Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Little Adjustments

Little things can make a big difference.  Duh.  That's a truism.  But shooting this afternoon with other shooters at our local IDPA club's Trigger Time reminded me of some little adjustments that make for a much smoother shooting experience—not to mention a better score.  I see other shooters making little mistakes—one's that are easily corrrected—and I want to help. I don't want to presume to be some sort of "instructor" during practice with a bunch of other guys.  I'm quite self-conscious about not inserting myself where I'm not wanted or even where I'm not sure I'll be helpful.  But I remember others helping me when I first started coming to IDPA practice sessions.  If I offer advice to someone new, I'm not trying to be a know-it-all.  Seeing these little errors today made me think about some basics again.

So just a few things that caught my attention this afternoon.  First, when the buzzer goes off the only thing that should move are your arms and your gun.  Everything else should be set before the SO says, "Stand by."  At the signal you should be able to draw your pistol, wrap your weak hand around the grip, drive the gun toward the target, prime the trigger, align the sights, and pull the trigger.  Your head doesn't need to move.  Your legs should stay put.  You don't need to crouch after the draw.  All that extra movement just takes time and distracts you from the main thing—driving your gun toward the target and pulling the trigger.  Whatever your normal shooting stance, get into that position before the "Stand by" command and be ready simply to draw and shoot.  Watch the first 8 seconds or so of this video and notice how little I move when the buzzer goes off.  It's not the fastest draw-to-first-shot time, but what you can't see is that the four targets off to the left of the frame are about 20 yards away so I had to take a little more time to get my sight picture right.

This includes when you are starting behind cover.  Unless the course of fire specifies that you have to stand in a certain place and have your hands on X's or something, you should be able to get in the exact position you need to be in to shoot your first shot.  What I mean is: when the buzzer goes off you don't have to move your feet or your head or your body.  You just have to move your arms and hands to draw and aim.  Every other part of your body is positioned for your first shot.  What this means for IDPA is that if you are starting at the edge of cover and have targets visible around the corner, then you position your feet so that they are 100% behind cover. But you lean out with your body and head enough so that you can see the first target you are to engage.  Then you freeze in the exact position that you want to be in when you pull the trigger.  When the SO asks if you are ready, you nod and get ready to draw, aim, and shoot.  If you do this, then you have no extra movement.  You are still "behind cover," but you are looking at the first target you are going to engage and at the signal the only movement you have to worry about is drawing your pistol and bringing it up on target.

Yours truly modeling the correct
cover stance
I will add another little adjustment.  When you are shooting around cover, whether at the start of a stage or anytime during the course of fire, plant the correct foot up near the edge so you can have good balance.  This is important but a lot of guys don't get this right.   If you are shooting around the right side of a barricade or barrel, then plant your right foot in front pointed toward the targets.  If you are shooting around the left side of cover, then plant your left foot in front of your right and lean into the shot.  This gives you a solid foundation from which to engage targets from cover.  If you don't do this, you will risk losing your balance as your lean out to engage targets.  Your accuracy will suffer.  Believe me.  This one little tip has improved my accuracy shooting from cover, especially at longer distances, than just about any other advice I've received.

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