Lessons Learned and Re-learned

Courtesy of Warren Tactical

Writing this blog has forced me to look at my shooting techniques in black and white terms. One thing I am confronting is the lack of actual training I have gotten, and how my shooting has suffered as a result. It’s one thing to read in a forum or see on TV how something should be done, and another thing altogether to realize I am not doing it that way.

For 18 plus years I was a self taught shooter. I taught myself a lot of things that I’ve found out not to be the best way. Notice I don’t say these techniques are “wrong,” because I managed to shoot decently. But, I know now I would have shot a lot better if I had done things the other way. That’s the reason for my post the other day about bullet orientation in my magazine pouch. If there’s really a better way I want to use it.

Today I’m writing about the biggest mistake I made, and how I fixed it. And boy, has it made a difference.

Drum roll.

Until recently, I didn’t really look at the front sight.

I started out focusing on the target, and the gun’s sights would be blurry at best. Because I was shooting competitions where the targets were at 3 to 15 yards, it’s how I did it, and I got away with it. My shots were mostly As and Bs on an IPSC target, with Cs on the far targets. Sometimes I would have complete misses, and I was at a loss to tell you why.

Yes, I always heard teachers say “focus on the front sight,” but I didn’t think I needed to do anything different.

Then, about two years ago, I was watching the Pro Tip on an episode of American Shooter. KC Esubio was talking about calling your shots. To me this was a foreign idea at best, but he was using a helmet camera that actually focused on the front sight. I could see the rear sight alignment great, and the target was somewhat fuzzy, just like I had heard it described.

Then he shot a string of fire and told us to call his shots. I was surprised – I could tell exactly where the sights were aligned when the front sight lifted. I called his shots.

So I thought, maybe I should start focusing on the front sight, and maybe I could call my own shots, and figure out why I was missing targets.

There was a problem, though. Thanks to presbyopia, “old eyes” for you young whipper snappers, I physically couldn’t focus on the front sight. I wear contact lenses that give me good vision at normal distances, but I’ve had to wear reading glasses for the last 12 years or so. Even with my glasses, I couldn’t make something that close come into sharp focus.

So I got an idea. The next time I went for my annual eye exam, I asked the optometrist to help me out. He isn’t a shooter, but he understood what I wanted. He ended up giving me a sample contact for my right (dominant) eye that corrects it to 20/20 at arm’s length. Suddenly, my fingernail was in focus at arm’s length. The rest was up to me.

It was harder than I thought to train myself to look at the front sight. But to make it easier, I changed my sights on my competition pistol to a set of Sevigny competition sights with a fiber optic front sight. The difference has been amazing.

The first competition I shot with the contact in was the GSSF Annual Shoot, and it was my best GSSF match ever. Before this, my personal best was four misses in a match. This time I had only one miss, and I even called that one when it happened, and I knew I had jerked the trigger when it happened.

This contact has lasted me over a year, since I only wear it for about 6 hours at a time a few times a month. And, at my annual visit this year, my optometrist gave me another sample that I can use when this one wears out.

So, what’s next in my rebuilding of my technique?

3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned and Re-learned

  1. "So, what's next in rebuilding of my technique?"Without seeing you shoot, it's only a guess, but the two other big things that people usually need to work on are:1. Trigger controland 2. Follow throughFor trigger control work on isolating your trigger finger. You want your trigger finger to be the only thing that moves as you pull the trigger. Don't tighten with your whole hand as you pull. The only part of your trigger finger that touches the gun is the part that touches the trigger.If you don't already know how, learn how to tell when the trigger is reset and afte the shot only let the trigger up to that reset point. That reduces the distance you have to pull the trigger for that next shot and makes it less likely you'll pull the gun off target when pulling the trigger.As to follow through, avoid the impulse to look to see where your bullet went. Instead just immediately find the front sight, put it back on the target, and prepare to fire the next shot.That's where Given's "it takes two sight pictures to fire one shot" idea comes from. He's trying to improve the shooter's follow through.Odds are those are the two things you should work on next.


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