What have you done today to improve your shooting?
Have you called your Congresscritter and Senatards lately? Well call or write them again.
“You can only shoot as fast as you can see.” Well its true! Increasing your eye speed can have a dramatic impact on your shooting skills. Time lost on target transitions can result in seconds added per stage. Here is a way to increase your eye speed and decrease your target transitions.
Without your gun, take two one inch black dots with a 1/4″ white center and put them about five feet apart on your living room wall. Now standing about five feet back bring the white dot on the left one into focus. Quickly snap your eyes only to the other dot and bring the other white center dot into focus. Don’t move your head use just your eyes. Now go back and forth as fast as possible bringing the center dot into focus each time. You will probably start noticing how your eyes first locate the black dot with your peripheral vision and then how your eyes zero in on the center and bring it into sharp clarity. Try this four a couple of minutes. You will probably develop a light headache, take a break and repeat. Your eyes have never had to work this hard before. Once you see some improvement put one dot three feet above the other one and practice vertical transitions with your eyes.
Now, move the dots back to the horizontal plane and put one just out of view. This way you have to move your head to get to it.
Your eyes always lead everything! They are the fastest part on the human body. Use your eyes to snap over and start searching for the other dot, your head then automatically follows.
It’s time to add the gun–unloaded with no ammo in the vicinity of your practice area! (Assuming the use of the dot) Put the dot on the first white spot and pull the trigger smoothly. The difficulty of the shot will determine if you need to see the dot lift. Now snap your eyes to the other dot, focus clearly on the white spot. The gun will be catching up with your eyes and slowing to the white spot where your will pull the trigger again.
DO NOT slam the gun to a stop, slide it into position. A good analogy for this is braking your car coming up to a stop sign.
You don’t hit the brakes at the stop sign, you start preparing to stop earlier (except for those who California Stop). What you don’t want to see is the dot jiggling around when the gun stops.
NOTE: If you are shooting Iron sights vs. optics you would bring the front blade into focus after clearly focusing where you want the bullet to go.
Practice smooth perfect transitions before trying to speed up. You have to teach your body what you want it to do before going faster. This also applies to reloads, draws, etc. and will help when you go faster so that you won’t have any extra unneeded movements that waste time. Burn it in and then speed it up.
On this episode, I interview Travis Gibson of MGM Targets, Chad Adams from 3GunNation.com and Keith Garcia who won the first Pro Tour Match! Thanks to our sponsors Liberty Safe, Fiocchi USA Ammunition and Warne Tactical! Check it out and let me know what you think.
Equip, Train, Dominate!
I have found that a lot of my students have been losing significant time on their draw just by having a slow reaction time to when the buzzer sounds from the timer. How do you find out what your reaction time is and more importantly how do you improve it?
Try the following out:
* NEEDS: gun, ammo, and timer
* Set timer for a random delay between 4-8 seconds
* Load and make ready
* Hit go on the timer
* Gun out in the shooting position
* Visual focus on the target
* Take safety off
* Place finger on the trigger and take up the slack (Don’t AD!)
* Tune your audio focus to listening for the start of the tone
* When buzzer goes, fire a shot
* Check the clock for results
* Repeat, trying to react as fast as possible
Most likely your first reaction times will be .30 or longer. Work on the exercise until they are consistently under .20 and you will already have removed a minimum of a tenth of a second from your draw!
(A reaction time of .16-.20 of a second is optimum. My personal best is a .11 at Shooters World in Phoenix during a class with Chris Dysart. Chris went from a .34 to a average .18 of a second.
That was a savings of .16 or in other terms it moves a one second draw down to an .84!)
One of the drills that I like to do most of the time and has had the most impact on my shooting ability is a timing drill. First we should have a discussion of terminology.
Timing of the gun:
I am not referring to the actual time the mechanism takes to return to battery. I am referring to learning the timing of the gun by the shooter. Since most guns return to battery in about 5 hundredths of a second, we cannot return the gun fast enough with our conscious mind. The subconscious will return the gun to point of aim by using the appropriate amount of muscle force during recoil. You will see top shooters push down on the gun if it does something it’s not supposed to do, such as hitting a bad primer and not firing. This is not a flinch. A flinch occurs before and also during the firing of the gun.
You must shoot a full magazine on every string in this drill and you must not stop and restart in the middle of a magazine. Unless there is a safety issue, shoot the entire magazine at the required splits. You must have a relaxed positive stance and grip on the gun for this to work.
The major areas this drill assists are the return of the gun under recoil, calling your shots, grip control, and solidifying the stance. If you are not using a solid forward shooting stance, you will see the gun start going out of control and the sights moving differently after about 3-5 rounds. Please refer to my previous articles for more stance information or check my website at www.mattburkett.com <http://www.mattburkett.com>
You will need three targets, tape, and about 250 rounds of ammo.
Start out with three targets 15 yards away. Load all of your magazines. First three strings are two seconds per shot. Like a metronome, have the splits be as close to two seconds as possible. Check your split times on a timer or have another shooter help you with the drill. Two seconds per shot gives you plenty of time to shoot an extremely small group.
First string, use as light of a grip as possible on first target.
Second string, medium grip on second target.
Third string, use a heavy grip on the third target.
Now unload and review your shooting.
You shouldn’t have more than about a 2? group on each target. Compare where they are impacting on the target. Is there more vertical stringing or horizontal on the different groups? Which one did you feel more comfortable with? How did the gun feel with each grip? What exactly did the sights do? Did they rise straight up under recoil? Could you even see the sights under recoil? This will show you if you have a flinch. If you can’t see the sights going up and down, there is a good chance you’re blinking.
Figure out what grip worked best for you and use that for the rest of the drill.
Tape the targets.
String four, two seconds per shot on target 1 with your new favorite grip.
String five, one second per shot on target 2.
String six, .5 seconds per shot on target 3.
Now unload and review your shooting.
Once again we go back and look to see where our problems are showing up. What is the group dispersion on the targets? Is there a significant difference between the groups at two seconds and at .5 seconds? How much vertical error is there with the groups? What did the sights do at the different speeds? Diagnose what is happening. If you’re getting a significantly upper right lift to the sights, grip a little more with your left hand and slightly less with your right hand (assuming you’re right handed).
Tape the targets.
String seven, one second per shot on target one.
String eight, .5 per shot on target two.
String nine, .25 per shot on target three.
Unload and review.
How did your shooting go at this speed? Are the sights coming back naturally to the aiming point?
Critical things to remember:
The timing of the gun that you have learned is specific to that firearm and load. If you change any part or your load, rerun the timing drills because the gun itself has changed.
I look at swingers in a couple of different ways.
Trapping: the concept of shooting a swinging target when it is at its pause point. It helps to time them with a stop watch to know how long the pause is.
Tracking: the concept of following the swinger with the sights and breaking the shot while keeping the gun moving. Now for me I usually put the sights in the leading -1/C zone.
Most of the targets I will track then trap. Break one shot while it is on the down swing and one shot while it is stopped. Sometimes they are track/traps. It all depends on your skill level and comfort level with the
targets along with the speed of the swinger. Use a stopwatch to figure out the entire available exposure time and how long it takes to get started. If possible time it repeatedly. Activation time is fairly critical as it will tell you when you can fire the first shot and that will decide if it will be a trap or track.
If possible get to a range that has a swinger and shoot the heck out of it.
It will help you get over the negative mental associations that swingers generally have and help you build up the confidence you need to shoot well.
One of the issues that most people have is that they don’t understand trigger control. Learning the pin and reset technique will help you learn the distance of the over-travel and reset which are most important parts.
There are four parts to a trigger.
Warning: Do not mess with the trigger of your gun unless you know what your doing. Take it to a qualified gunsmith and let them do the work.
Pre-travel is the amount of “play” the trigger has before engaging the sear.
I like a lot a pre-travel. This gives my finger the opportunity to engage the trigger and get a feel for it. It is almost nec. to slap triggers that have no pre-travel since you can’t interface with it. I like about 14 ounces of pre-travel on my 1911 type triggers. On a 1911 you can check this by having the gun fully assembles but without the beavertail in place. Lift the left side of the three leaf spring (the sear leaf) and then use a trigger pull gauge to check the pre-travel. On a Glock this is almost impossible to measure because you are partially cocking the firing pin during the trigger pull.
The break is the actually disengagement of the sear and hammer. I prefer my triggers have about a 21-26 ounce pull on a 1911. The Glock triggers I use are set-up by customglock.com and they break right about two pounds.
The over-travel is the distance the trigger moves from the break to the contact with the frame. On a 1911 this is set by the screw at the bottom of the trigger face. I prefer a bit of over-travel. This helps keep my finger from running into the frame especially weak or strong hand.
The reset is the distance from the contact of the frame to the reengagement of the sear and hammer.
A well set up trigger should feel clean with no dragging anywhere. It should bounce back to the reset.
I have Don Golembieski of Kodiak Precision set up the triggers with a slight rolling break on the sear. The way he does them is pretty amazing. Most people can’t feel the roll on his triggers and think that they are a crisp break. Too crisp of a break for me and I can see movement in the sights.
Hey There Predators,
Below is a tip that will help with the dreaded and much maligned “Recoil Control Problems” from the old site. The info is still good though, so enjoy and learn:
Recoil control problems
The concept of a continuous sight picture. Nearly everything you hear in training or at a match is see your front sight. I don’t think that is the correct way to approach a major problem with peoples shooting. The main issue they have is that they don’t see the sights when they need to, which is during the entire firing sequence and return to the targets. Most of my students would be familiar with the timing drills. One of the biggest benefits of a timing drill is that it would develop the ability to see the sight all the way through the recoil. That is how you shoot fast and accurate splits on target.
Understand that the GRIP of the pistol is different than getting a GRIP on a pistol. This is a difficulty in common language usage especially when describing both.
Recoil control or timing:
Most shooters have a significant issue with recoil control. Well okay they don’t have any recoil control would be a better way to put it. We have worked on flinch. If you can see your sight lift and return, you’re most likely not flinching.
Poor recoil control covers a spectrum of problems. From not having a consistent return of the gun to the same spot you just shot to the hand or hands breaking and losing grip on the pistol. Generally I see either a hand readjustment right after a shot or I see the weak hand actually lose its grip on the pistol.
Now lets define the issue. The concept of recoil control or timing the gun (from the shooters perspective) is to subconsciously return the sights to the same spot. This is a neuromuscular firing of fast twitch muscles that occurs .04-.07 of a second after the shot is fired. Notice is said subconscious. You have to set everything up right for and then let it happen. The top shooters don’t look like their working hard when their shooting do they? That’s a big hint. Their not!
Common problems to address:
Does the gun fit your hand? Can you actually hold the pistol in a good firing grip and actuate all safeties along with get a proper finger position on the trigger? If the gun doesn’t fit you, how do you think you will shoot it fast and accurate? You will be able to shoot it accurate regardless of grip, but, not fast. Accuracy is purely sight alignment and trigger control. Another issue that comes up when people are shooting a gun that doesn’t fit is that they can’t index the gun consistently. Fixes for improper gun fit include modifications to the grip, trigger length, or maybe a different gun entirely.
<A sponsor prompt here> If your using a 1911 or Wide Body gun, SVI has an insert trigger system (ITS) that allows you to change the trigger length, style, and even color without taking your gun apart. www.sviguns.com Is it slippery? I once had a student that had a full custom .45 and his issue was that the gun was just plain slippery. There really was no way to get a good purchase on it, especially with hard ball loads. I know this sounds like common sense, but, you have to be able to “stick” to the gun. It didn’t help that he also liked to silicone his gun. THE WHOLE THING. Grip and all!
That’s like greasing a ball bearing then trying to hold on it when it gets 150 g’s of force applied. Good luck! Skate board tape, checkering, different grips they will all contribute to a better grip. If your sweaty hands aren’t helping the issue any, get some Pro-grip from Krunch Products.
Do you have a crappy grip that doesn’t lend itself to holding the gun properly? Is there a gap between your hands? Is your weak hand thumb not pointing at the target? Is your weak hand actually getting on the grip itself or just kind of riding your strong hand? If you have seen Practical Shooting V 4, we mark the hands on Kevin to see if he is getting a consistent grip on the pistol. Have a training partner do the same for you. Then do 25 draws and see what happens.
The weak hand needs to be an integral part of the two handed grip. For me that is where most of the recoil control happens. Trigger control occurs with my strong hand. Most shooters try to do too much with their strong side of their body. This is a natural thing that we need to overcome for really fast shooting. Fast shooting doesn’t happen when the strong side is tensed up. This is when you will see shooters have trigger freezes, and horrible follow up shots. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like they were shooting at the same target! A drill to work on that will help you bring your weak side more into your shooting is when the hands hit the reception position (about where you clap), the weak hand “brings” the gun to the sight plane. This can help take the focus off the dominance of the strong side and help balance us out a bit.
(Wouldn’t it be a better world all around if more people were well balanced? I am talking mentally here though. J Pushing and pulling on the gun like the old style weaver technique. Alright, so this one never made sense to me. The gun is recoiling rearwards, why in the hell do you want to help it? Dynamic tension is a bunch of BS. When you have an adrenaline rush, what happens? You get stronger right? Use more gross motor skills right? Well here is a hint, what side is stronger? Your strong side, umm duh. That’s why you will see a lot of shooters that use the weaver push their second shot low left. Their first one may be fine, but, after that when the pressure is on, it can have a tendency to go to hell really quick. If your pushing forward, using a positive pressure with both arms and get an adrenaline rush, what happens? Your just putting more energy into the gun in the exact opposite direction of the recoil. Not a bad thing huh?
Make sure your stance is solid. Have someone push on your hands in your shooting stance. (solid constant pressure) If you can’t hold the same position, guess what the gun is doing.
Make sure your relaxed and in a positive position. Tension kills fast shooting. Tension is different than strength. (That’s a fun on to explain that I am not even going to touch here. If you don’t get it, call me.) Can you wiggle your toes in the shooting box before the timer goes off? Bet you can’t the first time you try. The nerve going to the big toe is the longest nerve in the human body. Guess what, if your toes are tense, everything else is tense in between. Take a lower abdominal breath and relax your abs. Focus on your stress and get rid of it.
Okay so now you have a solid stance, your relaxed, have a good grip on the gun, and your can reach the trigger. Do you have sights you can see effectively? Can you make out the front sight clearly? Time to see the eye doctor? BTW if your over 40 and suffering the standard far sighted issue (ie need reading glasses) ask your doctor about a new procedure called CK.
Drills to develop recoil control:
Dryfire won’t cure a recoil control problem. That is the one thing you can’t do in dryfire. What it will develop is proper stance, grip, etc..
The first thing I want you to do is to aim at a berm that isn’t to far away.
Say 10 yards. Make sure that it is a good backstop and your not going to get any ricochets. Load and make ready and get everything behind the gun right – grip, stance, relaxed etc. Aim the gun at a target and just burn off the whole magazine as fast as you can. What did you feel and learn? Where you able to shoot all the way through the magazine without stopping and was your trigger speed consistent? Were you able to keep a grip through the whole magazine? If so, great, skip to doing my timing drills. (tip is on my website or in PSV4)
If not, figure out where the problem is. Is it your weak hand? Did your tension build as you shot? What’s going on? Have a practice partner help you diagnose the issue if necessary by having them watch you shoot. What is your body language? Can they see you tighten up? Side note: what is your trigger finger doing? Is it leaving the face of the trigger or bouncing on and off it?
Once you can get that down, which may take a lot of ammo see if you can get a continuous sight picture during the whole magazine.
An interesting note: A lot of students have found that when they were able to get their gun under control, they generally cured most of their flinching issues.
Equip, Train, Dominate!
The Predator Tactical Team
Hey There Predators,
It’s 2012, and according to those kooky Mayans, it may be the last year we have, so buy some guns from Predator Tactical! Actually, I wanted to tell you about a big project we’re ramping up for 2012, and give you an opportunity to give us some feedback.
If you’re a long time fan, you remember Matt Burkett’s Practical Shooting Radio. Well guess what folks, we’re bringing it back! That’s right, the long awaited return of Predator Tactical Radio is at hand. We’ve had some starts and stutters these last couple years, but things have settled into a controllable chaos at Predator Tactical HQ, and we’re ready to start podcasting again.
We’re all about keeping you happy, so tell us, Predators, what do you want to hear about? 3-gun tips? IDPA strategies? More Taran Butler movie reviews? Matt’s hair care tips? Something different entirely? Let us know by adding comments below, using the Contact Page at Predatortactical.com, our Facebook Page, or send a letter. We don’t get many letters, and let’s face it, our Postal Service could use all the help it can get. If we use your suggestion, we won’t give you any credit, but you can brag to all your friends how you control the subjects we talk about on Predator Tactical Radio.
Equip, Train, Dominate!
The Predator Tactical Team
The Predator Tactical team has been in conclave for the last 3 days, and after much heated debate and the sacrifice of a goat, we have decided to create this, Predator Tactical’s official blog!
What will you find here? You’ll find tips, advice, updates on future projects and what’s going on in the shop, and in our “Gear Abuse” posts, we’re going to review gear. Be warned, though. We will pull no punches. When a piece of gear is not up to par, we will tell you. If it’s not up to par, we will also not sell it.
Feel free to comment on the posts. Let us know what you want to see more of, what you want to see less of. We may even read your suggestions, and we might even follow them. Don’t hold your breath, though. Just kidding, folks. Let us know what you want to see, and we’ll see what we can do.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for updates!
Equip, Train, Dominate!
The Predator Tactical Team