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Preparing for Nationals (Atterbury)

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Post by SaraiEsq 1/4/2023, 12:08 pm

I've barely gotten my feet wet in this sport and it is sometimes terribly frustrating.  But, I really rather like it.

So I have set a goal for myself: To compete at the NRA Nationals at Camp Atterbury this summer.  Just having the courage to sign up and show up will be a major accomplishment.  That first shot from the line will be sweet regardless of if where it hits the target.

My intention is to shoot .22 only with iron sights, using a Mark IV Target pistol (which I hope will be delivered soooooon!).  I've competed in three outdoor 2700 matches and one indoor 1800 match, plus a virtual league.  There are some more indoor matches that I will catch this winter before the outdoor season starts.

The second goal I have is to achieve an aggregate of 2000 points or more.  The best I've done so far is a 1889-12X? (first time out) followed by a pair in the mid 1600s.  I'm not sure if it is realistic to raise my scores around 300 points but it is a nice round number.

So, how do I go about achieving this?  How should I practice?  What should I focus on first?  Am I foolish/arrogant to think I am capable of this?


(For those who might suggest Camp Perry Nationals, well, Atterbury is 47 minutes away and Perry five hours.)
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Post by chiz1180 1/4/2023, 1:18 pm

I realize that distance is a factor but Camp Perry has the Small Arms Firing School which would give you a significant resource of an instructor.

Develop a shot process and work towards improving it. Don't worry about score, worry about safely having fun.
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Post by SteveT 1/4/2023, 4:27 pm

Welcome to the sport!

It is impossible to say if you can break 2000 by July, but it's certainly worth a try. Most people progress rapidly as they become comfortable with the course of fire, develop the basic physical skills needed for the sport and develop strength and endurance. Fortunately bullseye does not require complex skills or great strength. Once the first plateau is reached it becomes primarily a mental game, although physical endurance will help maintain mental focus through an all day match. 

Here are a few thoughts for you. Of course it would be best to have a good coach, but there aren't many bullseye coaches around and really good coaches are very rare. It is much more common to get lots of different and sometimes conflicting advice from everyone around you (including me).

First and most important you must have the right glasses to shoot open sights. For most people that is your distance prescription plus 0.5 to 1.0 diopter. You can't bring your ideal focus all the way back to the front sight or the target will be a giant grey blob. The 50 yard target should be blurry, but not totally fuzzed out. Probably the best place to start is +0.5 added to your distance prescription.

You may need to open up the rear sight notch, depending on your hold and arm length. I have fairly long arms and always need to open up the rear sight. You want both sides of the front sight to be visible all the time when you are settled into your best hold. This may be only a second or two, but if you are losing one edge behind the rear sight, it needs to be wider or you need a narrower front sight.

I strongly recommend deep sub-6 o'clock hold for beginners. The black bullseye is just too much of a distraction. Sight ALIGNMENT is THE most critical aspect of open sight shooting. Center you aiming point far enough below the bull that your sights never come near it. If you have perfect sight alignment and are anywhere in the white under the bull your shot will be in the black and you will easily be scoring over 2000 in a 2700.

If you can see the sights very clearly against the black bullseye then a center hold can work, but I can't and I suspect many shooters are compromising their view of the sights by using a center hold. I don't think a regular 6 o'clock hold is good for any but the best shooters. It takes a tremendous force of will to ignore the big black thing bobbing in the background and focus on the front sight.

You still might want to consider training with a dot sight. It is much easier to see movement with a scope, especially trigger induced movement.

Dry fire, dry fire, dry fire. It is cheap, easy and you don't have to drive to the range. You should go through your shot process (you do have a shot process, don't you?) the same a live fire. When you settle into your hold and pull the trigger you should see the front sight moving around in your regular wobble all the way through the click of the gun. If you see a sudden jump then you are doing something to make it happen, probably slamming to trigger to catch that perfect (and fleeting) sight alignment. You should pull all the way through. Once you see you have settled into your typical hold wobble, commit to pulling the trigger and don't interrupt it for anything other than a safety situation (like seeing someone walking around downrange). Smmmooooooooooooothly pull the trigger all the way through.

Visualize, visualize, visualize. This can be done just about anywhere (maybe not while driving). Mentally recreate the conditions as completely as possible. Don't worry if you can't stay focused or can't recreate it as fully as you want. Keep working at it. Way back when I would visualize entire matches. I would "fast forward" through walking downrange and scoring, slow down to admire my target, then fast forward refacing and returning to the line, then return to normal speed to assume my stance. Now that I've been doing this for a couple of decades I mostly just visualize the last few seconds leading up to the shot.

That should be a good start. I don't want to throw too much at you all at once. Ask questions and seek out help where you can get it, but we all have to make our own progress in this sport.

Good luck!
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Post by Chase Turner 1/4/2023, 6:37 pm

You may wish to read the AMU Manual, which contains a lot of good nuggets:

https://www.bullseyepistol.com/amucover.htm

(It is also available as a PDF if you look around for it and would like to put it on an e-reader or phone)

You may wish to look at the Marine Corps Pistol Team Workbook and try a few of the exercises. It is located here:

https://www.bullseyeforum.net/t5966-usmc-pistol-team-workbook

If you are presently only concerned with shooting your 22, dry fire will help- but really only when you know what you are looking at, and really paying attention to what it is that is going on. In other words, you need to understand both what a good shot looks & feels like if you are going to use that basis in order to replicate your actions.

Without muddying the waters on this particular topic further, I have found it best that I take dry fire in small chunks. No more than 15 minutes at a go. It may also be beneficial to start at 5 minutes, and work your way up. It isn't a race. You really have to concentrate on what it is you are seeing and doing if you want to translate that into action later.

Lastly, don't think about score. Score is merely a byproduct of how and what you have attempted. I know quite a few shooters across many disciplines who are absolute headcases about that number (makes them easy to beat). So, my advice, again- let the number go, it is meaningless. Just make sure your target is scored correctly, and then toss that number out like yesterday's newspaper.

Sorry- one more thing. I had the very good fortune of shooting next to a kind soul at one of my first big matches- guy on the All Guard Team. He was incredibly kind and patient with me, and I learned a lot. But I think the coolest thing he taught me was to take a sharpie and mark the back quarter of your staples with it. It would be a visual indicator that you needed more staples. Total game changer, really.

Best,
Chase

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Post by SaraiEsq 1/4/2023, 7:27 pm

chiz1180 wrote:Develop a shot process and work towards improving it.

My shot process is rather rough thus far but I can already tell the difference when I get it right.  It has the feel of a mantra and suddenly I don't have to worry about where my feet are.  Everything -- including the guy in the next lane with a big gun -- just blips out of existence.
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Post by SaraiEsq 1/4/2023, 7:49 pm

SteveT wrote:Welcome to the sport!

First and most important you must have the right glasses to shoot open sights.

I strongly recommend deep sub-6 o'clock hold for beginners. The black bullseye is just too much of a distraction. Sight ALIGNMENT is THE most critical aspect of open sight shooting. .

Dry fire, dry fire, dry fire.
Smmmooooooooooooothly pull the trigger all the way through.

Visualize, visualize, visualize. This can be done just about anywhere (maybe not while driving). .

Good luck!

As a practicing diabetic (ha!) my vision is always going to be a challenge.  In a match, I've gone from crisp at 50 yds to "which way is the target again" to being unable to focus on any part of the pistol, let alone the front sight.  That should get better as I reassert control over my diabetes.

Sight alignment is my friend.  I am getting better at that.

Dry firing is something I do not do enough of.  But when I get sloppy with my trigger at the range, even a little dry firing helps.  I can see where I am screwing up and fix it.  More dry firing it is!

I'm not the best at visualizing.  I can imagine and replay and tweak scenarios in my head (I'm a writer among other things) but I have never quite gotten the point of visualization.
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Post by SaraiEsq 1/4/2023, 8:14 pm

Chase Turner wrote:You may wish to read the AMU Manual... (and) ... Marine Corps Pistol Team Workbook and try a few of the exercises.

Lastly, don't think about score. Score is merely a byproduct of how and what you have attempted. I know quite a few shooters across many disciplines who are absolute headcases about that number (makes them easy to beat). So, my advice, again- let the number go, it is meaningless.

...you needed more staples. Total game changer, really.

I've got the 1975 AMU pistol guide and the newer version handed out at the Camp Perry classes at my bedside.  I was also gifted with the Reinkemeier/Bühlmann Pistol Shooting book; that one makes my head hurt.

The USMC workbook sounded so simple ... at home.  When I left the range after trying one of the exercises, I freely admitted to one of the guys there (former Marine sniper) that I would never be a Marine.  He just grinned and told me to keep shooting.

I love the staple trick.  And all the kind souls I've already met.

As far forgetting the score goes, if I do that,  how do I measure progress?  I get it during the match -- the only shot that matters is the next shot -- but what other benchmarks can I use beforehand?
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Post by robert84010 1/4/2023, 8:51 pm

Sara,
Steve and Chase covered some really great points. Getting a local coach cannot be emphasized enough, especially when you are starting. You stated the exact reason why. Not knowing what to train or where to focus is the biggest points a coach will show you. There are NRA and I believe CMP certified coaches. I don't know if there is list of them but try to find one in your area and meet them sooner than later. 
You could try and get in contact with local match directors and see if any of them schedule a clinic at some point. A clinic will generally have a high level shooter going over things to focus on and sometimes one on one coaching for a stage or two. Usually well worth the effort to find one.
Chase mentioned shooting next to a shooter better than yourself and this is something I think doesn't get emphasized enough. There is a lot to learn from just watching an elite level shooter do  their process. Watching how and when they "turn the switch on/off" during a stage. Most of them are chatting while scoring targets, they don't focus on any bad shots, but they turn a switch at some point to get ready to shoot. You will see what they focus on and what they don't focus on. try it. They have been where you are and now they do things a certain way for a reason. 
The USMC workbook is a great step by step resource but it was designed to be used in a team environment of non beginners with an experienced coach for each small group. Try and find a coach to build a starting process to start from.

Your money is better spent on coaching now than going to the Nationals, which is the most expensive match in the country.  Just saying.

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Post by Chase Turner 1/4/2023, 9:53 pm

SaraiEsq wrote:
Chase Turner wrote:You may wish to read the AMU Manual... (and) ... Marine Corps Pistol Team Workbook and try a few of the exercises.

Lastly, don't think about score. Score is merely a byproduct of how and what you have attempted. I know quite a few shooters across many disciplines who are absolute headcases about that number (makes them easy to beat). So, my advice, again- let the number go, it is meaningless.

...you needed more staples. Total game changer, really.

I've got the 1975 AMU pistol guide and the newer version handed out at the Camp Perry classes at my bedside.  I was also gifted with the Reinkemeier/Bühlmann Pistol Shooting book; that one makes my head hurt.

The USMC workbook sounded so simple ... at home.  When I left the range after trying one of the exercises, I freely admitted to one of the guys there (former Marine sniper) that I would never be a Marine.  He just grinned and told me to keep shooting.

I love the staple trick.  And all the kind souls I've already met.

As far forgetting the score goes, if I do that,  how do I measure progress?  I get it during the match -- the only shot that matters is the next shot -- but what other benchmarks can I use beforehand?

The German books are good and probably make more sense in German; the translation and editorial choices are not what I would have picked to bring it over into English. Another good bit of dry information is what I (perhaps others?) call the Russian (blue) bible- the A.A. Yur'yev (in my accent, I believe it is pronounced "YUR-e-EV") tome printed by the NRA back in the 80s. However, the translation is much better in that one viz the German works, though it tends to explain the lessons rearwards (that is, what the Russians did that was successful in the past) without seeming thought as to what tomorrow would bring.

The USMC workbook is pretty good. If anything, maybe it might help to do the blank target exercise at 50', or even closer, and scale down the impact area from 25 yards accordingly. I did that and marked the radius as a function of marker length so that I could rotate a marker around and know if I had made it on a reduced length course. It's a baby steps sort of thing, especially for civilians- nobody, and I mean nobody, walked up and just started cleaning targets. Didn't happen, hasn't happened, won't happen without training. Be comfy that you are at what is (apparently?) a beginning for you and that it has no *necessary* relevance to anyone else. The lessons that you explore, and the things you learn, may occur in the same order as others, or not at all.

Put another way: What we are really trying to do is both memorize the nearly instantaneous firing feel and look of what is successful (the ability to call shots within a near 1:1 ratio of called to actual result), while also ignoring this lesson and trying to make it happen (execution) so that we may be able to do it again, and again. It turns out, all of what we are doing happens very fast; so much so, learning of the micro events to turn to macro procedure takes a lot of iterations- or at least it has in my experience. The line I use for this experience to explain to others is, "It goes so slowly, so quickly."

I understand the frustration that naturally comes from the question of scoring. I'm not suggesting that you instead use some app to measure groups and use one of those numbers (extreme spread, or better, mean radius) as the indicator of group size; though, that's mostly what I did initially during training in early days. What I mean about not caring about score is that you should not allow a number to impact the execution of or modify your shot process (with the * that your process is always subject to revision and modification after dedicated work to determine optimal outcome). If you have and executed a shit process, then you will get just such a number. If you have and executed a great process, then you will be swimming in high numbers. But allowing the number to bend you- one way, or the other- is folly. The number itself is a byproduct, a result, of what you have done. Sights can be adjusted to move the impact on target. But sights can't be moved to account for poor process.

It is in the doing that one can modify the output. Don't let the result of your process impact the proper doing. Learn the proper doing, and the number itself will go up.

Finally, I wouldn't recommend you to *not* keep a journal of your results on target. You absolutely should (in my opinion); makes you accountable for what you have done. Perhaps the point to make at this place in this internet strangers view is that it is, in my experience, better to adopt probabilistic thinking in how you think about the results you see. That is, it is better to look at scores over time (practice sessions, weeks, months, etc) and to wait until you have enough data to decide a change is in order. This particular trait requires being dispassionate, clinical, and forthright about what it is you've done and are doing. More painfully- it takes time; something that is the most precious thing to spend.

I hope this is useful to you. These are some of the items and things that came to mind, but I do not wish to convey that they should be *your* things too. Rather, I share these as a potential way that you may wish to explore. A lot of what has passed for knowledge on this site has turned on the appeal to authority (and some % of that is probably in question); I don't have any such authority other than some very minor shooting success.

So, please, take what I've said and modify it to suit you and your shooting style. After all, it is all up to you on how well you do.

Best,
Chase

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Post by SteveT 1/4/2023, 10:24 pm

SaraiEsq wrote:My shot process is rather rough thus far but I can already tell the difference when I get it right.  It has the feel of a mantra and suddenly I don't have to worry about where my feet are.  Everything -- including the guy in the next lane with a big gun -- just blips out of existence.

"It has the feel of a mantra" Yes! That is exactly right. I wish I had thought to say that. Thank you, I'm going to remember that.
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Post by Grunt 1/7/2023, 1:55 pm

So much good advice here.  I'll offer some passed onto me years ago by Rob Leatham.  I was fortunate enough to take his shooting class.  Not only did he fix a number of my problems, but he gave me some great ideas about how to practice, and along with it, how much I should practice.  OK, this was for IPSC matches, but I feel it's not terribly different for bullseye.

* Dry fire every day, even if it's only 15 minutes.
* Practice realistically: same gun(s), same load(s), same targets, same distances, etc.  And don't just launch rounds, focus on technique and improving.
* Shoot as many matches as possible, that will help you learn how to manage your nerves.
* Pick a major match (e.g. Nationals) and figure out how many rounds you will fire.  For a 2700, that's 270 rounds.  Then fire 100 rounds in practice for every one round you'll fire in that match.  That's 27,000 rounds (about 1,000 a week from now until July).  YES, I know that's a lot.  But I fired 30,000 that year (over 8 months) and it paid off very well.

We all have jobs, and families, and many other things in our life, so committing that much time/money is not easy.  But it should give you an idea of the level of practice you need to see strong improvements.  Dedicating time to improving is the only way to actually improve.  There are no short-cuts.

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Post by bruce martindale 1/7/2023, 3:45 pm

Read everything you can get your hands on, including any PM you get.

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Post by CR10X 1/8/2023, 9:20 am

I think you are on the right track shooting .22 only.   

Dryfire about about 10 - 15 minutes per day with a fixed number of repetitions (20 to 25 max so you will really focus on the actual dryfire shot)  Break down the shot process into specific parts and just work on that one during each dryfire session.   Do some exercises with LIGHT weights, fix your diet, start waking or jogging but don't overdo anything.  You'd be surprised how just a little drop in blood pressure will result in a better wobble are.

When live firing, follow the same process.  Limit youR actual shots and time to how long you can focus and concentrate on the specific time for that session.  Quality above quantity at all times!  Dryfire between live shots.
 
LEARN TO RELAX

LEARN TO ACCEPT YOUR WOBBLE

LEARN TO TRUST YOUR PROCESS

LEARN TO FOCUS ON THE FRONT SIGHT WHILE BEING AWARE OF EVERYTHING.  

HAVE FUN

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Post by SaraiEsq 1/14/2023, 7:52 pm

This is a ton of great advice.  Thank you all!

I've started watching myself shoot, so to speak, thinking about what I do when I shoot.

I'm paying attention to 
-- how much I turn my body
-- when I grip (or re-grip) the pistol
-- whether I raise my arm slowly or quickly
-- sight alignment on the second and subsequent shots
-- when I breathe (sometimes, IF I breathe)
-- the relationship between my finger and the trigger
-- and more

I was delighted at the range this morning to accurately call my shots as "high" -- four of them, in a nice little line about four inches above the X.

I tried to perform an experiment -- using my left (weak) hand in a SF string -- but was stymied at the last moment when my second-to-last shot of the day hit the clip and sent the target plummeting to the concrete floor beneath.  If I'd been the only one on the range or it was the end of the day, the RSO might have been able to retrieve it for me... but, alas!  (I shoot better sometimes with my weak hand because I think about the fundamentals more.  This was an attempt to use that already mentally deliberate process to break down my shots more.  Yes, I realize that makes no sense to anyone outside my cranium.) 

I leave you with this reminder....

Preparing for Nationals (Atterbury) Misses10
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Post by -TT- 1/15/2023, 6:34 am

SaraiEsq wrote:...
I've started watching myself shoot, so to speak, thinking about what I do when I shoot.
...
(I shoot better sometimes with my weak hand because I think about the fundamentals more.  This was an attempt to use that already mentally deliberate process to break down my shots more.  Yes, I realize that makes no sense to anyone outside my cranium.) 

On the contrary, it's a great method. Watching yourself shoot is a rather useful skill. And switching hands, your strong-handed self can train your weak-handed technique, and vice-versa. You might not want to switch your aiming eye, but everything else is great.
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Post by CR10X 1/15/2023, 7:34 am

Never take a picture, remember, or refer to the results of any shot(s) that you do not want to replicate!

Do not pay any attention to others that do so on the firing line.

Find your shot closest to the center and say: This is what I can do! I can repeat this every time when i correctly follow my process!

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Post by Grunt 1/15/2023, 10:06 am

Completely agree about not harboring bad memories / images.  Totally get it.

But you gotta admit, where the bullet hit in the "shots outside the rings..." words, is pretty damn funny.  It's OK to laugh at ourselves a bit.  I'd say it's even necessary in this game.

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Post by Ed Hall 1/16/2023, 7:36 am

The more emotion added into an experience, the more the subconscious says, "Oh, that was of interest - they want more!"

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Post by SaraiEsq 1/22/2023, 1:58 pm

I had the opportunity to sit at the feet, so to speak, of David Richardson (aka Coach Dave) after an indoor 1800 down in Southern Indiana yesterday.  He gave me a very quick, very basic version of the fundamentals of precision pistol class he used to do as a two day event.  It was a delight.  And his help on the line during the match was just as valuable.   (Three alibis with the new, not-yet-broken-in, need-to-use-more-oil-on it gun means Dave gets to visit your spot often. :-) )

In just that hour or so of talking after the match (who looks at clocks when you are with Coach Dave??), I had enough a-ha / lightbulb moments to light up a small Christmas tree.  I am usually an obsessive notetaker, but it was hard to do that while listening intently.  So, these were a few of the more legible scribbles.

  • Stance - Position - Grip - Breath Control - Trigger Control
  • The Cure
  • "A half a second is a long time in the lifetime of a trigger pull."
  • "Whoever applies the basics the best on that day, wins."  (My favorite quote of the day)


I ended up shooting 459-0X and 457-0X for an aggregate (22 only) of 916-0X.  The top shooter brought in a 1622-21X so I have a ways to go (hahaha).  But I did have a few dead-on center shots (my X was eaten up by an alibi, alas) which felt really nice; very few shots were off the paper; and I had a three 10-shot strings where every shot was in a scoring ring.  (fyi, B-2/B-3 at 50 feet with turning targets)

Happy shooting, y'all!
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Post by msmith44 1/23/2023, 12:43 pm

SaraiEsq wrote:I had the opportunity to sit at the feet, so to speak, of David Richardson (aka Coach Dave) after an indoor 1800 down in Southern Indiana yesterday.  He gave me a very quick, very basic version of the fundamentals of precision pistol class he used to do as a two day event.  It was a delight.  And his help on the line during the match was just as valuable.   (Three alibis with the new, not-yet-broken-in, need-to-use-more-oil-on it gun means Dave gets to visit your spot often. :-) )

In just that hour or so of talking after the match (who looks at clocks when you are with Coach Dave??), I had enough a-ha / lightbulb moments to light up a small Christmas tree.  I am usually an obsessive notetaker, but it was hard to do that while listening intently.  So, these were a few of the more legible scribbles.

  • Stance - Position - Grip - Breath Control - Trigger Control
  • The Cure
  • "A half a second is a long time in the lifetime of a trigger pull."
  • "Whoever applies the basics the best on that day, wins."  (My favorite quote of the day)


I ended up shooting 459-0X and 457-0X for an aggregate (22 only) of 916-0X.  The top shooter brought in a 1622-21X so I have a ways to go (hahaha).  But I did have a few dead-on center shots (my X was eaten up by an alibi, alas) which felt really nice; very few shots were off the paper; and I had a three 10-shot strings where every shot was in a scoring ring.  (fyi, B-2/B-3 at 50 feet with turning targets)

Happy shooting, y'all!
Good for you! You shot the whole match, have a baseline with a new gun, AND got a career's worth of coaching as a bonus. Sounds like a great day to me.

-m-

msmith44

Posts : 56
Join date : 2020-10-13
Age : 78
Location : Washington State

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