Thursday, February 21, 2008


The third installment of the 5 things you should be practicing.

Accuracy is a relative term. What is required in practical shooting is not the same as what is required in 1000 yd. benchrest or even Bianchi Cup. I think from my experience that you should strive to hit A zones at 50 yards and Upper A/B zones, or 8" plates at 25 yards. At the Florida Open this year for instance there were several times we had to do the 8" plates at 25 yards and I couldn't count all the times I've had to shoot metric targets at 50 yards. I remember an Area 8 in Fredericksburg with a US popper at 50 yards too. At York our pits aren't very deep as a rule, so you may have a false impression if that's the only place you shoot, but we are going to correct that this year. Take that as a hint of things to come.

To shoot accurately you must do several things:

1. Know where to aim. Every kind of target is different. Look at them up close and learn their sweet spots. On metric targets the A is not in the center of the target it is higher. On classics it is higher still. On poppers you know to aim for the circular part right? What about hard cover targets or one's partially covered with no-shoots? Each one of these is a different case and must be handled as such.

2. Use a good grip and stance. Both hands equal pressure. Firm but not a death grip either. Body leaning forward at the waist a little. Knees bent a little. Feet about shoulder width apart and weak foot just a few inches ahead of the strong.

3. Line up the sights. Hopefully you know how to do this. The only hint I have for you here is that if you're using iron sights the front one is the one you want in perfect focus. Your eyes can't focus on the target, the front, and the rear sight at the same time. If you're shooting a dot then the dot should be clearer than the target.

4. Squeeze the trigger. Not jerk. While you're squeezing with the trigger finger you should not be moving the others.

5. Follow through. This means that the entire time you are pulling the trigger you should be entirely focused on the front sight. Right up until the time the recoil moves the gun and messes up that picture. If you are doing it right you will see the front sight lift.

6. Call your shot. Very important. Your brain should be able to process the information input at the exact instant of the shot and you should know without looking at the target where the shot went. Every shot you ever shoot, all the time, even during a course of fire. If you do this properly it tells you whether you need to make up a miss and theoretically you'll know whether you hit a piece of steel before it falls. If you don't already do this learn it.

How do we practice accuracy?

By now you already knew I was going to say dryfiring didn't you? And you know we do it because it's free and doens't require a trip to the range at night or on a snowy day. When you dryfire for accuracy work on your focus. Work on aiming at the exact right place on the targets. Work on squeezing the trigger and keeping your focus through hammer fall. If your trigger pull is perfect the sights will never move. You can even practice calling your shots if they do move, but hopefully you can't.

At the range. Work on basically the same things as dryfiring. Use different targets at varied distances. I recommend you start out close. Ridiculously close. 2 yards. Now work your way out slowly and gradually until you hit A's at 50 yards and upper A/B's at 25. When you're doing accuracy drills isolate that skill. Don't work on the draw, reload or anything else. Slow down and just shoot accuracy. Gain confidence in your ability to be accurate.

Shoot the fun shoots at Izaak Walton. These shoots are untimed and accuracy is everything. Shooting Claybirds at 20 or 25 yards is quite a test. Shooting a half inch bullseye is too. The fun shoots will really show you things that USPSA matches will not. Even mediocre USPSA shooters can really show off at fun shoots to the average shooter. That's fun. But be warned, there are some pretty good accuracy shooters there. There are also a couple of guys who shoot USPSA fair, but will clean your clock at the fun shoots (Robert P. and Mark C. come to mind)


gary said...

Thanks for the plug Howard.

Accuracy is indeed a key. When I slow down and actually use my sights (sights?), my stage times are generally lower. Fewer shots to make up, especially against steel.

I have seen more than one USPSA shooter go down in flames against some of my funshooters...(do I hear a challenge?)

Howard said...

Not so much a plug as a fact. Shooters would do well to take advantage of the fun shoots.

No challenge from me.