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 Post subject: "Shoot when it LOOKS right, not when it FEELS right.&qu
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:52 pm 
NRA Certified Instructor

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 2:33 pm
Posts: 1787
Location: Southern California
Mike and I drove through the range up to the upper-most shooting bay. After a 10 minute lecture on the the fundamentals of marksmanship (according to Mike, (1) sight alignment, (2) hold, (3) trigger press, which is the "mechanical manipulation of the trigger while maintaining sight picture through recoil" by the way, and (4) follow through, which is maintaining your sight picture after the shot breaks), we stepped out to the firing line.

All shooting was done on three IDPA tombstone targets hung at human height. Shots were taken from 7, 10, and 25 yards.

We began with dry firing at 7 yards while Mike walked semi-circles around me scrutinizing my stance, grip, sight alignment (peering over my shoulder), and watching to see if the front sight moved as I dry fired the pistol. With his demand for details sated, he had me do the same thing with live fire. The scrutiny continued and I can assure you that I did not know that his stare could make me miss at 7 yards. I was learning new things already.

We soon added a second slow fire shot to the above exercise. Then we added a timer to the mix. At the buzzer, you have 1.5 seconds to take two shots. It was at this early stage that I was a little dismayed with my shooting. I'd shoot single hole groups and then would inexplicably, and despite my extreme desire not to, take me eyes off of the front sight and then throw a shot low, high, left, or right while I tried to find it again and get a shot off before time ran out. It was generally no problem, but then I'd do it again.

The other thing I learned that is a problem for me when drawing and firing is a tendency to fire before my arms are fully extended and the pistol stops its forward movement. Failing to do that makes me throw shots in all directions. In essence, I am hurrying to save 1/10th of a second by rushing the shot, and then take a 2.5 second penalty by missing the A zone.

Mike's advice, "Shoot when it looks right, not when it feels right. Time will take care of itself." In other words, work smoothly and shoot when your sight picture is right, as opposed to shooting when you feel you ought to. If you do that, you'll be surprised at how much faster you are than you thought you were.

One thing Mike talks a lot about is not worrying that the front sight does not stay put on the bullseye. If it's swinging a little in small crescents underneath the bull, no problem, press the trigger. But if you want to stabelize those arcs just a bit (and you're shooting right handed) make sure you are gripping the pistol more tightly with your left hand than with your right. In terms of grip pressure, try 60/40, left hand to right. When I tried that, the front sight immediately stableized.

That was the first new and useful shooting tip I've heard in 10 years.

The rest of the session followed the same pattern. He explained an exercise, I practiced it with dry fire, and then we did it live fire. The balance of the exercises incorporated drawing from holster and getting shots in the 5" A zone. We practiced shooting multiple shots while advancing and retreating, strong hand only, weak hand only, from behind cover at 25 yards, kneeling, and shooting starting with my back to multiple targets. We also covered reloading from slide lock. We did not cover reloads with retention.

The Talon did not malfunction through any of the first 300 rounds (putting the life time round count to 1,250 and 750 without a failure to go into battery) but I could tell that things in the chamber were getting tight as the pistol fouled.

In the last 100 rounds, Mike had me shoot an IDPA qualifying course which incorporates all of the drills we practiced earlier in the morning. This is a 60 round course of fire that IDPA uses to class a shooter as Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert, or Master. I shot this course once 4 or 5 years ago with our Springfield Armory Loaded Champion (4" 1911) and barely scored in the Marksman category. I may have been a few points on or off the chart. Apparently, most people who shoot it for the first time fail to score on the chart.

At the end of those 60 rounds I scored a 139.52 which is about 10 points in to the Sharpshooter class. Thinking optimistically, had I not completely blown some easy shots (took my eyes off of the front sight and/or pressed the trigger before the pistol stopped its forward movement when presenting from the holster) and had my pistol not failed to go into battery during one string, I'd be around 10 points/seconds from qualifying as Expert.

But, that's thinking optimistically. The pessimist in me thinks I was lucky not to suck harder.

After the qualifier, I ran through the rest of the ammo doing the "Bill Drill."
Created by Wilson Combat's Bill Wilson, the Bill Drill involves drawing the pistol and shooting six shots as quickly as you can while keeping all 6 rounds in the A Zone. You MUST keep them in the A Zone. This was fun. We did this from 7 yards. My best time was 3.34 seconds to draw and put six bullets into 5 inches. The purpose of the Bill Drill is to expose flaws in grip, sight picture, and follow through and to work on shooting rhythm and muscle memory. The theory is that drawing and shooting 6 rounds as quickly as possible and trying to keep them in the A Zone will shake out any bad habits or mistakes that the other drills didn't expose.

When it was all said and done, Mike seemed to have a favorable impression of my shooting skill despite my early inability to withstand his piercing gaze. He mentioned that I have a solid foundation, have a good stance and grip, am a "pretty good" shot (not like, "Hey, that's pretty good!" but "ya, that's pretty good, I guess, for a douchebag"), shoot very well one handed (strongside or weakside, that's the only thing that seemed to impress him), am fairly fast in the Bill Drill, and am safe. All of that factual praise was delivered with an unimpressed attitude.

Nonetheless, I don't want to give the impression that Mike was anything less than polite, easy to be around, and genuinely nice. He's just not there to blow sunshine up your ass. Maybe that's how you know he's worth the money.

_________________
The Savage Rabbit
Because Your Home is Your Castle.


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