Now Give Yourself A Break … And A Goal.
I’ve had to shoot at several public ranges lately, and what I’ve seen disturbs me. This is a general observation, applying to “defensive shooters,” not target shooters, and there are exceptions, okay? But basically, I see this: Guys tryin’ like the devil to wring target pistol performance out of defensive handguns; locked into textbook positions, squintin’ and squeezin’, breathing the classic huff in, half-breath out, but exaggerating it to the point of hypoxia; grippin’ their pieces like iron until visible trembling sets in; making miniscule adjustments; finally poppin’ that first shot followed inevitably by finger-fluttering of the support hand. You’ve seen that, right?
It’s obvious they’re not only over-thinking about the mechanics of what they’re doing, but also about how it looks to others. They’re thinking about position, grip, presentation, breathing and trigger control as separate segments rather than as an integrated, smoothly-executed process. They squint, shoot and mutter in self-disapproval.
Then if they haven’t shot neat cloverleaves of touching holes, they’re disappointed with their groups on target. If they’re with friends, or just engaged with an adjacent shooter, there’s shaking of heads and angrily or sadly grumbling, “I don’t know what’s wrong; I’m all over the paper” or “Not winning any trophies with this crap.”
An awful lot of shooters are really good at mercilessly kickin’ their own butts. As often as not, their groups look okay to me, though it seems they’ve put more agony than ecstasy into `em. I think, “This guy could do much better if he’d just relax and give himself a BREAK, for Pete’s sake!”
Take A Break!
Ithink a lot of this stuff occurs for three reasons: First, they’re trying to replicate the groups shot and published in magazine articles. Forget that. Those are done — and overdone — by people who do it for a living, to establish a handgun’s inherent accuracy, that’s all. If your Roscoe shoots service-straight, you’re good to go. Ask yourself what’s more important to you: Shooting teensy-tiny groups under ideal conditions on your best day, or launching effective “war-shots” when you have to?
Second, too many shooters suffer from “observer pressure”: trying to look textbook-perfect to others. The only shooter you need to impress is the one shooting at you. On the range, you are The Shooter — onlookers are “range furniture.” Forget ’em!
Third, they’re having to concentrate so hard on each aspect of shooting — and comin’ out herky-jerky and strained — because they’re trying to practice under live-fire conditions on the range! Wrong time, wrong place, folks. Live fire on the range is where you express all the practice you’ve put into dry-fire drills. Dry-fire is where you perfect, smooth and seamlessly integrate position, grip, presentation, breathing, trigger control and tactical reloads, from slowest-smoothest to as fast as you can remain smooth and certain. Live fire is analogous to mid-term exams; dry-fire is the study you put in to be truly prepared for those exams.
Get yourself a Blade-Tech Training Barrel and lotsa inert rounds. Practice routinely for 15-20 minutes per session, tops. Wear the same clothes you wear to work, grocery shopping, stopping at the ATM, takin’ your family out to dinner; all of ’em. Take every drill from the draw, because if you fumble that, your other skills may not save you — and you can’t do that on most ranges. Step up, back or sideways to positions and draw smoothly, because life won’t always let you get set and centered. Dry-fire standing crooked, half-crouched, squatting, on your knees, on yer butt, one-handed holding a sack a’ possums, whatever; get smooth and then get jiggy!
Present and fire at 90 degrees, snap back to 145, pop two and swing back to 0 degrees, because “bastards have brothers, and scumbags come in squadrons.” From the textbook, write your own book! And all that time, integrate motion, grip, breathing and trigger, so that when you do hit the range, your process is polished and you’re ready to have some fun expressing! Call it “ballistic therapy,” ’cause it’s good for body and soul!
Hit the range when others don’t, during rainstorms, high winds, snow and hammering heat. Don’t overextend yourself, but get the experience and know how it affects your shooting. Shiver, swelter, shake — and shoot! Shoot in low light until they kick you out. And mix up your on-the-range drills so much you’re never frustratedly repeating the same errors under pressure. That’s not training; it’s torture.\
The Goodliest Goal
Here’s your goal: Come next Christmas, you can grin next to a silhouette showing a group that’ll win no gongs, but they’re all in the breadbasket, and say to yourself, “Not so great? I can do it all day long, every day, any night, 24/7/365, in fair weather or foul, in whatever clothes I have on, from muzzle-to-belly to down-the-street; 2-handed or 1-handed with either hand. I can do it on my knees, on my butt, stoopin’ or standin’, at any angle. My reloads ain’t like lightning, but they’re sure and certain. My guns run hot an’ straight, and I run ’em right. I’m good to go — and ready to rock.”
By John Connor