Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

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Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by desben on 12/22/2013, 11:19 am

I started shooting a little over a month ago. As a beginner, I am looking for a way to track my progress. The target scores seemed to be the obvious way. And indeed, my average target scores have been steadily increasing. However, it seems score might not be the best way to measure my abilities, and I'm looking for input as to what else I should track to measure progress. Lowest hit? Group size?

To illustrate my point, here are two targets. One is good, but scores 81. One bad and scores higher at 82. If this were a competition, the 82 would be the better target; but as a measure of one's shooting abilities, I consider the 81 target better.

Good 81


Bad 82
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by Rob Kovach on 12/22/2013, 11:42 am

I really like your 81!  Go ahead and adjust the sights when you see a group like that.  You can't be that consistent on accident!
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by SMBeyer on 12/22/2013, 4:11 pm

Just looking at targets I'd call the 81 a better target but with questions.  Did you call the shots good or at least all of them in the same spot?  How did they feel?  Like you did things right or did it feel like things weren't good or with focus but they just happened to end up in a nice group?  What order were they shot in?

Do you feel the gun is zeroed for you?  If not a little screwdriver work and that 81 turns into about a 96!

As far as tracking progress at least in practice I would forget about score.  Not knowing you or how you shoot I would track your good shots.  Maybe for a beginer 8's or better and as you get better switch to 9's then 10's. 

The problem with keeping track of score during practice is you end up fixating on score or results.  This will lead you into the "results trap" and is putting the cart in front of the horse.  One of the best quotes from my air pistol coach is "results are a by-product of the execution of the shot".  You want to track well executed shots.  Well executed shots score well in genereal.  Yes you can completely do everything wrong and score an x but consider that a gift not a well executed shot.  These targets look like 25yd slowfire targets so here is how I would start out training for slowfire:

First I wouldn't do anything regimented.  Meaning I have to shoot 10 shots on a target it 10 minutes.  Thats a match and you aren't shooting a match you training. 

So post a slowfire target and start shooting, but.  Only shoot shots with complete focus on what you are doing (this is not easy).  It doesn't matter if you only shoot 3 shots in half an hour if they are done with focus.  Don't allow yourself to shoot while wondering whats for dinner.

Remember everytime you raise the gun it doesn't have to go bang!  If something doesn't look or feel right or you start thinking about dinner again put the gun down and start over.  When you think it's time to put the gun down it has been for a while already.  I think the worst thing for slowfire is to force the gun to go off.  You have been holding for a while your starting to shake and you cant get the shot to break so you keep forcing it and forcing it until it finally goes off, usually not where you want it to.  Put the gun down and start over.

After you fire a shot (with great focus of course) how did it feel?  I did everything I was supposed to do? focus? follow thru? squeeze? etc.  Then look thru the scope but don't assign it a scoring number, just high low left right whatever, remember you arent shooting for numbers.  You are shooting for well executed shots.  Was it where you thought it would be?

Keep working until you are either ready to be done or you are having trouble shooting with focus.  Continuing training too long and after you loose focus can be detrimental.  Try to end on a good note.

The problem with keeping score during training is you end up with a number in your head and when you go to shoot a match you fixate on that number.  "Yesterday in practice I shot a XXX I gotta do that today", then as you are shooting your keeping score and focusing on numbers instead of executing the shot.  Remember RESULTS ARE THE BY-PRODUCT OF THE EXECUTION OF THE SHOT. 

Scott
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by james r chapman on 12/22/2013, 6:47 pm

I'd evaluate the 'why' for the extreme differences.

something loose? maybe a sight, or scope mount?
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by DavidR on 12/23/2013, 11:05 am

First a 82 is always a better target than a 81, ( if you dont think so ask anyone who ever lost a match by one point) second you had 5 shots in the 9,10 ring on the 82 and 2, possible 3 if it plugged good on the 81, object of the game hit as close to center as possible, 82 still a better target, now try for a 83 and dont over think the game. A good exercise the marines use is just print a black circle on a white paper 25yd size is good and rather than shoot for score practice shooting for the smallest group size.
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by rvlvrlvr on 12/23/2013, 12:47 pm

DavidR wrote:First a 82 is always a better target than a 81, ( if you dont think so ask anyone who ever lost a match by one point) second you had 5 shots in the 9,10 ring on the 82 and 2, possible 3 if it plugged good on the 81, object of the game hit as close to center as possible, 82 still a better target, now try for a 83 and dont over think the game. A good exercise the marines use is just print a black circle on a white paper 25yd size is good and rather than shoot for score practice shooting for the smallest group size.

I won't argue that a loose 82 is better than a tight 81, but if he was shooting for tight groups, then the first target would be better. If he was shooting for a group centered in the middle, however, then the 82 is the better target. What he should be doing is an extension of the Marines' exercise you mention: shooting tight groups centered in the middle, and disregarding the scoring rings (or the score at all) during practice/training sessions.

Edit: I also think the 81-target might score higher with an overlay or a plug and a second set of eyes - some shots come awfully close to the rings.
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by desben on 12/23/2013, 12:59 pm

Thank you all for your replies.

First off, I’d like to say that I have less than 500 shots under my trigger finger. I’m positive the equipment is fine and the variable at this point is me. The good targets are not entirely an accident - I do try my best! - but I have trouble repeating them. Out of 10 targets, I’ll have 6 or 7 with all the shots in the black; the other 3 will have larger groups and maybe a bad shot way out there. I lack consistency.

Scott made a number of excellent points and the general message I got out of his reply is that while training, I should focus less on score and more on how the shots are executed. This gave me an idea: instead of trying to track progress on every target or shooting session (score), I should divide my shooting in two distinct activities: practice and evaluation, like in school. I’ll focus on the shot execution while practicing (shooting a black circle like David suggested?) and then, maybe once a month, I’ll shoot a few targets for score to see the progress (exam time).

A number of interesting comments were also made regarding the "execution of the shot", focus, feel. Follow through and calling the shot is something I’m very bad at. I need to improve a lot in these areas and I have many questions. Expect further posts from me as I clarify what my questions are.

Benoit
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by rvlvrlvr on 12/23/2013, 1:04 pm

desben wrote:and then, maybe once a month, I’ll shoot a few targets for score to see the progress (exam time).

Is there a Bullseye league nearby that you could join? or maybe somewhere that holds regular monthly matches? That would be a good way track your progress - through regular match results.
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by Guest on 12/23/2013, 6:44 pm

While I am not a great shot yet, one thing I learned is caffeine before I shoot is never a good idea.  Not just coffee, pop can have the same effect.  Just something to consider.

Chip

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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by Virgil Kane on 12/24/2013, 7:55 am

The questions I would ask is.
Were these targets shot on the same day?
Was the 81 shot before the 82?
If the answers to the questions was yes then is it possible that on the 82 target you were trying to "steer" the bullets into the black because the 81 target your group was to the right of the black?

I don't know if it happens to anybody else but I sometimes try to "steer" the bullets into the black ( I know, bad idea) and when I do I get bullets scattered all over the target. When I don't pay attention to where the bullets are hitting but concentrate on the sights, form and the black bull I shoot better groups but they may not be better scores.


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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by BE Mike on 12/24/2013, 8:59 am

You seem to be on the right track. Don't worry about the score or individual targets, but focus on the fundamentals. Set goals. Develop a good training program and keep a shooting diary. You will become more consistent and your groups will get smaller. The higher scores will follow.
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by desben on 12/24/2013, 12:39 pm

I went again last night for one last shooting session before breaking for the holidays. I decided to shoot the same way as before, shooting targets for score (I know! I know!); I'll start doing things differently after the Christmas break. I did put more efforts in calling the shots and I had moderate success doing so. After 10 targets, my average score was the same as last time, 86. Only 2 shots out of the black. My best and worst scoring targets are below.

Happy holidays everyone.  santa 

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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by rvlvrlvr on 12/24/2013, 12:48 pm

Both targets are more-or-less centered about the X-ring, so that's good. Whatever you did for your 94-1(or 2)X, do that more.
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by BE Mike on 12/24/2013, 1:33 pm

You definitely have two parts of the puzzle in place. It is apparent that your gun and ammo are very capable.
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by CrankyThunder on 12/24/2013, 2:18 pm

Dear Desbin:

There aint nuthin you can do about the last shot, its already in the paper.

don't worry about it,

Only shot that you can think about is this shot..do the fundamentals...


The first three commandments, stance, grip, and breathing should be almost instinctive.

The important two commandments, sight alignment and trigger control can be combined into the saying...........Watch the dot, wait for bang. (or watch the (front) sight, wait for bang) while you squeeze the trigger.

Letme know if this helps.

Cranky
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by DavidR on 12/24/2013, 3:50 pm

Like i said, object of game shoot as many rounds as possible in the middle!   
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by Art on 1/8/2014, 12:09 pm

I like what CrankyThunder said.

I might be out there a bit but, I've read a lot of books on Zen (stupid longbow)  and Bassham's book "With Winning in Mind"  recommended by Mr. Zins.

Bassham says it's always a mistake to count your score while shooting.  and Zen would say it's the shot you're shooting, the shot you've already fired and the one you will fire next don't exist... or at least shouldn't be in our minds.

I see my fellow shooters get happy when they shoot a good target and upset even mad when they shoot a bad target.

I myself have found too many times when I shoot a good target I get over confident and the next target is worse.  Likewise when I shoot a bad target I get a feeling of anxiety and seem to try too hard and often/sometimes anticipate and the shots go in the white at 2 o'clock.

Lately, I've ignored the scores and tried to concentrate almost solely (can't do it completely) on my fundamentals, aka shot process. 

The hole will be in the paper and we'll get to see it so there's no need to think about the past shot or the next shot.

I scope my slow fire shots and make corrections as needed but suppress any emotion that could affect the next shot.

I've working hard to improve and am very slowly.   Something I've noticed recently is I am able to call my slow fire shots.  That's suppose to be good but I'm not sure why.

I would like to get in the head of some of the high masters to see what it is that they see/do when they pull the trigger.

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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by Colt711 on 1/10/2014, 2:47 am

Art wrote:
  Something I've noticed recently is I am able to call my slow fire shots.  That's suppose to be good but I'm not sure why.

The ability to accurately call the shot is the result of watching the sights and following thru. That is good. You should call the ring and the position on the clock.
ron

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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by Art on 1/10/2014, 10:30 am

Ron,

I have been able to do just that with considerable accuracy during slow fire, like the dot was in the 9 ring at 5 o'clock when the shot broke and the hole is right there when I scope it.

How do I use that ability to improve?

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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by dronning on 1/10/2014, 1:04 pm

Art wrote:Ron,

I have been able to do just that with considerable accuracy during slow fire, like the dot was in the 9 ring at 5 o'clock when the shot broke and the hole is right there when I scope it.

How do I use that ability to improve?

When you get to the point you can call your shot almost 100%, then only shoot 10's  Smile .  Seriously you have reached a point many don't achieve.  Now the refinement is very much more mental than technique, you know how to shoot a 10 so repeat it.  I've heard the saying great marksman know when NOT to take the shot - I like the phrase better as great marksman know when the shot feels right.  From this point on you drill into your head what you did on the 10's and X's that is where you focus.  Do not think about the non-10's, forget them don't dwell on them, only focus on how to make your shot process produce 10's & X's.  Focus on what you are doing right and how that felt - great trigger control - great breath control - great front sight focus etc....  Trust me you can't eliminate the non-10's by thinking about them and what you did wrong.  Notice the only scores I mentioned were 10's and X's - that's all you should talk about.  Walk away from the 84 talking about the 1 X you got and how that felt.  Groups will begin to tighten up and the 84 will become a 88, then a 92, 94.......clean!

Dave
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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by Colt711 on 1/10/2014, 11:48 pm

Art wrote:Ron,

I have been able to do just that with considerable accuracy during slow fire, like the dot was in the 9 ring at 5 o'clock when the shot broke and the hole is right there when I scope it.

How do I use that ability to improve?

The ability to call the shot is a confidence builder. It tells you your sight picture at let off is good. It just needs honing. Shoot a lot. Dry fire. It tells you the load & gun is good, another confidence builder.

The errant shots you are calling are caused by an imperfection in the hold which occurs just as the shot breaks. Probably impatience has made you do something to "get it over with". To build confidence in your hold put a slow fire repair center on a wall. Stand about 5 ft from the target and hold the gun in the 10 ring. Easily accomplished. This tells you the only thing causing a bad shot is a "mistake" in the trigger release. The distance involved in shooting magnifies the error. Armed with the confidence of a good hold and in the ability to see the shot (call) proceed to the line and press the trigger. Be relentless. The only thing in the world is trigger pressure and the front sight or the dot.

You will soon shoot a lot of 10's. My goal was a min of 95 for slow.
Ron

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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

Post by Art on 1/11/2014, 2:22 pm

Dave and Ron,

I appreciate your advice and will implement what you suggest.

Art

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Re: Good 81, Bad 82 (how to track progress)

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