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Keeping a gun parallel with your intended line of sight

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Post by mikemyers Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:58 pm

I'm posting this as a new topic, so it doesn't get lost.  CR10X left a response to my previous post, that went totally over my head.  I read the words, but didn't understand what he meant.

Post was:  https://www.bullseyeforum.net/t12728-pistol-team-workbook-how-to-aim-at-blank-paper-using-a-red-dot-sight

The thing CR10X wrote that this new thread is about was:


  • ".........So, remove anything that temps you to look, aim, see, distract you from using whatever you have (front and rear sight alignment or dot in the tube) to work on and INSURE (sic) you are constantly keeping the gun PARALLEL with your intended line of sight.  Wobble all you want / have to but work on keeping the gun aligned.  And that means working with a blank target..........."



I puzzled over it, then asked Dave Salyer about it, and Dave gave me a simpler explanation, which now I think I finally understand.  The key, for me, was "This is Cecil’s way of saying, keep the sights aligned between your eye and your aiming area.  Let's say your eye sways a little with your body. You can stay aligned if you don’t bend your wrist or get distracted.  Bad shots come when the angle of the gun changes, not with normal wobble. Your shots will cluster in the middle of your hold area if you just let the shot break subconsciously."


What I'm thinking now is I must be pretty ignorant about things, and/or locked into my way of doing things, that the real meaning of CR's words didn't hit me until I read it again just before doing some dry-firing.  If the gun is pointed at the bullseye, and wobbles to the right or left, say, 1/4", the hole in the target will be the same 1/4" away from dead center.  But if the gun moves in a way that it's no longer facing the target, maybe it's pointing up, down, right, or left, the hole will be way off from the center.  This leads to the thought of how to keep the gun perfectly parallel to a line between me and the target.


That got me to wondering how to prevent it.  The first place that might affect it is my shoulder, but I think that's unlikely.  The second place is my elbow, but if I keep my elbow locked, that's not going to be much of an issue.  What's left, is my wrist.  If my wrist flexes in any direction, the gun won't be pointing at the target.  The round will go off in a line away from the target.  Not good.

The rest of what I write might be way off base - I'm just thinking out loud.  I know that my wrist is not "locked", and I never figured out a way to lock it.  With this in mind, if my wrist is straight ahead, it's free to "flop" around, and it's impossible for me to "lock it in place".  But if I bend my right wrist to the right, and tense my muscles, there is a place where it starts to feel like it's locked to my arm.

For an hour or so I tried dry firing like this.  Interesting observations, the gun for the first time ever felt like it was rigid.  If so, that is good.  Next, the gun needed to be in my grip in a way that I could see the sights properly.   That was do-able.  Finally, I found it wasn't possible to line up the gun with my eye, but it was effortless to line up my eye with the gun.

Interestingly enough, while it was only dry fire, my wobble was greatly reduced, and when I "fired" the dot didn't move - I heard the 'CLICK' but nothing changed.  Nice.



Maybe I finally caught on to something the rest of you just do naturally.  For me, it's a whole different way of seeing things.  
There is no need for me to worry about the wobble, nor do I need to keep the dot right over the X.  
The far more important thing is to keep the gun parallel with the intended line of sight (which among other things means a locked wrist).      
 .......I think this is what CR10X was trying to teach me.  
From now on, my dry firing will be at a blank wall, and keeping my wrist locked.

........and I need to remember that 
"Every shot that hits somewhere in. you're hold area is a good shot for you.  
Every shot that is outside your wobble is due to an angular error you committed."

Sometimes I overthink things, but may not see/recognize what's right in front of my eyes.     

Keeping a gun parallel with your intended line of sight Drunken_smilie
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Post by CR10X Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:09 am

No one I know of can "lock" the wrist joint.  No one should bend the wrist to line up the gun with the eye and target.  

Simply extend the arm and keep the wrists aligned with the forearm in the most comfortable and strongest manner and use the arm and rest of the stance to align the sights with the eyes. And that's part of the reason for the "Zins' Grip, to keep the wrist aligned in a stronger position; but get the gun lined up with the eye. 

(For me, trying to hold or "lock" the wrist in any extreme upward, downward or whatever position seems to put more tension on the hand / wrist / forearm system that feels like it impedes the trigger finger flexors and extensors.)   

Then move the feet to get on the center of the target.  

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Post by mikemyers Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:22 am

CR10X wrote:Simply extend the arm and keep the wrists aligned with the forearm in the most comfortable and strongest manner and use the arm and rest of the stance to align the sights with the eyes. And that's part of the reason for the "Zins' Grip, to keep the wrist aligned in a stronger position; but get the gun lined up with the eye. .............Then move the feet to get on the center of the target. ......... CR
II've been using the Zins grip ever since I started playing his video over and over.  As to my wrist, the "relaxed" position for me is with the wist bent a little to my left.  By rotating my wrist slightly to the right, my hand becomes parallel to my arm, and I can "tense my muscles" to help hold it there.  With the Zins grip, the sight is aimed at my right eye.

A bonus from doing this seems to be that when I dry-fire, the dot no longer moves. 

When Dorian is gone, I'm anxious to try this out at the range.
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Post by SteveT Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:43 am

To me it means focusing my mental attention on the alignment of the sights or center of the target with dot on top. Everything else happens in my mental background.
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Post by mikemyers Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:00 pm

mikemyers wrote:........The second place is my elbow, but if I keep my elbow locked, that's not going to be much of an issue.  What's left, is my wrist.  If my wrist flexes in any direction, the gun won't be pointing at the target.......... I bend my right wrist to the right, and tense my muscles, there is a place where it starts to feel like it's locked to my arm............

I found both of those ideas are wrong.  
From a new post here, I'm reading how having one's elbow locked can lead to physical problems.  I guess it needs to be a little relaxed so it can act as a shock absorber.
As to the wrist, while I can sort of lock my wrist by doing what I wrote, it's impossible to hold a gun in my hand with my wrist rotated that way.  


  • I dry-fired in a dark room last night, at a blank wall.  At the end of two hours, the dot stayed put.
  • The goal was to make a habit of not disturbing the gun when I fire, and to keep the gun parallel to my line of sight to the target.
  • Every time something went wrong, I tried to understand why it went wrong, and eliminate that from what I do, leaving only muscle memories that work well.


(Thanks to my visitor Dorian being nearby, I may not be able to actually shoot anything for another week...........)
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Post by DA/SA Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:30 pm

mikemyers wrote:

  • Every time something went wrong, I tried to understand why it went wrong, and eliminate that from what I do, leaving only muscle memories that work well.


Stop concentrating on what went wrong!

Just work on getting it right.
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Post by mikemyers Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:35 pm

Update.

DA/SA, once I eliminate anything that is "wrong", what's eventually left will be "right".


For the past several days I've been stuck indoors thanks to Hurricane Dorian, until it finally moved on.  With not much else to do, I spent two or three hours every day dry-firing, sitting on my couch, and working on the trigger release until the dot stayed still.  I was feeling pretty good, as not only did the dot remain stationary when I fired, the dot got much better at remaining still, without a wobble - the wobble got better each day.  It's pretty obvious when aiming at a blank wall if the dot is moving or not.

So today I go back to the range, and the dot is no longer stable (but it did stay put when I fired, so that was something good). Testing some more, I found if I'm sitting, the dot behaves nicely, and when I stand up, a small wobble returns.  That means to me that my body isn't stable enough. 

So, no more sitting down for dry-fire practice, and maybe I can change my stance to make my body more stable.  

At least all the shots at 25 yards were evenly splattered in a group the size of the black.
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Post by CR10X Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:37 am

Stop concentrating on what went wrong!

Just work on getting it right.

He's been told that many times on the list, but you still hear...

DA/SA, once I eliminate anything that is "wrong", what's eventually left will be "right".

Nothing personal, but most people don't have time to figure out all the ways to something wrong. How do you know what's left is "right" (pardon the pun) if you don't work on recognizing (seeing and understanding) what is "right".  Just a suggestion, but maybe you should work on your mindset more than position?

And with that, I'm once again finished.  As my grandfather told me, "You can teach them, but you can't make them learn."

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Post by STEVE SAMELAK Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:47 am

It seems to me that the pile of wrong ways of doing things is way higher than the right way.
I try to examine my failures, but focus on the success.

You can lead a horse to water, but he probably already knew how to get there any way.
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Post by mikemyers Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:18 am

STEVE SAMELAK wrote:It seems to me that the pile of wrong ways of doing things is way higher than the right way.
I try to examine my failures, but focus on the success......
Your second line is a better way of describing what I'm doing.  When something is wrong, I change to what I hope will be "right".

When things work better, I try very hard to repeat them exactly, until they become a habit.

(Then someone like Brian comes along with his tutorial videos, and I've found that every change I made to emulate him improved my shooting.)

There's that line "practice makes perfect".  It should read "perfect practice makes perfect".
Then someone like CR10X posts something that sounds so obvious, but it wasn't obvious to me before I read it.
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Post by james r chapman Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:33 am

I still think dry fire blank wall drills are better served using irons.
More immediate response to doing it correctly
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Post by spursnguns Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:30 pm

james r chapman wrote:I still think dry fire blank wall drills are better served using irons.
More immediate response to doing it correctly

+1

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Post by Jon Eulette Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:55 pm

james r chapman wrote:I still think dry fire blank wall drills are better served using irons.
More immediate response to doing it correctly

Disagree. If you are a iron only shooter training on wall with red dot will teach you far more about gripping and squeezing a trigger. If I coached international I would make all my shooters train with red dots. Red dot shows you things that you will never see with irons.
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Post by mikemyers Fri Sep 06, 2019 3:55 pm

I posted a video in another thread, and DA/SA may have discovered what I'm doing wrong, and why I can hold the gun so much more steadily when sitting compared to when I'm standing.
Video is at: 
https://youtu.be/VpgQPBvdpGI

DA/SA pointed out that my body was swaying forward and backward.
What I'll try tomorrow is to bend forward just a little, and "lock" my left leg.

I watched Doug Koenig's Bullseye video, and he barely moves at all when he fires:  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqFn9AU7les


Regarding dots vs. iron sights, it seems to me that any movement with a (small 2 MOA, with brightness turned down) dot is more obvious.  Most of my dry-fire practice is now with a blank wall.
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Post by spursnguns Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:05 pm

Hello,

I'm a firm believer in using both sighting systems as part of training.  Years ago, I reached a plateau in PPC and could not progress in that iron sight dominated sport until I incorporated red dots into my training.  I'm sold.

I will say though, each sighting system highlights and isolates different parts of my shooting process.  For "me", when I dry fire with irons, front sight / barrel movement is isolated (from breathing, wobble, etcetera) and I can better track that movement through the whole trigger squeeze.

Just my two cents but I do learn something new everyday.

Jim
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Post by CR10X Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:18 pm

Damn, I was done then Jon posted and I do tend to read his posts, so I had to read the rest to catch up.

First the only way to have perfect practice is to already know what you want to do AND how to do it. Secondly the term "practice" does not create the mental condition and focus that should exist when learning. Third, how can you "practice" when trying to figuring out what went "wrong". If you substitute and try "training" on the individual parts and complete shot process, the mental focus might improve, so train, don't practice.

Lastly, as far as holding the gun, you should extend the arm as far as possible, without strain, towards the target as far as the elbow goes. If the shoulder joint is extended or contracted is a matter of preference, but I see a lot of shooters holding the shoulder joint contracted. Then the recoil will move up the arm, through bone and joint directly and reduce the muscle usage in trying to hold the gun under recoil. Most shooters with slightly bent elbows are the ones the develop "tennis elbow" and have all those weird flyers at 50 and that big flyer or two on sustained fire.

Again, just my 2 cents, picked up on the range watching shooters at matches for over 20 years.

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Post by mikemyers Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:43 pm

CR10X wrote:................as far as holding the gun, you should extend the arm as far as possible, without strain, towards the target as far as the elbow goes.  If the shoulder joint is extended or contracted is a matter of preference, but I see a lot of shooters holding the shoulder joint contracted. Then the recoil will move up the arm, through bone and joint directly and reduce the muscle usage in trying to hold the gun under recoil...................... Most shooters with slightly bent elbows are the ones the develop "tennis elbow" and have all those weird flyers at 50 and that big flyer or two on sustained fire................

CR, can I ask you to please  confirm two things I think I've learned from your post?

First, from what you wrote, I'm pretty sure that you prefer the shoulder joint to be "contracted", not "extended".  
(This is the first I've ever read about this....)

Second, the elbow only goes so far in extending the arm, and going beyond that "locks" the elbow.  Are you suggesting the elbow should be "locked" ?
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Post by CR10X Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:53 pm

Quit thinking locked, either it's extended to create the most stable line from the gun, through the wrist and elbow to the shoulder, to act more like a single unit, or it's not. No joint you have is locked, muscles are holding them in place and can be moved or become weakened or relaxed.

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Post by james r chapman Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:06 pm

Take a look at some of the pictures of Henderson, Sanderson, and other military shooters. Look at the relationships of forearm, elbow and bicep. Clues abound.
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Post by mikemyers Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:20 pm

I tried these ideas out tonight - made a world of difference.  

Much better stability, the dot no longer looked like it was drunk, and it was SO much easier.
You guys are awesome!    :-)
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Post by mikemyers Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:53 pm

I'll start with 22.  Last night I tried to follow a combination of the advice from most of you.  As DA/SA pointed out, I was obviously "rocking" front and back, I guess with each of my feet competing for being the one that would be anchored to the ground.  I settled that by firmly anchoring my left foot, with my left leg straight, and my right leg slightly bent, to act as a "spring".  Any movement would hopefully only be in my right leg, and the force from the gun would go through my arm, through my body, down my leg, and be counteracted by the ground.  Sounds nice to write it that way.  At the time I was watching "Commando" on the TV in the background, while I dry-fired, and I decided to bend my body a little forward, so the right arm and gun were forced "out", not dangling there as DA/SA also noted.  My brain was playing mind games, watching Arnold do his stuff, while I was going through what I hoped would be a good stance and firing procedure.  It felt "silly", but the dot was great - I could put it over a spot on the wall, and it pretty much stayed there.  So far, so good.  From now on, I'll lean forward just a little.  (That solves what DA/SA said, about the gun just dangling out there in front of me. - now it was firmly planted in place.  I think all of this allowed me to do what CR pointed out, keep the gun pointed straight, parallel with a line to the target.

At the range, after I dry-fired and shot at steel critters for a while, I shot 20 rounds at the target at the left, below, shooting the way I dry-fired, with the dot over the bullseye.  As Dave Salyer told me I would, long ago, I got a nice donut of holes all around the center, but with nothing hitting the center.  The grouping was a little better than what I've been doing, and the number of "wild" shots was reduced.  So, knowing what Dave tells me to do, I shot 20 more rounds at the next target, using "area aiming" where I tried to keep the wobble centered, as I applied pressure to the trigger, and the gun eventually would fire.  That's the target at the right.  To me it proves that Dave was right - the group is smaller, there are several shots near the center, but three shots were "off".   Maybe "off" isn't the right word - that's probably the size of my wobble.....

I then switched to my Springfield with my 45 reloads.  I tried to shoot it exactly as I shot the right-side group with the Nelson, just concentrating on area aiming, and allowing the trigger to fire whenever it got around to it - not knowing when this would happen.   I just concentrated on keeping the "wobble" centered, while smoothly increasing pressure on the trigger.  That's the bottom target.

I know I've got a long ways to go, but I was quite pleased with the improvement.  

I'm not sure if what I wrote about my legs makes sense - but having more pressure on the rear leg did seem to help keep my body steady.  Whether or not the right leg should be slightly bent to act as a spring, I dunno.  All I know is the combination made it easier for me to prevent rocking on my feet.............

My plans for the future are to dry-fire for an hour every day, and get to the range several times a week to shoot 50 or so rounds of live-fire.


Keeping a gun parallel with your intended line of sight Img_3811


Keeping a gun parallel with your intended line of sight Img_9210
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Post by DA/SA Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:16 pm

Try adjusting your feet and legs until both feet are evenly carrying your weight and your legs are straight with the majority of weight o the balls of your feet. Don't "lock" your knees to where you have muscle tension, just keep your legs straight. That's where pointing your toes inward or outward will help, as it will allow your feet to stay firmly planted without the need to bend your knee.

Experiment with your foot placement and stance (width) until you are comfortable and feel nice and stable. You need a good foundation in order to be stable and repeatable from shot to shot.

If my advise sucks, someone please correct me, as I have just noodled my way to decent shooting by experimenting with stance and grip (and utilizing the great advise dispensed on the "Fundamentals" forum) and I'm just passing on what has made a difference for me!
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Post by mikemyers Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:47 pm

DA/SA wrote:..............Experiment with your foot placement and stance (width) until you are comfortable and feel nice and stable. You need a good foundation in order to be stable and repeatable from shot to shot...........
Up to a point, the further my feet are apart, the more "stable" I am, but by that time, it's less "comfortable".
I assume "stable" is by far the most important.   
If I spread my legs too far apart, it starts to get very uncomfortable.


Following other advice in this discussion I spent some time watching other people shooting - when they fire, their body moves backward. Their groups make my groups look good.  I wish more people made videos of themselves shooting - I watch Doug Koenig, and he barely moves, but that was with a 22.  

Tomorrow is a "Combat Match" at our range.  Maybe I'll go there just to watch and maybe learn.

(They'll probably want me to compete, but I'm not sure how good I am at lying flat on the ground, then standing up....................)
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Post by mikemyers Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:24 pm

DA/SA wrote:Try adjusting your feet and legs until both feet are evenly carrying your weight and your legs are straight with the majority of weight o the balls of your feet. ..............
Here I'm puzzled - that's what I've been doing, and it's obviously not working for me.  If I shoot, especially with the 45, it's going to try to push me back, meaning less weight on my front foot, more weight on rear, and body movement.  I must be missing something.  What I tried to do was to correct that, by "planting" my rear foot.  

If you were to stand in front of me, and push on the muzzle of my gun, you would be trying to push my body backwards, "pivoting" on the rear foot.  It seemed reasonable to me to "plant" my left foot, in effect pushing against my right leg/foot, and all that force going onto my right foot would prevent me from "rocking" backwards.  Leaning forward certainly contributes to that, partly by increasing the load on my right foot.  

Time to get out the Pistol Shooter's Treasury, and see what they suggest.

(Regardless of where this discussion goes, as you pointed out from the video, what I've been doing is wrong.  Something has to change.)
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Post by DA/SA Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:09 pm

Can't help you with that, as I've never had anything I've ever shot push me back or move me.

Take Jim Chapman's advise and study some images of how some of the top shooters stand and present the pistol to the target.
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