Area Aiming, by Dave Salyer

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Area Aiming, by Dave Salyer

Post by mikemyers on 11/2/2017, 11:29 am

An Explanation of Area Aiming
Dave Salyer
 
Question: I am a relatively new pistol shooter who reads everything I can on the art of pistol competition. Please explain the term "area aiming" in ordinary, everyday terms to help me get a better grasp of its meaning.
 
Answer: Area aiming is a term used by better pistol shots to describe an important part of the process of firing a well-aimed shot, with confidence that it will end up in or near the center of the bullseye. Aiming area can be described as the area projected on the target by the front sight or scope dot as viewed by the shooter. For example, you point an electronic red dot sight at a target down range and make a mental note of the extreme movements of the dot. Maybe it is moving back and forth and up and down inside an approximate circle the size of the 7-ring. The area of this observed imaginary circle would be your personal aiming area capability on this day.
 
The 10-ring is so small it is nearly impossible for any shooter to hold his front sight, or red dot inside an area the size of that circle for an entire competitive event. So, the shooter has two choices. He/she can try to fire the pistol as the sight moves into the 10-ring, or place the center of his personal aiming area over the 10-ring and carefully apply pressure to the trigger until the shot leaves the pistol.
 
Area aiming is the more logical choice for just about all pistol shooters, but this requires some explanation. It is sad that so much has been written about the six-o'clock hold, which defines an infinitely small spot. Sounds great but is not practical for off-hand shooting. The reason is that no mortal can hold the pistol absolutely still, or consistently "grab" a shot when the sight is momentarily on the exact desired spot.
 
The good news is that it is not at all necessary to hold the pistol still, even though it is desired. Area aiming means that you just hold the pistol within an arc of movement that is COMFORTABLE and EASY for you! Of course, you want to center your personal aiming AREA about the target center.
 
 
Shouldn't I always be trying to reduce my aiming area while in competition?
 
NO! Absolutely not during competition! This will cause anxiety and distracts from proper trigger movement resulting in those awful shots that land outside your personal, comfortable aiming area. This is when and where most points are dropped.
 
Remember this. Nobody can consistently shoot a group smaller than his personal minimum arc (or area) of movement. Even the handful of people who can hold ten-ring and follow through at 50 yards will shoot a few nines due to minor trigger control errors and bullet dispersion. These few shooters are the 2670 shooters, because they can control the hammer drop while keeping the front sight in their comfortable area of hold. They don't disturb pistol sight alignment or target picture as they actuate the trigger/hammer mechanism.
 
The saving grace for the rest of us is that the bullets tend to cluster about the center of our personal aiming area. Nature invented statistical distribution to do just that. For example, If a golfer is within reach of a hole and swings comfortably, the ball is more likely to go into the cup than any other single, random point you can pick. In bullseye shooting, with a zeroed pistol the bullet is more likely to go into the x-ring than any other random spot you can pick.
 
So, hold the dot within your personal comfortable area centered about the x-ring. Press the trigger smoothly toward the web of your hand until the bullet has safely hit the target. Then return the dot or front sight to that aiming area immediately. This will help ensure a habit of following through. Let nature do the hard work for you.
 
 
Can you explain why the shots will tend to cluster in the middle of my aiming area?
 
The front sight or dot will move randomly in your aiming area. As it approaches the outer edge of your "circle", your mind will immediately tend to send it back across the middle toward the other extreme. Kind of like a star pattern of movement. As it crosses the middle of the target, your subconscious (or conscious mind) will not be trying to correct anything. Thus the dot or sight will spend more time in the middle than at the extreme edges of your aiming area. The shot is more likely to break during this time, than at the edge of your area. You must not decide to help the shot fire at this time as you are very likely to change the angle of the pistol, slightly. This is my definition of "grabbing" for a 10 and getting a 6.
 
 
When should I try to reduce my aiming area?
 
This must all be done in training rather than in competition! This is important! Do most of this after you have improved trigger control by dry-firing and exercising your arm, wrist and hand with a 5 pound weight. Dry-firing, while standing at the 50 yard line, is the best way to do this. You can measure (observe) your improvement by watching the front sight or red dot move around in this area.
 
Shooting does less to improve your hold, compared to dry-firing where you can see what is happening. Fortunately, dry-firing costs less! Unfortunately, It is so boring that few heed this advice religiously. If you want to be a champion, follow this advice! I honestly believe that the basic secrets are in this spiel.
 
 
I hope this inspires you to become a champion!
 
Dave Salyer
1947 Greenfield Dr.
Rock Hill SC 29732
 
Written about 1998 while in China
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mikemyers

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Re: Area Aiming, by Dave Salyer

Post by mikemyers on 11/2/2017, 11:31 am

(Dave sent me this article to post - he wrote it back in 1998.)
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Re: Area Aiming, by Dave Salyer

Post by Magload on 11/2/2017, 12:45 pm

Thanks Dave and thanks Mike for posting it.  This answers a question I have had for a long time.  It has bothered me a lot that i feel like I am just shooting at the black not at the the X.  It seamed to me the Xs then were just lucky hits.  Maybe i pulled a shot and it hit the X and if I hadn't of pulled it it might have been just out side of the black.  This goes along what we have been told.  Accept your wobble.  I think it was Jon that said because of his shooting shoulder he can no longer hold like he used to but still shoots xs and 10s with a score I may never shoot.  Now if I can get the rest, trigger, grip, and follow through right I have a chance as I can hold in the black.  I do tend to see that most of my holds are at 9 o'clock in the black which I haven't corrected yet.  Don
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Re: Area Aiming, by Dave Salyer

Post by mikemyers on 11/2/2017, 10:24 pm

This was my question to Dave:
......Everyone has been trying to get me to switch to 6:o'clock hold......I am struggling to "call the shot"...... there was a highly technical article written about this that said your eye will see the position when the gun fires if the black sights are in front of white paper, not a black bull.....
 

His reply:
"I use sub six to make it easier to get perfect sight alignment. That is how I earned my distinguished badge in 1985 or 86. Six o‘clock is a spot. Since no one can hold a pistol still it makes no sense to try."


====================================


In a separate email Dave wrote:


"I am not a statistics expert.  The big assumption I made when writing it was that bullets would hit in accordance with the standard bell curve as long as it was a stable process."




As I understand this, if on is aiming at an "area", the bullets will concentrate to the middle of that area, which hopefully will be be the bullseye.  It also explains why if a person is trying to hit the X in the middle of the bullseye, the bullets will end up all around the bullseye, with few of them hitting it.


Last edited by mikemyers on 11/2/2017, 10:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Area Aiming, by Dave Salyer

Post by Jack H on 11/2/2017, 10:32 pm

Dry fire a whole lot on a blank wall.  Get used to looking at and seeing and staying on the front sight aligned in the rear notch.  Try different lighting conditions on the sight might be needed to really get used to seeing the sight.
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