Learning curve 103

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Learning curve 103

Post by mikemyers on Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:58 pm

I thought I might post this here, for people like me who aren't really "in" yet.  I've read on the the blog, and the website, and here in the forum, and while I got better, I got stuck at a certain point, and couldn't move past it.

For the past 3 or 4 weeks, I've been doing more and more and more dry firing.  Two things I eventually noticed - first, that while my hands were in a "similar" position every time I fed the gun from my left hand into my right hand, it was never "identical".  After doing this a few zillion times, I became aware of everything, and finally got to where I could position my hand and fingers in pretty much the identical position.

I also noticed during the previous times, that while looking through my red dot sight at my "dot", sometimes the dot stayed put, but others it "jiggled".  I could never do anything about it before, but now that my hands were repeating, I tried moving my trigger finger slightly until not only was the joint in the finger over the trigger, but the dot started staying put a lot more often.

So, more and more and more practice, until 9 out 10 shots the dot stayed where I wanted it to be.  The more I keep doing this, the better it gets.  Assuming my half-inch dot on the wall in front of me represents the target at 15 yards, when I get back to the range, I hope to see an improvement.


The reason for posting this is more or less to say that anyone learning this stuff can't put their hands in the exact same spot shot after shot, until they find the right spot for their hands and trigger finger to be.  If my experience is typical, using a red dot sight made it perfectly clear what was going on.  

My thanks go to Dave Salyer, who taught me how I should be doing things, and to all the advice in this forum, that started to work as intended once I found the >exact< spot for my fingers to be.  Maybe later on, I'll be able to shoot even if my finger is slightly off, but for now I have learned exactly where to hold the gun, and where my finger needs to be on the trigger, to allow me to keep that red dot stationary on the bull.
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by mikemyers on Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:44 pm

I might not have made this clear enough - In the third paragraph, I meant to make it more clear - the dot is/was/will-always-be jiggling, but when the gun went CLICK the dot moved in direct reaction to the CLICK.  My goal was not to stabilize things, but just to prevent the CLICK from causing an additional movement (over and beyond the jiggle).  

After doing this over and over and over and over, it was very obvious when I had upset the gun by firing.  When my hands and fingers were in the correct position for me, I eventually got better at preventing the gun from moving as a result of my trigger action.  

Thinking back on it, it all seems obvious to me now, but I didn't understand it correctly earlier.  At least for me, if my finger isn't exactly where it needs to be, and if I'm not concentrating on pulling the dot right back into my face, the trigger action makes the gun move.  

I might not be writing this very well.  It didn't really work as I hoped until hundreds of rounds of dry firing, and watching the dot.  The dot is MUCH more obvious to me, than iron sights (maybe because of my eyes).  Even the slightest movement is obvious.
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by SmokinNJokin on Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:03 am

Mike,
I am just learning how to shoot a dot after about 6 years of irons only, and I'm working on the exact same thing you are! My dot wobble is side-to-side usually from 9-ring to 9-ring, and if I keep the trigger moving smoothly and accept that arc of movement every single shot goes into that arc. I very consistently shoot scores in the low 90s that way. The tough part for me is trying to shrink that arc of movement, and get rid of the 9's on the sides. I am pretty shaky in the mornings, not sure how to get rid of that.

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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by mikemyers on Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:41 am

Yes - we're dealing with the exact same thing.

Dave's advice to me (it's written up in a discussion here about "area aiming") was to ignore the wobble.  It is what it is, and neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can do anything about it.  With time, and practice, and confidence, it will probably continue to get smaller over time.  Anyway, Dave told me to do exactly what you wrote - ignore the wobble, accept the movement, and concentrate on the trigger.

Regarding "shaky", there is a thread here about that.  My only thought is that if I try to fight it, I make it worse.  So, I just keep it centered over the bull as best I can.  Again, as Dave told me, statistically all your holes will be concentrated at the center, as long as you're NOT trying to control the wobble.  If you are, and try to only shoot when the dot is perfectly in the middle, you'll do worse.  I thought that was pretty silly at first, but I proved to myself that it's true.  ....for me.


Just one quick thought - the more I worry about the wobble, the worse it gets.  Ignoring it somehow relieves the pressure on what I'm doing, and the more relaxed I get, the smaller the wobble gets.  Or, conversely, if I get VERY concerned about it, maybe because someone is standing behind me watching, the wobble gets worse!   .....which explains why the "wobble" is smaller when I know the gun is not loaded!!!   :-)
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by Bullseye_Stan on Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:33 pm

If you haven't read this article, it may help: http://www.bullseyepistol.com/zinsdot.htm

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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by mikemyers on Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:54 pm

Thanks for posting - seems like I re-read that article almost every year, and (for a different reason) I agree.  I watch my target, and more or less just try to keep the wobble centered over it, with no real regard to where the dot may be at any split second in time.

I'm also a novice, especially compared to all of you, so I'm in no position to agree or disagree, or say one way is better than another.


The whole point of what I wrote, is that I discovered that if my finger was not in the perfect place, the whole thing (dot, wobble, whatever) moved when I fired. Sometimes.  That was the key to everything I wrote.  The way to minimize that "sometimes" was "trigger control".   For that purpose, my dot/wobble became a tool for where to place my hands, and especially my trigger finger.  

(For those of you who are already quite good at this, try an experiment - if you dry fire or shoot the way you've learned to do it, you're probably already getting good results.  For a test, hold the gun differently, or position your trigger finger differently.  I suspect that your results will be much worse.  I'd love to hear how each of you learned how and where to place your trigger finger...)
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by Bullseye_Stan on Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:12 am

I'll throw out my observations on sight picture and trigger squeeze.  I had no coach for learning to shoot bullseye, although the folks I shot with were as helpful as they could be.  This was before the internet was easily accessible, so the current fount of knowledge wasn't available.  What I found, through trial and error and paying attention to my scores, was trigger squeeze needed to be started before the sights (or dot) was on target.  Some pistols have a deliberate 'smooth creep', that I think is called 'roll' in modern terminology.  That small amount of movement is a useful 'feedback' element to indicate the location of the hammer release in the trigger squeeze process. 
 
Ideally, the trigger squeeze starts quickly as the sights are near or on target, then slows while the final and best aim occurs.  The grip firmness and sight alignment (or dot placement) also are happening during this trigger squeeze.  When the shot breaks, there is only a small movement of the trigger as it contacts the trigger stop.  The trouble starts when the squeeze must be done in under a second, which requires the dot placement and grip firmness to be well practiced.
 
A two stage trigger helps to make what is learned, or trained, to be a mechanical part of the pistol.  The first stage takes up ~ 1-3/4 pound and the second stage ~ 1/2 pound of the trigger weight.  In that way, some of the squeeze which needs to start before the sights are on target is part of the trigger mechanism and no (significant amount) of training is needed - or certainly the trigger is 'better'.  However, that is subjective, and someone who has learned or trained to shoot a single stage trigger with some 'roll' may prefer that type of trigger.  That's generally where the trouble starts when adjusting (or trying to adjust) a two stage trigger to behave like a single stage trigger.  IMO, it's like trying to get a domestic cat to become vegan; not saying it can't be done, but that's not the way it was made. 
 
When the 'pre-load' is applied and the trigger pressure is increased steadily, the dot or sight picture doesn't move.  If the dot moves when the shot breaks, then examination of how the pistol is gripped should be scrutinized.  Ergonomic or anatomical grips help keep the grip pressure in the joints of the fingers and away from the finger tips while not encouraging thumb pressure.  What ergonomic grips will not do is help with how much grip force, or how firm a grip, is needed.  That seems to come from shooting the pistol.
 
Ultimately, several actions must be coordinated simultaneously without hesitation or causing any undesired motion.  That's where the pre-load of the trigger, proper trigger stop settings, and a smooth trigger pressure increase allows releasing the hammer without any motion other than the slight movement of the trigger finger - while at the same time keeping the grip firm, dot on target, arm raised with minimum motion, and head position fixed.  So, what's so hard about all that?
 
Regarding where to place the trigger finger?  That is associated and dependent upon the grip.  I have always gone by the the NRA copy of Yer’Yev’s book “Competitive Shooting” where he recommends the first joint of the index finger be placed against the trigger.  Since I’m right handed, the right side of the trigger contacts the first joint of my right index finger.  My grip is then adjusted so the trigger force is aligned into the back web of my hand to reduce or eliminate any sight movement.   
 
It’s much more comfortable talking about the trigger as an independent entity, but in reality it’s connected to the grip.  The distance of the trigger to the back of the pistol may need to be adjusted using long, medium, or short triggers in the 1911.  Several dedicated .22 target pistols include a feature to change the trigger length or position.  However, modifying the grip will provide the same effect (since trigger and grip are connected).
 
IMO, all the above is somewhat superfluous as some people who have little to no interest in grip ergonomics, trigger length, trigger ‘roll’, or any other details can shoot marvelously.  In contrast, some have a very in-depth grasp of the mechanics and subtle factors associated with grip, stance, sights, trigger features and how they may affect the shot, but can barely keep their shots on the target.  I’m trying to be more like the former than latter shooter.

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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by mikemyers on Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:53 am

Bullseye_Stan wrote:....Regarding where to place the trigger finger?  That is associated and dependent upon the grip.  I have always gone by the the NRA copy of Yer’Yev’s book “Competitive Shooting” where he recommends the first joint of the index finger be placed against the trigger.  Since I’m right handed, the right side of the trigger contacts the first joint of my right index finger.  My grip is then adjusted so the trigger force is aligned into the back web of my hand to reduce or eliminate any sight movement.....

Lots of good information there.  For me, some I've learned or am learning, and others I need to think about.  The part that you wrote that talks (better than I was able to do so) about trigger placement and grip, is what I was writing about, but you did so much better.

When I grip the gun with my right hand too "forward", more of my trigger finger goes through the trigger.  When I grip it more "rearward", less of my trigger finger goes through the trigger.  Doing this deliberately, I found that when there was too much finger going through the trigger, my trigger press "pulled" the gun to my right.  When there was too little finger, its "pushed" the gun to the left.  That was easily observable by watching my red dot, doing it over and over.  Once I knew that, I found a good place for my trigger finger that made it easier to press straight to the back, without disturbing the dot.  (In all three cases, I could have my first joint over the trigger - a tiny amount of movement one way or another was all it took to disturb the red dot.


Your information goes far beyond what I was trying to describe.  I'm in "first grade" in some ways.  I used to think I did this OK, but the red dot made me into a liar.  It's just that I could never "see" this before with iron sights.  That's what I meant by how I'm using the red dot as a tool.

What I have been thinking to myself, is that it's pointless to worry about all the other details, until I am satisfied that I'm not disturbing the gun by my trigger action.  (My grip is what Brian Enos showed in his video.  I'm not modifying anything on the gun - certainly not until I can do my part.  I'm doing "weight training" so the 1911 doesn't feel "heavy" in my hands, which then shake.)  

With (mostly) the advice in this forum from posts like yours, I thought everything I was learning helped me improve.  Jon gave me wonderful information, as did Dave Salyer.  I guess I could say "a chain is no stronger than its weakest link", and there's no point in my bothering with the other "links" until I can no longer notice that I am disturbing the gun when I fire it.

Thanks!!!!
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by SonOfAGun on Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:27 pm

Bullseye_Stan wrote:...some people who have little to no interest in grip ergonomics, trigger length, trigger ‘roll’, or any other details can shoot marvelously.  In contrast, some have a very in-depth grasp of the mechanics and subtle factors associated with grip, stance, sights, trigger features and how they may affect the shot, but can barely keep their shots on the target.  I’m trying to be more like the former than latter shooter.

I truly appreciate this.
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by daflorc on Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:10 am

mikemyers wrote:I might not have made this clear enough - In the third paragraph, I meant to make it more clear - the dot is/was/will-always-be jiggling, but when the gun went CLICK the dot moved in direct reaction to the CLICK.  My goal was not to stabilize things, but just to prevent the CLICK from causing an additional movement (over and beyond the jiggle).  
Grip the gun harder - much harder. Do this in dry fire with the red dot on - if you can do this without shaking because you're gripping TOO hard for your current muscle development, you'll notice that the dot is less apt to move after the "click" or at any point in the trigger pull. I realize that some people will shake when gripping their gun tight. I'm convinced that you do need to have good gripping power to shoot a 45 well, however. I had a long streak in slow fire where I would average mid to high 80's with my 1911. Recently, when I started gripping harder, I've been shooting 93 to 96 in slow fire pretty often. That's a huge improvement for me. And I had been wondering why I couldn't get a grip on slow fire when my timed and rapids were almost always 96-100. Then I realized - I'm shooting quicker, and subconsciously gripping the gun harder in timed and rapid. All this season my NMC scores have averaged 276-281 with an occasional 285. In the last few weeks, I've been averaging 282-288. 

I then started applying my heavier grip idea to my 22, and I broke 290 for the first time ever last week and shot a 293. I'm positive the heavier grip pressure allowed me to do that, as it has been the only thing I've changed this whole season. 

Dave

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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by mikemyers on Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:22 am

I agree with you, but I don't think we should combine those two things.  Unless the trigger finger is in the appropriate place, and unless the applied pressure is straight to the rear, the trigger finger may be trying to push or pull the gun out of position, regardless of how tightly the gun is being held.

About the grip, from what I've learned so far (or think I've learned) it isn't only how tightly you are gripping the gun, but how.  I started doing what I read about in the forums and on-line help, and gripped the gun more tightly with the other fingers on my right hand, and sure enough, that stabilized the gun.  Those fingers were now pulling back, and the palm of my hand was pushing forward, and my arm was directly in line with the gun.  With my left hand, I've been gripping the gun more tightly but only from the sides.  That also seemed to help.  I should add that if the top of my left hand was snugly against the bottom of the trigger guard, that too seemed to help.

My B-8 targets, when scored, consistently come out in the high 90's.  Sounds good to me, compared to before, but but while I want a group size of under 3", I'm still stuck at a little under 4".  (If I can get the "wobble zone" a little smaller, I think that will accomplish what I'm after.)

For what it's worth, I made a 1/2" dot and pasted it to my bathroom door, for dry-fire.  Mathematically, that's the same as my desired 3" group at 25 yards.  The "pattern" my dot makes on this half inch dot pretty much matches the pattern of my grouping on the target, which makes sense to me, as I'm not trying to "aim" for any particular shot, only to keep the "wobble zone" inside that 1/2" dot (or inside my 3" area on the target, which is my goal).


Back to what you wrote.  When I read it, I think you mean "heavier" or "lighter".  When I gripped my gun (as described above) more tightly, the accuracy improved.  When I gripped it even harder, my hands wanted to shake.  There seems to be a certain amount of grip that makes the dot most stable. 

(I agree with you that what you're writing is affected by muscular development, which I don't have much of - I could have passed for the "98 pound weakling" in the old Charles Atlas ads.   Neutral    )
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by jglenn21 on Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:33 am

I have to totally agree with Dave. I had this help me last weekend with my big guns. Just didn't apply it to my 22.
I was having some issues with poor recoil recovery and simply holding harder helped greatly

Practicing with an air pistol can have some negative effects on your BE shooting..

Grip hard and have a solid muscle structure.
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by daflorc on Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:58 am

mikemyers wrote:I agree with you, but I don't think we should combine those two things.  Unless the trigger finger is in the appropriate place, and unless the applied pressure is straight to the rear, the trigger finger may be trying to push or pull the gun out of position, regardless of how tightly the gun is being held.

About the grip, from what I've learned so far (or think I've learned) it isn't only how tightly you are gripping the gun, but how.  I started doing what I read about in the forums and on-line help, and gripped the gun more tightly with the other fingers on my right hand, and sure enough, that stabilized the gun.  Those fingers were now pulling back, and the palm of my hand was pushing forward, and my arm was directly in line with the gun.  With my left hand, I've been gripping the gun more tightly but only from the sides.  That also seemed to help.  I should add that if the top of my left hand was snugly against the bottom of the trigger guard, that too seemed to help.)

I may not have been following previous threads of yours where you may have mentioned this - are you shooting bullseye, or are you shooting the gun with two hands? 
I had one handed bullseye shooting in mind when I wrote my last message.  When I suggest gripping the gun harder, I'm assuming you already know how to grip it, where to apply pressure, how to pull the trigger, where to put your finger, how to time a shot, how to break within your wobble area, etc. Assuming you are doing all other things perfectly, and you're still not getting the accuracy you're looking for - that's where you should try gripping harder than normal. This is an aspect of shooting that is least discussed on this forum, and it is the one thing that has been the most help in increasing my scores from the 270's into the 280's for NMC.

As an aside, I've also noticed some marksmen on my league who reload aren't using loads that are accurate for their gun, even at 25 yards. You might also have a master shoot a target with your reloads in your gun to see where the gun and load combo itself stands. What if you're better than you think you are, and it was your loads holding you back this whole time? That would be super frustrating, lol.

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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by mikemyers on Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:08 pm

daflorc wrote:

I may not have been following previous threads of yours where you may have mentioned this - are you shooting bullseye, or are you shooting the gun with two hands? 
I had one handed bullseye shooting in mind when I wrote my last message.  When I suggest gripping the gun harder, I'm assuming you already know how to grip it, where to apply pressure, how to pull the trigger, where to put your finger, how to time a shot, how to break within your wobble area, etc. Assuming you are doing all other things perfectly, and you're still not getting the accuracy you're looking for - that's where you should try gripping harder than normal. This is an aspect of shooting that is least discussed on this forum, and it is the one thing that has been the most help in increasing my scores from the 270's into the 280's for NMC....
At the range, I am shooting two-handed.  For dry firing, I am practicing both.  I'm better than before, but I'm not strong enough for one hand shooting (yet).  The last time I actually shot one handed, I had an 8" group.  I'll have to find my target - I don't remember if it was at 15 or 25 yards.  

I never tried what you wrote for one-hand shooting.  Next time I go to the range, I'll try exactly what you wrote, gripping much harder.  I'll also try dry-firing that way.
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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by mikemyers on Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:38 am

Like I said, I'm trying to get reasonable with one hand shooting, but very often I'm watching the red dot while I'm dry firing with two hands. A friend of mine in the Highroad Forum pointed out a video he thought would help me.  Watched it, and was amazed.  For almost 40 years I've been doing something incorrectly - was natural, but still wrong.  Here's the video (but like I said, it doesn't apply to bullseye competition).  It's illustrated graphically at the end of the video:

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Re: Learning curve 103

Post by daflorc on Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:13 am

That's great advice for two handed shooting. Another tip - one handed shooting also improves your two handed shooting, and one handed shooting strengthens the muscles required for one handed shooting. Try shooting one handed for the next six months, then see where your two handed shooting is at after that period.

BTW, I did hear you say that you're not yet strong enough for one handed shooting - doing the activity that you wish to get better at is a good way to develop those muscles. Even doing shoulder raises for reps, and for hold time, with a lighter weight will also help. Often its not your muscle strength, but your lactic acid thresh hold that prevents you from holding steady longer. Lactic acid builds up in your muscle and makes it feel tired and shaky, even if the muscle itself can easily handle the weight. The only way to increase that thresh is by working that muscle.

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