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What to do when you just can’t get a good break?

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Post by Wobbley 7/12/2020, 2:27 pm

Went out to the range today to continue thru the USMC workbook.  I’m at the stage where I need to get 2 consecutive ten shot strings in the ten ring....

Started with the 22....first shot was a ten....second shot was a ten...then I had two consecutive bad breaks...start over...bad break, bad break....ten ten Bad break.... ended up shooting 50 shots and 40% were bad breaks....

Shot some 45...first shot was a ten..another ten... and then the bad breaks came in bunches...I wasn’t flinching they were just bad shots.  Confirmed no zero shift on my new batch of reloaded ammo and went home.

Frustrating.
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Post by DA/SA 7/12/2020, 2:44 pm

Wobbley wrote: ended up shooting 50 shots and 40% were bad breaks....
No!

60% were good shots.
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Post by spaatz1644 7/12/2020, 2:58 pm

I might be a new bullseye shooter, but I've been around competitive shooting my whole life. And competitive bowling and track and field too. 

My opinion, for the little it might be worth...its time to put away the book for a while. Shoot for the fun of it. Clear your mind for a while. Relax. Come back to the book when you feel refreshed. I'll bet you have more good breaks then.

Remember, its just sight alignment and trigger control. Everything else is just complicating the beautiful simplicity of this game.

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Post by Wobbley 7/12/2020, 3:14 pm

What to do when you just can’t get a good break? 9e197c10
This was a target shot a week ago... only two got really far...today it wasn’t even this good.

I know I should concentrate on the good shots, but...dammit..I know I can do better....

Frustrating...
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Post by spaatz1644 7/12/2020, 3:17 pm

After some more reflection, I offer these thoughts. Again, all coming from years of training in others mentally challenging sporting endeavors, but not necessarily bullseye pistol. Take them for what they're worth...or not. 

1) We THINK its always our intention to shoot an X. But intentions can not be passive. They must be active. Are you sure on each shot, you were fully mentally committed to shooting an X, or is it possible that on some shots, you weren't fully present, and just going through the motions?

2) Did you analyze what went right on the good shots? Too often we focus what went wrong on the bad shots, and pay the good shots no attention. We then program the brain to focus on what NOT to do, making you far more likely to actually do it. Take time to analyze the good, and teach the brain that these actions are what you want. Sort of like handing the dog his food after he obeyed a few commands. You don't want to do less bad things in the process; you want to do more good things in the process. 

3) When things aren't going your way, its far better to take a 15 minute break (if time allows) or pack up and go (if time doesn't allow.) Forcing yourself through the bad, usually only ingrains bad habits. Walk away from it, and if that means you have to leave for the day, find something positive to reflect on, lest you think of the whole outing as a negative.

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Post by CR10X 7/12/2020, 3:37 pm

Are you "trying" to complete some outcome related to a relative score or location of shots; or are you picturing the outcome of each shot (a consistent process and feeling) and the just performing the shot.

Don't rush it. If you can't see it happening in your mind, then its hard to perform it real time. Have the same issue myself a lot these days. I have to abort a lot more shots than I used to.
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Post by mikemyers 7/12/2020, 4:21 pm

I see 12 holes, in what most people would consider a nice group.  This group appears to be off to the right, and a little high.  I think what Spaatz1644 says makes sense.  Is this 25 yards?

I'd also suggest you try Dave Salyer's thoughts on Area Aiming.  When your wobble area stays inside the ten ring, that's where your shots are likely to end up, unless you're moving the gun when you fire it.

Not sure how you define "bad breaks".  Whatever your current wobble area is, the holes may appear anywhere within that   area, and hopefully you are positioning your wobble area over the black, and that's what your sights are adjusted for.


Final thought - you should enjoy your shooting, and go home with a smile on your face.  I'll be  very happy when I can do what CR10X wrote, but I'm still at the point of following Dave's advice, and I'm positioning the group (the wobble area) over the center of the target.  The more I do it, the smaller the group becomes.  Dave and George's advice has me just putting the wobble over the target, and increasing pressure on the trigger.  The gun will eventually fire.  I'm deliberately trying NOT to aim at the bullseye.  


(Final, final thought - you're one of the people  giving ME advice.  I can write here what I think, but you're way beyond me in shooting, so maybe nothing I wrote would in any way be helpful to you.  So feel free to ignore everything in my post.)
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Post by Wobbley 7/12/2020, 6:19 pm

To me a bad break is when the gun is wobbling at the ten ring and I press the trigger but before it breaks the aim moves out of the ten ring.  I see it and I can’t stop it.  That’s what was going on today.

These are all at 25.  The workbook has you shoot 10 tens within 20 shots. The goal is to get to put 10 Tens in the first ten rounds for two consecutive targets. Last week I just continued until I got 10 shots in or touching the ten ring.  More often than not this was done in 12-13 shots with the 22 and then 13-15 shots with the 45.  Today it just wasnt gonna happen...
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Post by Ed Hall 7/12/2020, 7:07 pm

Wobbley wrote:To me a bad break is when the gun is wobbling at the ten ring and I press the trigger but before it breaks the aim moves out of the ten ring.  I see it and I can’t stop it.  That’s what was going on today.
. . .
Think about this a bit. . .

". . . the gun is wobbling at the ten ring and I press the trigger . . ."

". . . before it breaks the aim moves out of the ten ring . . ."

"I see it and I can’t stop it."

Think about all the above again.

Now realize that everything you see is history.
And, all actions take time to initiate and complete.

Learn to start the trigger prior to "wobbling in the ten ring,"  so the break happens during the best hold.
Learn to make the trigger operation a dedicated activity from start to finish in a determined manner.
Learn how long it takes to drop the hammer, so you can find the best process to start the trigger, acquire your sight alignment while the trigger operation is ongoing and let the shot finish at the appropriate moment.

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Post by john bickar 7/12/2020, 7:40 pm

Wobbley wrote:To me a bad break is when the gun is wobbling at the ten ring and I press the trigger but before it breaks the aim moves out of the ten ring.  I see it and I can’t stop it.  That’s what was going on today.
...  Today it just wasnt gonna happen...

This is a good example of an opportunity to work on "Positive Mental Attitude" (PMA).

This happens to me, frequently. I choose to use it as an "indicator". The sooner I can recognize this indicator, the better chances I have for success.

I assess the situation; I check my mental "toolbox" for what I have to deal with this indicator; then I apply the tools that I have developed.

For me, when the shot is breaking juuuust slightly after my optimum hold, I have developed several things I can do to get to optimum shot break:

1. Breathe. Slow down. Try to make my arc of movement slower.
2. Start the trigger squeeze earlier on the way in; be more aggressive.
3. Visualize the black as bigger than it is; accept a larger hold. See #2.

I want to be breaking shots on the way in.

All of the above written in the first person; YMMV.
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Post by mikemyers 7/12/2020, 7:58 pm

Wobbley wrote:To me a bad break is when the gun is wobbling at the ten ring and I press the trigger but before it breaks the aim moves out of the ten ring.  I see it and I can’t stop it.  That’s what was going on today.......
George (Crazy Thunder) told me a way to eliminate this.  Eventually it worked for me.  What George wants is for me aim the gun, and to have already started applying pressure to the trigger.  He wants your subconscious to fire the gun, and very definitely NOT for you to fire the gun.  If you know that the gun is going to fire, you can react to it ("the aim moves out of the ten ring").  If you don't consciously know when the gun is going to fire, there will be no reason for you to disturb the aim.

Besides, as Dave is constantly telling me, what you SEE is not what is really happening.  There's a delay, and you're seeing history.  That's part of the theory of Area Aiming that Dave beat into my brain.  Anyway, it's easy enough to try.  

I like the way Ed Hall explained it:
"Now realize that everything you see is history.
And, all actions take time to initiate and complete."
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Post by Jon Eulette 7/12/2020, 8:21 pm

Dry Fire! Stop and dry fire. It will show you real fast what you’re doing right or wrong. Then shoot! I’ll stop and dry fire in the middle of the SF match if I need to figure things out. It’s your friend. I dry fire a lot between live fire shots when out shooting.
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Post by mikemyers 7/12/2020, 8:33 pm

Jon, I think it  was you who told me  that a long time ago, and whenever I get to the range, I start off with dry-fire.  If anything is going wrong, I stop and dry-fire.  I'm dry-firing so much at home, I feel like I'm going to wear things out.  I wonder if others think I'm having problems...

Dave Salyer made me a lead filled magazine, that simulates the weight of a full magazine.  I use that for 45 dry-fire all the time.

One thing that I've never figured out in dry-fire though, is how to simulate the "anticipation" of knowing a gun is going to go BANG, when all it does is "CLICK"?  Hands don't make mistakes when the gun is empty.  It's only when the gun is loaded that the anxiety/tension/stress/whatever messes up what you are trying to do........


I'll bet if Wobbley were dry-firing, the gun wouldn't move out of the 10-ring when he fired.
You have any advice for that?
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Post by CR10X 7/13/2020, 3:54 am

There are a lot of good technical recommendations above and those are really good for following when training.  Here is my personal opinion on the workbook and its use to help the shooter improve.  

Remember the book starts with technical side of shooting, but one of the most important underlying issues that the USMC workbook is also addressing is the performance side of shooting.  They just do it in a different way with the various levels (read "tests") to go to the next level.  This introduces the shooter to performance issues under pressure. And is the first step to separating shooting (match) from training.

The best way to start shooting better is to believe better shots can be made.  When the workbook is used in conjunction with teams and team training, the upcoming shooters get to see other people performing the various levels.  They see it can be done and that is the biggest asset the military teams have.  They get to SEE good shooting while they are progressing.

When training, train on something specific.  When shooting for the levels shoot with the shot process you trained with, you do not get to train or even evaluate until you are done.  After shooting the exercise, then review the shots, process and what you observed and put them in your journal.

Then use the journal to set up your specific training area(s) for your next trip to the range.  Not that day, let it mellow and get an understanding of what you really think you need to work on.

But remember the level exercises are not just a review of what you did before but they introduce the score / results aspect that the shooter needs to learn how to address (basically ignore).  It's very hard to shoot better than you trained, and even harder to shoot as well as your training without addressing the mental side when shooting for score (level exercise).  This is the part where you move from "trying" like when training to just "doing" like you need to at a match.

Learning how to accept seeing the 10's or other really good shots pile up on the target and not fall into the "make it better" trap is one of the hardest lessons in shooting (and golf, and tennis, and etc.).

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Post by Ed Hall 7/13/2020, 7:25 am

As Jon pointed out dry firing is your friend. Not as much with the .22, but with the .45, my first few hammer falls for the Slow Fire targets are dry fires.  In fact, sometimes I take quite a while to become comfortable with my process and then move to live rounds.  And, if something stills seems off, I do more dry fire.

How to get over the difference between dry and live fire?

Visualize live firing while you dry fire and dry firing while you live fire.  Focus on the process to the exclusion of the results.  The results will be there later.  You have to observe the process while it's in motion.

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Post by Jack H 7/13/2020, 7:41 am

Ed Hall wrote:As Jon pointed out dry firing is your friend. Not as much with the .22, but with the .45, my first few hammer falls for the Slow Fire targets are dry fires.  In fact, sometimes I take quite a while to become comfortable with my process and then move to live rounds.  And, if something stills seems off, I do more dry fire.

How to get over the difference between dry and live fire?

Visualize live firing while you dry fire and dry firing while you live fire.  Focus on the process to the exclusion of the results.  The results will be there later.  You have to observe the process while it's in motion.

Bold line is why IMO you should not look at the target in the learning and training efforts.  Stay at the gun and dot.  And front sight always..
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Post by chopper 7/13/2020, 10:47 am

Wobbley, I'm also a Marksman trying to learn and shoot to improve my class and have even more fun. I do a lot of observing when I can, of the Masters and HMs at matches.
 One thing I picked up is when setting up I also take a dry fire shot on target to reconfirm everything is proper, ( stance,grip,sights, and trigger). I've been doing this for about a year now and it does help. I like to do this after I get back from scoring and line is hot, do it before the commands to load, there's plenty of time for it. After all it's an easy fast way to get your final adjustment before you fire for effect.
 Dry fire is my biggest friend, I don't do long sessions of it, 10-15 mins is enough, but twice a day or more sometimes. Sometimes not for a couple days or more, I might visualize or dream about those sessions and bingo, discover something about my dryfire to improve on. And that's another issue I need to work at, keeping a journal of dryfire also. I'm terrible about taking the time to write down whats going on. 
 My other thing is holding exercize, they do improve the grip, stance, and wobble. I use a blank wall, verticle line, and a small dot about 12" from the wall.
 I'll be live fire practicing when my newly refurbished 45 comes home this Thursday ala Jon. Best score with my Nelson .22 is 832, my goal is to match it with the 45.
 Keep up your training and practice Wobbley you'll do great.
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Post by robert84010 7/13/2020, 11:39 am

I've noticed more times than I can count at matches how few people dry fire before starting. Most not even a single time. I always smile to myself and say "wow, they must be really good to need zero dry fire." I'll leave the rest to your imagination.


Wobbley, are you always starting with dry fire and blank target? If you have trouble after two tens you need more dry fire/blank target drill at the beginning of every session. Can you keep your grip on the pistol for 10 consecutive shots? Seems like I see so many people put the pistol down after every shot, or just a couple, and then re-grip, not dry fire, and then expect the shots to land on top of each other. grip should be comfortable enough to keep for 10 slow fire shots otherwise you probably need to spend some attention there.

I've gone through the workbook with multiple 22's (conversion/irons/dot) and my LP50 at 10m. When you have trouble on a step always default back to dry fire and blank targets and then restart the particular training step. I always start an outdoor session there, despite everyone looking at me like I'm the one that's lost. "How the hell can you shoot at a blank target."

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Post by Wobbley 7/13/2020, 1:05 pm

robert84010 wrote:I've noticed more times than I can count at matches how few people dry fire before starting. Most not even a single time. I always smile to myself and say "wow, they must be really good to need zero dry fire." I'll leave the rest to your imagination.


Wobbley, are you always starting with dry fire and blank target? If you have trouble after two tens you need more dry fire/blank target drill at the beginning of every session. Can you keep your grip on the pistol for 10 consecutive shots? Seems like I see so many people put the pistol down after every shot, or just a couple, and then re-grip, not dry fire, and then expect the shots to land on top of each other. grip should be comfortable enough to keep for 10 slow fire shots otherwise you probably need to spend some attention there.

I've gone through the workbook with multiple 22's (conversion/irons/dot) and my LP50 at 10m. When you have trouble on a step always default back to dry fire and blank targets and then restart the particular training step. I always start an outdoor session there, despite everyone looking at me like I'm the one that's lost. "How the hell can you shoot at a blank target."
Robert.  My usual drill Is to shoot 5 then re-grip during the mag change.  I can usually hold on to the gun during the previous 5 rounds.

All:  many thanks for all of your suggestions and insights.  While I may have just been venting alll of your comments will be considered and incorporated as applicable.  I do have a Steyr LP50 I can use in my air gun range to refine what I learn while dryfiring.
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Post by straybrit 7/13/2020, 1:19 pm

Another thing about the USMC workbook - it's actually meant to have someone else there watching you. Are you standing / preparing / approaching the shots differently? You might find it useful to either have someone watch or record yourself to look for inconsistencies. I know when I'm having a bad day then observing the basics is a useful way of resetting my mind.

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Post by robert84010 7/13/2020, 1:48 pm

I agree Straybrit. The workbook is used as the summer team training tool. Every "Big Team" shooter would have several summer team shooters under their purview and the permanent team shooter would sign off each training step.

I don't think they use this workbook anymore because I don't think they have a full time bullseye team any longer. I talked with a USMC shooter last summer and he said they have transitioned to all combat style training and matches. That could be misinformation, and I'm sure I'll be corrected,  but I only remember seeing station team shooters and reserve team shooters last year at Canton and Perry.

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Post by bruce martindale 7/13/2020, 2:07 pm

Potential Issues:
1) physical
2) mental
3) equipment.

Without a lot of time to spend here now, and without having read all the useful info above, think about these things:


1Are you training too long and getting fatigued physically and mentally.
Grip is critical and was my intermittent stumbling block. I focussed on it to remove the tics and twitches that threw shots like you have. 

2) Don't think about results, only the process to get them

3) is your equipment and ammo  up to the task? A little hitch in the trigger is very frustrating...see Doug Hall. I'm sure you're good on ammo quality but I mentioned it anyways..many folks just jam loads together and it doesn't work 

Good luck

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Post by mikemyers 7/13/2020, 2:10 pm

CR10X wrote:........Learning how to accept seeing the 10's or other really good shots pile up on the target and not fall into the "make it better" trap is one of the hardest lessons in shooting (and golf, and tennis, and etc.)........
Having gone to the range this morning, and having  shot several times when in retrospect, I should have lowered the gun, waited, and started over, I wonder if the reason for  the less desirable shots should never have been taken.

It sounded funny when I read about it, but there is a huge amount of mental energy that is telling me to take the shot, which would quickly put an end to my uncertainty.  Maybe one difference between CR10X and others, is that he knows when NOT to shoot better than most (all?) of us.  Logically, it's a perfectly plausible explanation.

The few times I did stop, and put the gun down, in my opinion would not have been very good.  I need to do that more often.  There is so much pressure to just get the shot over with, and start again on a new t arget.  That makes no sense logically, but it's still something I'm still dealing with.  Others here might be as well.  

I think this fits into this thread, but if it didn't, I'd be posting a question in the forum how to know when to NOT take a shot?  When it comes to this, I'm still in the first or second grade.  It seems to take more effort to abort a shot, than to take it anyway.
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Post by Arthur 7/13/2020, 5:01 pm

For what it's worth.

Stop scoping the target, just forget about it for the whole string. There is nothing to gain by over pressuring yourself. 
Shoot a lot of ball and dummy. Random dummy rounds loaded in multiple mags. Lots of answers to be found there. 
Good luck. Remember it's not a job, don't make it into one. 

Best regards,
Arthur

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Post by bpettet 7/15/2020, 8:51 pm

I was watching a video interview of Herschel Anderson describing his 2680 record setting match and other career highlights.  He had an interesting anecdote about not being able to get a good break.  Once at a major match, he lifted and aborted 21x in a row before breaking the shot.  You also hear him talk about during the 2680 score, he looked back to see the gallery crowd growing and then proceeded to shoot an 8 and then two 9's in a row!  Pressure gets to everyone.  He also shot 11 match scores that season in the 2670's leading up to his 2680.  One official scored it at 2682 and one scored it at 2685 before they settled on 2680...with iron sights.  Geez.

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