Drawing Useful Conclusions from Recent Practice

In the past 2 weeks I have gone shooting 3 times. I did the Winded Redneck Challenge, one day of an Appleseed, and shot 5 10 round groups (and a cold bore) from a few different positions. If there was a common thread, it’s that my positional shooting under time stress was not as precise I want it to be. That’s not the important thing to take away. What is important is finding a way to effectively address the issues at hand.

My initial knee jerk reaction was that I need to dry fire more in positions. That’s not a good enough plan. My standard dry fire regimen includes a lot of positional work. I’m only just recently back to actually doing that, but I know what it will accomplish. Even at my best up to this point, which is a bit better than I am now, it would not be up to the standard I expect from myself.

The reason my standard dry fire plan would be insufficient is the lack of specificity. Normally I just take a few minutes and work on holding still and pressing the trigger. Basically I work the fundamentals.

To form a specific plan, I need to address a specific problem. The common theme I have seen lately is that in the small time I have allotted to do my shooting, I’m too rushed to get even close enough to my natural point of aim to shoot well. Even if my target is moving, being close to my NPA should reduce the erratic movement I see in my sights.

When I was in the mid-level supported position in the “Time Stress Rapid” mode, and I saw the sight move from being centered for several seconds, to 3” left, precisely as I pressed the trigger, that told me what I needed to know. Sometimes at the moment just prior to the shot breaking, things relax and settle to the natural point of aim. At least that is part of the theory of natural point of aim for sub-groups within a single shot group, and it seems to me that it is the case. I also remember having just heard my 20 second timer going off and thinking, “I’m getting behind my time”. Normally what I would have done would be to take 15 or 20 more seconds to adjust. The issue I’m training to address is, what if you don’t have any more time?

I know when I practice certain positions a lot I get a better feel for my natural point of aim index.  When I am “in shooting shape” I can usually plop down and get pretty close to lining it up without a lot of effort. What is the most time effective way to get that skill back?

One skill that I practiced ad nauseum a while back, and can still count on to work, is indexing my pistol draw fairly quickly. I think that practicing positions in the same manner as practicing draws would effect a similar result. So instead of plopping down into position and taking the time to adjust, I should get up and do it again, adjusting based on my results from the previous attempt. Just like practicing draws (and snapshooting), I’ll work for smoothness and correct movement first, then start timing my progress. I hope my knees can take it.

4 thoughts on “Drawing Useful Conclusions from Recent Practice

  1. Very good conclusion.
    By practicing getting into position and seeing where your NPA is relative to the target, you see what the correction should be. You can then either fix the NPA and study your body’s relationship to the target, then get up and get back down trying to reproduce it, or just get up and down again with what you think is the correction.

    Knowing how to automatically ‘address the target’ properly with body orientation as you are getting into position will get your NPA either on or close enough to shoot the first try.

  2. I think that would work. Time is an artificial human construct – it is always now, which is too early or too late – but it is still now when you have to make the shot. Practice getting into that relaxed shooting position by focusing on the target, your orientation and relaxing all the way to the target. Kind of like watching a relaxed but attacking jaguar in slow motion – only the muscles needed not one more.

    • In reference to the time thing, I think I came to the same conclusion you did. Taking the shot is not the time to be rushing anything. It’s funny though that stressful situations usually put on in a bind to keep up with what’s going on. I suppose that, in keeping with your Zen-ish idea of staying in the now, if a person can “stick” to the demands of the moment with full attention there is no rush, no anything really except “doing”. It takes a lot of practice to get that good at anything.

      • “It takes a lot of practice to get that good at anything.”

        Give the man a cee-gar….

        You compared it to indexing your handgun draw. With regard to that, Cooper wrote “Draw quickly, shoot carefully.”

        Same thing applies to getting into position for a rifle shot.

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