10 October 2008

How to shoot better, Part 1

Posted this on one of our local shooting forums today and thought I'd also share it here, in an attempt to make the world a better place....

I've tried to explain to other folks before and thought that posting some concepts here for discussion would be helpful.

So, to kick off the discussion, I'll start with this thought:

Things I wish I'd learned earlier in my shooting career.

I. Calling the shot.

I've been calling the shot for the last year or two. I really, really wish I'd focused more on doing this 5-10 years ago. It would have saved me a LOT of grief!!

For those not familiar with the term, calling the shot means knowing, with certainty, where the bullet went the instant you broke the shot.

I preach time and time again that shooting well in a match is not about shooting FAST. It's about being efficient. Remove things from the way you shoot a stage that are not necessary and you're left with the fastest way that YOU can run the stage. Watch Robbie Leatham shoot - the guy can barely walk without limping or gimping his way across the stage - but because he has NO wasted movement, his times continue to be competitive and at or near the top of the heap.

Calling the shot is just another way of being efficient. You lose a significant amout of time trying to either watch the target when you shoot to look for the bullet holes, or leaving a position and having to go back for that last piece of annoying steel you thought you'd hit. At a recent practice, we had a shooter who was clearly losing at least a half a second per shooting position watching the target to confirm his hits. 1/2 a second X 4 shooting position = 2 seconds that he would have lost on that drill, if it were a stage in a match. 2 seconds per stage on a 6 stage match = 12 seconds....

How many of us have lost a match by time a LOT closer than 12 seconds??

I was once taught that we should engage an array of targets with a uniform cadence - which was clearly a step ahead of double tapping the targets. However, the better way to engage an array is target by target and to pull the trigger as fast as you can see the front sight and call the shot on each target as it's presented. If you're shooting an array on cadence, and the targets are all presented with varying degrees of difficulty, then you are always going to be shooting some targets too fast and other targets too slow, which is a great way to tank a stage. Now, if the targets are all in a line, and all wide open, then by all means there should be a clear cadence at play, but how many times in a match are we presented with that kind of challenge?? (It goes without saying that your transitions between targets should be as fast as you can possibly do it without over-running the A zone/down Zero zone of each target...)

So, how do you learn to call the shot, you ask??

Here are a couple of drills I have found useful.

Bill Drills, triple 6's and all you can get. (You can search online for a description of each drill. If you can't find it, let me know....)

Each of these 3 drills will have you shooting as rapidly as you can call the shot on a single target for multiple shots. If you haven't yet learned to call your shot, you'll get plenty of time to watch the slide cycle back and forth on these extended shooting episodes. The goal on each of these drills is not to just waste ammo into the berm. WATCH the front sight closely. Watch it lift out of the notch in the rear sight and watch it settle back down in the notch. With practice, you CAN do it!

The day before a big match, I like to go to the range and blow through a couple hundred rounds or so, and will always include several of these drills, making sure my eyes are focused on the front sight - and an added benefit of the drills are that you will get in the groove of the timing of your gun and your match ammo as well.

To be completely honest, I do not call my shots 100% of the time. Probably the best match I've shot this year has been the Texas Limited. I probably called my shot on every shot; short of 3-5 shots - and each of those were D zone hits... On matches where my focus is not so in tune, then of course that number is not anywhere near that high.

So, learn to call your shot, it'll help you speed up your stage times without doing a single thing faster or changing anything else about the way you shoot.

09 October 2008

The Hokey Pokey. In Shakespearean Iambic Pentameter

My daughter's a smart kid, and she's a senior in High School, taking AP English. Let's face it, learning Shakespeare can be tedious at best, and learning the intricacies of iambic pentameter can pretty much do anyone in. However, her English teacher hit on something that I thought was downright brilliant: learn by participation. Yes, the whole class was broken up in groups, and they learned and recited the Hokey Pokey (don't act like you don't know it), but adapted for the topic at hand. I present to you:

O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heaven's yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the Poke -- banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.
-- William Shakespeare

Try it at home. It works. 'Tis frickin' brilliant.

07 October 2008

The Dallas Morning News Sucks

I'm going to cancel my subscription to the Dallas Morning News today. Why, you ask? Because they're too stupid to leave the comics alone. You read that correctly - the comics.

Does anyone honestly read newspapers for news anymore? I can go online and get news as it happens. Reading yesterday's news is almost silly. It's not like I'm waiting on the Pony Express to deliver 2-week-old news, but it's close to it.

I subscribe to the newspaper almost exclusively for the comics. The funnies. Once upon a time, you could read comics without magnification, and they were all in color. Up until this week, the DMN had a "comics" section, with 2 full pages of comics in color, and 2 full pages of comics in monochrome.

I sat down this morning (in the smallest room in the house) and went straight for the comics section, only to find it missing. I looked on the front page for a clue - nothing. Finally, realizing that the DMN had actually done it, I looked in a section named "Guide Daily," which features all sorts of useless information ("Maximize your gym bag's limited space 8E"), concert information, etc., and there they were: buried on page 11, smaller than ever, and not a single one in color.

At the bottom of page 1E is a little note from the DMN: "We have trimmed our lineup of comics, puzzles and advice columns that appear in "GuideDaily. blah, blah, blah..."

You suck, Dallas Morning News.