The Target Doesn’t Care

It’s pretty easy to get stuck within the confines of a certain method.  Adopting a method is a necessity to develop skill.  Dabbling without committing to a way is a good way to stay in the “suck zone”.

A method can become a problem when the shooter attaches a portion of his ego to it.  It’s really easy to get stuck in the trap of this versus that in subjects as minute as trigger control, positional shooting, equipment, etcetera.  Sometimes the attachments are for really weird reasons too, such as tradition, because whatever way is the right way, primacy (what you learned first), because of hero worship, or other impractical, emotion-driven nonsense.

I’ve also noticed the need in some people to take extra, unnecessary punishment.  If it wasn’t really hard, it must  be crap!  I have had that problem (see four years of preceding blog entries).

Why are those things problems?  Let’s start with emotional attachment to a method.  Things evolve.  Methods become more effective.  People get better at stuff and the state of the art changes.  Getting stuck is a pretty effective way to become obsolete.  You are likely to disregard effective changes as being flash in the pan trends, while you are actually being left behind.  Obsolescence = BAD (unless you want to be a living museum).

As for the gluttons for punishment, I think it is obvious that if we can get a task done as effectively or more effectively with less effort, that is GOOD.  I’m gonna break the rules and leave that paragraph as one sentence.  Oh wait!

Here’s an example to cover both of these problems.  I learned to shoot in sitting position the right way.  Some could call it the best way.  It was a time tested method proven in competition.  I always like something a little different, and cross ankle sitting with a sling is a little off the beaten path while still being an accepted method (it is, in fact, the right way, is it not?).  It also takes a bit more effort to learn properly, and it’s not common to found it done properly.  How perfect is that?  Difficult, uncommon, traditional, works well enough to impress, just doing it correctly puts you in some elite group right off the bat.  About as perfect as perfect can be, that’s how perfect it is.

Then I notice some dupes shooting in sitting with their feet stacked on top of each other and the rifle sitting on top of the feet.  These people must have missed the history of seated rifle marksmanship.  Skipped day 7 of Deadly Sniper School did you?  Violating all the rules of sitting position.  Hah!  Not using the sling as a marksmanship aid.  Hah!  If you want to know the right way you can ask me.  I’ll show you…

After I noticed people I actually know using this bastard of a sitting position, I decided I had to do something and I set out to test it to show just how bad it was.  If you read the linked article, you might have noticed that in my comparison the little bastard actually did better than the distinguished gentleman of a sitting position.  It’s also a lot faster to get into.  Follow up shots are quick too.

While I was impressed, I still felt as though it should be a requirement to learn an orthodox technique.  The real question there is why?  Does the target care?  Well, it actually might, but we can probably be safe in assuming it doesn’t share your priorities if you’re shooting at it ([sarcasm off] that should only be construed within the context of a lawful shooting situation).  I think the ‘why’ in that case was that learning the positions was, for me, a rite of passage in becoming a rifle shooter.

For practical purposes of hitting a target with a bullet, rites of passage or rifleman titles have no relevance.  What your finger does as it pulls (or squeezes, or presses) the trigger doesn’t matter as long as the sights aren’t disturbed during the act.  The position is irrelevant so long as it affords clearance for the lines of sight and trajectory, and affords the necessary stability.  How difficult, exclusive, or cool something is also matters not one bit.  Most of the crap that we obsess and fight each other over is probably not very important.

What does have relevance is whether the bullet hits the target within the time allotted.  That’s really about it.  If something accomplishes that more effectively, it’s better.  If what your ego is doing is holding you back then drop it.

8 thoughts on “The Target Doesn’t Care

  1. Good stuff. Especially liked the pull, press, squeeze. That’s an issue that is near and dear to me.

    • Thanks man. I’ve been guilty of making a big deal over semantics. I really bought into that whole “neurolinguistic” theory, probably because I felt like it gave me some edge over people who didn’t know about it. On reflection, it seems like tapping into ego is a good way to convince students in a class that they are getting a good value.

      There is so much to obsess over from the shooting end. When I only think about what happens on the target end (terminal ballistics aside) I just feel completely freed up.

  2. Interesting how new methods are found.
    Some want to try to go one better than established methods.
    Others may have no idea what the established methods are and simply make up their own, usually worse methods, but every once in a while they come up with an outside-the-box gem.

    • We’ve been at war continuously for quite a long time now. It’s obvious that huge strides have been made in terms of gear, especially optics, but I think that there are also talented people who have to solve real life problems who are furthering practical rifle shooting a great deal.

  3. I just finished reading Herbert McBride’a “A Rif lemon Goes to War” similar tone. They did it with irons or the dim scopes of the time.
    It’s a good red in general and worth the time

  4. Don’t mean to revisit the old topic on the sitting position, but i was intrigued. Grabbed the AR, sat down on the living room floor and tried it. I’m 6’4, wear a size 12 shoe. and for the life of me i could not make it work. I have 2 theories. Theory 1, for the most part regardless of height people’s feet are near the same size. Tall people do have longer torso. As a result, our feet don’t provide enough vertical height to place the rifle parallel with the ground. Theory 2, i need to get A LOT more flexible. I can touch my toes while sitting, but that put’s the rifle though level in a very uncomfortable position.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *