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Ok, coaches, I need some help...

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Post by mspingeld 6/5/2024, 7:45 am

At the recommendation of some, I've been training .45 timed/rapid by shooting strings with no timer. Just sustained fire. Relaxed but without dawdling. Five, continuous, well aimed shots. My mental focus is on my trigger finger, not the target, as that seems to work much better for me. I'm shooting around 98%!!! That's almost all tens!!! Although there's no timer, my gut feeling is that most of these strings are taking 10-12 seconds (as long as I get on the trigger early).

My match .45 rapid fire has been mid 80's to low 90's.

What I'm asking for is some well thought out advice on how to get the match scores closer to the training scores. Please don't respond, "shoot the match like practice". I'm looking for more than that.

Here are a couple of my own ideas about some possible ways forward. Both of these will add some "match pressure". Comments?:

  • Record myself so I can time the strings. Hopefully, that'll prove to myself that I can shoot accurately at a rapid fire pace.
  • Somehow, try this with turning targets set to 30+ seconds. Record that so I can check the timing of the strings. (my local club doesn't have turning targets)


On the positive side, I now know that my fundamentals are good. I can shoot tens, pretty consistently at 25 yards. The issue is clearly psychological. Any sports psychologists on this forum? Smile

Thanks in advance.

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Post by chiz1180 6/5/2024, 8:02 am

From a training perspective, shoot with turning targets or a timer at a rapid fire pace. Get comfortable with the timing, you have plenty of time to get 5 good shots off in 10 seconds. 

Also get out of the practice(or training) vs match mindset. Regardless of training or a match you are trying to accomplish the same thing. From watching people shoot in leagues and "training", people seem to be more relaxed and carefree when training and overly stiff and demanding more from themselves in the match setting. I have noticed that people who treat training and a match with the same mindset, often relaxed but serious, tend to do better in general.
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Post by bruce martindale 6/5/2024, 8:09 am

I’ve seen you, you have good form now. You describe one of my issues. I get lulled into an air of indifference in a match. Going through the motions is a good description but without cognizance of lower performance. Partly fatigue l suppose. My practice scores are significantly higher than match because I can get in my own groove and just drive. Not so in a match; you’re at their direction and pace. Add interruptions between strings in practice. It slows you down but simulates match conditions. I have to force myself to Wait For It in the match shot…don’t accept poor wobble. More later

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Post by DA/SA 6/5/2024, 8:12 am

Why not train like you are in a match? 

Use the Bullseye Match app and run the timer with the commands.

Doesn't mean that you have to rush and put shots where you don't want them, just shoot at a comfortable pace, as you have been, and see where you are at time wise. Work at it until all shots are good and fit into the time window.

Don't hurry shots to beat the timer, just work at it. Lower times will come naturally as you work at it and get more comfortable with the timer.

Use the Timed Fire timer and after the last shot look at your phone and see how many seconds you used.
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Post by Wobbley 6/5/2024, 12:28 pm

Any cheap phone can take videos. Setup a camera to shoot your form while shooting. Shoot while running a shot timer…. If you can, record your impacts…but if you shoot 95% or better that might not be necessary.. what you should strive for is getting 5 aimed shots in 10 seconds and a reasonable shot spacing of 1.6-1.7 seconds.
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Post by SteveT 6/6/2024, 6:48 am

I think it is a good idea to train without a timer, but once you have proven to yourself you can keep most/all shots in the 10 ring, it's time to start using a timer and practicing rapid fire. Either turning targets or a timer.

You don't say anything about why you are taking more than 10 seconds to get the shots off, but I can guess it is either taking your time to recover from recoil back to the target or holding too long on target before taking the shot or maybe both. Without the pressure of the clock it is easy to have a lazy recovery and/or dress up the shot too long.

You need a mindset of urgency. You need to get back to the target and settle into the center as fast as possible. once you are centered, take the shot.
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Post by mspingeld 6/6/2024, 7:13 am

@DA/SA, I like your suggestion of using the app set to timed fire and just glancing down to see how long I'm taking. (1) It adds a bit of "match pressure" which is a good thing, (2) If my timing is ~10-12 seconds, as I suspect, it convinces me that rapid fire is doable and, (3) It helps train to get the first shot off fairly quickly.

@SteveT, You bring up two things of interest. Recovery: In a match setting, I often see my dot go below center and have to bring it back up. I don't see that so much in my sustained fire training sessions. A 12 time national champion told me that that's because I'm forcing the recovery. Is there such a thing as training recovery? I feel like I need to work on letting it happen rather than forcing it. Second is "urgency". I believe I need a balance of opposing forces here. Urgency to not waste time and calm to stay on my fundamentals, i.e. not rush/jerk and smooth trigger. To answer your question, I don't feel like I'm holding too long except, maybe, on the 1st shot. The method of "keeping the trigger moving" i.e starting to press early has helped a lot with that.

Thanks and keep the suggestions coming!

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Post by hengehold 6/6/2024, 8:19 pm

1. I have a similar experience to the OP. My training plan started with a similar “un-timed version of sustained fire” to mimic a timed fire sequence. I would do it with 5 shot groups as well as 2 shot groups. The 2-shot groups were helpful for shooting a cadence but still able to scope shots to see if I am mostly on call. I did this until I could shoot about a 98-99 on average with the 45.

2. When 98-99 avg was established in step 1, I moved to shooting a rapid fire practice and mostly abandoned the timed fire drills. 20 shots rimfire on the 25 yd target, after two 5-shot strings I scope the target to see what the group looks like and see if anything looks off-call. I then note the RF 20-shot agg score. I will shoot 8 to 10 of the 20-shot targets in a RF training session. I did this for 1-2 times per week for a month or two before I considered myself comfortable and looking forward to the RF stage in matches. I have turning targets available at my public range and that capability is a real game changer. It is worth the cost of buying my own if I had to do it.  Also, I tried using the bullseye app on my phone at first but for some reason I found it much easier & faster to respond to the visual stimulation of a turning target than an audible beep only. With the bullseye app it was very difficult to get first shot off as quickly as turning target. I focused my training on rapid fire only with a .22 for about 1k-2k rds until I got my rapid fire average up to 97-98. Then transitioned to a 45 to repeat the endless strings of rapid fire training. For me the biggest hurtle in transitioning from TF to RF training was allowing myself to break the first shot without dressing it up to be a 10. I give myself a mental rehearsal and reminder before each string that I am going to break the shot as soon as I see the black regardless of the sight picture. This allows me to get the first shot off immediately and feel less rushed for the rest of the string. If my first shot of each mag is a 9 or an 8 but that gives me the time afterwards to shoot a more relaxed cadence then it is easier to put the remaining 4 shots in the 10 ring. This puts me on track for about 96-98 average in RF which was acceptable to me for that stage in my training.  I now consider the RF drills to be a foundational part of my regular training routine.

The net result is that I have used a crawl, walk, run approach by building the foundation like you have with developing the fundamentals then building speed with proficiency. Learning to break the first shot quickly, learning what the correct 10 second cadence feels like, and building the conditioning are the three important takeaways that I experienced from this RF training. Now I am very comfortable shooting the RF phase and the timed fire feels like I am shooting 5 slow fire shots. I still re-visit the “not-timed TF” training when I take some time off from shooting and need to re-learn  the fundamentals to an extent before jumping right back into rapid fire drills. Rapid fire without the fundamentals is obviously going to lack effectiveness and be frustrating.  I would like to reiterate the importance and value of using a turning target in the training. If it is at all possible, it is worth the expense  to get access or purchase one.

Hope this helps,

-Trevor

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Post by Allgoodhits 6/7/2024, 5:23 am

A few points which may be worth considering.

If your RF match scores are in the 80's and your practice scores are in the 90's, but taking 10-12 seconds, then they too are actually in the 80's since at least one of those shots would be late in each string.

Timer or verbal vs turners. When shooting on turners, we all try to react to the "first" movement of the target, and some will shoot up to the last moment any portion of the target is visible. However, when shooting on audibles, we tend to not react to the "first" note of the audible. We tend to wait until the audible has ended. This would be similar to waiting until the target is completely faced before reacting. Consider, trying to respond the "first" sound of the audible horn, buzzer or whatever is used. You may find that you can gain some time.

Try to determine how long it takes you to follow your shot process in order to shoot a 9 or better at 25 yds on demand. Then determine if you can shoot a 10 or better on demand at 25 yds using slightly more time. How much more time? This may help you ascertain if you are dropping points because of lack of time or is lack of skill? Of course it could be a little of both. You need to figure that out. Try to isolate the true problem, then work on the solution.

Consider that the most critical moment for all of us is when the sear releases the hammer. How long is that time for that last ounce or fraction of which moves the sear that .001" or less that causes the gun to fire? I say it is milliseconds. If true, then a SF shot taking 8-20 seconds per shot and the RF shot taking 1 - 1.8" seconds per shot all come down to the last few milliseconds of the trigger press/pull.

If it all comes down to the final milliseconds, then all the other time is merely prep time. Prep time in refining stance/position, breathing, hold, aiming area and firing.  All the time that is not the moment when the hammer is falling is dwell time or time "between" the actual firing. In order to permit your RF scores to be as good as your TF scores you need to learn, then train, reducing the dwell time, once the skill set is such that one can shoot a 9 or better on demand at 25 yds. Taking more time than is necessary to shoot as good a shot as one is capable of is counterproductive. Taking too much time, allows stinking thinking, which contributes to anxiety, which leads to doubt, which leads to fatigue which invites trigger yankery.
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Post by SteveT 6/7/2024, 8:46 am

mspingeld wrote:@SteveT, ... In a match setting, I often see my dot go below center and have to bring it back up ... Is there such a thing as training recovery? ... I believe I need a balance of opposing forces here. Urgency to not waste time and calm to stay on my fundamentals ... I don't feel like I'm holding too long except, maybe, on the 1st shot. The method of "keeping the trigger moving" i.e starting to press early has helped a lot with that.

The thing that has kept me interested in bullseye for so long is the mental / emotional challenge of balancing seemingly opposing thoughts. You need a sense of urgency but not rush the shot. You need to pursue ultimate accuracy but smoothly pull the trigger even though the sights are dancing around. To achieve a high score you need to ignore the score and focus on fundamentals. What a great sport!

A few thoughts and comments...

Ideally the first shot goes off within a second or less of the target facing or the buzzer buzzing. For turning targets, pick a reference point on the target frame or background, for example "just left of the upright and just below that yellow flower on the backstop", so you are centered on the bullseye when the targets appear. You also get an extra second or so on turning targets because the time doesn't start until they are fully faced but you can see the bull as soon as they start turning. As soon as the bull appears you should be focusing on centering the dot on the bull, even if it is still a vertical oval, if the dot is on the bull, start the trigger pull. By the time the shot goes off, the target will be fully faced and you now have a hole in the 10 ring and 9 1/2 seconds to shoot 4 shots. Buzzers are both harder and easier. They are easier because you can center on the bull before the buzzer, but they are harder because you have to train yourself to have a good sight picture and not pull the trigger.

For recovery, ideally the dot should not overshoot the center and dip below. At first you need to use a lot of muscle to get back to center, but as the dot approaches the black, ease up on your muscle force so the dot settles into the center with little or no overshoot. In the perfect sustained fire string, trigger pressure starts building as the dot enters the black, the dot settles into the normal wobble in the center of the black and the shot goes off. At my best I've shot cleans in 5 or 6 seconds and wondered if the timer was wrong because it is so long until the turn or buzzer ends the string.

As for training for recovery...

I heard the AMU practices sustained dry fire by having a buddy stand beside the gun and as soon as the gun clicks, they reach in and rack the slide. Removing or using the lightest recoil spring makes it easier, but you have to have a buddy willing to stand there and help while you click away. 

You can also tie a string to the scope and after you dry fire, pull the slide back with your other hand. I found this to be too different from actual conditions, but if it works for you, use it.

Visualization is extremely valuable for something like this. Visualize the whole string including recoil and perfect recovery back to the center of the target. 

The 2 shot drill of stair step drill can give you better training with less ammo.

Two shot drill is just that. Listen to the commands and do everything as you normally would for the first and second shots. Some apps allow you to change the time or I have shorter .mp3 files with commands that you can get to by clicking here and downloading MP3 Drills (Zip).

Stair Step or Progression training is to pick a scoring ring that you can consistently hit when you fire good shots. In your case I would recommend the 9 ring or maybe inside the 9 ring (not touching the scoring ring, completely inside). Load 3-5 magazines with one round in each. Use audible commands and 3 seconds timing. Go through the entire process just as you would in a match except you only have 1 round loaded. If all shots are in the desired scoring ring and before the buzzer, then load 2 rounds in each magazine and 4 seconds. If all shots are in time and in the desired ring, then add a shot and 2 seconds of timing. If a shot lands outside the scoring ring, then subtract a round and 2 seconds. Keep going until you can shoot 5 good shots in 10 seconds. 

You can just train recovery. Training means working on one aspect or skill as opposed to practice which is duplicating match conditions and integrating all the skills together. Start by visualizing good recovery. Then load 1 round. Fire and recover back to the center. Replay the recovery in your mind. Did it come back to the center smoothly? Did it settle into your normal wobble in the center? Did it happen in about a second or less? If yes, feel the warm sensation of success! Replay the recovery in your mind again. Repeat the process ONLY evaluating your recovery. You don't care where the shot landed or anything else, just how you recovered back to the target center.

Good Luck!
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Post by -TT- 6/7/2024, 9:56 am

Allgoodhits wrote:...
Timer or verbal vs turners. When shooting on turners, we all try to react to the "first" movement of the target, and some will shoot up to the last moment any portion of the target is visible. However, when shooting on audibles, we tend to not react to the "first" note of the audible. We tend to wait until the audible has ended. This would be similar to waiting until the target is completely faced before reacting. Consider, trying to respond the "first" sound of the audible horn, buzzer or whatever is used. You may find that you can gain some time.

Speaking as the author of the app, I totally agree and I'll point to the rulebook which is the source of this difference. A "short, sharp blast of the whistle" is an immediate event, with no delay whatsoever except for perhaps arguing whether it's the start or end of the noise. On the other hand, a turning target takes at least a couple of hundred milliseconds, and the timer starts only when the target reaches full-face.

When controlling a target, the app does provide for an adjustable delay to accommodate slow or fast systems. But there's no delay possible with the signal, due to the rules.

The best suggestion I can make for this type of training is to use the "Shot Drill" which simulates a turning target on-screen. If you mount your phone at eye level, perhaps that visual animation can help you react? The app does play the sound in this mode, as well. You can adjust the time to anything from 2 to 20 seconds, which can help train for first-shot, two-shot, and full string.
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