Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Target Acquisition

The 4th thing (of 5) that we all need to practice. It's been a while since I posted anything in this series. That's because this is a tough subject to attempt to put into words. Once again, I'll try. I would most interested in your thoughts on this subject. Comment here or email me if you like.

Target acquisition is the act of getting the gun quickly and accurately from one target to another. That doesn't sound that hard to do. It's not. But it's extremely tough to do very well. It is basically the very essence of practical shooting. Everything we do revolves around shooting one target, then the next, and the next, and so on.

Accuracy is a key element in target acquisition. Not just accuracy on target, but also accuracy of movement. When moving your gun from target to target you do not want a fluid movement. You want more of a robotic movement. I'll try to explain the steps of the thing and maybe it will be clearer what I mean.

1. Finish the shot you're shooting first. If you don't follow through enough before starting the movement you can pull the shot off of the target very easily. At best, you call the miss and have to go back, or you may have to live with a miss.

2. See the next target. You can only shoot or move as fast as you can see. As soon as the sights have lifted and while you're still calling the last shot your eyes should be looking for the next object.

3. Move the gun quickly in a straight line with no unnecessary up or down movement to between your eyes and the target. Don't overswing either. Efficiency is the key here.

4. Shoot using the points discussed in the "accuracy" post.

5. Repeat, as needed, beginning with step 1.

How are we going to practice this?

- Dryfiring for one thing. With an unloaded gun and several targets you can practice seeing the next target and moving the gun efficiently.

- Live fire is more fun. Set up simple arrays with 6 or less targets and practice the basics of this element over and over.

Plate racks are good for TA drills. You can really get moving quickly down across the plate rack.

Static steel is nice for TA drills because they speed up your reset.

Use different distances to targets, and between targets. Use different targets too. 6" pie plates are great. Smaller targets really make you focus in.

2 specific drills I like are:

"The Phil Drill" Set up 4 targets at 7 yards (although I do at distances anywhere from 3 yds to 20 yds also)about 1 foot apart. Start by shooting a Bill drill (6 A's) on one of the targets on either end. Now shoot 2 A's on each of the other three targets. Strive to be able to shoot 2 A's on each of the 3 targets as fast as you can shoot 6 A's on just one. Believe it or not it can be done. This drill really teaches you to move the gun quickly. When you get pretty good at targets one foot apart start seperating them more and/or moving back.

"My drill without a fancy name" I don't know what to call this one, but it teaches the difference in the time it takes to acquire and shoot accurately targets at different distances. Set up 4 targets. One each at 5, 10, 15, and 20 yards. Draw and shoot 2 A's on each target. Repeat this drill starting on different targets, shooting close to far, or far to close, and any other variation you can think of. What you should notice is that it takes longer to draw on, and also to acquire and shoot accurately at the farther distances than the closer ones. Knowing how fast you can or should shoot targets at different distances is terribly important. Practice this drill until you don't need to make that judgement consciously.

Remember every time you practice anything that only A's are acceptable.

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