It seems reasonable to do some work on the fundamentals on a regular, and not too infrequent basis. Offhand is one of those things that generally seems under-emphasized, as if shooters are paying reparations for the days when offhand was the thing. I do a lot of dry fire in offhand, but why not spend a few rounds a week to keep the live fire honest.
Sometimes wanting to do well interferes with one’s ability to do well. This is one of those mind games I play. Pete has chided me often enough that I decided to finally, perhaps, “click” into the superficial layer of an insight of good offhand shooting.
Something that I have done pretty consistently in the past, especially since I started the blog, is to really be concerned how well I shoot. The pictures are going up on the internet, so I don’t want to look like a duffer (but still I post them… should I be rethinking that? [joking]). It has sometimes added a layer of self-consciousness to my shooting. Offhand, being something I probably don’t shoot enough, except for infrequent “testing”, has been among the worst of my self-conscious shooting practices.
A notable exception to this is when I have other things to think about, or is it too much to do to think at all? At the full distance Appleseed, I shot a few clean scores in stage 1, one of them with 7 of the ten in the X ring, which is about 4”.
Something about that is an added layer of stress that involves making times, making sure the target is yours, getting clean reloads (a 10 round string with two 4 round mags involves some foresight), remove some of the burden from worrying about how well you will do. This brings to mind a question I had asked Pete, “Do you think that the excitement that comes with a real life field shot can simplify the processes that can seem complicated during learning and training? To say it another way, given sufficient prior work, does the subconscious tend to take over and do a better job?”
Applying logic and control to some processes can be counterproductive. I suppose that’s why the highest level of the “Four Stages of Competence” is unconscious competence. Reaching that level requires intimate familiarity with the skill. I do a lot of dryfire in offhand, which should transfer directly to live fire. The wrench in the works is self-doubt.
I began to shoot a five round group. It has often seemed that when I shoot offhand in live fire the reticle moves more than it does when I dry fire. I think that the real difference is that I care what it does more. I may also be trying to hurry my way along into a great result rather than just enjoying myself.
What I found worked well at the Appleseed was to watch the reticle move around, and when it was nearest the X ring, to begin to apply the compress surprise break. That’s what I did for the first three rounds of the group, which did not hit my intended 4” circle.
I stopped for a moment and considered the method and the result. Then I thought back to something that commenter “RF” posted back when he was posting as “Anonymous” (I’m happy he severed his affiliation with the dastardly “Anonymous” group). Anyway, here’s one of his many insightful quotes:
“Our problem is that it is not logical to allow the rifle to discharge at just any random time. Regardless of this logical disconnect, this is in fact the key to getting the part of the brain that moves the tongue to control the trigger for us.
Sure, there will be wild shots with nothing in control when this mysterious brain function does not take over but we can train the brain to provide the correct behavior.
Instead of pulling the shot and flinching just before the rifle fires, we can train it to coordinate the moving sight picture with the trigger pull and give us those “lucky shots” on a fairly consistent basis. Yes, I said instead of flinching, it comes from the same part of the brain! Most of us are already using this part of the brain to shoot and only need some simple training to change the behavior from flinch to what we so greatly desire.
I have found that this part of the brain can not tell right from wrong. It does perceive pain and emotion. Fortunately there is no need to go the pain route if we control the emotions.
Do not react to bad shots! Remember it can not tell good from bad but does respond to emotion, any emotion, good or bad. Do not get mad or stressed about bad shots because that encourages this part of the brain to give you more of them! Ignore them! On the other hand, enjoy every good shot. Be happy about them, let yourself celebrate every one of them. Reinforce the good performance and ignore the bad.”
What I decided was to stop trying to control the trigger. Time to move into Zen in the Art of Archery territory. I just held the rifle up with my finger on the trigger for the final 2 shots. Guess what happened…
6.52”. The last 2 rounds, in which I let the shots be released at random, were the ones in the black.
Thanks guys. I may be a little slow, but I do listen.