting a good sight picture, and not letting one go before I knew I’d get an acceptable hit. I didn’t want to just be throwing the gun out there, pushing it out there, hunting for the sights, etc..
Well, it wasn’t quite getting me there.
At one point Karl told me to just get it out there as fast as you can, but decelerate on the press-out. He actually told me that some time ago and I tried it, but it wasn’t working for me. But I immediately took his advice and did it during the rest of the weekend. I was shooting much better. Buzzer sounds, move as quickly as possible to clear garment, grip, draw, move to position 3, all as quickly as I can. From there, change gears and start to slow down. Actually probably about 75% of the way out it’s still fast, then a sudden and smooth stop. And lo, it worked.
Perhaps it was that I needed to work on things a lot slower for a while, to get smoother. And now, deceleration works better.
There were times I was on the line shooting next to Karl. A few times my peripheral vision caught me pressing out with Karl or even faster than he did, so hey… guess that’s good. 🙂
But it brought to light a more important thing….
I don’t know how else to phrase it.
I know in my head that when shooting at closer distances you don’t need a perfect textbook sight picture (e.g. Brian Enos’ “type 2”) to get acceptable hits. So I know and I go as fast as I need to, and I get acceptable hits. It works well and good. BUT there’s always this thing in the back of my head nagging, wondering, and telling me — that’s wrong! That I am shooting too fast for my sights, too fast for my vision, that I’m not seeing enough, and that I’m getting unacceptable hits. Of course after I’m done shooting, everything’s in the A-Zone, because I KNOW what I’m doing is alright and within parameters, but still… my brain doubts.
I realized why.
I don’t have the “visual knowledge”.
I think the seed for this realization was sown by my friend Tim Meyers, who is a Master-ranked shooter in IDPA. He said something to the effect of how he got there because he was able to learn what he needed to see.
This is also something I know, but I don’t know. That is, I know you gotta know this, but I don’t yet know it.
See, usually when I’m doing live fire work, I’m trying to work on other things and so I’m concerned with those things and not necessarily recording what I see. Well, that’s what I need to do. I need to shoot not to work on a skill or get all hits in the A-Zone. No, I just need to shoot at X speed and let my eyes record and register what I see. So do something like a Bill Drill at 3 yards, 5 yards, 7 yards. Just shoot. Just try to go “as fast as possible” and what I need to pay attention to and record is what my eyes are seeing. That I will see “X”. After I’m done, look at my target. If everything is good, then what I saw was ‘good enough’ for what I needed. Of course, repeat this numerous times to ensure it’s how things actually are and not a fluke run. If I have unacceptable hits, was I going too fast? do I need to see more? can I see less? And just play with it. The goal isn’t to work on grip or stance or trigger control or draw or press-out or hits or anything. The goal is to just shoot a bunch and “gather data” about what the eyes should be seeing. If the eyes see X, what results does X bring, y’know?
So in the near-future, that’s what I do with any live fire. Of course, it sucks to have this come at a time when ammo is expensive and hard to find. 🙂
In fact, it’s kinda what I need to do with my 25 yard shooting, but there it’s type 4, and here it’s type 2.
Of course, practice on all things is good. Working on reloads, working on draw, trigger control, you name it. Everything can always use more practice.
Some things to also work on are general defensive “response”, like to side-step, draw, shoot, ready, scan, 360 scan, reload, reholster, etc.. Insert MUC into the mix, etc..
But if there’s any one thing to focus on right now, in my dry work it’ll be draw and present (with deceleration). And in live work, gathering “visual knowledge”.
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