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Calling my shots

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DA/SA
Aprilian
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Post by thessler 4/16/2020, 5:47 pm

Hi
I have been pretty steadily taking a shot , thinking about where it went and then looking through the scope.
After doing this a while I can usually get pretty close to where I thought it went, although sometimes it is still a surprise. 
I am doing this because that is what I read I'm supposed to be doing .
So now the question is why, how do I turn this into a training tool ?
How can this information make me better ?

Recently I have been calling say for example I think that went low right. I look through the scope an sure enough it's low right, then I say to myself,  so what ! Next time I'll try to do better. 
Maybe a little explanation would put me on the right track.
Thank you, Tom

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Post by Allen Barnett 4/16/2020, 7:49 pm

I will be interested in what the Master and High Master's have to say.  To start with let me ask some questions.  Are you left or right handed?  Are you using iron sights or an optic?  If am optic what type?  Red dot? Reflex? Scope? Be specific they will want to know.  I generally can do a fair job of also calling my shots.  But as you say there is one or two that I go that's not what I saw when the shot broke so what happened?  Chances are it is trigger control.

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Post by Jon Eulette 4/16/2020, 8:40 pm

Whether using irons or dot you can learn to call your shots EXACTLY where the shot broke. 10 @ 9 o'clock, scratch 10 @6 o'clock, etc. In the beginning it might be Haley's Comet blasting to the right, and then you learn to see 8 @ 3 o'clock. I can call 99% of my SF shots when I'm doing my part. The more you shoot and work on it, the better you'll get. 
Jon
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Post by dronning 4/16/2020, 9:10 pm

When you can call your shot consistently you should also know when it's a good or bad shot BEFORE you break it.  Focus on repeating the good shots and aborting the bad shots.
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Post by radjag 4/16/2020, 9:26 pm

dronning - I know what you are trying to say, but I just don't get how that statement works. I do know when I've been on target too long, the wobble amplitude increases and I need to abort (still a hard thing for me to do, but I'm working on that).

If I'm in my wobble zone and am approaching release I find that it goes where it goes. After practising a LOT, I am beginning to get that feeling of "steering" the dot into the middle with my trigger finger, but not yet got that feeling every single time. I do now at least know when I've released one into the 7 ring before scoping it. And the quality of the trigger makes a HUGE difference to that process.

As Jon says, one can learn to call, I think that it simply comes as part of general improvement in technique. I can now call my shots almost 100% (assuming that the gun/ammo are indeed shooting straight), but stopping those 8 ring and occasional 7 ring SF shots is still a challenge.

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Post by Jack H 4/16/2020, 9:48 pm

You need to abort those 6-7,8 ring shots .5-1.5 seconds before they happen.  Don't fight a feeling or sighting that isn't right.
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Post by radjag 4/16/2020, 9:57 pm

Thank you Jack - that is a clear and easy to understand instruction. I just need more self-discipline to abort more often than I currently do.

OK, tomorrow, try again. Take a good mind-set to the range and impose self-discipline!

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Post by chopper 4/16/2020, 10:34 pm

Tom, I'm no master, but I can relate to what you've said. When I first started shooting I didn't know about calling shots or how it could help with my shooting. When a guy would say they shot a 9 at 7 oclock I thought how could they see that, they must have eyes like a hawk. I'd tell them I can't even see the rings let alone a bullet hole. Then I found out how they would do it.
 Jon was right on about Haleys Comet, I'd come home from a 2700 and would see that laser like image in my scope a lot and those were my jerks off the target or could be a lucky shot in the 8 ring. What really helped me with shot calling was dry firing on a reduced target, no recoil or shot blast to interfere with my senses. I'm slowly improving at this and it does really help with my training like trigger, grip, position, and mostly for me steady trigger pressure. Make dry fire part of your training it's been good to me.
 Stan

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Post by PhotoEscape 4/16/2020, 11:02 pm

Let me take a stub and verbalize my thoughts what it is, why it is important and how it can be a tool for improvement.  I fully expect that I might be incorrect, and want to be corrected!

Firstly, let's look at the process of the shot from the moment the dot or irons at PoA.  We are squeezing trigger while trying to maintain PoA and break the shot.  It is very important to capture the PoA at the moment of shot breaking, noticing movement of the dot or front sight respective to the desired PoA, and especially capture your feeling both mental and physical of the movement.

Secondly - we make assumption where is PoI.  Or in subject term - we call the shot.

Thirdly - we look at the target.  This is where interesting things begin, and this is how, IMO calling shots becomes a tool.  Let's say I called a 10 @ 7 o'clock, and it turned out to be 7 @ 7.  And then I did same thing over couple times with same result.  I now have a reference point between my feeling of the shot process in step one and actual PoI, so next time I have same feel of the shot, I'll call it correctly 7 @ 7.  However this is just a beginning.

Fourthly - I analyze my feelings, and (with help of my mentor) start identifying the cause of discrepancies between PoA (and my best intentions to shoot X or 10) and PoI.  Above example clearly calls for adjusting trigger squeeze, so I start working on adjusting it, and developing feeling of shot being called 10 @ 7 and PoI being 10 @ 7.

So by now I have collection of matching pairs between feeling and PoI, so I can call shots pretty accurately and work on eliminating undesirable pairs.  Except on rare occasion entire range can hear my shot calling.  That is when I didn't follow Jack H's suggestion to abort!  

Comments please!
AP
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Post by straybrit 4/16/2020, 11:09 pm

Actually I'd suggest that you dry fire with no target - just a blank wall. Train your trigger release to not move the sight picture.  Once you've formed the muscle memory for doing that then you can worry about where it's pointing.  You may find that while this is quickly doable with the 22 (i.e. 2lb trigger) it gets harder with a ball gun @ 4lb. I got over that hump by using the ball gun for dry fire practice then putting a 22 conversion on it for live fire training. This works wonders for strength and consistent control for slow fire - unfortunately (in my case at least) it tends to early shots with the 22 in rapid fire. You wouldn't believe the number of nines at 11 o'clock that I can fire when I lose that concentration - the sight is on the way back to the center but the shot goes off just too early. Like most things in this game - it's a work in progress.

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Post by robert84010 4/16/2020, 11:10 pm

Tom,
How can this information make you better? Basically you can't get better without the information from calling your shot.

How do you turn this into a training tool? Training can't really begin until you can call your shot. 

That is how important it is.  You cannot dissect why a shot went where you didn't want it to go if you have no idea where the sights were pointing the instant the hammer fell. 
As mentioned dry fire will improve your ability to call when shooting. improving your follow through will also improve your call accuracy.

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Post by PhotoEscape 4/16/2020, 11:14 pm

Let me take a stub and verbalize my thoughts what it is, why it is important and how it can be a tool for improvement.  I fully expect that I might be incorrect, and want to be corrected!

Firstly, let's look at the process of the shot from the moment the dot or irons at PoA.  We are squeezing trigger while trying to maintain PoA and break the shot.  It is very important to capture the PoA at the moment of shot breaking, noticing movement of the dot or front sight respective to the desired PoA, and especially capture your feeling both mental and physical of the movement.

Secondly - we make assumption where is PoI.  Or in subject term - we call the shot.

Thirdly - we look at the target.  This is where interesting things begin, and this is how, IMO calling shots becomes a tool.  Let's say I called a 10 @ 7 o'clock, and it turned out to be 7 @ 7.  And then I did same thing over couple times with same result.  I now have a reference point between my feeling of the shot process in step one and actual PoI, so next time I have same feel of the shot, I'll call it correctly 7 @ 7.  However this is just a beginning.

Fourthly - I analyze my feelings, and (with help of my mentor) start identifying the cause of discrepancies between PoA (and my best intentions to shoot X or 10) and PoI.  Above example clearly calls for adjusting trigger squeeze, so I start working on adjusting it, and developing feeling of shot being called 10 @ 7 and PoI being 10 @ 7.

So by now I have collection of matching pairs between feeling and PoI, so I can call shots pretty accurately and work on eliminating undesirable pairs.  Except on rare occasion entire range can hear my shot calling.  That is when I didn't follow Jack H's suggestion to abort!  

Comments please!
AP
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Post by tierney 4/16/2020, 11:47 pm

Gary Andersen said to me once that calling the shot meant,  “Where were the sights at when the shot broke”.  Jon is absolutely right that with practice you will be able to call a dead X, a 10@6, 8@12, or whatever. The skill is critical for this reason; it verifies that your zero is correct.  If you called a 10@6 and you are certain of your call but the shot broke somewhere else, don’t waste a bunch of points on further shots. Check your weapons sights for problems first before dialing in the correction.  This is referred to as the one shot zero.  When the shot is off call always rule out equipment or ammo problems first before assuming that the bad shot was something you did wrong and refer to your shooters log to verify sight dope before firing again.

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Post by CR10X 4/17/2020, 6:27 am

An interesting topic that deserves much discussion and even more thought!

There are many issues with and great benefit from correctly calling the shot.  But what does it mean when you called it correctly?  One of the first things to cover is "How do you know you called it correctly?".


Recently I have been calling say for example I think that went low right.

I'm sure you probably meant that you did see the sight alignment (open sights front and rear or dot with relation to the AREA of AIM, leave the POINT alone, ignore it, do not be tempted to shoot at a POINT.)  But if you are "thinking" that's where it went then the first benefit is that it's telling you that you are not seeing the sight alignment as well as you should.  


Calling the shot is about seeing the alignment of the gun relative to an imaginary line that runs from the bore of the pistol to the center of the AREA of AIM.  Is the top of the front sight perfectly flush with top of the rear sight?  Is the front sight perfectly centered in the notch with NO difference in the width of white on either side.  Did you see the absolute top edge or center of the front sight so well you can see that bit of dust hanging there as the wobble centered around your AREA of AIM (Center of black or an equal sized area of white below the black for sub-six hold)?  Alternatively, for dots, using the dot reference, did you actually see the very center of the dot or were you looking at it dancing in the tube?  Or did you actually see the target so clearly that you can see the X and the dot moving towards it (the center of your AREA of AIM in this case).

The beginning benefit of actually calling the shot is really learning how to see what (and ALL) you need to see for an acceptable shot.  If you are "aiming" for a mythical "point of aim" (which I would, tongue in cheek, dare one to find exactly with a compass and ruler) then you are probably distracting yourself from keeping the gun aligned.  And if you are distracted from that, then it is very hard to see how the trigger pressure, grip pressure, body posture, stance, etc. are causing the gun (front sight location in the notch) to angle away from that imaginary line.  And that tiny, tiny amount of angle has geometrically more impact (pun intended) on the location of the bullet impact point that all the wobble around in your acceptable AREA of AIM.  

Its not where you see the front sight on the target, its where you see the front sight in the notch or the actual movement of the dot in the tube (which is why its harder to learn to keep the gun aligned with the dot) that is important to calling the shot.  (I generally recommend starting with open sights if all possible since its a little easier to see what we are doing to the gun alignment as we have two references on the gun (front and rear sight).  With the dot, when helping new shooters, I've had to resort to telling them to keep the dot centered in the tube since they try to snatch off the shot as the dot bounces over the target area and they can't tell their wobble area from what they are doing to the gun alignment.)  

Maybe that's why for the OP and most of the rest of us - 
although sometimes it is still a surprise


So, we need to begin to separate what we "think we saw" based on repetition of events and train to actually see what's going on.  Then the real benefit begins when we can start finding "cause and effect".  Example: Front sight starts to move right in the notch as the trigger process finishes.  Seems to be that operating the trigger causes the gun to twist off slightly unless the grip pressure is different to compensate. So now I've multiplied my issues due to only one change.  

But, if we can see the front sight begin to move to one side in the notch as the trigger process is developing, then we can find something to work on. (Answer: Dang, I don't have my trigger finger in the same position so need consistent finger position to get the trigger to move straight to the rear without any undue side pressure. Need to restart shot process and keep the potential 10 points in the gun.)

For the OP:  If the wobble is drifting off low right, then you should go though a check list of your shot process.  How it is moving low right can give you some idea of where to start. Just drifting, then check stance.  If moving consistently, but only at the end, check for consistent grip pressure.  If it seems to just jump to the low right, then trigger or grip.  Etc., Etc. If you can see how its changing, that can lead you to finding your inconsistencies.  

Anyway, for me it goes back to calling the shot means I am seeing what the gun is doing.  And everything that determines where the bullet lands happens at the gun, so we need to be seeing what we are doing to the gun.  And that last instant sight picture (calling the shot) that we see of the sights / dot with respect to our area of aim is the last part of seeing what we did to the gun.

CR


Last edited by CR10X on 4/17/2020, 7:43 am; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : Too many ideas, too little brain, too much time on my hands today.....)

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Post by tierney 4/17/2020, 6:44 am

Well said.

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Post by Jack H 4/17/2020, 7:19 am

CR hit a homer again.
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Post by Aprilian 4/17/2020, 8:13 am

I like what Cecil posted (as usual) and it made me think of what I need to keep working on.

1) sight alignment - can I hold the same alignment while executing the shot release
2) overall stillness of the gun - no matter the sight alignment, if I'm moving the entire arm/gun assembly (not "wobble") it is going to be one of those "I think it was a..."  I know I was moving when the call is on the opposite side of the target
3) observational discipline - can I watch the sight alignment all the way through execution or does my mind wander to a different aspect of the shot execution?  I find that my attention sometimes goes to trigger execution and then I've lost the "slow motion" observation of the sights

I think it is impossible to work on all three at the same time, "work on calling your shots".    When all three are good, then I know where the shot went (relative to the pistol's zero).
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Post by PhotoEscape 4/17/2020, 9:32 am

Thank you Cecil!

Leaving aside semantics for me my Point of Aim is equal to yours Area of Aim.  I'm not at the level where I can distinguish between pointing at X from pointing at entire center area.  

I also discounted any issues with ammo and equipment in my post (not sure how it got duplicated, sorry!).  

This is very important tread for me, and I appreciate OP bringing it up and all who commented.  I've been practicing a lot with air pistol lately.  Iron sights work for my vision much better at 10m distance versus 25/50Y.  Will be evaluating my shot process based on this tread, and especially on your, Cecil, comments.

AP
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Post by tierney 4/17/2020, 11:12 am

Again, calling your shot is only used for verifying that you have built the shot process properly and that your equipment is performing properly.  Rather than trying to shoot a 10 every shot and wind up disapointed consider "area of hold" instead.  Shooting logs are set up to record every shot fired in a 10 shot string so you can find your area of hold.  If you see that the hold is the width of the 8 ring any shot inside that ring is a success and any shot outside is an error.  Review what happened to cause the error; bad trigger pull, not having a solid wrist, body weave, postural tremor, etc. and work on reducing the diameter of your hold.  
     Wobble is a general term used for the combination of 2 types of movement: natural body weave which usually originates in the legs and ankles, and postural tremor which everyone has to a certain extent but increases with age.  This tremor is a 5 to 10 hertz shaking totally observable in your sights and is unrelated to weave. The trick is to time the increase in trigger pressure at the point where the shot breaks when both movements are lowest.  This is accomplished by dry firing.  Keith Sanderson dry fires hundreds of times for every live round fired. Air pistol is a perfect substitute.  I suspect that if you can shoot good airgun you can shoot good anything. 38 special is the same, the velocity is so slow that you have time to do all kinds of bad things in follow through resulting in putting the bullet completely sideways through the paper.

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Post by CR10X 4/17/2020, 12:22 pm

Thanks for the comments and other perspectives.  I try to read everything that everyone posts in the Fundamentals section.  I continue to learn from everyone's comments.

As for semantics about "Point of Aim", I was not trying to pick any post apart in any way whatsoever. I do understand that most accomplished shooters are really using the Area of Aim, and just say Point of Aim.    

But after many discussions and working with a lot of new shooters, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of shooters just taking up the sport, those working on basic marksmanship skills and others coming from scope type / precision rifle shooting really struggle with the concept of how utterly and massively important Sight Alignment is compared to the Point of Aim concept for handgun shooting.   

Shooters really struggle with "how can I hit the target if I don't pick out a spot to aim at like a rifle scope".  They really seem to try to take the "Point" idea to the extreme (or at least normal for rifle / supported shooting). They tend to forget the sight radius is so short with a handgun, the position is basically unsupported so the gun is always moving some and that the distances are so short (even 50 yards) that the overwhelming factor is the actual alignment of the handgun versus trying to hold on some specific point.  

And then they really get tied up in knots when they have to operate the trigger while all this is going on.  So now we get to help train people out of that massive jerk on the trigger when they try to get the shot off "right there and then" because the sights seemed to stop for a millisecond on some point.   

Any, that why I try (as often as possible) to get the nomenclature changed to "Area of Aim" for handgun shooting.  So, I do apologize if my comment seemed "over the top" in any way. But I do try to continue to beat this subject to death when I can!  Smile

CR

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Post by DA/SA 4/17/2020, 12:47 pm

CR10X wrote:Any, that why I try (as often as possible) to get the nomenclature changed to "Area of Aim" for handgun shooting.  So, I do apologize if my comment seemed "over the top" in any way. But I do try to continue to beat this subject to death when I can!  Smile

CR
And it's always an excellent reminder to pay a bit more attention to the process and keeping a smooth trigger press.

Thanks!
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Post by PhotoEscape 4/17/2020, 1:10 pm

Tierney wrote: not having a solid wrist

I'm interested to get more information / suggestions on the subject of "solid wrist".  In my youth one of the sports I participated in was ping pong.  In this sport mobility of wrist is second to mobility of the legs.  I remember exercises to increase mobility of the wrist, such as touching area above the wrist with end of the thumb.  It was long ago, and I can no longer even come close to that.  However wrist is the first thing that responds to recoil once shot is broken.  Not an issue in SF, but huge issue in RF/TF.  And unfortunately dry fire is useless in wrist specific training for obvious reasons.

AP
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Post by Wobbley 4/17/2020, 1:21 pm

Even in rifle shooting it truly is an “area of aim” not a point.  Significantly smaller perhaps, but still an area.
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Post by CR10X 4/17/2020, 3:57 pm

Wobbley, I agree.  Just a choice of words since the new pistol shooters are dealing with a much larger area than for rifle.  Like Lones said, "shoot the first 10 you see.".  I try to apply that to pistol every chance I get.

CR

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Post by David R 4/17/2020, 5:13 pm

Thanks for all the good information.

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