Posts Tagged ‘dry firing’

Basic Gun Control

Posted: November 27, 2011 in IDPA
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One of my coworkers wanted me to accompany him to the local indoor range for some paper punching, so naturally I obliged. I hadn’t shot in a while so I wanted to work on my trigger control. We threw some targets out maybe 20 feet and unloaded about 3 or 4 mags.

After that I started to watch him and pay attention to the three fundamentals, stance, grip and trigger control. This guy has been shooting for a while, but would still be classified as a novice in IDPA standards, essentially he’s the typical average Joe off the street. After watching him it was clear he really needed some help. I offered some advice on what I thought he was doing wrong just from observing. Due to the lighting and me not wearing my glasses, I couldn’t see the holes in the paper. He looked at me with some skepticism when I called his group, but that quickly turned to amazement when the target was brought back and the group was exactly where I told him (low left).

His stance was a really awkward looking semi-weaver, the grip was almost the olde cup n saucer and his trigger control was like he was having a seizure.

I straightened him out into an isosceles, changed his grip to the typical competition style Enos/Leatham grip and let him run another couple of mags through the gun. His group had tightened but was still low and just a tad left of center. His trigger control was still herky jerky, but that was ok, I wanted him to first feel the difference in stance and grip. It didn’t help that he was shooting a DAO 9mm compact (the brand/model is irrelevant). After I’d put a couple of mags through it, I got him to dry fire it a few times and told him to stage the trigger, since it had quite a long pull. His group tightened up again and raised up closer to the center. There were still some low fliers where he was flinching, but we can work on that later, since that’s a project unto itself.

I gave him some dry fire homework to do making sure that he only works on those three things and sent him Todd Jarrett’s excellent video on how to grip a gun.  I can’t wait to hit the range again and see what he can do.

But it just goes to show, shooting IDPA for 5+ years and doing thousands of reps of dry fire really does put your basic skill level WAY above the average Joe. And just think, my skill level is nowhere near the levels of the top dogs.

I used to have an awful time with my reloads. They were so inconsistent that I never knew if I was going to hit it or not. Most likely it would kinda work, but I’d say most of my reloads were fumbles. I’d always put it down to the fact that my thumb is not long enough to reach the magazine release button without shifting my grip a little. I thought the problem was that when doing the reload, I would shift my grip a little differently every time, which would mean I’d be holding the gun slightly differently in my strong hand every time. Well, I found out tonight I was totally wrong about what was happening.

I realized that my reload sequence went like this:

1) Shift grip in strong hand with help of support hand.
2) Press the magazine release button while reaching for the new mag.
3) The magazine ejects as I grab the new mag and start bringing it up to the magazine opening in the grip.
4) Relax my grip with my strong hand and insert the fresh mag, slamming it home
5) Rotate the gun to the proper gripping position in my strong hand as my support hand takes hold
6) Look at the target, extend the gun forwards as I acquire the front sight in my peripheral vision
7) Shift my focus to the front sight as my arms get to their fully extended position.

The biggest mistake I was making was in step 4.

Because I was anticipating having to shift the gun around in my strong hand again to get back to the proper grip, the butt of the grip was constantly moving. So when I was bringing up the fresh mag, I never knew where the opening was going to be. So instead of working on putting the mag in the same place, in relation to my strong hand, I was trying to anticipate where the magazine opening was going to be as it shifted around in my hand.

This is just totally amazing, I can’t quite believe that I’ve been struggling all this time with reloads because essentially I’ve been giving myself a moving target.

So I found the one thing that helped overcome this, is to shift my grip, reach for the new magazine as usual, but now I press the magazine release button and hold it down, concentrating now on not moving the grip. Once the magazine has started to slide in, I can then relax my grip and get my hands back to where they’re supposed to be.

It’s much easier to hit reloads now when the magazine opening in the grip is not moving around!

Gosh, I’m so glad that I was able to “see” what I was doing and make the correction. Every time I do some dry firing I learn something.

Once I had done a few repetitions with my new technique, I stopped my dry fire session so that it’s the last good thing I remember and I could end on a high note.

Now I feel like I’ve figured something out, I really can’t wait to do some more dry firing.

Tuesday update

Posted: January 7, 2009 in IDPA
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I started Steve Anderson’s drills tonight. I knew I didn’t have time to complete the first 14 drills, but I wanted to at least get some dry firing done, since it’s been so long.

I only managed to do the first 4 drills and practice some reloads using some azoom snap caps. The snap caps did seem to make it easier, but I still need a mag well to help guide from the backstrap in.

I also need to do some research to make sure I can simulate the distances by using 1/2 size targets. I haven’t yet managed to work it out, but next time I’m on a range I’ll start making note of target measurements at various distances.

The other thing I noticed is that I need to either toughen up my thumb, wear a bandaid, or smooth the surface of the thumb safety since it’s grinding the skin on my thumb away.

I was at the New Albany Shooting Range yesterday for a spot of live fire practice and started to figure some things out with my grip. I don’t usually grip the pistol lightly and never suffer from stovepipes, even when shooting with support hand only or from retention. I found that when I gripped the pistol a little harder, three things happened:

1) The front sight moved right back into the notch by itself.

2) The muzzle rise was less and so shot recovery was quicker.

3) I was able to much better isolate my trigger finger and break the shot quicker without pulling on the trigger and torquing the gun with my other strong hand fingers.

The first two are just obvious and logical, but the third one is what surprised me. Because I could break the shots with more control over my trigger finger, I was able to shoot faster because I didn’t have to concentrate so hard on trigger control. If I can work on a stronger grip and good isolation of the trigger finger, I’ll be able to step up my game to a new level. I may only save a few tenths here and there, but during a stage that soon adds up, especially when I can better call my shots, not pull shots low or have to make up shots.

This is definitely something I need to practice a lot more as it addresses a number of areas of my shooting. Just having a good grip makes all the world of difference when it comes to action pistol shooting.

Some Par Times

Posted: November 12, 2008 in IDPA
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I played with my timer last night and recorded some baseline par times. I don’t have a proper structured dry fire routine yet (waiting on Steve Anderson’s book), but I recorded a couple:

Hands by my side, draw from a belt holster, two handed grip, align sights and fire = 1.5 seconds.

Gun pointing at target (not at slide lock) two handed grip, reload, point at target, align sights and pull trigger = 2.1s

I wear my comp-tac mag carrier at 8 o’clock and don’t have a magwell on the para, so my reloads are quite inconsistent. So even though I can hit 2.1s when it goes right, it only goes right some of the time. I know my technique needs work, but I’m thinking that using dummy rounds and a magwell will help with the consistency, which was a problem I had in the last match.

I deliberately didn’t do a slidelock reload because I don’t have any snapcaps or dummy rounds yet, so I’m a little hesitant to close the slide on an empty chamber over and over again.

Once I get a reloading press set up, I’m going to make up some dummy rounds with 230gr round nose bullets, so I will be practicing reloads with the right weight and feel. I’ll also be a lot more comfortable doing slidelock reloads.