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Shooting Groups - Always looking for improvement


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Hi everyone, i posted this topic a couple weeks back in the "introduce yourself" section and wanted to see if maybe i re-posted it in here it might grab someones attention - thank s for looking, and for any help offered! -Chase M.

Posted 26 March 2013 - 10:29 AM

Hi everyone, I’m a newbie here but have been lurking on the forum for a few months trying to gather tips whenever, wherever I can. I just finished Brian’s book and to say I am inspired would be a tremendous understatement. Who would have thought the concepts, ideas and strategies he thought up 20+ years ago would still be just as relevant as they are today! (Thank you again, Brian)

So on to my latest road block - Shooting groups from 18-25+ yards-freehand(I mean standing with both hands).Before you all beat me up too bad - I am following the steps as have been outlined by the master - started out shooting at nothing at all, just the berm. Got comfortable enough to "see" what I needed to see when I needed to see it given the circumstance (shooting at a berm with no target) and felt it was time to move on to bench rest shooting. I stayed on that damn bench until I could get my 2.5-3" groups at 20-25Yds consistently with little or no flyers on most given days. Relying on mechanics, eyes open, calling the shot as best I could see it, following through- everything was working well from the bench. So I moved on...I went in steps- started at 5 yards, moved to 10 then on to 15 and after that is where things started to change...Drastically.

I observed that at about 18-20+ yards my fundamentals begin to deteriorate rapidly. I am overcome by "thought" rather than "action" - immediately I am doing mental checks on ALL my fundamentals - stance, grip, pressures, relaxed stomach, FRONT SIGHT, EYES OPEN, trigger, call the shot - EVERYTHING! And its during that time my form just goes to complete shit. I’m anticipating the shot/recoil, losing the front sight, incorrectly calling my shots; it’s just the worst feeling ever.

So my remedy when this is happening is to first observe that it is happening and go back to what’s comfortable and easy (I know what a puss) moving it back to 7 yards, 10 yards 15 yards and guess what - as soon as work back up to the 20-25 yard range - it’s the same problem! It’s almost like at that distance (20-25 yds.) my mind flips this anxiety/doubt switch that on some days it literally seems impossible to overcome so i resort back to bench resting, or moving back to 10-15 yards and usually end up leaving the range feeling very unaccomplished and pretty bummed out...

Sorry for the rant! Please know I am not looking for that "one special answer" I was really hoping just to get your guys opinions, possibly some tips and maybe some shared similar experiences if at all applicable or relevant to my situation. Thank you everyone in advance for taking the time to read and/or respond all input is much appreciated!

Make it a great day everyone!!

-Chase M.

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I saw your earlier post, but didn't respond because I don't know why you'd be able

to shoot good groups from a bench at 25 yards, and offhand at 15 yards, only to

have it all disappear at 20 yards. That just is beyond my experience - can't think

of a single reason that would happen.

Have you tried the Dot Torture Drill? :cheers:

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@ RJ - No doubt that it is in fact mental, after all isnt 99% of shooting accurately a mental game? - my biggest thing lately has been to observe what changes mentally for me once those targets push back to 20-25 yards. The thing that stood out to me the most after going back and forth through BE's book (i believe thats where i saw it...) was TRUSTING my sights as i break the shot. I think at the 25 yard mark (the visibility in my local indoor range is sub par at best) the target im using is a bit harder to pick up clearly and thats what begins the doubt for me. Just yesterday i gained a bit of headway on this as i made it a point to observe what I was seeing/feeling/doing when shooting my 15 yard groups and having better results. I just tried to stay as calm and relaxed as possible and just carried over the exact same mind frame and techniques when i moved it out to 25 yards and BAM! shot my best standing freestyle 25 yard 5 shot group yet to date. And again RJ you are right - at that distance that front sight focus, trigger consisitency, and SEEING becomes so vital to making that shot hit where you want it to. I think that really was a breakthrough for me yesterday and man it really lit a fire for me and i cannot wait to get back to it!

@HPJ - Man you are pushing that Dot Drill arent ya! haha! im kidding :) - But yeah to clarify a little, when shooting from the bench/bag rest i am confident anywhere from 7-25+ yards, its when shooting freestyle from standing position that i was/am having trouble staying focused, accepting the wobble and executing all my fundamentals correctly 100% of the time. Im working on it though i promise ya, and thank you guys for taking time to offer help and opinions it really does make a difference. -Chase M

Edited by chaserracer
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Do not over think this ... Just go out and shoot. Try this, set up a target to do group shooting but do not count off the distance, it doesn't matter. Just get some random distance from the target and shoot. Do this from several distances and see what happens. If you want afterwards you can measure the distance but that will only continue to fill your conscious mind with distance ideas again.

IPSC is about shooting 2 alphas on every target as fast as you can. No where do you see any discussion for extra points for distance. Two alphas on a 3 yd target count the same as 2 alphas on a 40 yd target ... Remember, there are no hard shots or easy shots, there is just shooting and hitting the target where you aimed ..

When I step up to the start position on a stage I close my eyes grip my gun in the holster and repeat the following: " grip the gun, call the shot, shoot all alphas" .... I do not say: "make sure not to miss the long shots", "focus on the 25 yd target" or anything like that ... Just shoot alphas ...

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I would go the other way and move out to 35-40 yds. Right now you're mind is saying that 20-25 yds is a long shot, once you get used to shooting even longer distances the 20-25 yd shots will seem like a short shot. I could be all wrong but its something I would try.

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I would move out to 35-40 yds. Right now you're mind is saying that 20-25 yds is a long shot, once you get used to shooting even longer distances the 20-25 yd shots will seem like a short shot.

Besides the Dot Torture Drill that I push :closedeyes: this idea does sound like a

great idea.

I hadn't read in your first post that you're shooting indoors, either. For me, 25

yards indoors seems Very Far Away - not sure why. Outdoors, it doesn't seem

as far -

Also, re-reading your first post, how large is the target you're shooting at? I'd

try (if you're not already) shooting at a USPSA target at 25 yards, not a small

pistol target - might make a difference. No real reason in USPSA or IDPA to

shoot "small groups" at 25 yards, usually - only hit the A zone. :cheers:

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Since your problem stems from anxiety and over thinking working on mental focus seems to be the logical step. Try to focus only on the sight and break the shot a little more slowly. Let it "surprise" you. Trust your fundamentals and don't worry about grip, stance, etc.

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@Nimitz- that is some great advise there, especially the "just shoot" part...Its what im constantly telling myself "theres nothing else, only the shooting that matters" - repeat. sometimes i just get bogged down with thought while shooting, and can feel myself overthinking everything. As far as the target distance placement that is also good stuff - but unfortunately i do the majority of my practice at an indoor range where all the distances are marked on the floors and walls - its just too hard not to look! but i get it, i do. thank you.

@ HPjack - SO TRUE!! - that 25 yards seems so much longer at the indoor range! Im in CA so my outdoor practice is limited at best :( im trying to get into a club that has several outdoor ranges but it has over a year waiting list to become a member. the targets im using right now are a 11x17 piece of paper with a 8" printed black target circle on it. I am going to try your suggestion of using the USPSA target and just try to keep it in the "A". thank you.

@Sroe3- Yes you are 100% correct, i am very much overthinking this...When i had my best groups at 25 yds last trip to the range - it was those shots that i made a consious effort to SLOW IT DOWN and focus on that front sight, trigger press, and keeping my eyes WIDE OPEN through the shot. Those were the shots where i really felt in control of my shooting, and man what a great feeling that was. thank you.

Just want to mention - so you all dont think im some weirdo obsessed with "perfect groups at 25 yards" - its just - after reading through BE's book (couple times) he really stresses the importance of being able to shoot accurately ALL OF THE TIME regardless of the distance or situation and also how pivotal shooting groups consistently is for the development of accuracy behind a pistol - and that is what i am trying to wrap my head around and achieve through all this, accuracy :) thanks everyone for being awesome!

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  • 1 month later...

Since your problem stems from anxiety and over thinking working on mental focus seems to be the logical step. Try to focus only on the sight and break the shot a little more slowly. Let it "surprise" you. Trust your fundamentals and don't worry about grip, stance, etc.

Think this is sound advice.

I too have found a difference between group shooting at 18m and 25m...it really does seem to be a difference far outweighing what it should be! IMO is is indeed a mental thing and as sroe3 says, you're overthinking it. Think of it as just group shooting exactly the same as you would at closer distances, exactly the same sight picture, just your reference point on the target will be a little different.

Don't stop to bring the target into focus after each shot, but keep a definite concentration on the front sight alone. By doing this (and getting this advice from a master grade shooter) I now find I can hit As at any of those distances, provided I can keep my focus on the front sight and the correct sight picture. And take your time, go slowly enough to find out what timing cadence you need to shoot at to get those As - it will increase with distance naturally

Tl;Dr: Don't think about what the distance is!

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You are most probably making the same errors at 5 yards that you make at the longer ranges. The angle of the errors is the same, but as the range increases, the distance between the shots increases. An error or 1/2" at 5-7 yards becomes very significant at 25 yards. At police qualifications I hear guys sayin that I do good at 3, 7 and 15, but go to sh-- at 20 and 25.. the mistakes are the same, but up close the shots still score and at teh longer ranges they are D's or misses. On a positive note, you are doing the right things to imnprove. Keep working.

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Chase,

I want to offer you an idea that I was given many years ago. You will also notice that many top athletes do the same thing to over come mental blocks in the sport.

Try chewing gum, putting a small pebble in your shoe or put a rubber band on your wrist. Your mind needs something else to think about. Let your muscle memory take over, that is where top athletes succeed. They DON'T think about what they are doing, they just do it.

BTW, how far off are your shots? What size of group are you expecting at 75ft?

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Socalnomore is correct, you must get your conscious mind out of the way, the "just shoot" advice is an attempt to get you to stop engaging your conscious mind and let your subsonscious take over and control you actions. When you are actively thinking about something while shooting - distance, trigger, target location, etc that's your conscious mind in control and that ain't good ... It is why when you first learn a new technique from an instructor it's hard to repeat it correctly consistently right then and there . But go home and train on the technique and after a while you can do this 'new' thing without any effort or thought --- the subconscious has taken over ....

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  • 2 weeks later...

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