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Front sight focus - I don't get it?


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Thank you all for the replies! Lots of really helpful info!!

Why are you dead set against just closing one eye?

Mabey it is not the purest thing to do but some amazing shooters out there make it work.

I also train for self defense so want to be able to shoot well with both eyes open for that. Also when shooting at a match I feel like it's faster to align the sights and transition between targets with both eyes open. I've tried a few strings with one eye closed and am usually slower. And when the buzzer goes off I always have the desire to keep both eyes open. Although I'm sure I'd improve with one eye closed if I practiced that way more.

It seems like in your post about the wall you say you cant fpcus on the front sight and the rear sight to make it line up and it gives you a headache. The reason you get the headache is because you are thinking about the sights wrong. The rear aight is not for looking at, the rear sight is a conveniant way to create a light bar on either side of your front sight where your eyes are focused. Your eyes are much quicker and better at telling if two light bars are equal then they ever will be at telling if the front sight is in the center of the notch.

Its a shift in thinking but really when aiming you only use the top of the rear sight to tell if your elevation is lined up and then you forget about it altogether..

When I try the wall drill I can't align the sights at all. Since the wall drill forces me to focus on the front sight, I can't even detect the rear sight notch or know if the front sight is in the notch. The sights could be completely off and I can't tell. This probably sounds weird, but if I just barely squint my weak eye, I can easily align the sights. Once I fully open both eyes the rear sight completely disappears and I no longer can tell if the sights are still aligned. This must sound really strange to everyone. I really want to "get it", but not sure how to convince my eyes to work the way everyone's describing it.

So..

This is what i think..

There is nothing wrong with target focus..

Figure out just how far you can shoot accurately with target focus... Once you figure out what your limit is.. Use front sight focus with one eye closed or squinted for those targets that require more accuracy..

Almost all good shooters close or squint one eye to make shots that require perfect sight picture/alignment and front sight focus.,

Regardless of what most people here might say, there is a place and a time where shooting both eyes open is not the best tool for the job..

Being able to go back and fourth will greatly improve your game :)

The target focus does seem to work pretty well for me...as long as I have good lighting and high visibility sights. Once I move into dimmer lighting or black sights (even just a black rear) I have trouble with both eyes open. Then I have to close one eye to shoot at pretty much any distance. I don't like being so dependent on having good sights which is why I want to figure out this whole front sight focus thing.

Most of my competition guns are set up with 3 dot fiber optic sights, which with my current shooting style is basically a requirement for me. I recently picked up an STI Trojan and had to spend another $100 on a Dawson fiber optic rear sight just so I could shoot it with both eyes open. And I'm not in love with this rear sight because the notch is so shallow, but I couldn't find any other option (I do love the Dawson rear on my Glock which as a deeper notch).

Hang for or five dry fire targets on a wall in your house. Draw on the first target, with the only goal of having a RAZOR sharp front sight focus, before you drop the hammer. Then locate and move to the next target, and while the gun is on its way, bring your focus back to the front sight, so that when the sights are on the next target, you again have a razor sharp fron sight focus, before you find and move toward the next target. Repeat for the rest of the targets.

You just have to train yourself to be focused hard on the front sight, as it arrives on the target. Keep your eyes (focus) moving, my friend Rondy often said.

be

So when transitioning to the next target your focus should be on the target? And then as the sights arrive at the target you transition your focus to the front sight, align the sights and break the shot? Or do you start to align the sights while still focused on the target and just transition your focus to the front sight right before the shot breaks? And then immediately after the shot breaks your eyes move right to the next target? I feel stupid even asking these questions because it seems so basic. I've just never shot like this before (i.e., correctly :)) and it seems so foreign to be constantly shifting my focus like that.

Maybe I should try taping up my shooting glasses on the weak side for a while and see how that goes. Last time I tried this I could focus on the front sight with the tape on, but once I took the tape off it went back to not working. Maybe I just need to stick with the tape for longer to see if it helps ingrain something in my brain.

this is what i do, some time ago i quit fighting this, put a little tape on the lens. and moved on

Edited by juan
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I think you might be over thinking things a little.

I would suggest that you change your goal from what is "quicker" to "what will get the job done".

"What will get the job done" will vary based on the difficulty of the shot.

It sounds to me like you have a method for close to mid range targets (which is good no need to change it), but struggle with far range targets.

So switch your focus to what you need to do to accurately engage this long distance and high risk targets.

Often the same technique you employ on the close to mid range targets will not resolve the desired result, on this harder shots.

The hardest part of this game is to develop the discipline to not continue to deploy the wrong technique just because it worked on easier targets, or because its the most comfortable in practice, but to have the patience to deliver the proper technique needed to get the job done, regardless of the difficulty of the shot in the quickest span possible.

Put the time in, and figure out what that technique your missing for the shot your struggling to make.

But remember there is no one size fits all..

Make your priority to hit the target 100% of the time and your body and mind will figure out what the rest over time.

Don't get caught up, on both eyes or two eyes.. Or front sight or target focus. Everything has a place and time..

Figure out what you need to do to make the shots that your currently struggling to make. And start making them.

That's should be your only true quest :)

Cheers,

Los

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So when transitioning to the next target your focus should be on the target? And then as the sights arrive at the target you transition your focus to the front sight, align the sights and break the shot?

Yes. You need to see the "shape" of the next target, or your gun will not move to and stop on the center of the target. By the time that happens, with practice, your sights should be aligned... confirm that, and break the shot.

Maybe I should try taping up my shooting glasses on the weak side for a while and see how that goes. Last time I tried this I could focus on the front sight with the tape on, but once I took the tape off it went back to not working. Maybe I just need to stick with the tape for longer to see if it helps ingrain something in my brain.

That will really help.

be

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I used to do exactly what Brian suggested, but I was slow and I had GMs tell me I was "aiming my ass off". I had moved up to about 95% of points per match. Then I changed and stopped focusing on my front sight for everything but the 15 yard plus targets. My speed increased and my points were still there. I have been using a focus about 7 to 10 yards out this season and my scores have improved. I would assert there are more GMs using this technique than would admit it.

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Thanks again all! Carlos, that's a really helpful way for me to think about it. I mostly practice at <20 yards. I should really start practicing more at 25+ yards and will then probably get a better idea of what works for these more difficult shots.

And I'm definitely going to tape up a pair of glasses and practice more with that. Sounds like I gave up on that tool too quickly last time.

Edited by Russell92
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Like most if not all techniques we use in shooting, accurate (subjective term) target focus shooting is a skill a shooter developes. In the beginning, 7 to 10 yds may be the limit for target focus. With time and practice the limit can be pushed to 25 and beyond. There is nothing wrong with using more than one sighting technique depending on distance just like we use more than one trigger technique depending on difficulty of the shot at hand.

Dwight

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So I'm a relatively new shooter (still acquiring the gear to get started), but just playing around with my eyes looking out the window of my office with a ruler sight, this just occurred to me to describe to see if my thinking is correct.

When describing the focus of a sight picture, we actually need to account for two independent controls in our eyes, our focal distance (which distance is clear and which is fuzzy), and our eye convergence (parallax, which distance composes one combined image and which is composed of two split images). Russell, based on what you describe with a front sight focus, I'm guessing that this is the problem. You are setting both your eye focus and convergence on your front sight - that is, you are looking directly at it to the exclusion of all else. This is why your target vision is a blur - the convergence of your eyes is separating the target plane image so much that it is unusable to your brain. This would explain also why when you close your weak eye, the sight picture clears up - your brain is no longer receiving the useless way-off-convergence information from the target as viewed by your weak eye.

I believe the 'correct' way to achieve a front sight focused sight picture is as follows:

First, you look directly at the target with both eyes in focus and convergence. You should see a clear single image of the target, and a fuzzy double image of your sights.

Now you align the fuzzy sight picture with the clear target (as you are used to)

As the sight approaches accurate alignment with the target, you shift your eye FOCUS but NOT your eye CONVERGENCE to the front sight. You should see a single fuzzy image of the target, and a CLEAR DOUBLE IMAGE of the front sight, and a fuzzy DOUBLE IMAGE of the rear sight. This allows you to place the relatively small sharp front sight accurately on a relatively large fuzzy target image.

This is the key point, your eye convergence should always be set on the target. When both of your eyes are open, you should always have a double vision image of your sights (with one image being stronger, corresponding to your strong eye). If you ever end up with a clear SINGLE image of your front sight, it means your eyes have converged on your front sight and your target image and rear sight image will be uselessly blurry (too much separation for your brain to process).

As far as achieving this, the sensation I get when controlling focus is one of concentration, like I'm squinting the lens muscle in my dominant eye. The sensation of manipulating convergence is more of relaxing and settling on target, like a magic eye (which is a convergence trick). It feels more like throwing my concentration to a position and letting the eye muscles relax and slide the non-dominant eye into position. Relaxing my weak eye to achieve this means I don't actively draw very much visual information from it, almost the entirety of my concentration is on my dominant eye focal point and the sight alignment therein. The open but barely used weak eye gives only peripheral motion sensing and maybe a bit of spacial/location awareness for moving while shooting. I draw pretty much none of my sight picture from it. These are subjective descriptions, obviously, so I have no idea how much they will help.

The tl;dr for all of that is look (converge) at your target, focus (clear image) on your front sight.

Edited by tunabreath
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I'm not sure that's accurate. Here's what I can tell you. When I'm shooting well, I can see the serrations in the front site clearly. I can remember the site picture for each and every shot I take. Literally.

I used to believe that this was nonsense and it was impossible, but it isn't. If I'm on my game and doing what I'm supposed be doing I'm aware of the sites as I break each shot.

My gut feeling is it something you have to learn how to do. I did. But I'm also learned that I can put two in the Alpha at 7 yards without seeing the sights at all.

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Frustration. Given the same score, shooters have different skills, maturity, and perceptions. When I finally let go if the hard sight focus, my speed and scores went up. I recently shot my first GM classifier score using a target focus having changed from a hard front sight focus, the difference is amazing and the speed is coming. Manny Bragg really helped me put it all into place.

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It seems like a good number of folks on here do a lot of target focused shooting. When you're shooting with a target focus are you able to do it well with all black sights or do you require high visibility sights like me? If you're able to do it with black sights, or even just a black rear, what's the trick? For me, since the sights aren't in crisp focus, it's hard to pick them up and align them if there aren't dots to easily see.

And with a target focus do you all find its effectiveness varies a lot based on light conditions? I have trouble with it in low light.

When describing the focus of a sight picture, we actually need to account for two independent controls in our eyes, our focal distance (which distance is clear and which is fuzzy), and our eye convergence (parallax, which distance composes one combined image and which is composed of two split images). Russell, based on what you describe with a front sight focus, I'm guessing that this is the problem. You are setting both your eye focus and convergence on your front sight - that is, you are looking directly at it to the exclusion of all else. This is why your target vision is a blur - the convergence of your eyes is separating the target plane image so much that it is unusable to your brain. This would explain also why when you close your weak eye, the sight picture clears up - your brain is no longer receiving the useless way-off-convergence information from the target as viewed by your weak eye.

This sounds like a pretty good explanation of what happens when I try to focus on the front sight and how it doesn't seem to work for me. However, I'm not getting how you can isolate your eye focus and convergence. If the front sight is in focus then that's what your eyes are looking at and therefore converging on? If your eyes are converging on the target then it seems you can't also focus on the front sight or else that means your dominant eye is focusing on the front sight and your non dominant eye is focusing on something else (either the target or some spot in mid-air just to the side of the front sight).

I'm trying this right now with just pointing my finger at an object on the other side of the room. Either I see two fingers or two targets. And if I see two fingers I can't make the finger more in focus than the target.

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What happens for me when I try to clear up my front sight focus is my non-dominant eye basically becomes 'lazy' and floats about, converging with my dominant eye at the target while both eyes focus at the front sight (yes, the weak eye is focused hazily in some space midair adjacent to the front sight). This isn't an active process for the weak eye, I am more or less ignoring it and just quickly flashing my focus to the front sight in my dominant eye to check sight alignment/return, without my eyes moving away from (deconverging from) the target.

(I shoot target focused too, haha)

Maybe a good exercise would be to practice relaxing your eyes on a point target through a magnified scope. The scope should hold your complete concentration and focus, while the weak eye lingers and partially converges with the scope's virtual sight picture? I'm not sure if I'm describing this very well, but that's the feeling I have when focusing on my front sight. It's like looking through a scope, my brain just prioritizes the dominant eye for focus, and the convergence just lazily falls into line because it's the simplest to resolve at the target (the entirety of your peripheral vision for both eyes essentially lines up at the target [the furthest] plane, so it's the simplest convergence for your brain to automatically pick up on).

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It's interesting to me, how it's easy it is to think we do one thing to later find out we were doing something else all together..

If this conversation had came up two weeks ago, I would have told you that every shot I took was a hard front sight focus shot (still think I do that mostly)..

Funny enough two weeks ago, me and my buddy Jared were practicing shooting 6 shots at 50 yards at speed using turtle targets..

Somewhere between the first shot and the last shot of one of my runs, I noticed that while I could see and process the sight alignment and sight picture perfectly fine.. That I was struggling to stay focused on the front sight but instead kept drifting my eyes back to the target..

After shooting for a while I realized the reason. The berm and target were basically the same color.. So when my focus shifted to my front sight I would loose the target all together and could not call an adequate shot due to the lack of contrast in the back ground...

Because of my willingness to try to call each shot (watch the front sight lift on target) my brain was more comfortable focusing on the target so I could clearly make out its outline.. While processing the quality of the sight alignment from my periferal..

My brain was automatically adjusting to something that it couldn't otherwise do..

Put the sights on top of the target..

Now this was NOT yielding all alphas by any means..

But I could shoot allot of alpha Charlie's..

Don't give me wrong, If there had been more contrast between the target and the berm..

I would have probably focused on the front sight..

But in this case where focusing on the front sight would have been the same as, shooting at where I remember the target being vs where the target is actually at, would had probably rendered the same or worst results..

Anyway, the important thing I took away from that exercise, is that I'm not sure what I focus on when I shoot because my brain is not really interested on that when Im shooting..

When. I shoot my fastest and cleanest runs is more about weather the gun tracked nicely (no make ups), and how the recoil felt on my hands..

But I have no idea where my focal point is..

Most of the time I feel like I can see both.. The front sight and the target.. My focus is on both things! I can call shots with pretty good detail, I and think that's part of the key to doing so..

Anyway,

I feel that consciously trying to focus on the target while you shoot is probably a really bad idea..

But I think that if you can read your sights while focusing on the target, you can probably shoot accurately at some impressive distance..

At the same time, if your focus is on reading the front sight your vision will more than likely automatically shift to the front sight..

That's why I would go back to, make your number one goal to hit every shot and your brain will work out all this "where to focus" thing for you..

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Brian describes 5 focus types in his book. Kind of like different tools or golf clubs in a bag.

Type 1, is total body feel.

Type 2, you're looking through the sights to the targets.

Type 3, you're focusing from targets to sights.

Type 4, you're staying with the sight until you see It lift.

Type 5, you're aware of continual follow through.

Type 4 and 5 will not come naturally and need constant practice.

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After shooting for a while I realized the reason. The berm and target were basically the same color.. So when my focus shifted to my front sight I would loose the target all together and could not call an adequate shot due to the lack of contrast in the back ground...

Because of my willingness to try to call each shot (watch the front sight lift on target) my brain was more comfortable focusing on the target so I could clearly make out its outline.. While processing the quality of the sight alignment from my periferal..

I have the same issue. Plus being primarily an open shooter, I have a hard time getting my eyes to focus anywhere but the target. What sealed the deal for me on target focus was shooting a 12" plate at 100y With a front sight focus, I couldn't see/find the target. My focus would have to go back and forth while trying to hold the sight alignment still. With a target focus, I had no issues finding the target and even thought the sight where blurry, at least I knew they where they were on the target.

For close up targets, I look through the sights

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Take it from a guy who wears glasses... it's your glasses (partially at least).

Let me guess, you are perfectly able to focus on the front sight when you are determined to look at it, but no matter what it just washes out when you are running through a stage. Anytime you just focus on the front sight, it seems like it takes a full 2 seconds to adjust. My vision is 20/40 uncorrected. When I shoot iron sights, I do it without my regular prescription glasses on and it makes a world of difference. As someone else stated, the glasses are basically designed for you to have a harder time to see the front sight unless the design of the glasses is adjusted for that specific purpose.

If your vision isn't too bad, try shooting with just safety glasses on. If it is too bad, have glasses made for your goal. As stated also, a piece of scotch tape over the non-dominant eye will probably make a positive difference regardless of if you're wearing prescription glasses or not.

As had been said a million times before, the best shooters focus on the front sight. You'll never be able to focus as fast as them with your regular prescription glasses on. The physical limitation can't be overcome. Someone prove me wrong with a big name who uses glasses for distance vision, if able.

Edited by Whoops!
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Hang in there; it will come to you, eventually. So many of us have been through the same thing. Some get it sooner than others. For some thick headed stubborn people like me, it can take a while. And don't be disappointed if you don't have that "wala, I finally get it" moment. Sometimes it just comes together over time, and it's not until later reflection that you realize what you've accomplished.

I think you're pretty much having the same problem I had years ago. It took me a long time to understand, or at least get my eyes to understand that I could not be consistently accurate if I was trying to focus on too many things at one time. Like you, I think, I was trying to focus on the rear sights, front sight, and the target at the same time. When I finally learned to relax my eyes, and focus on the front sight, things started to come together. As others have said, it's natural to focus or have the desire to focus on the target, but to have any kind of consistent accuracy we have to learn to let go of that.

Other have suggested that it's a vision problem, but you've said repeatedly that it's not. I believe you, and I believe you will become successful with time, patience, and practice. If you have to close one eye to shoot, there is nothing wrong with that. Work on one problem at a time; we can work on shooting with both eyes open at a later time.

Good luck,

Chris

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If you want to shoot fast, don't over think. Just free your mind and let it happen.

Get off the couch and shoot. Before you shoot visualize the stage. Just before the beep remind yourself front sight, and follow through. When the beeper sounds just do it as you visualized it. You wll be amazed how quickly you improve.

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In my informal survey of several GMs over the past few months, I am not sure some of them even know what they see. A few were able to be very specific about what they see and at what distances with what types of targets. A few quipped "front sight", but when pressed, it was apparent that they used different focus points for different distances and targets. One, who is a trainer, got this stark look on his face as he started to realize he was teaching his students to do something that he did not do anymore. The majority of the ones I asked use a target focus for all but the danger shots, which was different for each person. Some said they used a sharp front sight focus for all steel, hardcover, and no shoot targets, and a target focus for open targets. Others were more based on distances. What has become obvious to me is that a LOT of shots fired by the top shooters are fired using a target focus and not a front sight focus. The few I was able to talk to at length who have been doing this for a long time have said that their techniques and focus has changed over the years due to being pressed, as well as age.

The question I asked was basically, at 5, 10, 20 yards, where is your focus?

Not attempting to say one way is better or worse, or even to imply that my sampling of about a dozen GMs mirrors what the rest of the GMs (or top shooters who don't shoot USPSA) do. It is just one data point in reality.

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I shoot Open all year except for the Indiana SS/Prod/Rev match where I shoot Production.

I have to start about a month in advance of that match shooting my Production gun.

Its tough to focus on the front sight when all year long I look at a dot. But after

a couple of weeks the old eyes start working correctly and focus on the front sight.

I recently bought Steve Anderson's Dry Fire Book and I think its really going to help

me when I switch to Production early next year for the Indiana match........ :).

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On the interesting, slightly off topic of "not knowing what you actually do," Doug Koenig and I took a shotgun class, years ago, with John Krueger (one of the best Sporting Clays shooters at the time). And we couldn't get over how hilarious it was - he did not do a single thing that he was telling us to do. But he really thought he was doing what he told us to do.

Steve Middleditch (IMO the greatest shotgun coach ever), however, did exactly what he taught us to do.

Does any of that matter, between them or their skill levels or competitive ability - not really. Either one could win a particular tournament.

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In my informal survey of several GMs over the past few months, I am not sure some of them even know what they see. A few were able to be very specific about what they see and at what distances with what types of targets. A few quipped "front sight", but when pressed, it was apparent that they used different focus points for different distances and targets. One, who is a trainer, got this stark look on his face as he started to realize he was teaching his students to do something that he did not do anymore. The majority of the ones I asked use a target focus for all but the danger shots, which was different for each person. Some said they used a sharp front sight focus for all steel, hardcover, and no shoot targets, and a target focus for open targets. Others were more based on distances. What has become obvious to me is that a LOT of shots fired by the top shooters are fired using a target focus and not a front sight focus. The few I was able to talk to at length who have been doing this for a long time have said that their techniques and focus has changed over the years due to being pressed, as well as age.

The question I asked was basically, at 5, 10, 20 yards, where is your focus?

Not attempting to say one way is better or worse, or even to imply that my sampling of about a dozen GMs mirrors what the rest of the GMs (or top shooters who don't shoot USPSA) do. It is just one data point in reality.

Thanks Mark. You have a lot better access to GM's than I do and appear to confirm what I have suspended for a long time. Without special correction shooting glasses I don't have the ability to focus on my front sight and I refuse to use shooting only glasses when those are not what I will be using when it really counts.

I have found that target focus is not inferior to front sight focus. Not superior eather. Just a different way of shooting. I used to teach front sight focus but now teach both front sight and target focus. But like that GM there are a lot of things I teach that are different than I actually do.

Thanks for the post

Dwight

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Target focus, or front sight focus; does it really matter if one can call his shots and is accurate? The OP's question was about front sight focus. I think I would rather learn how to focus on the front sight and then expand my vision from there.

I certainly don't have a razor sharp front sight focus on open metric or classic targets to about 15 yards, and as the targets get closer I have more of a target focus. For the close targets, I see more of a sight picture rather than a 100 percent front sight focus. I would guess that over time the degree of my front sight focus as decreased even on 25 or 30 yard open targets. I think this is something we learn how to do over time.

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grapemeister, I think it does matter. If it did not, we would not see similar patterns in the top shooters techniques. Part of getting better is making sure that what you are practicing is the best technique for your given desires and skills...at that time. Studying what works for the top shooters and then applying that to our own shooting is, I think, one of the reasons why Brian took the effort to start this forum in the first place.

When every top shooter uses a sharp front sight focus for certain types (danger) of targets and a lot use a target focus most of the time, that does say something about what they use to achieve the best balance of speed and accuracy...another tenant of practical shooting. Is there more substance under the exposed tip of the proverbial iceberg? Of course, but it does matter.

I am not a GM, probably never will be, but I have several close friends who are GMs, and they took different paths to achieve that goal. These guys all have different styles and personalities. When their techniques become similar, that says a lot to me.

I'd also be willing to bet there is a GM or two reading this saying something like..."I hope all my competition uses a target focus."

Dwight, anytime. :)

Edited by MarkCO
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Is it possible that folks front-sight focus is a more accurate technique, and as people approach gm skills, they get better at approaching that accuracy with target focus, so they only use front-sight focus when they need to (and they know when they need to, unlike me).

It seems reasonable to me that a B or A or M class shooter might not be able to profit from the same techniques that a GM uses. It's certainly that way in lots of other sports. There's just things you don't have the skills to do, until you get the skills to do them. So perhaps, in addition to asking GM's what they do now, we should be asking what they used to do, and how did they get to where they are now, and what changed, and when. All along the way we can experiment with changes to our own technique, and see what makes us better. What didn't work last year, might work next year.

Edited by motosapiens
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