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Learning How to Learn

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After reading @CClassForLife's shooting diary, I am motivated to start my own and document how I've learned to shoot.  I shoot a stock Shadow Systems MR920 (glock 19 clone) and I plan to shoot this gun until I get to M before allowing myself to upgrade to a better gun.  This forces me to practice my fundamentals and reinforces my confidence in my carry gun.

Started shooting USPSA in May 2022 with the first Lvl 1 match in September 2022.  Prior to that, I've been to a range 3 or 4 times to shoot but didn't really commit to the sport until after my first lvl 1 match.  No LEO or military member in the family, just was really interested in shooting, the engineering behind it, and the bio-mechnical skills involved in controlling a fireball 2 feet from your face.  I currently work as a software engineer and worked significantly in the data science and neuroscience fields in my early career.


Lessons learned getting to B Class:

  • Focus on grip above all things when dry firing (Two amazing tutorials by dryfire ninja & humble marksman)
    • When I first started, I dry fired so much and was able to hit GM hit factors during dry fire sessions.  But when I started shooting classifiers, I realized how bad the shots are and the dry firing has solidified bad grip habits.  I reached out to various shooters at my club to really learn more about it and the different types of grips can be distilled down to 3 categories.
      • squeeze the palms
      • bend the bar
      • crush walnut
    • When practicing drawing and reloads, the grip is again the focus of these activities.
  • Focus on trigger pull
    • An easy skill to lose over time as you shoot fast.  But be able to do this without a timer at 15 feet to a 1 inch x 1 inch target without the dot leaving the target.  Then add the timer and pull the trigger as soon as the timer goes off, keeping the same goal of not moving the dot off the 1x1 inch target.
    • Trigger reset really have 2 trains of thoughts
      • reset and hit the wall as fast as possible (My current training)
        • Tailored toward your specific gun to allow you to shoot faster with good triggers
        • Limits the range of guns you can shoot as you've trained muscle memory of a specific reset length
        • I'm training this method since glock triggers are quite difficult to work with.  But over time, I'm hoping this will help solidify my fundamentals in trigger control and is transferable to other guns with shorter and lighter triggers.
      • reset as far as possible
        • Ben Stoeger does this so he can shoot any gun without having to worry about its reset length.
        • Requires a lot more training to master, but allows you to have the best fundamentals
        • Goal is to move up to this.
  • Draw and reload times
    • I used Ben Stoeger's Practical Shooting Training book's Level 3 times as reference for dry fire training.  I figure it's always better to go one level higher than what you're trying to achieve to hit that level.
    • Start off slow to build the basic neural path way for what you're trying to train and then slowly build up speed during your training.  This minimizes training scars and help with memory consolidation.


Current training:

  • Daily dryfire sessions done before bed time to improve memory consolidation
    • limit to 30 mins, though this fails many times because it's hard to stop at times
    • Breakdown
      • 10%: trigger pull at speed
      • 40%: draw to first shot (focus on grip)
      • 30%: standing reload
      • 20%: draw, transition, reload (timed)
    • Will skip days if certain parts feel pain (shoulder and wrist mainly)
  • weekly USPSA league to test things out
  • 1 Monthly match (sometimes 2)
  • 4 weightlifting sessions per week (2 upper body, 2 lower)
  • 2 runs per week (1-2 mile at 9min pace)
    • winter slowed me down so this gets skipped a lot


Goals for 2023:

  • Shoot at A level by June
  • Shoot at M level by November


I'm also tracking my progress through my youtube channel


(Work in Progress, will edit later)

Edited by iterative_optimization
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1 minute ago, iterative_optimization said:


Haven't found any aimbot neural implants yet so...No.  And aren't you suppose to be working...at work? Like me?🤣

Noooooooo.... stop looking over my shoulder, Mikey-boy

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  • 3 weeks later...

Been shooting a few matches and classifiers here or there which has been moving my percentages.  I've been keeping track of my progress via my youtube channel.  There's not much commentary, but I'm thinking about using this forum as a source for that.


Lessons Learned

  • Grip
    • Grip is king
    • I'm constantly fine tuning my grip now, with every stage, I try to reflect on how my grip is compared to how my dot jumped.  This really pushes me to understand how different tightness of the grip affects how the recoil returns on the glock 19.
  • Trigger pull
    • Because the glock trigger isn't something you can just pick up and shoot well with, it still requires practice and still requires constant muscle memory
  • Pushing speed
    • Go faster than you think you can go and then go a little faster.  After doing this for a while, dial back and start shooting all A's.  You'll start to notice a change in the way you can see your dot at speed and you start to become comfortable at that faster speed.  I think iterating on this cycle constantly is important in growing your ability to shoot faster.
  • Target Focus (single point on target)
    • I've yet to get close to understanding this concept.  But on stages where I've accidently implemented this, I can clover and double like no other.
    • Since I don't fully understand how to master this yet, I won't be talking about it.  But this is an absolutely essential step towards making GM
  • Recoil management
    • This really goes back to the grip, trigger pull, and pushing speed concepts.  Alternating between each three of these topics will slowly progress you ability to recoil control at speed
  • Shooting on the Move
    • This is a newer concept to me.  The example would be CM 19-01 which can be shot either in two positions or on the move.
    • Doing this is very hard, especially on partial targets.  However, moving saves significant amount of time since you are continuously firing the gun. (more points per second)
    • I know that Steve Anderson talks quite a bit about it but I don't feel comfortable at this point with this concept yet so I'll need to do more playing around with it.
  • Study the classifier
    • Understand how the scoring system works for a classifier and how to research what's required to dictate your strategy in shooting a specific stage
    • Example is CM 22-05, understanding that if you're going for A, you can shoot this stage all freestyle and as long as you have 15As, you can get a 75% (as of 2023-3)





So I started plotting my USPSA classification percentages over time because I am a data nerd and was quite curious to see how it's been tracking.  So far the trend line pretty closely matches my current growth with a R^2 value of 0.93.  So theoretically, if I keep up my current rate of progress, I should hit M by July and GM by October.  Is this realistic?  Probably not, but is it good to dream?  Absolutely!  Either way, this is a fun experiment and a good way to see at what point do you start to deviate from the path.  I'm still shooting my MR920 (glock 19 clone) and so far, the gun is still out shooting me.


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Posted (edited)

Classifier Match Breakdown

2023-3 | Vortex Classifier Match | Carry Optics B | 83.57%

I though it'll be good to record my thoughts from the classifier match this past Saturday.  (Link to the video above)



CM 03-11 | El Strong & Weak Pres

The No-shoot in the middle definitely messes with your mind. There was actually quite a bit of A zone that's exposed for the left and right target that I should be able to comfortably shoot a .35s split for the targets.  Top middle target was all C's, 


Did well:

  • maintained consistent splits between shots and transitions (0.5s splits and transitions)
  • all hits on target and no no-shoots
  • dots returned well on one hand shots, which was better than I expected (dry fire paying off)
  • reload to one hand transition was fast (right: 2s, left: 2.62s).  (Not as fast as dry fire at 1.5s, but I attribute that to smaller target acquisition with one hand)

Work on: 

  • Build better intuition for A zone boundaries especially with covered targets
    • Aimed too high on the middle target and resulted in 8 C's.  Take more risk and aim for the head box instead, will probably end up averaging more A hits.  Or aim lower on the freestyle shots for at least 4 A's
  • Minimize over confirmation on targets with more than 25% A zone exposed
    • freestyle splits were too slow, can speed that up significantly on the left and right targets
  • More dryfire practice on turn/draw, should be able to get the first shot off in 1.5 seconds for a small target and 1.3 seconds for an open target.  (str1 first shot: 1.88s, str2 first shot: 2.27s)



CM 22-01 | Righty Tighty

I love movement classifiers!  I feel like test USPSA shooting abilities better than standing ones.  


Did well:

  • Moved at the start of the beep
  • Stage plan was pretty good
  • Not moving all the way up saves time and since I wasn't confident in my one handed shooting, I didn't want to risk doing that at a distance
  • Debated going left vs going right first after that first position.  But felt like backing up from the last 2 targets was probably better than backing to the right
  • Shooting strong handed on the left side actually felt pretty natural.
  • splits on the right side was good (0.25 on open and 0.45 on partial)
  • Had the fastest shot to shot transition from one target set to another (1.76s front to right) out of all the shooters for this stage.  So backing up from the open front target set was a good move

Work on:

  • Don't accidentally try to reload
  • Can go faster on the splits, therefore going faster on the transitions.  (way too slow on the front 3 targets 0.5s splits and transitions)
  • Don't be afraid of covered targets.  Shoot faster on those
  • Slight over confirmation on first target on the right side



CM 22-04 | Calm Before the Storm

Shot this one at a previous match about 2 months ago.  Got a B on it so I was definitely pushing more on the speed on this one.


Did well:

  • My grip felt better this time than last time I shot it so the dot returned exceptionally well
  • Figured out a good mag placement on the table for reload and really hit that reload well! (fastest reload of match on this stage 1.46s)
    • Get into your shooting position and reach straight down to the table, where you hand land is where you should place the mag
  • Did well staying low after coming up from the chair to minimize distance from table to gun for reloads
  • Had the fastest first shot time at 1.86s.  Most others were around 2.2s to 3s

Work on:

  • Since I am working with a stock glock trigger, practicing trigger pull at speed is going to be absolutely important when doing these bill drill like stages.  
  • Top shooters were taking the side partial targets at 0.23s splits while I was taking them at 0.3s splits (totals out to be a .6s loss.  Running a what-if in the App, I would get a 81.8% with this savings)
  • Splits on the headbox is tough, I ran .4s splits where 2 shots were at the edge of the C zone perf at the top of the head.  Those could possible be out if I shot faster so maybe aim a little lower and shoot a bit faster.  Even if it's all C's and I save about .15 on my splits there, I would still get a 74% as compared to my 75% with 2A and 2C in the head box.


CM 22-05 | Win Some Lose Some

The goal for this one was to just shoot an A class classifier and nothing else.  Accomplished!!  


Did well:

  • Good grip on the gun on the draw
  • solid hits and almost all A's!
  • Reviewed this stage early on and saw that if I had 16 good hits with no reload, I'd get an 80%.  Trusted my ability to land good shots and was rewarded!
  • Accurate and fast splits during the 2nd string
  • Draw time wasn't fast (1.37s) but I did move at the start of the beep and it was accurate
  • Consistent .4 splits that are accurate is really good for this stage
  • 2.1s reload to left hand shot at A zone is a really good thing! (this shot saved me from having a below a A classifier)

Work on:

  • Perception of time is a weird thing, during dryfire, I always had 2 seconds left during the first string.  So I though I could take it slow while live firing.  This was not the case and it has happened to me during other fixed time classifiers.  So take your time, but don't take too much.  If I got off the last shot during that first string, this stage could've been a 83% or a 81%
  • Draw should still be as fast as if I was shooting a close up target.  Need to speed that up and get confidence in hands up starts
  • Next time running this classifier, hopefully I will already be A and will need to hit the reload and all one handed shots.



CM 19-01 | Hi-Jinx

Debate for this one was do I shoot on the move or do I shoot and scoot.  I wanted to push myself with the move but learned about shooting on the move


Did well:

  • Was stable during the move portion and only had 1 Mike leaving the partial target on the left.  Rest were basically Alpha/Charlies
  • Kept the shooting speed low because I knew I wasn't capable of faster shots yet.
  • Did many dry runs to ingrain the steps in my head so that I didn't have to think about my feet when shooting and just focus on my dot
  • Good start with the lead foot out to help with the first 2 targets on body movement and transition


Work on:

  • Movement is going to be so much more important in larger matches.  Will definitely need to work on stability while shooting
  • The M I had on the left target was due to stepping while shooting (first shot on that target in the video)  Will need to dryfire practice this exercise a lot more
  • Could shoot the first two targets faster since I'm effectively standing still and only shifting weights.



CM 09-07 | It's Not Brain Surgery

Definitely exhausted for this stage, I was the first shooting on the last stage and the last shooter on this stage and ended up ROing most of the time in between.


Did well:

  • I was able to call my shots on the first target and shoot a second time
  • Splits were 0.5 as I planned for them to be.
  • Grabbing the gun off the table at speed feels natural to me now.


Work on:

  • Complete misses on the last target was most likely due to grip issues.  I was tired but I also saw my dot land perfectly in the A zone.  This means I didn't control the recoil well enough and the bullets probably flew over the target
  • Need to do more leg workouts to not be as exhausted towards the end of the match. (I won't survive a sectional match)
  • Possibly best if I don't aim at the middle of the A zone, but instead shoot for the lower part of the A zone.
Edited by iterative_optimization
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Great writeup and video.


For the very last target of the last stage, are you sure you were looking at a precise spot in the middle of the headbox?


A great drill I saw from Ben Stoeger for practicing El Prez style target presentations is to set up three targets like an El Prez. Start with a bill drill on one target. Record your overall time and split times. Then try and shoot that same time but with two on each target instead. Even though you're shooting two per target and transitioning, the transitions should be so seamless that it sounds just like you're bill drilling 6 shots onto one target.

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I took a look at my shot times overall for this stage and the transitions were a little slower than my splits but not by much.  I've also heard him mention that training method and have been working on that for sure.


From my memory, I'm fairly confident that I saw the dot dead center in the headbox A zone before pulling the trigger and saw the red streak go straight up.  However, I have struggled with the glock trigger in the past with hitting where my dot is so it's very possibly that the last stage of the match, my hand just wasn't doing the work it needs to to hold the recoil until the bullet leaves the chamber.



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