Monday, August 29, 2016

How To Improve Shooting

I was at the range the other day….. what a surprise! I was listening to a couple of young guys and they were discussing each other’s handgun shooting. One was shooting consistently yet he was low and to the left. He was positive his sights were on target. They were going back and forth and teasing each other as guys do. They were at a loss as to what the problem was and really had no idea how correct it.
I looked over at them and said “Flinch.” They had a weird look on their faces and I said again, “You’re flinching.”
They walked over and I explained this common occurrence. This type of thing can even happen to a seasoned shooter.
Back in the 70’s the singer Cary Simon had a song titled “Anticipation”. That’s the song I sing when I talk about this shooting mistake. If you are a right handed shooter and you are consistently shooting left and low (lefties will shoot right and low) you are probably anticipating, or flinching. The cause is the shooter anticipating the noise and motion of recoil just before it happens. A related problem, what can be called “attacking” the trigger, or pressing it too hard and fast, is often the cause of shots going low—though sometimes your grip is too tight.
There are several ideas to fix this. Here are a few.
Dry fire with an empty case balancing on the sight or barrel. Be sure the firearm is unloaded and the slide is closed. Get in position to shoot, sights on target, safety off. Have a buddy balance a spent shell casing on top of your front sight. Press the trigger until it clicks, such that the casing stays put. If your sight is slanted and won’t balance the case, put it as far forward on the slide as you can. It’s not quite as effective, but if you’re a major masher, this will still be a challenge.
A dime works, but not quite as well, for this drill if you’re practicing at home. Of course, you’ll need to reset your slide between every trigger press.
The ball and dummy drill.
Invest in a snap cap or two, available at most shooting supply stores. Snap caps are dummy rounds made for dry firing. Plain plastic dummy rounds, with no metal “primer” in the base, are okay for occasional practice but watch for deterioration and always inspect the barrel after using them.
Load up, or better yet have a buddy load up, a magazine that alternates real and dummy rounds at intervals you aren’t aware of. Load up and start shooting. The idea here is that, especially for people who don’t understand what they’re doing when they anticipate, that closing of eyes, clenching of jaw, and slight lurch forward suddenly isn’t rewarded with recoil. For shooters willing and able to connect the dots between dummy and real firing, they’ll self-adjust to maintaining stance during the shot.
This drill does involve knowing how to clear malfunctions, and as such is free practice for that as well.
Leaning into the gun, or forward slightly, helps you to control recoil. As larger calibers are used the more need leaning in is. Leaning back puts you off balance and the gun controls you. In self-defense you may not be able to have a perfect stance, but you never know. It’s good to practice for the instance when you may. I think leaning into the gun helps in you looking like you know what you’re doing and that you’re serious. This may actually make a difference.
The way you draw or pick up a handgun shows what kind of recoil control you will have. Grip is managing recoil.
As you pick up a semi-auto pistol keep the web of your firing hand as high as safely possible into the back strap of the gun. Be careful that no part of your hand is over the “ear” or the part that sticks out to protect your hand from the slide going rearward. Closing the fingers of your non-firing hand around your other hand, be sure that you feel direct contact with the trigger guard above your index finger. Keeping your fingers next to one another, not spread out, nestle the bottom joint of your support-hand thumb into the cradle created by the bottom joint of your firing thumb. When done correctly, the thumbs will both point in the direction of the target and be nested together like spoons. Don’t stack the heels of your hands on one another; the support hand’s heel will be in front of that of the firing hand. You want as little of the gun’s grip exposed as possible.
Some people like to hook the index finger of the support hand around the front of the trigger guard. It’s not a fatal flaw, but it will induce uneven lateral pressure on the muzzle. In other words, it makes you less accurate, especially as distance increases.

These are only a few of the common mistakes that are made. They are also ways to improve your shooting. You may do one or all of these or even part of some of these. Re-evaluate how you shoot. In fact, if you can, do a video of yourself shooting, you will learn a lot.
Shooting accurately or just correcting problems is not hard. But you must know you have a problem before you can address it. Seek out good instruction and as always, practice, practice, practice!
Semper Paratus
Check 6