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Camo Cowboy's performance analysis journal

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It's been a while since my last entry.   I've been slacking on my journal, but not on training and shooting.  I also shot the Area 6 match this past weekend.  It was a heck of a fun and challenging match.   Just like the last Manny Bragg involved match it has humbled me, and motivated me to update my training plan.   


In recent practice sessions and local matches I've become aware of something.  Through keeping track of some of my bad shots I've found that I have a tendency to throw more detltas and mikes when transitioning right to left.   I setup some drills recently where I shot an attack - control - attack scenario.  This is in 2 open papers at about 10', a steel plate at about 20' and another paper at about 10'    I also did another similar drill with different distance and found the same thing.   I've done it enough now, that I'm pretty sure I have a weakness in my right to left shooting.   I also have seen this in my Steel Challenge performance.  So the evidence is mounting that I'm better in one direction. 


Today, in dry fire I did some work and found that it may be because my weak hand grip seems to lighten up and not be nearly as aggressive when moving that direction.  Makes sense.  Moving into the hand that is gripping harder would be easier than moving against it.  In dry fire, if I concentrate on maintaining the same grip structure in both directions it's much easier to equal the transitions going both ways. 


To digress a bit,  I've also become aware that my weak hand grip has been historically flawed.  I've previously thought that a strong but equal grip was important.  I spent a lot of training hours trying to reach a point where both hands are equal in strength.  I'm very close to that goal, but it was not getting me the results I thought.  In recent months, it seems the harder I grip with my weak hand, the better my control is, and especially the better my trigger control is.  When I get done with a very aggressive and accurate array I almost always look down at my hands and can read every line of the texture in my left palm and right 3 fingers.  Not so much in the right palm.  Also, when shooting I notice that I'm crushing my right fingers.  I know many people have expressed this same thing and it's nothing new.  For me though, it's a discovery of what works for ME.  Most importantly I now know exactly what it feels like to get a grip that will result in accurate and aggressive shooting.  I'm still convinced that training for grip strength as equal as possible is a good idea.  This way, feeling and obtaining the proper ratio of left - right grip force is much easier.      


So, did that help me this weekend at Area 6?  Looking at the Area 6 video I like what I see (mostly) from a movement perspective.  I'm smoother than I've been before, and I see a decent amount of acceleration control when it comes to switching between attack and control targets.  As recently as 6 months ago, looking at my video you would not be able to really tell whether I was shooting a 35 yard partial, or a 20 yard open target.  I've gained a lot more control recently.   On one particular stage that did, in fact have 35 yard partial targets, some 20 yard zebra targets and involved a ton of in-and-out foot work I was very happy with most of the shooting.  It's not in the vid, but I made sure to squeeze very hard with my left hand.  On 2 of the targets I shot 4 alphas.  On the third one... not so much.  A delta/mike-noshoot was the result.  The bad news is, I was unable to successfully call those hits.   The good news is, out of 7 partial targets that were well over 20 yards out, I shot all alphas.  The other stage with that type of challenge yielded the same results.  An uncalled mike-noshoot, but a bunch of good shooting on all the other targets.  I was pretty bummed at that when it first happened, but later when reviewing the entire match I focused on the fact that I only lost my s#!t on those two targets on the hardest stages of the match.   Now, the rest of the match went the same way.  Mostly successes, but did manage to blast 2 more close noshoots and hang up on a steel array for like 5 extra shots.  All in all, it was not a good showing, but a match full of lessons and motivation to train more.  


So now, I'm going to create a new training plan with some measurable drills that I'll hit 10 times before moving on.  I usually do a drill once, maybe twice before moving onto something else.  (speaking of times repeating the same drill in different training sessions, not of repetitions of the drill.)  So really, until now I have had a training "direction" but not a documented plan. 


The plan:

I've got a list of 4 drills and will work to repeat them each 10 times over the next 20 training sessions. 2 drills per session.  They will be repeated 6 times. 3 Left to right and 3 right to left.  This will be to test if I'm correct about my weakness, and maybe correct my weakness also.  It will require some serious patience, but I really want to measure my performance and progress.  Not just guess at it.    


We shall see. 



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Since my last entry I've been able to execute and refine all 4 of the drills.  I had to skip a week for work due to travel, but have got baseline performance recorded for all 4 drills.  I've got them setup to where I shoot one drill, then move the targets or rearrange them a bit for a different drill.    This makes for some efficient use of time and targets.  When I'm done with the shooting only drills I use the same targets and do some random movement drills with the remaining time/ammo.


Another thing I've noticed recently is my level of physical fitness is really getting good.  I'm down to 181 lbs consistently and often, I'm hitting 180.  That's from 204 about 5 months ago.  I've noticed that tracking my weight almost daily there's a fluctuation of about 3 lbs.  Probably hydration, also, but surely seems like the gluten, or dairy always add instant weight.  At any rate, I'm running at a decent pace now and feel invigorated by running and not tired.  My knees don't ever hurt anymore and neither do my elbows.  I think this is helping a LOT with my ability to move through stages and maintain accuracy.  I also, just plain feel good.  


The diet program we have adapted to is simple.  NONE of:  alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy, gluten.  Less of: meat, processed foods.  A LOT more of: Vegetables, natural foods.  Alcohol was easy, I pretty much didn't drink anymore anyways.  We are practical about the "None" group.  We just don't make it daily.  If we decide we want a hamburger (with bun) one day, we get it.  We just don't do that again for several days.  If we want a hamburger in the next day or two we do it with lettuce instead of a bun.  


Alright, enough about food.  I just wanted to lay it out there and re-affirm that although we've changed our daily diet we aren't on some extreme diet that makes people cringe every time they want to go to dinner.  We are just a lot more conscious about making healthy choices and I'm find it easy and don't miss any of the food from convenience stores.  We've coupled that with a decent routine at the gym and have been challenging each other to up the weight and running routines.   It's been good, and it's all been motivated (at least for me) by shooting.  



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I did a lot of shooting this past week.  5 Days in a row and I think I paid the price by day 5.  I shot Wednesday night steel, Thursday night USPSA, practiced Friday morning.   Then shot a full steel match on Saturday and USPSA on Saturday.  

I was going strong and shooing pretty good by Saturday.  Had an improvement in steel scoring a 114 overall.  That's a couple of seconds faster than last time as I recall.  But the Steel Challenge results page really sucks and I can't find my last scores.   I'll just have to see how my classification changes, if at all.  I'm fully aware it's only a marginal improvement and I won't be getting out of A class, but for the first time a while I scored some stages in A class.


But then came Sunday.  I really fell apart.  Like worse than I think I ever have.  I was simply going through the motions.  I remember the gun just not tracking well, and I was just like.  Pulling trigger knowing damn well I hadn't properly lined things up.  Moving out of positions well before the shooting was done... it was a mess.  By stage 4 I had racked up 5 mikes, and 2 noshoots and some pretty slow times to boot.  I almost went home, but decided to just go into practice mode and try to shoot all alphas on the next stage.  Get my gun handling under control, and just shoot.    It went well, and even on a 20 yard head shot I was able to reign in the gun and score 2 charlies.  Not too shabby for a bad shooting day.  The net was 25 alphas 7 charlies.  An above average points stage for me.  It was at the cost of speed and the stage had a lot of movement so that was not the time for full on accuracy mode.  So I still only got 3rd place on it.  But it was still a victory for me to have brought gun under control and stayed in the game when I was so close to throwing in the towel.    


It was a humbling match.  A reminder that at none of our skills can be taken for granted and if you aren't paying attention and thinking about all the s#!t you have to think about it can go badly in a hurry.  It was practice for mental toughness.  We can't let these things get to us or it will taint our enjoyment.  It's just a game, and it's a fun one.   


I'll do it all over again after a few days off and this match will be nothing but a lesson.



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Whoa.  Been a while since my last entry. 


Since then I've been concentrating on keeping the training going.  Dry fire daily is a key component.  One thing I've added into my dry fire is that I NEVER do it standing still now.  All of my dry fire is on the move shooting and reloading on the move.  No standing still drills.  Also, I've been using a big stick and a 140 for dry fire.  Something I've been doing for a long time actually.  However, now I feel like that's really paying off. 

I don't use a 140 during matches, but in dry fire I constantly trade the two back and forth.  I never really know what mag is in my pouch.   I think this has really helped to even out my loads and not develop a preference.  During a match, if I get a less than desirable load it's always been quickly recovered at a minimal loss of time.  I think it's a solid technique.  I'm going to keep doing that one. 

I've also sold my last RHF Open gun.  It's on to let someone else enjoy for a while and I can pay off my 2nd Axiom Ethos.  Can't wait to get it!  


I'm seeing some improvement in steel scores.  Although slight it's at least something.  Moving into a new Everglades holster has helped a bunch.  I'm not sure what the scoop is on that holster, but I've heard that Everglades is currently the manufacturer and has made some improvements on it.  Maybe it's the same as it's been for years, maybe not.  Either way I wish I would have ditched my DAA and moved into this one a long time ago.  This thing is ultra free.  When you grab that gun, it's like it was never even there.  No extreme punishment for coming out slightly crooked.  The DAA was like a hungry gator on a one winged swan if you got just a tad bit off on your draw!


So my new training has been to increase speed in my shooting while maintaining accuracy.  I got off track a while back with that extreme accuracy practice.  After several repetitions of that, I decided that I was getting slower, and more careful.  It was having the opposite affect I wanted.  I've switched gears and I'm now running a "fast and on the move" game.  Trying to optimize every position for movement, and increasing speed at the easy targets.  The far targets I'm still slowing down enough to call some careful shots.  Overall, I think I'm seeing more improvement this way than practicing only accuracy.   It's made me really understand and execute the different shooting speeds required throughout a stage.  My big, aggressive transitions and movements in and out of positions has become noticeably better and this puts me on target faster.  This allows me more aiming time without getting uptight on the careful shots.  Basically, a bigger delta between attack and control targets has made me see it better, and execute it more effectively.     


This week is a BUG match at Hansen on the 4th of July.  I've never shot one and I'm looking forward to it.  "Back Up Gun" is the only kind allowed.  So I'll be shooting it with my Glock 26 (Sub compact 9mm) out of my concealed carry holster.   This should be a riot!

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