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There and Back Again: A Shooters Tale by BostonBullit


BostonBullit

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Finally time to start up a thread that I will hopefully update and use as a log for my shooting career, however long that may be. For those other than me who are reading this don't expect anything too exciting or profound and please feel free to chime in with anything you feel will be productive.

History:
I got into competitive shooting in college when I joined the smallbore rife team which I shot on all 4 years in both 3pos smallbore and 10m air rifle. When I graduated I started working full time and shooting got pushed to the back burner. A few years ago I joined a local club that had USPSA shooting and took an Intro to IPSC class that they offered; I was instantly hooked and started attending weekly club practices and shooting as many local matches as family and work schedule would allow. I spent the first season shooting Production, then found a used racegun which I shot my entire second season, and due to political issues I returned to Production for my third (current) season.

Where I'm at and where I hope to go:
In Production I've always been a C class shooter, not just by official rank but by true performance. My performance is inconsistant at best, I go from putting together a smooth run on one stage to having a complete chitshow the stage after; even if they're very similar stages. Sometimes things just click and others the buzzer blasts everything out of my head and I'm left fumbling my way around the stage.

I've analyzed the hell out of my match data (I'm a database geek, it's what I do) and found that one thing IS consistant: my accuracy sucks. I shoot way too many C's and D's and have managed to finish two matches out of 30+ without a miss or ns. My first couple of matches back in Production after putting down the blaster were interesting because I was keeping up with B class guys and some A class in terms of time but to do it I was scoring a lot of Cs and Ds (or misses)...I was shooting way faster than I should have been. Time to step back and take stock of what's going on.

Since I can only get to the range for practice once a week I know I need to dryfire more at home, but I have never been able to make myself do it very often. Even when I did I would tend to be generous with where the shot would have gone if it had been live fire. Something has to change if I want to actually get better.....

Goals:

  • Shoot a consistent 90%+ of available points at matches
  • Shoot every match penalty free
  • Eliminate the mental lapses, execute the plan as I envisioned it in the walkthrough
  • Cut down my time from buzzer to first shot on an open 7-10yd target to 1.0s with an Alpha hit (currently 1.5s)
  • Be top C class shooter for Production on at least 1 stage per match
  • Be top C shooter for Production in overall match
  • Become a true B shooter and then re-evaluate

Plan to accomplish goals:

  • I picked up a SIRT training pistol last month and have been working with it at least 15mins a night (ususally more), 6 nights a week. This has shown me a lot of the problems with my mechanics and I am working to correct them. I've shot two matches since getting it and already seen an improvement in my accuracy; but there's still a ways to go.
  • At club practices I have started setting up a specific drill in a seperate pit and working on it solo, then going to shoot the stage the rest of the guys are practicing. This way I can hone a specific skillset that I am weak on (there are many) and also work on the flow of shooting a stage.
  • I am not spending match day chasing the Bill O'Briens, Lugnuts, and Supermotos; I have my own set of goals that I will work to accomplish. If I reach these goals then running with the big guys will come along with that on its own.
  • Be more prepared, non-shooting, going into matches. have water and snacks so I don't hit the wall at longer matches, etc.
  • Hand off the timer/scoring device or stop taping when I'm in the hole. spend that extra shooter's worth of time mentally preparing for my run

Current Production rig as of 5/2013: Glock 22, CR Speed belt, Ghost Stinger Holster, Fobus double mag pouches (DA Racer pouches on order). 3.5gr Clays under a 155gr polymer coated SWC (137pf).

USPSA ID TY-71710

YouTube channel with some of my USPSA content: BostonBullit

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Last Sunday (5/26) was the New Bedford local match. I don't get down there much but I should, those guys put on a good match. anyway, I had an ok day, not the best ever but progress. Finshed the day with only one penalty, a mike/no-shoot (is that two penalties? whatever) on a stage where you had to engage a pair of no-shoot cloaked targets around a wall at maybe 50'. When I started the stage the Glock malfunctioned on the second target and I got flustered after clearing it and pushed harder than I wanted to trying to make up time. Since the goal of the day was points, not time, I know better but it's hard to remember that stuff in the moment. Shot Fluffys Revenge 2 with what should be a 50.5% score. The big problem was that I went 4 Alpha and 4 Charlie and it took me 5.4sec to do it. again the goal of accuracy wasn't met. My best stage was one where you worked down a free fire alley kind of diagonally down the pit. step into the zone and engage two papers with a no-shoot between them at 50' or so, then turn left and engage a 10' open target, take two more close opens to the right on the move, reload, get a small popper to the right, a few more paper to the left and in front, then reload and take the last two paper to the front and right. I had the fourth fastest time on the stage and 16A, 6C, and 1D which was good for 3rd Production on the stage. The interesting thing about this stage was that the run was completely uneventful for me. it didn't feel particularly fast or smooth, the buzzer went off and I did my thing and that was that. I need to figure out how to reproduce that.....that third place finish was in a higher point value stage and pushed my overall finish up to 9th of 38 Production shooters, second place C division. The goal going in was 90% of available points and I did fall short of that with only 85.9% gross and 82.4% after penalties.

Practice tonight was a chitshow. I setup an open target at 10yards and worked on my draw time. Timer was set for delayed start with what should be an easy 1.5s par time. I went 8 for 10 shots in the A zone and averaged just under 1.4s. I dropped the par time to 1.4s and shot another 10 and things opened up a bit, more shots out of the A and I was up against the second buzzer a couple of times. instead of backing off a bit and settling in I decided to drop the par down to 1.3. I was fighting things at that point, taking shots that I shouldn't have been taking to try to beat the buzzer. I got lucky with some of them because the target wasn't all that far away but luck isn't the point of the exercise. One of the guys I shoot with who has been shooting USPSA since before there was a WWW to host message boards like this made some adjustments to my draw, basically told me I need to lift the muzzle sooner after coming out of the holster and have things leveled out as I bring my support hand up. I worked on this and was getting my time down to the 1.2 range but I was getting back into my Glock low-left issue, blasting a good size hole in the C zone just outside the lower left of the A perf. again I was taking shots before I had a good sight picture and decided to go see what the other guys were shooting. I had a couple of meh runs on a stage with two 6 plate racks and a swinger, too many misses on the steel but pretty good hits on the swinger at least. then a couple of runs at El Prez that were depressing. first was 7 and a half seconds with a mike and crap hits and the second I slowed down to 8.5 and somehow still managed to throw a miss at the center target. given the availability of reloading materials, or lack thereof, it sucks to waste 75 out of 100 rounds on unproductive practice.

tomorrow night it's back to the SIRT to try and smooth out that draw.....

Edited by BostonBullit
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Can you post video of your draw in dryfire? You'll make A class in a hurry once you fix that.

I have that technology around, I'll try to do that tonight or tomorrow night.

my draw ain't the only thing holding me back, I really need to tighten up the hits and stop the mental flatulence during matches :sick:. I'm losing a good half second per stage to my crappy draw and I guess it could be contributing to my accuracy problems if I'm not getting a good grip on things....

I'll also get to start practicing reloads with my new mag pouch setup, if the usps tracking site is accurate (shootersconnection.com ROCKS BTW) :goof:

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Ok Mr Bill (Ohhh Nooooo) here's some video from 5/30 practice session for people to analysisize. apologies for the lighting, it's in the basement rec room. target is a 1/3 scale metric on the wall about 10' away. Started on an easy 1.5sec par and worked my way down. started the video at 1.3 and showed a handful of 1.3, 1.2, 1.1. I have small mitts so I'm not good at the scoop type draw, I think I need to come down on the backstrap to really get a good grip. working on tilting the muzzle up as soon as it comes out of the holster and getting my support hand over to the gun rather than bringing the gun over.

The pirate look? I'm cross eye dominant, which I've lived with, but I recently decided to work on getting the right eye in control of things. My left eye is crap, I have a wicked astigmatism and the quality of vision I get through my glasses varies depending on which part of the lens I'm looking through (more so than my "good" eye). that and bringing the gun over to my left eye is torqueing my right elbow something fierce and as I get older my elbow likes it less and less. I'm almost ready to just patch off the left eye for a few weeks and force my brain to re-wire itself; just don't feel like explaining it at work :blush:

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Left hand is slow, lots of upper body movement. I ain't no fast draw expert, but I am a lowly "A" open shooter.

If you got a full length mirror stand facing it and draw aiming at your dominate eye. Work it slow and remove any extra movement you see. Really work on getting that left hand over quicker, I mean like its on fire!! Get that grip formed then get it to the target like its on fire. You really should only see movement in your arms on the draw. Eliminate all other movement and work on being smooth and fluid.

The draw is about removing wasted movement and smooooothness, which comes from no wasted movements and tons and tons of correct practice.

Edited by Chris iliff
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Watching it at .25x speed (nice feature, thanks youtubes) I'm definitely bringing my support hand halfway and then waiting for the gun to hit it. I'll try the mirror thing that Chris recommends. this is possibly contributing to the bowling that Bill mentions as rather than bringing the gun out of the holster and onto the target I'm going holster-->support hand-->target. so much to correct in such a simple movement....

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It's been a bad couple of days for dryfire...I had to skip Sunday because I spent some time taking a couple of co-workers to the range to have fun with various firearms and last night I was just too damn tired and called it off after only 5mins or so; just wasn't productive.

Tonight I again worked on my draw speed and consistency. I setup a full size metric at 30' and started with a 1.3sec par after some basic natural point of aim and warm-up slow motion practice. Natural point of aim is a big thing in 3pos riflery and I try to work it into my IPSC shooting but a lot of times the start positions don't really allow for it. I focused on getting that right and being consistent with where the gun ended up when the draw was complete. once I was comfortable with that I started working on the other things people here and a few others not on the forum pointed out; getting my support hand over to the gun as quickly as possible, minimizing body movement, and getting the trigger prepped and the shot off as soon as the gun is in position. I had good luck with the last two items but still have trouble getting that left hand to rocket over to where it needs to be. now that it's been pointed out I am able to move nothing but my arms/shoulders during the draw; feels a lot smoother that way. I also broke the shot before I had a 100% rock solid sight alignment, instead I trusted that the work I did to be consistent bringing the gun to the correct spot with the sights lined up was going to put me where I need to be and broke the shot when I was there. cheating? I don't know but my laser hits were mostly where they should be. I was able to work down and set the par to sub 1 for the first time and worked at .9 for a bit. new thing I noticed that's really easy to see with the laser is that going this fast I'm not settling in, this is going to show up on that second shot in live fire so that's going to be a big thing for me to work on next.

Tomorrow night is club practice night. need to spend some time talking about logistics for the next club match and then do some live fire draws to see how they compare to dry fire. maybe I'll tote the video camera out so I have some footage to compare.

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A large portion of last nights practice session was eaten up trying to figure out a good stage setup for my clubs next match in a couple of weeks. I did manage to run two x 10 shot strings of draw practice and I had partyboy424 iPhone some video for me to compare with my dryfire vid. I was getting the first shot off in the 1.03-1.1 second range but it was too wild; had probably 4-5 misses out of 20 shots and the hits weren't solid. I think I really need to work on pure muscle memory so that the gun ends up in the same spot every time, there's still too much variation.

This Sundays match is at Harvard, usually the largest local match in the area. Might not be able to stay for the whole thing but need to get there and get as many stages as possible in.

Goals for dry fire the rest of the week are less about speed and more toward good form and accuracy. match goal is still 90% available points with no penalties.

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Boston, if you haven't done so already, pick up Steve Anderson's first book "Refinement and Repetition". I would guess you are rushing to break the shot in dry practice hat is translating to jerking the trigger in live fire.

Also, can I ask why you are using a Glock 22 in Production? Are you using factory ammo too? Not ideal for competition and Production. If you want to stay in Production, I'd go with the 17 instead or move up to the 34.

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"Refinement and Repetition", I shall google it and see about getting a copy.

my dryfire is usually very deliberate for most of the session with a little pushing the boundaries thrown in to see if the slower action is "sticking". I guess the purpose of this week was to figure out where the time is going during my draw and we've got a bunch of that pinned down. 1sec flat seems to be the current limit of my speed when I'm running flat out without concern for quality of hits. now I'll back it off again and work on my accuracy and building solid mechanics through slower reps.

Why am I using a G22 in Production? because I'm in MA of course! The only Production division type gun I can walk into a store and buy without hassle for something near normal retail price is an M&P 9mm. If I weren't in MA I'd be shooting a CZ Shadow. I hate glocks, I hate the "safe action" trigger BS and it's taken me 4,000ish rounds to get used to it enough to stop hitting low left all the damn time. Even if I wanted to get a G17 I would have to pay $700 for a used Gen2 and $850 for a loopholed Gen4. I'm currently shooting 3.5gr Clays under a 155gr polymer coated SWC which clock in at around 135pf, nice and soft.

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Boston, something else you might want to consider is getting into a competition shooting class (if you haven't taken one). A quality instructor can break down your technique, show you drills and be a coach. A lot of top guys are putting on classes. I'm not kidding when I say it can take years off of your training.

Roger that on the G22. I'm a big fan of the Glocks (they just work) but a heavy metal gun is also verrry nice.

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Boston, something else you might want to consider is getting into a competition shooting class (if you haven't taken one). A quality instructor can break down your technique, show you drills and be a coach. A lot of top guys are putting on classes. I'm not kidding when I say it can take years off of your training.Roger that on the G22. I'm a big fan of the Glocks (they just work) but a heavy metal gun is also verrry nice.

I've been meaning to take a class but they never line up with my schedule when they're in the area. Might have to go to FL to see Manny, a few friends that have done it have been pleased with the instruction and results. In the meantime I'll have to rely on you guys ;-)

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You can borrow the book if you want. For that matter, you can borrow my g34 if you want too.

A very generous offer Mr P, I'll think about it....what sights you have on it?

Dawson adjustable rear and .100" Wide plain black front.

I think I have 7 mags floating around for it.

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Thanks blind bat, I'll see if I can track down some info on that one. it's always a question if I can get the time off of work but as has been said a good training class can save me from spending a ton of hours practicing shit the wrong way!

Tonight was reload practice. Empty SIRT in the holster and three weighted training mags on the belt (in the new DA Racer carriers). no clock or buzzer, just focusing on mechanics. I recorded a couple of reloads at the same time I did the draw video above and found that I move my body around a hell of a lot on a standing reload. When I brought that to the table during tonights practice I found that if I limit upper body movement to just my arms/shoulders as much as possible I had a much higher hit percentage going into the magwell cleanly. still some fumbling, need to really make sure I get that index finger on the bullet tip and limit the body twisting. Also need a lot of work on coming off the reload with a good grip, I've fudged a lot of stages in my short career running around with my weak hand holding the bottom part of the grip like a baseball bat grip or something! :blush:

Tomorrow's the Harvard local match, we'll see how much of my practice I can remember and put into play when the buzzer goes off. Also need to remember to hand my phone off to someone to get video of me on the stages...always forget to do that...

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As I said to my 7yo and 5yo while we were on our way for some ice cream after the older ones soccer game late this afternoon "some days you're the hammer and some days you're the nail". today I was the nail.

I had a reasonably good week of practice, I thought. Started with some pushing the limits on draws, brought it back down with slow repetitions to build muscle memory, then worked on reloads a bit. Felt good going into the match but knew I probably wouldn't get to finish because this is a long match and I had to be home for my sons soccer game. My hope was to be able to shoot through the last stage or two; after my first 4 stages I decided to just head home and skip them...including the classifier (Madness).

So what went wrong? I really wish I knew. I started on stage 6, a longer field course, and ran the scoring tablet right up until my turn by accident and then didn't take the RO advice to drop a few shooters. thought my plan was well burned in and I was good to go. the run felt pretty good, wasn't pushing the limits but was seeing things well. then the scores come in and I have a bunch of charlies and a mike, I put a hole in the left stick 3" above the edge of the target. my guess is that I mentally left that array before I finished shooting it, but I'm waiting on some video another person shot to see if that's the case. The charlies I don't know, I didn't call them so something is outta whack.

Having blown my first goal of no penalties and put a serious dent in my 90% available points goal I moved on to stage 1 (video). So lets go over what I think I did RIGHT:

  • I found a good spot to rest the gun on the barrel where there was a channel underneath for my thumb to slip under the grip

Ok, now the stuff I screwed up:

  • I put two of those first 8 shots into hardcover painted on the left of the targets and didn't call them, so no make-ups. the story of my glock life, shooting left.
  • there was NO reason to wait for that steel to fall. it was activating the dual swingers and if I kept moving and it didn't fall no biggie, just shoot it again when I get to where I'm going.
  • the miss on the small square steel left me at slide lock
  • I engaged the right swinger first and then followed THE SAME DAMN TARGET to the other side, which mean 2 more shots when I realized what I did.

The next stage had two full poppers at maybe 25-30yrds that you had to get right off the buzzer. first shot miss, second shot hit, then I couldn't take the other popper down. not sure how long I shot at it but it seemed like all day. Set stance, steady sights, prep trigger, slow press, miss. I was so disgusted with myself that I started to literally WALK through the rest of the stage. then I fumbled a mag and got pissed and just ran thought the rest of the stage point shooting. it was a good time, NOT. I basically acted like one of my kids. all mental discipline gone.

Last stage I shot was my best. three large poppers 21-28' on the right, one more at 21' on the left, walk toward two paper and then haul ass full sprint while reloading maybe 60' to engage some paper on the left side, reload coming straight across the pit to engage one paper back toward the left behind a wall and then 3 that were literally 6" in front of me. I blasted all the pasters off all three of those, it was like confetti at a parade which made me smile. then I went home.

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Well, last night was just 20m of basic trigger pull mechanics with the SIRT. I experimented a bit with different finger contact points and grip pressures to see the effect. Once I settled on what I felt worked I did some slow bill drills at various distances on a 1/3 scale target. it was interesting to see that when I got to the 30' range things really opened up and the hits were all over the target. it was less interesting to see my wifes reaction to me "shooting" across the kitchen and family room while she tried to cook her dinner :blush:

live fire practice night. tonight is basic accuracy, probably shooting 3" dots at distances from 7-15yards. also need to see if the glock will light off small rifle primers with the lighter springs or if I'll have to go back to stock setup until I track down more SPP. this supply shortage is getting ooooold.

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I decided to skip the dots at last weds live fire and instead I wheeled a small self resetting popper to the end of our 90' bay. not as tight an accuracy test as I originally planned but it made the most sense from an available time perspective. I had someone there to let me know where the round went when it didn't hit the popper which made it possible to do it this way and still get the info I wanted out of the session.

taking my time and focusing on keeping everything lined up through a smooth trigger press I still had rounds hitting LEFT of the target. when I did this the rounds hit around the same spot, but it wasn't every round fired. some hit where I wanted, some not so much. maybe a single round went right of the target. I have had other people shoot this gun, it's not the sights it's me. I experimented with different grip strengths and found that things tightened up when I death grip with my strong hand. I also found that I have a tenancy to dip the front blade a bit, I need to watch out for that.

I don't have this issue with SA guns, there's something about my mechanics that's really effing me up with longer pull triggers.

Last night I took a break from trying to figure out why I can't hit anything and instead worked on quicker reloading so I'd get rounds into the gun quicker after I missed. I'm ok up to 3/4 speed but when I try to go all out I start to miss the well; more slow steady reps that build in speed are in order...

Hope to get to the Manville match this weekend but Fathers Day might put interfere with that....

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