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Slow Learner

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BE Mike
Jack H
Dipnet
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Post by Dipnet 11/8/2018, 12:30 am

I try to shoot at the range once a week with my shooting buddy to keep basic skills sharp and ostensibly to train. The conundrum we, and I suspect many shooters face, is how to self-diagnose mistakes and identify real corrections in order to improve our precision shooting skills. 

I'm not sure how long ago, but perhaps as many as four years, I was a low 800 shooter with a 45 and then Mr Jerk paid me an enduring visit. This happened when I sold my GT45 (because of large grip dimensions) and transitioned back to my reliable and silly accurate Rock River. I was spoiled by the sweet, completely adjustable Pardini trigger. Thence began a frustrating slide down to the mid to upper 700s with the 45, where I have been stuck until recently. Progress has been very slow, primarily because "training" consisted of shooting a bunch of rounds while making the same mistakes.

I needed to learn and ingrain improved habits on how to shoot the 45 accurately in all stages of the match.

Slow-fire has been the easiest to improve; it results from consistent grip, smoothly pulling trigger straight back, and focus. I've recently shot a 97-8x during practice and 93-4x in a match. Improvements, however, are variable; I was not aware of any specific thing I was doing when I shot my personal best. Obviously fewer mistakes and being more relaxed. As noted, long line secret ingredients are grip, trigger control and focus, focus, and more focus and more trigger control. If it was sex, it would be, focus, focus, and more focus and trigger control, i.e., pulling it straight back, and of course, grip. At 68 this mental focus stuff isn't near as easy as it used to be, not that it ever used to be easy, but I've never fallen asleep on the line.

My stumbling In timed and rapid fire was mostly in the latter. Somehow my mind shifted from aimed shooting and deft trigger manipulation to pointed jerking and cursing. After of thousands of rounds downrange, all while making the same mistakes, regardless if fired during "training," practice, or matches, it slowly occurred to me that I was not improving and was just making the same mistakes. Failure to learn anew.

My palm span is 98 and finally made some simple changes to accommodate that: 1) installed a short trigger, and 2) added black Sugru to the grip safety to thicken it, which helps full depression during shooting. (Otherwise, I sometimes felt drag in the trigger.) I threatened to do this for years and should have done this a long time ago. I guess the lesson is I am human and resistant to change, especially improvements. Also, I've worked on making my grip as consistent as possible. I was wrongly told to squeeze the grip until the oil came out: TERRIBLE ADVICE. This excessively tires forearm muscles causing muscle tremors, especially in 2700s. I now hold the pistol firmly but lightly, primarily gripping with middle and ring finger; the pinky is demurely raised to show I am a shooting snob, not a Master.

Technique revision began where it should: with the first shot of a rapid fire string. The theory is to develop and ingrain a new technique that utilizes all of the 10 seconds. After raising and aiming pistol, my buddy gives the command to fire and I shoot one shot as accurately and as quickly as possible--without jerking trigger. I did this because i resized that I sometimes hesitated or froze after the target turned (or horn when off), which was causing me to play catch up in order to get all five shots off. This resulted in consistent frustration and even misses. Getting off one well-aimed first shot quickly was the right place to start with forming a new shooting habit. 

The second phase of the "training" revision for rapid fire (starting with "fire" command from shooting buddy) is to fire the usual five rounds but with the primary focus on accuracy. Mentally counting "1-one thousand, 2 one thousand" helps uniform cadence of shots fired. We time ourselves with a smart phone stop watch; its important to record times and scores so that improvements can be seen. So far, training improvements have been remarkable and relatively quick. I am shooting in low to high 90s and getting all five shots off under 10 seconds.

If you have goals such as increasing your ranking classification, you have to not only practice shooting, you also have to improve your skills. It has taken me a long time to learn the difference between practice and training. Good shooting, dipnet
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Post by Jack H 11/8/2018, 3:43 am

Perhaps your mind is too much on what you are doing rather than why you are doing it.
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Post by Guest 11/9/2018, 7:40 am

Thanks Dipnet.

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Post by BE Mike 11/10/2018, 7:21 am

Sorry for the confusion.


Last edited by BE Mike on 11/12/2018, 8:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Ed Hall 11/11/2018, 9:23 am

Not to criticize too bad, but I find the preceding post rather ironic.

It starts out by suggesting:
You have to be totally honest and describe what you are doing now; not what you want to do.
And, then suggests you read With Winning in Mind, which tells you to write down your goals as though they are your current state.

Those who have followed my posts, would probably note that I suggest looking for success rather than becoming bogged down in failure.  Find out what works and repeat, rather than studying all the ways to fail.  Do write down what you are looking for in a manner that tells yourself you're already there.

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Post by mhayford45 11/12/2018, 5:42 pm

I shoot with many shooters of all levels. What I find interesting are the ones that speak negatively. They struggle and do not find happiness in all the 10 and Xs they did shoot. When I say something positive to them about what they are doing and reinforce their good habits it does not seem to stick with them and they are back to their old habits very soon. I have to be careful when I am around people speaking negatively so I do not get caught up in it and start a spiral into the despair with them.

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Post by lyman1903 11/13/2018, 8:18 am

mhayford45 wrote:I shoot with many shooters of all levels. What I find interesting are the ones that speak negatively. They struggle and do not find happiness in all the 10 and Xs they did shoot. When I say something positive to them about what they are doing and reinforce their good habits it does not seem to stick with them and they are back to their old habits very soon. I have to be careful when I am around people speaking negatively so I do not get caught up in it and start a spiral into the despair with them.


when I was a Service Rifle shooter, I would watch listen and learn from some of the State Team guys I shot with, 

most are extremely helpful, and positive, 

one guy, who shoots like a machine (high master, distinguished etc) was the exact opposite, 
he would shoot a 499-high x count (out of 500) and beat himself to death over that dropped point, 

listening to him, you would think the darkest thundercloud was over his head the entire match, raining on his parade, 

so I stopped listening,
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Post by 1joel1 11/13/2018, 9:24 am

I try to do the right stuff, meaning, correct stance, hold, and most importantly, trigger control. After that, I'm just enjoying the immense challenge that is precision pistol and having a blast. If you're frustrated, I suggest focusing on having fun. If you can't, then you're in the wrong sport, imho. Pay for some coaching from a bullseye expert as it is money well spent. Then, it's just up to you and your attitude at the range.

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