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New Shooters... Keep it simple.

Discussion in 'Education & Training' started by oldkim, May 13, 2009.

  1. oldkim

    oldkim Kent, WA New Member

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    When starting off shooting keep it basic.

    I know the urge is there to buy those big black bullseye targets or those picture ones with the bad guys on it. What you really need when you want to work on accuracy is to just use a blank white piece of paper. Yes, a simple 8x11 copy paper will do just fine.

    Why? When you shoot at those dark targets your eye and mind cannot see where the heck you just shot. After a while all you are doing is pulling the trigger and hoping for the best. You can't build on skills if you are guessing all the time. You really need to see where you are hitting and these days with ammo cost. It can be spendy just blowing rounds for nothing. Do put a little dot of some kind in the center of the paper - either make one with a pen or use a "Shoot n-c" reactive target post sticker. The good thing about these stickers is that when you hit them they react so you can see them.

    If you didn't bring paper to the range buy their cheapest target and turn it around. Shoot the back. You can see where you are shooting a lot better.

    Distance of targets
    Keep them close at first. Like 10 to 15 feet (3 - 5 yards) if the range allows for that close. Once you get your sight picture - you will have more confidence when you put the target back further.

    Last two things:

    1) Shoot slow
    Focus on how you are gripping the gun, your sight picture and trigger control.

    If you can't shoot slow when you start then do blow off a magazine or two and have fun - by doing this you can then slow down and focus. Some guys just want to blow s**t up. Get that out of your system and then settle in and relax.

    2) Have fun - if you can hit your target it's a lot more fun. Shooting the floor in front of you or the ceiling really makes for a bad day and everyone looking at you like an idiot. Keep control of the muzzle (the front of the gun) pointed down range.

    If you are a brand new shooter in the Seattle area - drop me an email. I'll be holding a fun shoot for newbies this summer at Renton Fish and Game Club (Renton, WA).
    Disclaimer: my style of shooting is like the good old days where you go to a "pit" and shoot at reactive targets (steel plates). Well, used to be bottles but we're all a bit more green these days :D Just so you know I may spoil you from ever shooting at a regular range as we'll go over rapid fire, shooting on the move and of course basic marksmanship.

    Note: when you contact me please include where you heard about this and also refresh me on what... as I run a few practice sessions for different levels. So, this would be New shooter orientation. Also include your contact info and how much experience you have at shooting.
  2. ORBrit

    ORBrit Eugene Member

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    when outdoors I like to use paper plates and put a colored dot sticker in the middle as an aiming point.
  3. Buddhalux

    Buddhalux Hillsboro, Oregon Active Member

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    Kim, you forgot one of the most important things in shooting boss.

    Breathing control, use the natural pause after exhalation. After you exhale there's a 1-2 second pause before you inhale. It's in that window that you squeeze the trigger. You do that because your sight picture physically changes. You can check it if you don't believe me. You can obtain your sight picture then inhale and recheck it then exhale and recheck it. It's much easier to see this if you're using a long gun that's on a bipod. We had to use that method extensively to consistently hit 300m targets with our M16's in the Army. We could tell if our breathing was off while zeroing our rifles. Your shot groups will have 3 rounds together then 1 higher or lower that the other two. If you fire after exhalation then it lessens the variables so the you can work on trigger control and body positioning.
  4. pdxjohann

    pdxjohann Portland near Tigard Member

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    Hey you three, thanks for the tips :) However, I can't be alone in wondering about "trigger control" i.e. what that heck! So often I've read or heard this term "trigger control" without a clear explanation or definition. So, what the heck? :}
  5. Sun195

    Sun195 Pugetropolis, WA Well-Known Member

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    Good tips - thanks for posting.

    OldKim knows how to run a very good, safe, welcoming event - if you know of new shooters who can attend his event, I'd encourage them to go.
  6. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    Reading over the posts, the items mentioned depends on what you're wanting to attain. Is it combat/personal defense or bulls-eye shooting?

    For combat shooting;

    Targets; It really doesn't matter what color the target is. If you are training for gunfights, personal defense, people will be wearing all shades of colors.

    Don't concentrate at looking at the holes on the target, and don't worry about them. I guarantee they will not move, and will be waiting to see you when you check. People are too worried about seeing their pattern, and not enough on the fundamentals. If you do your job on the gun end, then the happy results will show up on the target end.

    If you want cheap people type targets, go to video stores and get the movie posters.

    Distance; 5-7 yards for just starting out isn't bad...just don't get in the habit of it. Or you'll find yourself trying to find your sights, when you should be shooting.

    For combat shooting, if you are using your sights at that distance (10-15 feet), you're either already dead and don't know it, or you have a bullet coming your way, it just hasn't got to you yet.
    You don't have time to mess with sights at that distance, one needs to focus on the threat...and that threat is well past your front sight, not on the fore end of your gun.

    I agree with the shoot slow thing to start, you can't get any muscle memory or sub-conscience things going if you're blasting away. Slow down, obtain the proper mechanics...speed will come with practice, and lots of it. Remember practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.

    Breathing on the whole is very important, but lets put it into perspective.
    Yes, we need to breathe or we will die. On a scale of 1-10 on importance to pistol shooting...maybe a 5 to a 6...and that may be too high....just breathe, let's not over analyze a simple thing. But is a bit more important in bulls-eye shooting

    Now on the other hand when talking about rifle shooting, yep we need to pay a bit more attention to it, as there's another point of contact to the body....the butt stock.

    First off, no one can hold anything perfectly still...it is physically impossible for anyone to do such a thing. We breathe and we have a heart pumping.

    Do a simple test, take the your gun, attain the perfect sight alignment, then sight picture on your target....notice that you can't keep it perfect? So don't over analyze this either.

    Now time to get into your heads.....

    Find an object in your house....like a clock, TV etc., now with your strong hand's index finger point at it.

    I'd bet a zillion bucks that each and every one of you will point at the center of it, yet I didn't tell you too, I just told you to point at it.

    Its a sub-conscience thing we all have.

    Now, as above with trying to keep the perfect sight alignment and sight picture, we can't keep it perfect for very long, if at all. Yet, again with the sub-conscience, we still keep it in the center of the target, you don't have to really think about it. Right?

    My point? The only conscience thing you need to do, is press the trigger.

    It's kinda like when you first learned how to drive a stick shift, you concentrated on everything...the clutch, the gas, shifting gears, ....ooops, let's make sure we stay in our lane...right? Now we can drive from say Portland to Seattle and can't remember passing mile post 34.

    Does this mean we are unsafe? Nope, it means we've done it enough to become a sub-conscience thing.

    So my point to all this; get to the point of your shooting where the only conscience thing you have to concern yourself with, is pressing the trigger.

    The last thing you should be thinking is....pressing the trigger.

    If need be, the last thing you may want to actually say out loud is...."Keep Pressing...Keep Pressing...Keep Pressing"

    The rest, and I do mean every other shooting fundamental should be sub-conscience.

    The natural order of things....as you do the index finger test.
    You look, then you point.

    The natural order of shooting, you look, you point, you fire.

    Trigger control? Just an easy press to the rear, there's nothing secret about it. Its very simple to do. The problem comes with the loud noise, possible flash at the muzzle, and a recoil motion in our hands.
    We all have a startle response. When someone scares us, we tighten up etc. The only secret I can tell you is, all the noise, flash, and recoil is going to happen, guaranteed. We must rise above it.

    Again, the only thing you need to concentrate on, is the smooth press of the trigger. Contrary to popular belief, a smooth trigger press IS a fine motor skill. Especially when the adrenaline is pumping, and the blood pressure is way up.

    Be well all.......
  7. Buddhalux

    Buddhalux Hillsboro, Oregon Active Member

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    One way we practiced our trigger control in the Army was by using a section of cleaning rod and a dime.

    1 . CLEAR the weapon i.e. no mag in the well and visually inspect the chamber.
    2. Place the section of cleaning rod down your muzzle with about 3 inches sticking out.
    3. In the prone, have someone else place the dime on top of the rod so that it balances.
    4. Using the meat of your finger (fat part of the tip) use breathing control and gently squeeze the trigger.

    If done correctly the dime will stay on the rod balanced after the hammer falls. It teaches you how much trigger creep you have. Lessens the jerking of the trigger by a hard squeezing that can take you off target at range. Helps with potential flinching anticipating the hammer fall. And finally re-enforces your breathing control to make breathing and shooting more natural. Another thing that Wichaka was eluding to was to always let the weapon "surprise" you. Don't try to anticipate the round going off as it will cause you to flinch.
  8. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    ....or put an empty shell case on the slide, and keep it from falling off, while practicing a smooth trigger press.
  9. oldkim

    oldkim Kent, WA New Member

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    Okay folks. Let's stop the madness here. Just to clarify this is for pistol shooters.

    This was simple tips for new shooters.

    Paper plates are a great idea.

    So, either combat or personal defense or bullseye - we all need to begin with marksmanship. Yes, you do need to know how to shoot and hit your target. So whatever discipline you are looking at we all want to hit the target. For competition or "combat" you just want to get close. For Bullseye you want to get dead center. Either one - everyone is striving for a clean hit. So, let's focus on basic marksmanship.
    Trying the Zen thing - you can do it but only after about a good 2 years of just shooting like a madman and costing you all that expensive ammo. That's the beauty of being human. We learn from our mistakes and can adjust.

    Breathing control: very good for rifle but not an absolute for pistol. Please this is very basic and of course one can argue all the other factors such as stance, arm position and one or both eyes. We can go over and over many issues but I wanted to keep it simple. Breathing is most important for Bullseye shooting for the rest of us your arm position can offset the minor breathing. This is totally not a focus for IDPA or USPSA as the moving part will be more of an influence to your shooting than anything else.
    *Take a pen laser, point it on a wall. Breath really deep. Now do the same while walking. Does the breathing effect the point on the wall? (NO) Did the walking? (YES)

    Trigger control: now that is a subject all in itself. Basically, it's where you sqeeze nice and slow before the gun goes off. You want to keep a slow nice and steady pull consistently throughout the firing cascade to prevent jerking or pulling the trigger. One way to focus on this is to take your hand in front of you and just move your trigger finger - only moving the two joints from the tip. If you see yourself moving your knuckle or any part of your hand then you need to work on that. Now try it with your gun. Once you have a good grip the only thing moving is your little trigger finger. Nice and slow.

    I'll reread the rest of the nice post but please keep in mind this topic was meant for beginning pistol shooters.

    Young Kim, NRA Certified Instructor (pistol)
    NRA Range Safety Officer, NRA Life Member
    RFGC and IDPA member
    Last edited: May 14, 2009
  10. ORBrit

    ORBrit Eugene Member

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    Good information here for shooters of all abilities.

    Here's the basic principles of marksmanship that I learned as a 12 year old army cadet and still use today.

    1. The position and hold must be firm enough to support the the weapon
    2. The weapon must point naturaly at the target without any undue physical effort.
    3. Sight alignment and sight picture must be correct.
    4. The shot must be released and followed through without undue disturbance to the position.

    My personal take is that these principles through correct application and practice, lead to muscle memory which is effectively what will make someone an effective shooter when it counts.
    You can't build muscle memory on inconsistent form. Sight picture for a new shooter is absolutely critical. Correct trigger application is something that has to be learned and repeated.
  11. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    My post was directed at beginning shooters, as I teach them every month.

    One needs to cut thru some of the lesser important things, such as stance, breathing, and placement of the finger on the trigger, and focus on the 3 main items of importance;

    Sight alignment, Trigger control, Sight Picture, and Trigger control.

    Stance - Just get in a fighting type stance.

    Breathing - I already covered that above, just breathe...this is a good thing.

    Finger placement on trigger - Have seen many a small handed person shooting a double stack auto, while having the grip in a weird position, as that's all they can do to hold the thing, and having their finger all over the place on the trigger. But as long as they have a smooth press, have found it really matters little where the placement is. Just get good contact with your finger to the trigger. If you find that your shots are going left or right, then make the adjustment as needed, if possible.
    But first, get a gun that fits your hand, not what you like or looks good.

    But once you have the sight alignment & picture...forget about them and concentrate on the trigger.
    Remember from my post above, you will keep the alignment without having to think it...really you will.
  12. tionico

    tionico Thurston County Well-Known Member

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    OK, new dummie here:

    "sight picture" ... whut it is?

    I understand sight alignment... long gun shooting makes that a simple "must get". Put the coyote's nose in top of the gold bead, drop the two of them down into the groove of the rear, squeeze the shot, coyote drops. Simpe, reliable....

    but "sight picture"? a new one for me.

    I also understand the thing about "FRONT SIGHT, FRONT SIGHT" when pistol shooting.... the gun is so short, put the front sight where you want to hit, and your natural tendency will be tol have them both in line with the rear. Shot goes where you are pointing the gun, with little thought given the rear sight. Right? Particularly at close range. "defense range".

    but "sight picture" I can't work out on my own......
  13. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    Sight alignment is the relationship of the front sight to the rear.

    Sight picture, is the relationship of the above to your target. Where you put the the front sight on your target before you press the trigger.

    "FRONT SIGHT, FRONT SIGHT, FRONT SIGHT" is a bit over done. If the last thing you're thinking about, is your front sight, you don't have your mind focused on the right thing.

    As I mentioned in my earlier posts, once you get your sights on your target, forget about them and focus your mind on the press of the trigger.

    Speed and accuracy work together, which is to get hit(s) as soon as possible.
    Pressing the trigger at the speed needed to control the sights to hit your target is what it's all about.

    If the threat is in anyway difficult to hit, you will need to slow down on the trigger and focus more on sight alignment.
    If the threat is close and easy to hit, then….....this is no time for a bullseye type group, in fact, you need to be pounding shots into the threat as fast as possible and stop the threat NOW!
    Most of the time you will be somewhere between the two above examples.

    My rule of thumb for combat shooting;
    If your threat is larger than your front sight, better get ta shootin'
    If your threat is the same or smaller than your front sight, better get on them sights and fast.

    Practice this process slow at first..........remember, slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Speed will come with practice.

    Your decision on how fast vs. how slow to press the trigger, how much front sight vs. combat look through and/or body index is based on two things, your perception of the threat situation AND your perception of your skill with your equipment.

    If you practice only one trigger press and sight alignment you are a target shooter and not preparing yourself properly for the street, and doing yourself an injustice.
    Recognize the need for different levels of trigger press and sight alignment, practice at those levels and in between.