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Finding Your NPA (Natural Point of Aim)

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Finding Your NPA (Natural Point of Aim)

This thread was started by benos and lost before the conversion:

Your Position – where does it originate?

benos:

Like I said somewhere else, for the last month or so I've been overhauling my position from the vantage point of NPA. This morning, during my first "gun pickup," I had an insight. (Whewhoo! :) I've been thinking about a critical concept of the freestyle position all wrong. The concept/question is - from where does your position originate? Without killing it (for now) with an explanation, from now on, mine will originate from the target.

Detlef:

but which target?

PaulW:

My positions originates from my feet up, thats what's closest to the center of the earth.

Pat Harrison:

Detlef: THE target :)

BE: cool insight, makes sense!

benos:

Paul,

That's the way I've always felt, and consequently focused all my efforts in that direction. Maybe think about it like this - imagine your gun hanging in space, pointed at the target in question, (Detlef, I knew that one was coming! Must be one of "those" days... :) -- how would you "build" your position, from the gun to the ground, in order to have the least possible effect on disturbing your floating, perfectly aimed gun? What is most important, from the gun all the way to the ground?

PaulW:

So if I hear you correctly your feet should work around your "floating" gun, istead of your gun working around your planted feet?

Flexmoney:

That is how I used to shoot darts.

Say the first dart missed right...I would assume there was a problem with my delivery. I would stay the course and throw the second dart.

If the second dart also went right, I would step back and reset my feet...adjusting my NPA. I always tried to use the same stroke in throwing the dart(s). If I was off left or right, I could just aim different and adjust the throw...but that would add tension from fighting my nature point of aim.

As I got more in tune, I could tell after the first dart that my stroke was good, so my stance must have been off (if I missed left/right).

This is a direct carry-over to what Brian is saying. I had never put the two thing together either.

Thanks again Ghost Dog.

benos:

Paul,

"So if I hear you correctly your feet should work around your "floating" gun, istead of your gun working around your planted feet?"

Yes, but not only your feet - EVERYTHING - especially your grip, head, and arms.

PaulW:

Yes, of course everything, (grip, stance, head), but again it all originates from your feet, most of the time. Your NPA can also change, or be dictated by the shooting position, but your gun won't, because it will still be pointing at the target.

Rich Bagoly:

I see the feet as perhaps the least important. I can move my feet around quite a bit, and as long as I don't fall on my ass, can still shoot reasonably well.

What can't you change without wrecking your ability to shoot like you desire?

bonedaddy:

So far, my position originates from the most difficult target in the array. Not necessarily the one I'm going to shoot first, but the one that presents the greatest challenge. If I have a couple of close open targets and , say a 15 yarder with a close no-shoot, I square up on the 15 yarder.

Pat Harrison:

I think some of you have missed the point. Where does your position origionate at any given time? Don't think of it as a position for an entire target bank, as it will vary (however slightly) from target to target. And since in IPSC especially (and IDPA) we need to be able to shoot a vast number of different target situations, we're not just talking about simple bill drills or 3 target arrays, so NPA does not apply either. You must shoot over, around, and under objects, maybe while holding something or activating something manually. Almost never do we see ourselves in a true NPA type stance/position.

So how does your position origionate if you are facing a target from an unusual position, eg low around the side of a barricade. Break it down. What is your position for each shot on a stage? And how do you arrive at it. Brian is saying it all starts with the target, then the gun, that is the most important object (actually it more the sights than the entire gun) So if you set your position according to the target given with the 'aim' of getting the gun/sights there, that is the initial building block for your position, everything else adapts itself to that end.

Which is more important when you enter a box, where your feet are or where your gun is? What dictates this? Both are guided by where the shot you are firing is going...the target. We have discussed in other forums the relative importance of what occurs if your feet are not 'exactly' in the right place when you enter a shooting location, be it a box, port, barricade etc. But what if your gun does not go 'exactly' to the right place before you shoot? This is dictated or directed by the target. So the Target is the starting place of any position as it is what must be hit. Everything else can be flexible to the end of hitting it, but the target is fixed.

Remember the fundamentals 1- find the TARGET, 2-get the gun to (aimed at) the TARGET, 3-Keep the gun there (the TARGET) while it fires.

It all goes back to the target.

Has anybody here ever shot from a swinging platform? This is a great way to understand this concept. On a swinging platform, your entire body must be in motion constantly in order to 'float' the gun on target. In this case everything except the target (which is still) ceases to matter. Your focus on the target and the goal of getting your floating gun aimed on it, allows your body to do whatever it takes to accomplish this. Thus your position is constantly changing, the only constant is the target.

Rich Bagoly:

|The target is fixed, you can't change it.

The sights arn't any more important than your eye.

I think that most of the time, its the target, eye, then gun.

Pat Harrison:

It may be a chicken and egg thing here. The point is to locate the gun on the target we use the sights to do this and the eye is what puts them together, one cannot accomplish it without the other.

But again we are talking position here not sight focus. Your position locates the gun to the target through natural alignment, while the eye does the 'aiming'. No natural alignment does not nessessarily mean the same thing as NPA. We can NA even in awkward positions. Somewhere else on this forum board is a post by Brian with regards to position. If nothing else read his expanded words on the main page regarding index.

Nik Habicht:

I may be totally off base here, but I've thought about this thread for the last couple of weeks while shooting matches. I used to be really hung up on getting my body in perfect alignment before pulling the trigger. The consequences were a serious timelag and occasionally misses, because I'd be leaning so far out that I'd really feel off balance. For the last few weeks I've just tried to see the sights on the A-zone and pulled the trigger, ignoring my stance and index, where appropriate. This is not to suggest that I've abandoned good stance when standing or moving erect, just on those occasions where I'm shooting around awkward barriers or from odd positions.

benos:

Right Nik - nothing needs to be "abandoned" - just keep everything in the "right perspective."

Thanks Pat - that's precisely my meaning. Moment to moment... it's just a different view of an old problem. At each instant - what is most important. The "do this to get that" is my greatest trap. I know it well because of my intimacy with it.

Pat Harrison:

I think thats a trap we all fall into at one time or other. It ingrained to us, since birth, that thats how things work. 2+2=4, a then b lead to c. It takes a truly creative mind to look at or see things in a different light. Thats why I thought this insight was so cool, it is simple, but hard to grasp (probably because it is simple) It goes against what we are all taught when we begin to shoot "you must stand like this" "your arms must be like that" In the end it doesn't matter, what matters is hitting the target...however you get there. I remember watching golf (not a big fan, but there are occasionally cool insights there too) and I recall listening to the announcers criticizing Tiger Woods swing(this was early in his professional career). He was kicking ass, driving the ball farther than anyone else that day, and yet these guys were pointing out flaws in his swing? It never occured to them that the point was just to get the ball to the cup with the least strokes and Tiger was doing just that, so who cares what his swing looked like?

Duane Thomas:

I've noticed this many times over the years. Some people get so hung up on using the "correct" technique, whatever that may be to them, they can watch someone doing things a different way and all they'll see is the "flaws," not the performance level which is way above what they're doing. It TOTALLY escapes their attention that the way that person is shooting....works.

Tdean:

The Space Between.....

My shooting position is not dictated by the target, but by the obstacles placed between it and my bullet's path.

What the heck is "NPA"?

Pat Harrison:

Natural Point of Aim...not to be confused with Index.

PaulW

Ahhh, I had it all backwards....I thought, then I re-read all the post and I don't do what I thought I did. Funny how the mind works. I stated in an eralier post that it's all originates from the ground up (feet, shoulders,head etc.). But I was wrong in my initial thought. I looked at how I would actually shoot a stage and found Brian was dead on, the target dictates your NPA....or should. As Pat said, so simple but yet so deep in understanding.

Tdean:

Well then now, put an obstacle between you and the target...what happens?

Is it really the target which dictates position?

See where I'm comming from........

Pat Harrison:

Your position is still based off of the target..in spite of the obstacle, you must still hit the target, the obstacle wouldn't matter if there were not a target to be engaged past it.

TDean:

I'm trying to see where you're coming from, but I can't get it. The relevant factor in my original utterance was: (A little Monty Python for you. OK, that's not part of my original utterance.) A target that you intend to hit from where you are, while holding your gun in your hand(s). If you bring in obstacles, then you'd just have to move and start all over.

Pat Harrison:

but the position is still based on hitting the target.

Nik Habicht:

Pat,

Is that because even though you can't see the target when the buzzer goes, you know where you need to move to, in order to see the first target? I realize we're talking about a different kind of stance here ---- a get ready to move where I can see the target stance, if you will.

Flexmoney:

So, the idea is for the gun to be in the proper postition to hit the target...the shooter has to be in the proper postiton behind the gun to support the gun, align the sights, and operate the trigger. All that while trying to provide the most stable and repeatable shooting platform possible. Right?

Edited by benos

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Just when I think I've caught up on my reading I find another gem like this thread. Having just read about the NPA origination point I am compelled to make another suggestion. Your natural point of aim comes from your center. (That was too arrogant. I do not shoot well enough to pontificate on this point). Let me rephrase that. In my experience, especially the last 28 years studying and teaching Aikido, I have found that human movement begins at the individuals center, i.e., ones center of mass. In the typical human being this point is located a few inches below the navel and about half way between the front of your body and the back. If you were to suspend a (probably unconscious) person from each arm and leg and mark the body with an inked plum line the center would be where the lines intersected. This is your balance point. A machine out of balance can not work. The more perfectly balanced the machine the more efficiently it can work. If as you raise your pistol you feel the tension at your center point you will be more balanced. By paying attention to the subtle feelings of tension in your body (other than your hands, arms and shoulders which will tend to override your awareness because of the weight of the gun) you will notice a strain in muscles on one side of your body or the other if you are not centered. If the weapon is on your centerline, the vertical line which connects you to the earth's center (we are talking gravity here) extended as a plane bisecting your body left and right, then you should aquire the target accurately in the vertical plane. Keeping your hands, and gun, in front of your centerline and transitioning by moving your center, the rest will follow; feet, hips, arms and blaster. The shot should engage the targets centerline if your center points at it. Moving from the center should allow faster transitioning as well.

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I completely agree with everything you said AikiDale, and that's how I've thought of and approached it my whole life. This thread, however, was the result of a "eureka" experience, that provided, for me, a different way of looking at the same thing.

be

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I am anxiously awaiting a "eureka" experience in my shooting! After reading this thread it seemed to tie in with what I have done previously so well I needed to share. I have not made the connection very often between my center and my pistol but it works great when it happens. Good principles are good principles! It also make perfect sense to locate a target 'visually or with the force' and then from the target connect to the center.

Thanks again! I'll focus on this in Sunday's match and see what happens.....

Dale

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To find the truth in this think about what happens to shoot a target

in a box you are moving to. You see the target, get the gun on it,

line the sights, then build your whole position around that as you

step in the box and the gun fires.

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Powder Finger,

That is a very interesting way of putting it...you just kinda step in behind the gun. Very cool. B)

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That is a very interesting way of putting it...you just kinda step in behind the gun. Very cool. B)

but isn't that the same as bringing your mouth to the fork instead of the fork to the mouth which is how i thought it was supposed to be?

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but isn't that the same as bringing your mouth to the fork instead of the fork to the mouth which is how i thought it was supposed to be?

No, the first part of your example doesn't relate to shooting. How you always thought is correct. Who brings the fork to the mouth?

The mouth is the target, the fork is the gun, and the fingers, hand, and arm - you. If you tried to assume a certain position with your hand/arm before you aimed the fork, wouldn't you be complicating the whole process.

Maybe that's the real analogy or lesson - everything originates from at the mouth!

:o

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Its impossible to have a perfectly symmetrical (= balanced) position.

If you hold the gun in a perfect Isocoles, neither eye will line up.

You must therefore move your head "inwards" until your eye is on the center

line of your body.

If you use a Weaver, the gun lines up along the shoulder, and you must move

your head "outwards."

If you don't move your head at all, then you must hold the gun in a way that

the triangle is imperfect and favors one side or the other. Unequal strength

in the left vs right side of the body will affect this tendancy.

I think most people most of the time will use an imperfect triangle and also

move their head outwards.

Individuals probably have an unnoticed "reflexive" preference as to whether

they move their head inwards or outwards because they will have better inner

ear balance in one position, and their neck muscles will favor one over the

other as well.

Now I'm wondering if I could improve my Iso by being "perfect" and moving

my head "inwards." I think my reflexive preference is "outwards."

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Re-reading this now...

Dale, I would say that your centered approach and Brian's build from the target need to happen together. We need to find the point in space where the two intersect.

Ideally, your centered approach (as best we can attain it) is the most stable shooting platform. Which would allow for quick follow-ups and movement to the next spot.

But/also, some shooters are sporty enough (or they shoot guns with so little recoil) that they can get by without the best stance.

(I like to think of Mike Jordan playing basketball.)

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Well, it is Christmas day 2005. And I was reading through a few things here, kind of relaxing and catching up with this and that, unhurriedly.

This particular thread is like a time capsule, revisited.

Years ago, while in physical "quasi control" of my awareness I would have theorized from a different point of view. Since then, and after a couple of major accidents, I have learned to make do with maximizing what I still have. I have studied on my own on how to enhance and control my physical behaviour based on perception through my "residual images", as originated through a non-specific conglomerate of data acquired and retained by various senses. I always marveled at "handicaped" persons being able to perform with non-existing sensory "terminals". Like eyes, hearing, and missing limbs.

A very important drill can be mimicked after a fashion from blind people, and their ability to obtain specific directions even when there are no "sounds" to give them a reference point: working from the last available reference point. Not that much un-similar from the way that through mathematical theorizing of GPS systems work to determine position and space. Notice for instance how after a small amount of awareness we no longer break the "180" even though it is not the primary issue in our mind, or otherwise are instantly reminded it by ourselves when we do.

Yes, once we set ourselves, and "photograph" our physical/sensory "roots" and ACCEPT such position, we can actually from "residual memory" close our eyes, and while keeping them closed, navigate around. (Heck I can always find my nose and other parts of my body in total darkness !!!) But more important you can actually recall and point out positions/places with your pointing fingers while your eyes remain closed, just from that "residual memory". With a little bit of practice and "genuine concentration" unless you have a gross inner ear imbalance, you can do this.

A drill I do very often that works for me. (Thank goodness for technology and laser pointers.) I install a laser boresighter in my gun. ( a Lasermax will work too) Then I find a position to start with and establish a "center". Sitting, standind, balancing on one foot, etc. The idea is to take "visual inventory" quickly and thoroughly by just "casually" looking about your perimeter, while holding somewhat still and relaxed. Now close your eyes and turn your head while visualizing whats there through your closed eyes as if seeing through your closed eyelids. Open and close your eyes quickly to verify and correct your perceptions. After a while you can actually "oscillate" your head with eyes closed while keeping a completely accurate track of your position, and more importantly: THE POSITION OF YOUR BODY MEMBERS IN RELATION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Now comes in the use of the laser equpped gun. Place it next to you (or in your holster). Obtain your visual photograph and consign it to memory. Close your eyes. Keep them closed through the exercise. Draw your gun and bring back from your memory a specific point, and then with your gun in hand bring it up to your eye level as if taking aim normally. Do this without hesitation or doubting your abilities. Then open your eyes and quickly close them after verification of position, and make any corrections with your eyes closed. After some practice you will find yourself being closer to the target, or right on it than you thought possible. Even in instances when you may have been facing in the opposite direction.

One quick drill I do for "transition acquistion" is to plant myself in front of anything with multiple reference (aimable) points. Focus into a specific point/target, close your eyes, draw and point into that point/target. Open your eyes and verify positioning, but do not correct it. Instead "swivel" your head to a diferent point/target, close your eyes, and then with your eyes closed pivot/swivel adjust your physical position to that image in your mind and bring your "lasered" gun to bear into that target. Open your eyes and look for the laser position into your target, but "DO NOT LOOK AT THE POSITION OF YOUR GUN RELATIVE TO YOUR TARGET". The goal here is to obtain a physical positioning control from your mind's sensory data without interference from just a "visual contingent". That is why you make the visual adjustments by looking "only" at the projected laser dot, and not by looking at the guns or sights, and "ordering your body to correct accordingly to match the point of attention".

The same applies or stems from normal body behaviour as you walk, eat, breath, swallow, or "recover" from a misstep. Again, bring back your walking/running through a multiple box stage, where you engage, fire multiple shots, and run with your gun on hand without breaking the 180 and removing your finger from the trigger as you run and then placing it back. You don't "call" each action, they just follow through on your perceptions and "react accordingly". There is no big secret here. This is something we all have. Period. But in order to relate to it or exercise our God given abilities, we must first accept the fact that we have them and practice doing it untill: LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IT BECOMES SECOND NATURE, AND AUTOMATIC.

Now, just go and do it. (Practice it, that is !!!) :D:D:DB)B)

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If you tried to assume a certain position with your hand/arm before you aimed the fork, wouldn't you be complicating the whole process.

Maybe that's the real analogy or lesson - everything originates from at the mouth!

:o

Awesome. Just awesome. :cheers:

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but isn't that the same as bringing your mouth to the fork instead of the fork to the mouth which is how i thought it was supposed to be?

No, the first part of your example doesn't relate to shooting. How you always thought is correct. Who brings the fork to the mouth?

The mouth is the target, the fork is the gun, and the fingers, hand, and arm - you. If you tried to assume a certain position with your hand/arm before you aimed the fork, wouldn't you be complicating the whole process.

Maybe that's the real analogy or lesson - everything originates from at the mouth!

:o

When I first read the fork to mouth, I thought of it this way:

  1. Bend elbow to move fork towards mouth (gross movement).
  2. Move wrist to adjust fort to mouth (fine movement).
  3. Insert.

I think the point of NPoA is to take care of 99.9% of aiming with the gross motor skills. So rather than Move fork to eye, and bend wrist severely to get food in mouth the scenario would be:

  1. Bend elbow to move fork towards the gap between the lips
  2. Move wrist very slightly while inserting food.

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I'm not as zen about shooting as I should be, probably overthinking things.

I look at it this way:

As I visualize my movement thru the stage, I find where I want my eyes to be on the target, then move the gun to that location and fold my body around the gun to stabilize it while shooting.

So, for me, the target --> eyes line is what's important--where will my eyes be when I want to shoot that particular target? Is it feasible for me to move the gun there and then get my body into position to stabilize the target --> eyes line with the gun in the middle?

The reason for this is my foundation for USPSA shooting is tactically-born (I'm military). When you do things like room clearing or shooting from a defensive position, you don't have the ability to figure it out beforehand, because your target gets a vote in where it will be. So, finding the target is most important, and I have to do that with my eyes (there may be a scope or other optic in the middle if I'm using a rifle). The gun then has to move between my target and my eyes, then my body will move to stabilize the gun. If putting the gun between my eyes or moving my body to stabilize the gun aren't feasible, then I have to find a new position to do those actions.

The easiest way to explain this is in room clearing--If I make entry into a room, I may have a very loose understanding of what the room presents. The location of other doors on the face of the wall, location of hinges, and/or direction of door swing all tell me what's immediately around the door (e.g., where openings are likely to flow and where walls are). My location in the stack gives me a general idea of where I'm flowing when I move into the room (e.g., if I'm first, I'll probably move straight ahead, unless I run into an obstacle; second, I'll probably flow immediately right or left [depending on whether there's a wall right inside the door]; third or later, I adjust based on where the other guys go). That's about all I know before I enter the room. When the room is entered, THAT'S when you find out where the targets are and what else is in the room. Hopefully, there's not much to impede keeping the gun up and finding the targets. Debris, bodies, furniture, low walls, etc., will all conspire against that. If I come in and ID a target, the gun snaps from high ready to on target and I fire. If I'm not able to fire because of some other disturbance, I move to a position where I can (and hope to hell I don't get shot in the process). So, the target --> eye line is most important, because you have to establish where your target and guidance system are in space. Everything else moves around that to enable you to take the shot.

Should I be thinking (or, more correctly, training my subconscious) about this differently to reprioritize the most important aspect?

Most importantly, did this make sense? That's how I had to think about the tactical problem in order to do the things I needed to do for the job. I just transferred it to my sport shooting.

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Its impossible to have a perfectly symmetrical (= balanced) position.

If you hold the gun in a perfect Isocoles, neither eye will line up.

For shooting at extremely close distances (Type I focus I think) - this is what I do.

I use my nose to aim since everything is in line.

If I were to rotate my head, I could see an acceptable sight picture.

Edited by DyNo!

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I'm not as zen about shooting as I should be, probably overthinking things.

I look at it this way:

As I visualize my movement thru the stage, I find where I want my eyes to be on the target, then move the gun to that location and fold my body around the gun to stabilize it while shooting.

So, for me, the target --> eyes line is what's important--where will my eyes be when I want to shoot that particular target? Is it feasible for me to move the gun there and then get my body into position to stabilize the target --> eyes line with the gun in the middle?

The reason for this is my foundation for USPSA shooting is tactically-born (I'm military). When you do things like room clearing or shooting from a defensive position, you don't have the ability to figure it out beforehand, because your target gets a vote in where it will be. So, finding the target is most important, and I have to do that with my eyes (there may be a scope or other optic in the middle if I'm using a rifle). The gun then has to move between my target and my eyes, then my body will move to stabilize the gun. If putting the gun between my eyes or moving my body to stabilize the gun aren't feasible, then I have to find a new position to do those actions.

The easiest way to explain this is in room clearing--If I make entry into a room, I may have a very loose understanding of what the room presents. The location of other doors on the face of the wall, location of hinges, and/or direction of door swing all tell me what's immediately around the door (e.g., where openings are likely to flow and where walls are). My location in the stack gives me a general idea of where I'm flowing when I move into the room (e.g., if I'm first, I'll probably move straight ahead, unless I run into an obstacle; second, I'll probably flow immediately right or left [depending on whether there's a wall right inside the door]; third or later, I adjust based on where the other guys go). That's about all I know before I enter the room. When the room is entered, THAT'S when you find out where the targets are and what else is in the room. Hopefully, there's not much to impede keeping the gun up and finding the targets. Debris, bodies, furniture, low walls, etc., will all conspire against that. If I come in and ID a target, the gun snaps from high ready to on target and I fire. If I'm not able to fire because of some other disturbance, I move to a position where I can (and hope to hell I don't get shot in the process). So, the target --> eye line is most important, because you have to establish where your target and guidance system are in space. Everything else moves around that to enable you to take the shot.

Should I be thinking (or, more correctly, training my subconscious) about this differently to reprioritize the most important aspect?

Most importantly, did this make sense? That's how I had to think about the tactical problem in order to do the things I needed to do for the job. I just transferred it to my sport shooting.

I see what you are saying and yes it is pretty much the same thing. We must first find the target, and whether its a room clearing with obstacles or a USPSA course of fire with barrels, walls, ports or whatever is between you and the target, you must still first find the target. Your eyes accomplish this so it stands to reason that your sightline to the target is the first part of building your position to engage that target. Next the gun will come into play, it must end up somewhere between your eyes and the target in order to be lined up for the shot. The original insight of this thread was that no matter what the course of fire, the targets dictate the position. Think of it this way, if you entered a room (alone) and there was one target on the extreme left and one target on the extreme right (assuming no other obstacles) would you plant your feet as you enter and then attempt to engage both targets from that one stance? Or would you do whatever you have to to get your body more naturally lined up to each target?

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OK, it just seemed a little different to me.

And, no, I wouldn't engage two widely spaced targets from one stance--I can't transition so fast that I can afford to stand flat-footed to engage both.

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I mainly shoot Bianchi and like many I struggle with the mover. The other courses of fire are shot from static possitions and I do fine. Reading about the NPA originating from the target and moving in behind the gun to align with this has really got me thinking about how important it is to move with the target. I am going to try to think of this differently and try to move more fluidly with the target giving myself the illusion that it's not moving.

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This is good stuff. I was reading the OP and thinking that for any position in space, there is only one angle of the gun that will put a bullet through the exact center of the A zone. So I will imagine a string from that point to the muzzle while holding the gun at an appropriate height and that's the position that your body needs to support the gun while pressing the trigger so as not to disturb that perfect alignment. The sights just help to refine that alignment.

I'm going to take a few deep breaths and think about this during my next time behind the trigger.

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While reading this thread, I ran across the sentence..."Natural Point of Aim...not to be confused with Index."

I think that I am doing just that.

Would someone please define the terms index and NPA for a noob.

Thanks

ZZ

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While reading this thread, I ran across the sentence..."Natural Point of Aim...not to be confused with Index."

I think that I am doing just that.

Would someone please define the terms index and NPA for a noob.

Thanks

ZZ

Since you said that, Pat?

Assume your normal shooting (foot) position. Close your eyes and draw to your shooting position. Open your eyes; if your sights are aligned, the totality of your upper body's position is your Index. Where your Index is pointed is your NPA.

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