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Readers of Hickey and Sievers' book?

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Post by inthebeech 9/9/2023, 10:46 am

If you've read it and think that you know what they're trying to communicate, could you please weigh in?  I need a few clarifications.  I tried to find both these guys.  They may not even be around anymore.
Thanks.
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Post by jwax 9/9/2023, 12:06 pm

And only $162.20 a copy! All 662 pages!

https://www.amazon.com/Successful-Pistol-Shooting-Bob-Hickey/dp/0939414031

Didn't read it.
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Post by Wobbley 9/9/2023, 6:23 pm

I knew Art Sievers.  His basic mantra was sound in that to shoot a pistol well you just need two fundamentals: Sight Alignment and Trigger Control.  He said that stance, grip, etc. was “technique” not a fundamental.  Hard to argue with that.  I would add that the “technique” has to be solid to begin with and that means it can be thought of as a “basic” function.
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Post by jwax 9/9/2023, 6:35 pm

Ashley, do you know how close to High Master Art was? Have you read his book?
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Post by Wobbley 9/9/2023, 9:08 pm

He quit shooting pistol before there was a High Master classification.  He was on a few Navy teams and was likely a “2600” level shooter, but likely not more.  When I knew him he was into high power and Palma style shooting.  He was getting on in years and while not destitute wasn’t terribly wealthy either.  He eventually only came to prone (Palma) style matches.  Then I moved away from the area.  I have not read his book.

The book has some reviews on Amazon.  https://www.amazon.com/Successful-Pistol-Shooting-Bob-Hickey/dp/0939414031#customerReviews
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Post by 641 9/13/2023, 7:44 pm

Freeland's has them for $49.95, if someone is interested...

https://freelandssports.com/product/successful-pistol-shooting-hardcover-bob-hickey-art-sievers-stp-books/
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Post by Stuman 9/15/2023, 1:25 pm

Also found a bunch of used copies pretty cheap at abebooks. com   I'm sorry I can't post the full link as I'm a new member. I think I'll pick up a copy.
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Post by lyoke 9/15/2023, 1:44 pm

Stuman wrote:Also found a bunch of used copies pretty cheap at abebooks. com   I'm sorry I can't post the full link as I'm a new member. I think I'll pick up a copy.

Thanks! Just got a copy ordered. I have his Mental Training book from 1979 so this will be a nice addition to the collection.

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Post by Chase Turner 9/15/2023, 6:07 pm

inthebeech wrote:If you've read it and think that you know what they're trying to communicate, could you please weigh in?  I need a few clarifications.  I tried to find both these guys.  They may not even be around anymore.
Thanks.

I've got a copy- what exactly did you need clarifications on?

Neither one of the authors appear to be distinguished pistol shots, or have any pistol points, so far as I can tell.

-Chase

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Post by Wobbley 9/15/2023, 7:03 pm

Art Sievers was rifle distinguished and he did serve at te US Naval Academy as Coach/instructor of the Shooting team…
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Post by inthebeech 9/17/2023, 5:58 pm

[quote="Chase Turner"]
I've got a copy- what exactly did you need clarifications on?
[/quote]
1)  Their whole concept is based on a near immediate hammer release upon entering the "reference point" which is their term for hold point.  There is no "accepting your wobble" because you are not watching your wobble for more than a fraction of a second.  If you've read this then you also noticed this philosophy peppered throughout the whole book.  It starts on Pg 93-98, then again on pg 143 and other locations.  In fact the authors actually blame the lack of US olympic medals on the training philosophy that we are all taught to "accept the wobble and squeeze."  I'm a horrible shooter with no prospect for making any serious progress so I don't have a dog in the hunt.  I'm a scientist and by nature was simply interested in the book.

2). pg 129-130. "Rhythm in rapid is senseless."  Don't blame the messenger.  These are their words.  When you read the entire section you see that there is no interpretation here that can mean anything else.  So this is pretty contentious as well (based on what folks have told me while trying to coach me). 

3). pg 155-156.  There is no natural point of aim.  An explanation is given for how to obtain your stance and it is not the same as the "close your eyes, raise gun, open eyes, assess where you're pointed, adjust, repeat" technique that again, has been recommended many times elsewhere. You are not attempting to find anything “natural” with their process for obtaining correct stance. It is novel and interesting but again, quite different than what is commonly taught. 

4) pg 278 Placement of trigger finger technique.  Nothing contentious here; similar to what is printed elsewhere.

5) pg 279. Blinking accompanies erratic trigger finger movement (poor trigger control) and is  the reason why our last picture of the sights does not agree with the location of the bullet hole.  Kovach mentioned looking for this symptom and I am very grateful that he has but I’ve not read or heard it anywhere else before that until this book. Again, not judging; just interesting.

6) pg 445 Authors heavily stress that with their program, a conditioned response develops, at the instant the eye (and brain) perceives the bull.  They also however advocate, as many other folks do, dry firing on a blank wall.  Wouldn't we be undoing the training of our nervous system if, after “training” our finger to move when the bull shows up, by dry firing on anything but the bull?  Maybe I missed something in the reading.  They emphatically stress that the bull is a critical mental trigger to engage the finger and keep it moving but they do not assure the reader that dry firing with no bull is still effective.  How can it be.  This training technique would not follow the pattern employed in Pavlov who they reference when they first introduce the concept.  

7) Pg 480.  Their plan, mentioned throughout the book, involves a very rapid arm raise, right up to exactly where we've decided we want our hold point, at which time through previously developed conditioned response, the gun fires. But the angular velocity must decrease and eventually stop yet there is no detail on exactly how to do this.  Neither is there any mention of whether it is permissible to overshoot the hold point (we typically intentionally overshoot and then lower DOWN to the hold point because, we are told by physiologists and sports medicine experts that stopping at a specific area is easier if coming down to the target) or how specifically should the angular velocity profile look.  The more precise we want to stop, the slower our approach must be and nothing can be instantaneous.  If I could ask this of these guys I'm sure they will point out where I missed the answer to my question, in their book.  Since the only arm raising process discussed is where the shooter comes up from beneath, I was also left wondering how they would tell us to reacquire the target after the recoil of the 45 sends the gun ABOVE the target, forcing us to COME DOWN to it.

8) Pg 495 (and again in many other places) is the common theme that a rapid raising up t the target and near instantaneous release (because we started applying pressure about halfway up) AS WE ARE APPROACHING our hold point is MORE accurate than a "controlled reaction to an external stimulus" which is their technical description of holding the gun within our accepted wobble area while applying trigger pressure.  Unless I'm interpreting this wrong, this is very different; not just a close cousin of what everyone else advises.  I wish someone who actually went through their program, could speak to us.

Very interesting read though.  Well worth the $2.50 I paid in a used book store.  Not valuable enough to keep.  I donated it to my club's library after taking some notes.


Last edited by inthebeech on 9/18/2023, 6:19 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Spelling, syntax)
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Post by Chase Turner 9/18/2023, 11:52 am

Thanks for the detailed rejoinder. It has been awhile since I've read the book, and I'll need to dig out my copy to re-read what they said before responding point to point. Give me a little time and I promise to get back to you.

However, I can say that I'm not a fan of the book. I think it may be one of the most bloviated shooting books I've ever come across. Style wise, other than being so windy, it's also one of the most self serving books I've ever read- I put up there with Lanny Basham's books in this regard.

From what I remember, in terms of content, a great deal of what they are writing about seemed to me to come from their perspective as mostly rifle shooters (who were probably contrarians among rifle shooters) and not accomplished pistol shooters- of which they were not. Generally, I think that while they seem to go to great lengths to take alternative views on various shooting topics, they also seem to think that shooting is the rigid enterprise that can only be done the one way. That's not so.

Give me a little time to dig in and I'll respond when I can. In the meantime, if you'd like another book to read, get a copy of what I call "the blue bible:" A.A. Yuri'yev's Competitive Shooting. It was published by the NRA, back when they did such things, and is absolutely the blueprint for coming up with a successful shooting program/regimen for yourself. If you've already read it, you know what I mean.

Thanks,
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Post by Wobbley 9/18/2023, 12:59 pm

“Bloviated”…that’s the Art Sievers I remember.  Laughing
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Post by SaraiEsq 9/18/2023, 8:14 pm

Uh, what is the title of this book? Did I miss it?
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Post by jwax 9/18/2023, 9:27 pm

https://www.amazon.com/Successful-Pistol-Shooting-Bob-Hickey/dp/0939414031
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Post by oldrifle 9/20/2023, 12:42 pm

what exactly did you need clarifications on?

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Post by Chase Turner 11/1/2023, 5:55 pm

Hello,

I've reviewed the sections you mention that were questionable. Here are my thoughts:

inthebeech wrote:1)  Their whole concept is based on a near immediate hammer release upon entering the "reference point" which is their term for hold point.  There is no "accepting your wobble" because you are not watching your wobble for more than a fraction of a second.  If you've read this then you also noticed this philosophy peppered throughout the whole book.  It starts on Pg 93-98, then again on pg 143 and other locations.  In fact the authors actually blame the lack of US olympic medals on the training philosophy that we are all taught to "accept the wobble and squeeze."  I'm a horrible shooter with no prospect for making any serious progress so I don't have a dog in the hunt.  I'm a scientist and by nature was simply interested in the book.

The way I have read them is that they are basically advocating for a modified form of point shooting. Sure, they may dress it up in their entirely too wordy way, but that's the jist of it from my end.

They go on to say a lot of things that simply aren't so. As a for instance, no one else appears to be doing what they suggest (in any pistol discipline in any significant number), and they certainly don't seem to indicate where other nations shooters were doing as they described. Curious that they could spend this many words and miss that rather salient point. If there way was the success they claim, then someone would have been doing it by now. No one appears to be.

To be fair to them, I believe a lot of why they believe what they do is because they seem to be fixated on international rapid fire, which is its own kind of pistol shooting. I don't know much about it, so can't comment further.

inthebeech wrote:2). pg 129-130. "Rhythm in rapid is senseless."  Don't blame the messenger.  These are their words.  When you read the entire section you see that there is no interpretation here that can mean anything else.  So this is pretty contentious as well (based on what folks have told me while trying to coach me).

If what they meant here was that you need to have some sort of cadence that you count off in your head, then sure, that makes sense. You shouldn't be counting anything, you should be shooting.

But no, this is also not so. They must have missed the part in Yuri'yev's book about what sort of rapid fire cadence different shooters have.

For our sport, if what they blather on about was so, then no one would be trying to get the shot on the turn for timed and rapid. But most people are trying to pick a time and rhythm for their shooting, and many seem able to do it.

inthebeech wrote:3). pg 155-156.  There is no natural point of aim.  An explanation is given for how to obtain your stance and it is not the same as the "close your eyes, raise gun, open eyes, assess where you're pointed, adjust, repeat" technique that again, has been recommended many times elsewhere. You are not attempting to find anything “natural” with their process for obtaining correct stance. It is novel and interesting but again, quite different than what is commonly taught.

Funny, when looking at something else, they seem to contradict themselves here, when they agree with the Army, pg 128., who suggest that getting the proper stance and whatnot would help center your shots in your aiming area.

I find it interesting that they quote the oldest manual from the AMU repeatedly (1960's) but wrote the book in the 90s, and even mention the other editions of the AMU manuals in their bibliography.

inthebeech wrote:5) pg 279. Blinking accompanies erratic trigger finger movement (poor trigger control) and is  the reason why our last picture of the sights does not agree with the location of the bullet hole.  Kovach mentioned looking for this symptom and I am very grateful that he has but I’ve not read or heard it anywhere else before that until this book. Again, not judging; just interesting.

No, this is just not a proper take. I think blinking can absolutely give you a false report, but I'm not sure it is induced or always accompanies what I believe they would agree is a case of "chicken finger," which I believe is what they are describing. Blinking can also happen for a whole host of physical reasons, quite apart from chicken finger. It's also the case that what we are trying to witness is so quick, and delayed about a quarter second from optic nerve to brain, that it sometimes can be the case that something looks right even though it wasn't.

Don't know who Kovach is, and I looked in the bibliography. The only blinking you need to concern yourself with is whether you have a physical need to do so (focus issues, floaters, moisture issues, etc.). Keep eyes open and on the sights. If you find you have chicken finger, then you need to dry fire.

Put another way, I have had plenty of bad triggering, and a great deal of that with my eyes open and not blinking.

inthebeech wrote:6) pg 445 Authors heavily stress that with their program, a conditioned response develops, at the instant the eye (and brain) perceives the bull.  They also however advocate, as many other folks do, dry firing on a blank wall.  Wouldn't we be undoing the training of our nervous system if, after “training” our finger to move when the bull shows up, by dry firing on anything but the bull?  Maybe I missed something in the reading.  They emphatically stress that the bull is a critical mental trigger to engage the finger and keep it moving but they do not assure the reader that dry firing with no bull is still effective.  How can it be.  This training technique would not follow the pattern employed in Pavlov who they reference when they first introduce the concept. 

To be fair to them, I believe what they mean is that dry firing helps to develop the conditioned response they are advocating for, regardless of bull or blank.

inthebeech wrote:7) Pg 480.  Their plan, mentioned throughout the book, involves a very rapid arm raise, right up to exactly where we've decided we want our hold point, at which time through previously developed conditioned response, the gun fires. But the angular velocity must decrease and eventually stop yet there is no detail on exactly how to do this.  Neither is there any mention of whether it is permissible to overshoot the hold point (we typically intentionally overshoot and then lower DOWN to the hold point because, we are told by physiologists and sports medicine experts that stopping at a specific area is easier if coming down to the target) or how specifically should the angular velocity profile look.  The more precise we want to stop, the slower our approach must be and nothing can be instantaneous.  If I could ask this of these guys I'm sure they will point out where I missed the answer to my question, in their book.  Since the only arm raising process discussed is where the shooter comes up from beneath, I was also left wondering how they would tell us to reacquire the target after the recoil of the 45 sends the gun ABOVE the target, forcing us to COME DOWN to it.

Here, strangely again, they contradict themselves discussing shooting with others to help you become better, as they earlier in the book say that's just crazytalk on the part of the AMU.

To be fair to them, I believe they are trying to mostly describe Int. Center-fire and Rapid-fire when they are talking about "the lift." For us, the 22 EIC match is the closest thing that we do that is in that vein, and really, it is something that needs to be practiced on its own. I don't think you missed the answer from them, and I'm not going to search for it, either.

Generally speaking, your lift needs to get you to your aiming point without overshooting, and in time with being able to get your shots shipped. Watch the rapid fire matches on ISSF youtube. You'll see what the best are doing. Do that.

inthebeech wrote:Cool Pg 495 (and again in many other places) is the common theme that a rapid raising up t the target and near instantaneous release (because we started applying pressure about halfway up) AS WE ARE APPROACHING our hold point is MORE accurate than a "controlled reaction to an external stimulus" which is their technical description of holding the gun within our accepted wobble area while applying trigger pressure.  Unless I'm interpreting this wrong, this is very different; not just a close cousin of what everyone else advises.  I wish someone who actually went through their program, could speak to us.

I like how they took the time to quote Newton to us, as if it was helpful to understand bodies in motion for what we do. Seriously. Almost 500 pages and you want to drop a Newton reference. Just, ugh.

I believe they mostly taught this stuff to juniors, and as noted, they weren't distinguished pistol shots, didn't train any Olympians that I am aware of, nor do they ever speak to their own personal accomplishments in the pistol arena. In fact, I don't believe they shot a lot of bullseye (if any), and certainly aren't known to be heavy hitters in our space. These were two rifle shooters who wrote a pistol book, and not well.

You are certainly welcome to try this last procedure, if you think you want to give it a go. But, a warning: it doesn't make a lot of sense in slow fire, as precision is more important; no one shot free pistol putting pressure on the trigger on the way up or down. It wouldn't work. There have been some shooters who are "fast" in that they get to what they are doing with alacrity (Clegg comes to mind as a contemporary), but I'm not sure that "speed" in the precision space is indicative of following this particular formula. And in any case, Jin-Jong Oh in free pistol (last gold medalist and an OG) didn't shoot this way, and there are many bullseye shooters who also do not and yet are very, very successful.

That said, and to be charitable to the authors, their recommendation does make some sense if you do this in timed and rapid, by getting the trigger moving as you are coming back to your sight picture from recoil. Play with this advice there, and see what you think. Remember, most of what they describe really only makes sense from a "lift" or "timed/rapid" cadence of shooting. But then, remember, you aren't supposed to have any notion of rhythm at all.

In the end, I would have liked for this book to be edited so that it was more coherent. But I still think they would have failed, even if it had been put together in a better way.

My .02,
Chase

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Post by inthebeech 11/3/2023, 5:33 am

Ok.  I'm feeling no remorse for the ten dollars I paid the used book store guy, having dumped the book on to the community table at my club with a "free" sign.  Thank you very much Chase for validating my gut feelings.
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Post by Chase Turner 11/5/2023, 7:22 pm

You are welcome. Please understand that I'm only giving my impressions and responses based on the way I have read it viz my experiences and studying the game. There certainly could be alternative views (in fact, I'm sure of it) that may validate the text, but it would take a great deal of evidence to prove out these outsized claims.

For the price you did fine. The bibliography is actually chock full of other sources to read, and if that part gave you a lead to improve your shooting, it was well worth it. That's the only reason I keep my copy around, anyway.

-Chase

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