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Jeff Tollar


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I've been procrastinating long enough. We'll see how this goes. My name is Jeff and I'm a shootaholic. I am 29 years old and I have been shooting pistol since October 2009 and USPSA since November 2009. I learned to shoot in the Marine Corps (1999) which consisted of a slow fire rifle qualification every year. I also had the opportunity to become a rifle and pistol coach and I helped Marines correct issues during live fire. I was a great coach because I cared about helping Marines improve.

I initially "classified" as a D in production, became a C within a couple of months and just classified as B this month. It took me a month or two to become bored and uninterested in classification and since then it has become easier to do well. I also find that when I perform poorly it is getting easier for me to shrug off the disappointment. All part of the focus on improvement not results zen talk in these forums.

I don't really get nervous anymore and I have been improving steadily. A few weeks ago I learned that I can call shots and control recoil for proper front sight behavior. I imagine these two things go hand in hand. I have yet to consistently implement either of these things in weekly matches.

As a competitor I tend to hit mostly alphas, and have longer total times. Charlies feel like misses to me. My slow times are mostly from slow movement. I don't leave or travel as fast as I would like and I don't get settled quickly enough. I am 253 pounds of recoil management material and my inertia is difficult to overcome.

My weaknesses are that I am pessimistic, not confident and demotivated. I really have been trying to become more optimistic like when I was young. Shooting is one of the only things I have that is going well right now and I wish I had the drive required to improve more rapidly. I basically derive my confidence from my hobbies. I also tend to be self deprecating and new friends I have made are making me realize this is more of me being negative than funny.

My strengths are my research, honesty, friendliness, analytical approach (also a weakness) and lack of ego. I have read and "know" what I should be doing. This is why I was such a good coach in the Marines, I could tell shooters what would help, but I have trouble doing it myself.

I have been working on physical acceleration and deceleration by practicing once or twice a week at the range, doing exit and entrance drills. Once or twice a week I also go out on trails and sprint, decelerate, change direction and practice entering/exiting positions.

In straight shooting I have been working on calling shots and transitioning with leg movement.

I do not dry fire as much as I should. I intend to report back here when I do and what I learned.

My goals right now:

Dry fire at least 15 minutes a day.

Get my hustle on.

Get my new recoil controlling grip burned in.

Call every shot.

Positive thinking and self image.

I just found this yesterday from Bruce Lee (Brian Enos post):

All goals, apart from the means are therefore an illusion, and becoming is a denial of being.

It feels like this is where I am at: I have this arbitrary goal of becoming an A shooter this year, but I seem to lack the commitment to really become an A shooter. I have no doubt I can become a "paper" A shooter, but I want to be an all around A. I shoot more than I can afford, but I don't think it is all quality practice. Like guitar I think this will require correcting small issues one at a time in a very deliberate and tedious fashion. I need to change my focus from what I wish to become to what I am and what I can do to improve right now. I hope you will read this in a couple of years and be inspired by how I started so humbly as a D shooter and became a master or better.

I welcome all criticism and input.

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Dry fire today included:

Slow draws. My friend Sean let me borrow the part of his holster that makes it a dropped and offset holster. I think this thing will really help me improve my initial grip on the gun when I draw. I don't have to raise my shoulder and kick out my elbow to grip my gun properly. The grip angle on my glock 34 makes it difficult to get a proper grip with a normal holster. It almost prevents access to the upper area below the slide, which I feel is very important to apply some upward force to prevent rotation of the muzzle during recoil and get my hand tucked properly to avoid being hit by the slide. I only did slow, because how can we expect to go fast when we don't know what we are doing. I feel like a lot of bad habits can be avoided by practicing slower than you think is necessary to really analyze the movements and ingrain it in your mind properly. Using this technique today I discovered that if I just focus on applying pressure to my strong hands middle finger with the tip of my weak index finger, the wrist rotation I have been working on implementing mostly takes care of itself.

Reloads. During the matches I have a feeling that I am not seeing enough of the course and my next position. I feel this is because I am still dropping my gun down to reload. In dry fire practice I find that if I bring it straight back slightly and rotate my wrist a bit to point the grip at my mag pouches I have easier reloads and I can run around my apartment using my peripheral vision while focusing on the mag-well. If I bring it in close I miss more. If I bring it down I see less.

Loading from a table. Just as I have developed confidence in my draw it seems I am seeing more and more weird start positions with unloaded guns. This also happened when I practiced and developed confidence in weak hand shooting; once it wasn't something I worried about it disappeared from competitions. Anyway, I practiced a few of these while watching TV. I discovered that I grip the gun better with a straight trigger finger than I do when I grab it with the tips of my fingers with my index on the trigger guard. I also like this better, because there is no chance of accidental discharge if I grab just shy of the trigger guard.

I also practiced some transitions.

I did a small bit of practice on my stance focusing on weight forward on toes, feet wide apart and body lower than is normally comfortable. I think the discomfort will go away once I get used to these things. I have already proven how much weight forward reduces muzzle flip. I bet getting my center of mass low and a wider stance will help me accelerate out of positions.

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Today I worked on my grip and draws. The weak hand wrist rotation is starting to feel more comfortable, but I still don't quite do it automatically. My weak hand grip pressure feels like it is improving too. I only practiced 15 minutes because I went to bed past 11 and woke up at 5 am to go to my new job. I got home and really wanted to sleep and not practice. I should sleep well tonight and will go to the range after work for some live fire with my friend.

After I finish this I will do some reloads before I watch some TV and go to sleep. I want to start seeing my live fire reloads performed in a higher position.

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Live fire today. I practiced shooting paper and an 8" plate at 30 yards, did some exiting and entering positions. I can't believe how easy the plate was to hit at 30 yards today and I shot a 2.5 inch group on paper at the same distance. It feels like a fluke, almost as if all the errors added up in my favor. Perhaps the new Montana gold JHP's are more accurate than the CMJ's.

The movements feel better on my knees than last week, but I still have some hesitation to leave after calling a hit. I still need to work on getting a lower position and getting my weight on the balls of my feet to control recoil and move quickly.

This range session felt a little unfocused due to going after work. I should try to make a better plan the night before.

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Went to Sam's action shooting yesterday. I shot very accurately and did well. There was some hesitation in moving from position to position after the last shot. I may not be calling my shots.

On tighter targets, such as the paper plates, I need to have more patience and just let the trigger break when it wants rather than jerk it to release the shot faster. I had one mike on the paper plates and I bet this is the cause. I do remember seeing a sight picture with the post to the left so this may be the one that missed the plate.

I don't think my better grip has become something I do naturally yet so I still need to practice that. I'm still doing my reloads down low.

Things to work on:


Trigger pull while seeing the correct sight picture


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  • 2 weeks later...

Today I shot a match in Custer. I haven't shot or practiced much in the last two weeks and did not expect to do very well. I shot 160 rounds on Saturday and was noticing that I couldn't call shots very well. I was flinching sometimes. Probably more than I realize. I was also pushing my groups about 4 inches to the left at 25 yards on Metric targets and 4" high on paper plates. I can tell that my eyes are not focusing as fast or as sharply as they were a few weeks ago. I did however get some good recoil control towards the end on close targets. I had a string of fire in which the front sight just plopped back down in the center of the channel instead of requiring correction.

Anyway the match went ok. I expect to see that I will still hit around 70% of Yong Lee, a local GM. I felt like I was moving faster than usual and still getting a high percentage of alpha's. I did throw two mikes and a couple of delta's though. One mike was at a 50 yard target which was my final shot and I called my front sight two inches below the upper panel, but out of the groove. I think the shot went over the shoulder or upper panel. The second I didn't see on paper, but was told it was on a triple target with a no shoot. I don't know where I missed, or what my sight pictures were for these targets. I imagine I put an extra shot in one.

My planning is pretty good and I was happy to see that Ken (production competitor) and I seemed to chose similar routes and reloads. I lose 4-5 seconds on each course to his movement speed, but it looked like I may have gotten better points. I'm not certain how it will turn out with those mikes and delta's though.

Visualization and memorization was as good as I have been able to get it with less sleep than I require. I didn't go into any courses wondering what I was going to do, but I was unable to attack targets with absolute confidence that they would appear in front of my sights when I got into position. I feel I was a bit sloppy in the transitions. One day I will go to sleep on time and wake up and it will be a fantastic match in which I operate with near omniscience and confidence that I know every target location and body movement before I start.

Going for speed I payed less attention to the direction of my muzzle during reloads and my friend Albert informed me I came very close to the 180 several times. This is something I will have to focus more on when I formulate plans. I was more cautious in the stages that followed his warning and am sure it was not as close. This match had a ton of near 180 targets and I failed to take this into account in my reload plan. This is not acceptable.

Things to work on:

Reloads-focus on muzzle direction

Transitions-get my eyes working again

Grip-almost there.

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Major Subjects: Match follow up, midweek match, reload technique.

I was 70.76% of Yong's Score on Sunday. 3 mikes and 1 Delta for the match. I don't think I should try to push the speed of movement in matches anymore. I didn't do any better total score wise, but I did lose some ability to call shots accurately. Delta's and mikes hurt.

I shot a mid-week match on Tuesday at Paul Bunyan (Mount Rainier's Shadow) that I think I will make a routine occurrence. I shot 100%, but the usual suspects were not there, so it doesn't really count. The whole match I was in a funk because I was tired from working that day. I didn't even visualize my plans and it showed with a medium performance. I did do well on the classifier (68% estimate) and classifier like stage, and a quick lateral stage with barrels blocking the targets. Since there were only four stages I guess, I just didn't do well on the long course which it is most important and difficult to visualize.

Yesterday I practiced with my friend Josh at Renton. Together we mostly shot 8" plates. Before we were informed that we should go more inside the bay we were shooting at a 35 yard plate. I hit it 5 our of 6 with a 2-2.5 inch group of 4 shots (one just nicked the plate on the bottom) It was surprisingly easy and if I had taken more time I think I could have gotten all six within 5 inches or better.

Most of the shots were used to practice transitions and I hit most even with my left hand only. I need to work on calling my shots better, because I would move slightly off target before I realized I missed.

I finished up with some work on shooting on the move on some hard cover targets and steel. Dry fire practice of this at home would help improve my comfort in using this technique greatly.

Today I dry fired and focused on Reloads. The technique that works the best and keeps the muzzle close to exactly down range is:

1. Bring my pistol back (around 8")

2. Release the mag

3. Turn the gun like a door-knob until it points toward my magazine pouches.

4. Magazine pauses at the well then quick insert, regrip and thrust out to position.

I feel the pause allowed me to make the final movement more confidently and quickly reducing the overall time it took.

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Had the second to last Northwest Challenge Series match today and I did better than I felt I did during the match. It was one of those matches where everyone was somewhat disappointed in their performance and I guess I had less to be disappointed with. I hit 79% of Yong's score, which is partially due to him getting used to a new gun, but I also closed the typical gap between myself and Ken and also did better than my series rival Brooks. It might be enough to negate the 2% higher he has on me in the series.

I find that I care less and less about my screw-ups which is really allowing me to have more fun and make better recoveries after crashing and burning on a stage. I had plenty of screw-ups today to forget, but I ran my stages individually and didn't focus on the previous issues. Overall I think it was a good day.

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For dry fire I practiced reloads and a bit of target transitions. My eyes are still slow to focus. I think I should work on more transitions to strengthen them. I got a new plug for my glocks magwell and it works very well in eliminating hang-ups with the rim of the top round.

I also tried an airsoft Glock for the first time today. I really feel it was valuable practice. It is a blow-back model and although it has minimal recoil, the sight still jumps up and down in the notch. I think it will turn out to be very useful in working on my grip. Small adjustments really showed in how the sight tracked.

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Practiced Wednesday, Thursday and shot the action shoot today.

Wednesday I practiced some transitions on steel behind a barricade and through a port. I was hitting pretty well, but wasn't really calling my hits. I also worked on reloading which was made difficult by my baggy cotton shirt that I kept grabbing along with the magazine. I finished with some shooting on the move perpendicular to the target.

Thursday was a very useful practice day. I put some grip take for my weak hand on the left side of the pistol and it made a world of difference. The gun seemed easier to control and the front sight returned to the center of the notch more frequently than usual.

Josh and I started with transitions on four steel plates. I discovered that to really benefit from this drill I had to pick a specific order to shoot, quickly visualize and "air gun" it and then shoot it. This eliminated hesitation caused by not knowing what to shoot next and allowed me to practice at a good speed. I did miss a few times that I didn't call, but overall I did well.

Next was bill drills at approximately 7 yards to practice watching the sights. I don't think I missed any A's and I feel like I was shooting pretty fast.

We then shot a symmetrical course of 4 papers (two on either side) and 4 steel broken up with a reload in between. The reloads went pretty smooth with my new plug. I find that it is much easier to be confident reloading now that the glockmeister plug prevents the rim from snagging on the pistol grip. It feels like things are starting to come together again aided by the few modifications to the pistol.

Today I shot the action pistol match at Sam's. I did well. The first stage was some plates at around 15 yards of which I hit 5 of 6, some upper panels on a triple and some strong hand weak hand on three singles. I did really well on this stage and was one of the only ones to break 100 of 120 points (I think I got 107.) I freaking owned the strong/weak stuff. The distance was close and I didn't wait for a perfect sight picture, I just waited for good enough and squeezed the trigger. The reset during recoil was spot on. As soon as the picture was good the gun fired.

The second stage was symmetrical from left to right, one shot per target then repeat, two triples on the outside and three singles shot twice through two ports. I got 118 of 120 points, but don't know the time. I think I was a second slower than Josh.

The third was a shoot on the move, less than seven yards, hoser stage which feels like it is my specialty. It had short distances between reloads, so I focused on being really smooth, hitting quickly and getting good reloads before changing directions and targets. This went really well and I think I got a pretty quick time and scored 119 of 120.

The whole "match" felt really good and I was locked in and the sights were tracking very well. Loving the grip tape.

One thing I feel I need to adjust in practice is to focus on one or two things at a time. I feel like there is so much to work on that I want address it all. This is as effective as a dog trying to fetch several tennis balls. She can get one or two, but loses them all while trying to get more.

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Shot a match at Marysville today. I was well rested and did pretty well. I totally killed it on a really tough stage. The stage had two poppers that activated repeating drop turners (they appear three times) and a mandatory reload before engaging the "evil death star" which was a Texas star behind a wall leaving only two bottom plates visible. I nearly chickened out on my original plan when I saw Steve (a master shooter) shoot one popper, the drop turner and then repeat for the other side. I intended to shoot both poppers, and hit the drop turners to save some time. Ken (another production competitor) and I agreed that we would both try it so I did. Well it worked out fine. I hit both steel, got my first turner and got one shot on the first (maybe second) appearance of the other, then two follow up because it was turning during the first. I forgot the mandatory reload, but stopped myself before I fired because something felt wrong. I remembered and reloaded (about 3-4 second process on video) then proceeded to shoot the star, I got three plates immediately (I think) then the final two on their initial appearances after going full circle. It took 15 seconds and was good enough for second overall in all divisions and second on the stage in production.

The lessons learned from this "hero" moment are that I am capable of shooting better than I sometimes let myself and that I need to get out of my comfort zone once in a while to really see what I can do. As Albert pointed out this just shows that my practice is taking me in the right direction. It felt good, but I was very disappointed to see another production shooter beat me by two seconds especially because I forgot to reload and might have won. At least I beat everyone else on this stage especially those pesky open shooters.

The rest of the match was an average performance. Mostly A's, a few C's a mike on a steel plate that didn't go down and one premature magazine release turned into a standing reload. My movement was a little sluggish, but at least it seemed smooth and I knew where I was going and where the targets were.

The best part of my shooting is the number of alphas and very close C's I get. My times seem to be dropping for the different types of stages, but my hits are just as good if not better than a month or two ago. My game is precision and I will let the speed come. My motivation to get in shape is building slowly as I realize just how much Ken, Scott and Yong benefit from their quick movement between shooting positions.

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