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I'm on a bent to improve this year (yeah, for those of you who know me, I'm actually going to try to *shoot* more matches than I work this year...)

I have Steve Anderson's book, and Matt's, and several others, and I have no shortage of dry-fire drills for draw-and-shoot, transitions, etc. What I'm looking for, though, is some "kindergarten"-level drills. Like... getting my hand to the gun as efficiently as possible. And getting a *good* grip as consistently as possible. And grooving the mount. Etc.

I "heard" that when Travis Tomasie practiced the reloads we've all seen on video, he broke the reload down into 6 or 7 components, and practiced *each* of those components, deliberately, to groove the motion, before putting them together in sequence. That's the kind of stuff I'm looking for.

Are there good "building-block" drills that you guys have used, for nailing some consistency in the fundamentals? 'Cuz... I want to cement those fundamentals into muscle-memory, before I put a lot of time into draw-and-click drills. The *last* thing I want to do is have my draw-and-click work reinforce bad fundamentals...


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Burkett's dvd's show one of the best ways to get a consistent grip on the gun in the holster...no matter what the start position. (best to watch his dvd)

He comes in from the side of the gun...think "leather slap"...as opposed to scooping up, or come down on, the gun. To get there, we can go backwards a bit. Get your grip (strong hand) you gun in the holster as if you were going to draw it. Then (fan?) open your fingers and thumbs without moving your palm away from the gun. Now, with the fingers open and the palm touching the side of the grip, just move your hand laterally about two inches...out away from your belt/body.

That becomes you index point for you strong hand. No matter what angle you are going after the gun...you can take your strong had to this index point. From there, you can always grab the gun the same.

Let me know how that sounds. If that makes sense, I have some more.

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If that makes sense, I have some more.

That makes a lot of sense (and by coincidence, I've been going through Matt's vids, and just started working on pieces of his "from the side" approach to the grip.)

More, please!


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After a frustrating spout with reloads, I began doing the basics (draw, reload, transitions) at a tai-chi speed focusing on precise movements and indexing, and avoiding wasted movement. Practicing in front of a mirror and posting video of my "technique" added to the learning, as I was able to get feedback from top shooters.

Getting your keister to practice literally is half of the battle, and I applaud you for your commitment.

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Good that you are watching his dvd's. Great source.

OK then...the strong hand should establish the grip on the gun...while it is in the holster. THEN...you can go about "popping" the gun up out of the holster. Grip, then pop.

****drift a second***

Your holster should be positioned so that you don't have to hook/move/jog it around and about after you pop it out of the holster and prepare to present it to the target. (Some shooter have their holster too far forward.)

****drift over*****

Now...as you strong hand is doing it's thing...what is the weak hand doing?

Many will teach to get the weak hand moving in sync with the strong hand...and you should to a point. Where I diverge a bit is on where the weak hand should meet up with the gun. Most will have you meet up where you might naturally clap you hands together. And, that is fine...especially if you aren't going to train. But, we are talking about training here...so a shooter ought to be able to make a different stroke "automatic".

I have the weak hand go past the center line and on over toward the holster (as my strong hand goes for the grip). I like the pinch and roll method that Burkett shows. Getting the weak hand ready like that...and keeping it flat to the body...should ensure that you don't muzzle yourself (like one might by chasing the weak hand to the gun).

Getting the weak hand toward the gun will allow you to get the two handed grip established sooner. Then...you can be done with that part of the draw. (or, if you miss a bit...you have more time to get it right before you get the gun extended)

The gun should now be somewhere below your right (strong side) pec. Your strong hand should be in position (trigger finger out). Your weak hand should be doing the reverse karate chop and be ready to roll/cam in on the grip as the gun comes further up and out.

Speaking of up and out... That is how I suggest you do it (especially with a dot gun). Come up...then press out along your visual cone toward the target.

The Burner videos talk a lot about the "high ready" position. This is where you have both hands gripping the gun, with the gun in closer to the body..not extended. From high ready...you press the gun out. It's a good technique. It is a position that you can be in after a reload...coming into a shooting position...picking a gun off a table..etc. It allows you to present the gun to the target in the same manner every time.

I suggest you bring the gun up to the high ready, then press out. The path the gun takes from the holster is kind of like an "inverted L." You may notice some of the upper level shooter will short-cut this...and take their gun out more along a straight line (diagonal) to the extended position. Ignore that. If you get 100,000 perfect draws under your belt...you will know what you need then.

Oh...and you don't really bring the gun to the center line. You bring it under your dominant eye...whichever that may be.

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Your holster should be positioned so that you don't have to hook/move/jog it around and about after you pop it out of the holster and prepare to present it to the target. (Some shooter have their holster too far forward.)

That's a great point. One of the "bad habits" I'm trying to get rid of is that holster position is reminiscent of the old "appendix position" from the 90s... not quite as bad as it once was (pointed pretty much at my weak-side femoral artery), but... still towards the front, which angles the gun across my centerline, which makes for some inefficient movements on the way to acquiring the dot.

One of the *first* things I picked up from the DVDs is when Matt had Kevin move his holster back, to the point where the gun is effectively aligned towards the first target when it comes out. That, more than anything else, is what got me started on this 'building blocks' line of thought because, a new holster position pretty much demands new index points and patterns of movement, all the way through the draw. It seems *much* more efficient, and so if I'm going to do all the work to make that change, I want to do it solidly.

Thanks for your help!


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Followup/random question

there seems to be a lot of opinion about head position, and the degree of tension in the shoulders. I know a lot of the top dogs advocate *no* tension in the shoulders... to the point where Travis's posture looks like he's standing around waiting for a bus when he shoots. Head up, neck straight, shoulders level...

I tend towards the "bring my head down to the gun" end of the spectrum while I'm shooting. Probably not helped by left-eye dominance, and the fact that, when shooting, my arms are usually considerably more "flexed" than most shooters.

Among the other things I'm working on, should I add posture and stance? As long as I have the hood open, should I work on "index points" for chin and shoulders and elbows, as well as hands?

The statement you made ("bring the gun up under your dominant eye") got me thinking....



(Old photo, old gun, and I have *fixed* that horrid grip... but the "platform" is pretty indicative of current reality...)

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I wondered about your holster position (have I seen you with the holster on at a match? if so, maybe that is why it popped into my head to mention it).

Your grip and stance...well, it doesn't look to be all that efficient. :)

I am wondering why you are in so close? Did you start out with iron sights? (and bad eyes...thus brought the gun in close)

Are you still shooting with a tube sight?

How married are you to the old thumb over thumb lock down?

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yeah, we crossed paths at the WS-qual/targeting-ed match last year.

The grip has been "fixed". That's a throwback to way-back-when, when my first open gun was a P9 whose safety would bounce "on" if a thumb got anywhere near it, followed by a "witness" with the same problem. So, between 1988 and 1994, *all* my shooting, practice, etc reinforced the habit of clamping my weak-side thumb over the strong-hand one. It took *years* to undo that muscle-memory programming, and for a while, even though I'd nail a good consistent grip in dryfire, I'd still find myself in that stupid one after a real-live beep at a match. Which, in hindsight, means I was probably "practicing the motions", but not really building a good solid "new habit".

That's sort of the baseline thought for the mode I'm in... I don't want to just "practice" improvements, I want to nail them at a molecular level, so that my match performance is *built* on solidly-ingrained fundamentally-sound "new habits", rather than always teetering on the edge of falling back into old ones.

Also not shooting a tube anymore. Decided it was a crutch, (it allows one to be "lazy" about acquiring and tracking the dot, IMHO), and did the work to adapt to the cmore. Not sure why I have the gun in so close, pretty much always have, but that, too, may well be a "bad habit", and, in context...

...I've decided that I am going to, once and for all, get rid of the bad habits. For sure, I need to get rid of the old holster position. Gotta decide if I need to build a new "platform", and what its pieces are. And then once I have my set of "design goals", I'll be breaking them down into components and reprogramming myself so that (as your foreward to Steve Anderson's book says) I can turn the weaknesses into strengths.

Put another way, I want to improve this year. I am *going* to improve this year. And I intend to systematically and decisively get rid of anything that looks like a barrier to improving.

B (well, maybe with the exception of bailing on my job and practicing full-time... :unsure: )

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BTW, as long as I'm on the topic of "confessing bad habits".... I watch the targets through my dot, rather than calling the shot as it breaks and moving on.

Am paying a lot of attention to the "seeing" section of Brian's book, and the "snap your eyes" drills in Matt's book.


b (no shortage of things to work on... but committed to doing it the best I can)

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I tend towards the "bring my head down to the gun" end of the spectrum while I'm shooting. Probably not helped by left-eye dominance, and the fact that, when shooting, my arms are usually considerably more "flexed" than most shooters.

Among the other things I'm working on, should I add posture and stance? As long as I have the hood open, should I work on "index points" for chin and shoulders and elbows, as well as hands?

Here's my take on stance....

Feet are at a minimum shoulder width apart, parallel or strong foot slightly back - whatever works best with your natural point of aim (Brian's book and one of his posts here explain natural point of aim). Body weight should be in the balls of your feet, not in your heels. Your center should be lowered and active. In other words, your hips should roll forward slightly as if you're thinking to sit in a chair. Knees should be soft/slightly bent. You want an aggressive stance that supports the ergonomics of the upper body.

Now add the platform....

I could never shoot with my elbows pointed down. The gun would practically slap me in the face! If your elbows are pointing out, as if your were going to pick up a round barrel, it will help keep the dot (or the front sight) tracking up and down. Keep the elbows slightly bent to act as shock absorbers. If you lock your arms out, the recoil will travel up to your shoulders. If I try the elbows down position, I find my head drops lower. With elbows out, my head still drops a little but not very much.

And you're wise to start a new habit than trying to change an old one - that takes longer. Some where I read it takes about 3000 repetitions to cement something into a habit.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Some catch-up... haven't posted in a while.... (warning - "geek-length" post ahead...)

Spent the first two weeks of January just going thru some DVDs (Burkett's vol 1-3, TGO's old ones, etc) and books (Brian's, Steve Anderson's, Saul Kirsch's,. Sam Conway's, plus Keith Tyler's materials from the class I took a while back) and making a lot of notes. Kinda just looking for the right foundational elements to build on. When I was learning golf, I liked having "indexes" that I could key on as I learned and improved... my initial thought here was that, by mining the best [available] learning sources I can develop a set of "reference points" that I can use to evaluate the quality of my work and keep me on track as I go... and as I improve, I can go back to those sources, refine my notes to evolve the next set of "checkpoints" and use my new-found/growing awareness to peel away the next layer of learning.

Based on that "homework", during the week of the 14th I...

  • ... switched [back] to a Ghost holster. I've always loved the Ghost, but in the past couple of years I have not spent enough time with it to be confident with it, so I fell back to a "more conservative" holster - the CR speed with an arredondo platform. The CR is rock-solid and "comfortable", but the Ghost lends itself to more efficient movements, and has more adjustability, so.... what the heck. If I'm committed to improvement, I want to *not* build limitations in at the start, by making too-conservative gear choices. Plus... I can re-holster without looking at the Ghost, which *greatly* reduces wasted time in my practice sessions B)
  • ... moved my holster to a strong-side, neutral position, lined up with the seam of my jeans, aligned toward target, pretty much vertical cant, and butt at a height that doesn't force me to "scrunch" my shoulders on the draw. In the past, my holster position was "pseudo-appendix", pretty much centered over the front pocket of my jeans, and pointed towards weak-side leg. Old dog, old habit, back from the 80s (when the "trick move" was, starting from a surrender position, to just "rotate" forearms down and slap the gun out of the FastTrac) and never bothered to change it. Today's the day ;-) It took a few evenings to get it in a spot where all the variables lined up: aligned with the target, aligned with my forearm when I acquire my grip in the holster, neutral wrist angle, allowed me to keep shoulders relaxed/level, etc, etc, etc. I spent a couple of evenings just "wandering around the house" with my gear on, practicing "dry grips" at tai-chi speeds and making adjustments until the holster is in as optimal a position as I have the [current] ability to make it. I figure that's a pretty important investment of time... and, notably, I've put more "thought" into holster position in the past couple of weeks than I have in the last 20 years, combined. (As an aside, I've been working to shed some "gut", so that helps open up a bunch of placement options, too.) :cheers:
  • ... got my magazine pouches repositioned per Burkett's guidance. First one centered over the zipper, so I can put my belt on the same place every time, and angled so that my wrist and forearm are lined up right when I lay an index finger on the top of it. Two more positioned behind it, similarly angled. Again, that "losing some girth" thing has opened up some options, which I'm really loving. Previously, mag-pouch position was (to an extent) defined by "where will they fit where they won't get in the way of sitting/bending/breathing". Now I can put them where they *should* be.... for the *right* reasons.

The week of the 21st was the beginning of dry-fire practice, in earnest. Well, to be more specific, it was the beginning of identifying some component parts of a draw, so that I can start working to groove them. I thought a lot about TGO's teaching in "Shooter Ready" (granted, it is 20 years old, but... hey! he's TGO!), and how he works through "position 1", "movement 1", etc. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked Burkett's approach of "learning the draw backwards". In his DVD, he walks Kevin through the draw, starting from sights-aligned-on-target...

  • start with a good grip, relaxed shoulders, head straight, weight balanced, stance aligned with target, then... pull the gun in, and practice pushing the gun out to that position.
  • When that is comfortable, start with hands at the "dry-grip" position... strong hand has a solid grip on gun, up out of the holster, weak hand is in its "ready to join the grip" position... then add the weak-hand to the grip, while moving the gun through that "pulled in" spot to alignment and sight picture.
  • When *that* is comfortable, start with strong hand on gun in the holster. Solid grip on the gun, "snatch" the gun out of the holster and move it to that "ready to form the grip" spot, then move through forming the weak-hand onto the grip, moving through the "pulled in" spot to alignment and sight picture.
  • Last, pull it all together... with hands relaxed at sides, adopt the dry grip while moving weak-hand to its "ready" spot, then flow through the grip acquisition and prep position to pushed-out-with-sight-picture. One thing I have in the back of my mind is, I have to make sure I focus on flowing smoothly through the draw, and *not* going from "position to position", and stopping/hesitating at specific spots. In other words, I want to groove the motions, *without* making "stops" a part of them.

OK, that sounds backwards (!), but... it makes sense to my brain. When I was addicted to golf (*that* was a huge time-suck!), the way I grooved my swing was by breaking it down into pieces, and giving myself indexes to check the pieces. Stance, alignment, addressing the ball, grip tension, wrist angle, head angle, shoulders, etc. Burkett's approach of "learning the draw backwards" allows me to do the same thing... at each point, I can stop and check my indexes... is my hand in the right place on the gun? Is my weak hand in the right "ready spot"? When I've formed my grip, do I have the right tension applied? Is the heel of my weak-side hand fully in contact with the grip panel of the gun? When I have dot on target, is my head up, shoulders neutral? Etc.

So, I spent a week *just* doing that stuff at tai-chi speeds, just to try to groove the motions and define my index points. About an hour a night, and this is truly "baby steps", but... again, trying to build not only a solid foundation, but trying to *learn* the components of that foundation so I can identify blockers and fine-tune whenever things get "out of spec". Did that every night until leaving the for the Board meeting in Atlanta... thought about it, and chose not to bring gun-and-gear to the hotel, which was probably an OK decision (I worked out each night), but... in hindsight, those two nights were the only nights I *haven't* done skill-building, and I hate having a gap in the program <_<

The week of the 28th, I started putting things together into a draw. I started each session with sort of a "refresher" of the work-backwards approach, but quickly moved into doing full draw-sequences. First couple of nights I did full draws (hands relaxed-at-sides to dot-on-aiming-point) at tai-chi speeds, just really "seeing" what I was doing and trying to make the movements as efficient and smooth as possible, and focusing on the *quality* of the components (*good* strong-hand position on gun, *good* grip acquisition, *good* grip pressure, *good* position of arms when extended, *good* stance, *good* head position, etc).

One idea I picked up from Burkett's video, that I am trying out, is his "pinch" method of getting the weak-hand into the grip. Basically, when adding his weak-hand onto the gun, he angles the hand into the junction between the strong-hand and the bottom of the trigger guard, kind of a in a "karate-chop" kind of thing, and then rotates the weak-hand palm down into the grip. Takes longer to describe than to do, but... it kinda makes sense, and it seems to *hugely* improve the quality and consistency of my weak-hand position when the grip is formed. What I haven't decided is whether or not that is an "efficient" way of building the grip, or if that adds an extra/extraneous motion that I'll just have to work to eliminate later. Stay tuned...

After a couple of days of doing that in slow-motion, I started to add some pace. I'd do a draw all the way through, and then stop when I had my dot on my aiming point, and analyze it. Is my sight picture solid? Did my dot "appear" where it should? Is my grip good? Is my weak-hand applying the right pressure in the right places? Are my shoulders relaxed? Is my head straight? Etc. If yes, I'd add a little pace. If not... I'd slow it down a little bit, and focus on the pieces, and make it better.

I *did* bring gun-and-gear to the SHOT show (see above, didn't want to miss practice-time!) and that turned out to be really smart, because... between all the walking I did during the days, and the fact that the workout room at the Stratosphere closed before I got back to the hotel each night... there was no opportunity to work out, and my feet were tired anyway... :blink: So, I did a zillion draws in the hotel room, adding a timer into the mix to start getting an idea of my baseline "par time".

The other thing I added in was some initial forays into "transitions". I picked Mike Voigt's and Manny Bragg's brains a bit while at the Board meeting, and got some ideas about how to practice snapping my eyes for target transitions. They're a little different in their approaches, but... what I picked up was:

  • ...call the shot, and immediately start the eyes moving. Keith Tyler says that if you don't call your shot, you have to take a "third look" at the target, and that wastes time. I believe him! ...and need to work to *not* waste that time doing an unnecessary "double-check before moving on".
  • ... it *may* be advantageous to pull the gun in a little bit in the transition. The advantage is better mobility, and better control over speed and smoothness of transition. The disadvantage (?) may be extra motion required to push the gun back out to full extension when it arrives. Gotta play with this.
  • ... the eyes move faster than the gun, and will get to the next target first. The gun will naturally trail, and if grip and stance are good, the dot will "find" your line of sight on its own when it gets there (the brain is pretty cool, isn't it!)
  • ... it is *critical* to have *specific* focus on the target. It isn't enough to "see the target".... I have to learn to pick a *spot* on the target and focus specifically there. That's a huge "aha" for me... it occured to me that more often than not, I have sort of a vague image of a brown blob and aim for the middle of it. What I need to get in the habit of doing is having sharp focus on a specific *spot* on that target. :wub:

Given all that, I put some post-its up on the walls of my hotel room, one on a mirror directly in front of me, one about 60 degrees to my left, another about 60 degrees to my right. I wrote an "A" on each post-it, so that I would have a specific place to focus (kinda thinking that it would be like the embossed "A" in the middle of an A-zone). I practiced slow-speed draws for a while, until I had 10 *good* reps in a row. Then I did a bunch at half-speed, until I had 10 good ones in a row. Then I switched to some transitions... starting with sight-picture on the left-hand post-it, transition and stop with good sight picture on the center one. Then do the same moving from the right-hand post-it to the center one. Then a few moving from center to either side. Not really pressing for speed, just working to do the "baby-steps"... snap the eyes to the spot, bring the dot into the line of sight, and have the gun pressed out and trigger prepped with a good sight picture as efficiently as possible.

Oh, and one thing I picked up at the SHOT show! In my draw baby-steps, I had been adopting Burkett's approach of moving my weak-hand to a "ready position" on centerline, about chest-high, when the strong hand acquires a grip in the holster. I watched Todd Jarrett's demo at the Para booth, and noticed that his weak-hand goes *way* past centerline, and not nearly as high... he basically "slaps" the right side of his stomach, and as soon as the gun clears the holster his weak hand is "right there"... so he basically has a full grip formed *much* sooner, and says that allows him to pull a lot of "movement and adjustment" out of the later steps of pushing the gun out to the target. He says it allows him to "stablize" the grip much sooner, which in turn allows him to get a better alignment on target, sooner. I asked Lisa Munson about this (she was, conveniently, in the "Babes with Bullets" booth right next to the USPSA booth) and she underscored that - she says she has been working to get her weak-hand all the way over to her strong-side so that she can form the grip sooner. So, I'm working to assimilate that. So far, it is feeling pretty good.

THIS week (week of the 4th), I'm starting to weave Steve Anderson's basic drills into the mix. I've alternated between drills 1, 2 and 3 ("sight picture confirmation", "10-yard index" and "10 yard surrender index"). I've established *really* conservative baseline par-times for each drill. My thought is that I don't want to sacrifice quality for speed, at this point. I'd rather do a *quality* draw in 1.6, than press for a 1.2 and have it be sloppy (and build all kinds of new bad habits!) When I've got my fundamentals grooved and smooth, I'll add the pace. I've also added the timer to my home-grown transition drills, setting a baseline par-time for moving from called-shot on one target to good-sight-picture-and-trigger-prepped on the next. Working left-to-center, center-to-left, right-to-center, and center-to-right.

I'm intrigued by the notion, in Steve Anderson's book, of *not* breaking the shot in some of these drills. I have noticed (as he notes) that when you focus on the shot, there can be a tendency to "mash the trigger" to beat the par-time. I get that, and I notice that I "notice" a lot more, when I am not focusing on getting the shot off. It also makes me wonder, though, whether it will affect my later work, when I try to "re-wire" myself to break that shot as soon as I have the right sight picture.

One thing I noticed over the past couple of days is that when I have my gun up on target and *do* break the shot, I seem to "hesitate" a little, long enought to verify/refine my sight-picture before breaking the shot. I can't quantify it, but it is probably on the order of 0.2-0.3 seconds, which seems like a *great* opportunity to carve a chunk of time out of the first shot. In conjunction with the above, I have to think about how I can build the right level of *confidence* in my sight picture, so that I can break the shot as soon as it is *there*, and eliminate the "double-check to see if it is there, yet" time. I'm (mildly) worried about how Steve's "don't break the shot on these drills" will affect that.

Another thing I noticed just last night is that I seem to have a little bit of a sideways "swoop" in my draw.... it "feels" like, as soon as my gun clears my holster it moves "outward" (to the right) before proceeding toward the target. Not sure if that is an artifact of muscle-memory not knowing there's less "gut" to work around than in the past, or my holster position is sub-optimal, or if I'm just introducing an inefficiency without meaning to. I made myself a note to dig the video camera out of the garage this weekend, so that I can "see" what I am doing and how to eliminate any wasted motion.

The practice mode I seem to be developing is...

-- some simple sight-alignment and good-trigger-press warm-up

-- some slow-motion draws, to "remind" myself of the motions

-- some par-time reps (my "minimum standard" is 10 *good* ones in a row before I figure I'm ready to move on)

-- some slow-motion transitions

-- some par-time transitions

-- some drills that focus on the "next" skill (at slow motion, then at par-time)

-- "cool down" with some quality draws

-- finish with some sight-alignment and good-trigger-press reps

At some point in the near future, I'll codify that into a "training plan" so that I don't get lazy or fail to practice key things. I know that, over the coming weeks and months, I have a *ton* of things to [re-]learn, including

-- reloading (with new holster-pouch positions!)

-- turn-then-draw

-- table-starts

-- movement forward

-- movement backward

-- movement side to side and diagonally

-- movement into/out of boxes

-- shoot-while-moving

-- reload-while-moving

-- strong-hand

-- weak-hand

-- gun transitions

(I haven't decided the sequence yet... may defer to the Burkett DVDs)

...and all of that is in *addition* to live-fire work at the range, which I'll probably start within the next couple of weeks. I'm particularly interested in teaching myself "cadence", rather than my old/bad approach of "hammer the target twice, move to the next, hammer it twice". My teacher (hi, Keith!) tried to convince me that good cadence with good transitions is faster than fast hammers with sloppy transitions... I think I'm finally ready to believe you! :P

It is *amazing* to me how different things feel after only a couple of weeks of work. Can't wait to see how things unfold.

More to come...


Edited by bgary
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It is *amazing* to me how different things feel after only a couple of weeks of work. Can't wait to see how things unfold.

More to come...


Hope you can make it out to M'ville next weekend to "unfold" them. I've designed a stage JUST for you! Sounds like you've made some serious progress over the last few weeks.

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Interesting day.

I fussed with my [developing] draw a little bit, and observed two things:

1) I noticed that when I was in a good stance, aligned with the target, my holster was actually aligned a little to the *left* of the target. Which meant that to clear the holster, there was a little right-to-left motion, and [i'm surmising] the left-to-right "swoop" was an overcompensation to get the gun moving back on the right track. I adjusted the angle of the holster just a tad, and now it comes straight out of the holster and towards the target on a straight line. Cool!

2) I played around with Todd Jarrett's approach of getting the support hand way across the centerline, and meeting the gun/strong-hand as soon as the gun clears the holster, and it's pretty cool. Not only does it *greatly* smooth out the process of building the "pinch" in getting the weak-hand onto the gun (probably because the gun is in a "known spot" at that point, rather than a moving target later in the draw), it does it sooner in the sequence, and getting the weak-hand on the gun sooner actually seems to end up refining/smoothing the path of the gun on its way toward the target. I'm liking this.

In fact... where I was working to do a *quality* draw in 1.6, now with a par-time of 1.4, I'm on the target and *waiting* for the second beep. So...it *appears* that, two simple tweaks pulled a couple of tenths out of my draw, already. *Long* ways to go, and the [re-]learning curve is still steep, but... this is fun.

I've designed a stage JUST for you!

Oh, great. With your twisted mind, that's gonna worry me :blink: (I'll be there!)


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You are right on track. Not even off a little bit. Stay the course.

When you re-holster, go through the same motion as you did on the draw. That gets the muscle memory coming and going, which might help.

I've been preaching to bring the weak hand on over to the strong side for years. I thought I was pretty much alone. I did bring it up on Max's forum (when he had it running). He said he brings his w/h over too. I didn't know that TJ did so.

I'm my opinion, your hesitation to pull the trigger probably isn't a result Steve's "don't pull the trigger" drills. If you can assume it's not, then you might find a different cause. Try this...pick your target spot...press the gun out along your line of vision...pick up the red dot early...press the trigger before the gun actually gets to full extension (just for an experiment).

For the above (and always), make sure your grip is firm...mostly from the weak-hand. It is easy to get too relaxed in dry-fire. That could be making a difference.

The same needs to be said for the stance. Shooters have a tendency to get less athletic in dry-fire. Knees and body need to be as if they are going to catch some recoil...and not just one shot.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shot a club match yesterday. Other than checking zero at the indoor range the night before, that's the first live fire in... months. I think since the Area-2 in November.

I went into the match with a specific set of goals:

-- a quality draw on each stage

-- a quality grip on each stage

-- quality transitions and quality hits

-- "time doesn't matter" - I care more about "cementing the learning" than match score, at this point

After all the "home schooling" I've been doing, this was kinda like a "pop quiz"... and, I think I earned about a "C"... maybe a "C-minus".

On the *good* side, I was really happy with my grip, my stance, my arms and (for the most part) my draw. The grip "just happened", and on those stages where the draw was a normal one, it went well. So... starting to see some positive results. I do remember being "aware" of pushing the gun out past where I would normally have it (straighter arms), which means that the training is taking effect, but it is not yet "grooved" (when I do it without having to be conscious of it, I'll call that an accomplishment). So, on that side of things I'll give myself a "B"... good progress, lots more work to do.

On the negative side of things... I did sort of get "caught up" in the competition, which resulted in me "going on instinct" on several stages, rather than staying focused on my goals. That's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, except that in the past that's been a pattern - I work to change something, and then as soon as I hear a "for-real beep", all the work goes out the window as I shift into auto-pilot... which, inherently, means shifting back to *old* patterns. On that side of things, I'll give myself an "F"... because that's directly *counter* to what I set out to do. Excusable? Yeah. Human? Yeah. But... one of the things I'm trying to build is good *discipline* in shooting. And I didn't do it.

The other thing that I'm less-than-happy with is transitions and hits. I actually started out pretty well - called my shots on the first two stages, and was "conscious" of a specific spot on each target. I'm going to call that a "C", because... while I was conscious of a specific aiming point, I was *not* conscious of how I got there. In other words, I can't tell you whether I rode the dot there, or snapped my eyes and allowed the gun to catch up. I just don't know. I suspect that when I have grooved the habit, I won't be aware of it, either... but it is such a new practice for me that I highly doubt I did it unconsciously... so while I can give myself partial credit for picking my spots and calling my shots, I can't claim full credit there.

It was on subsequent stages, though, that I reverted to old habits. In the order we shot them,

  • first stage was a 12-round classifier: good draw, good grip, called shots, good hits. Blew a reload (missed the mag-release), but... don't care, at this point
  • second stage was an 18-round hoser stage with 3 separate sections. good draw, good grip, called shots, good hits. I "hammered" some of the targets rather than controlled pairs, but... don't care at this point
  • third stage... basically a set of "bill drills". three strings; 1st string 6 shots freestyle in 2 seconds; 2nd string 6 shots strong-hand-only in 3 seconds; 3rd string 3-reload-3 freestyle in 4 seconds. I got good *draws* on all three strings... but that's about it. I rushed my shots, I pretty much slapped the trigger until the time was up (and, in two of the three strings earned an "overtime" penalty by a couple of hundredths). All in all, what that means is that after the draw (which was good), I pretty much threw out everything I've been working on. Not happy with that. In hindsight, would have been far happier with myself if I had called each shot and had fewer of them, than having sprayed them at random in order to "beat the clock".
  • fourth stage, a 22-round lateral field course, starting with the gun on a table under a box. Focus at the beginning of the stage was on getting a good grip, and I accomplished that. Should have had a better plan, though, because I rushed the shot on the first target and whacked the no-shoot next to it. Slowed down a little, and called my shots for the rest of the stage, and ended up really feeling like the last third of the stage "flowed" - rounds magically went right where my eyes were focused. Wish I'd done that for the whole stage!
  • fifth stage was sort of a "memory course" - 24 rounds, with all the targets hidden behind various "trees". biggest challenge was finding the spots where you could see the targets, and making sure you got them all. Had a good plan, good draw, good grip, hit my spots, called my shots. No problem. Good points, which is what I was going for.
  • sixth stage was a 22-round field course with odd angles and various gimmicks... like activating poppers mostly hidden behind steel hard-cover, and only visible from specific spots. That messed some people up, they heard the "clang", thought they'd hit the popper and moved on... and since you couldn't see the popper after you moved, you might not know it wasn't down until later in the stage when a swinger wasn't moving. Anyway... my mental discipline completely left the tracks on this one. We had to wait the better part of an hour for the previous squad to finish the stage, and by the time our squad was up, my head just wasn't in it anymore. My run was "okay"... I had a decent draw, grip was good, but I rushed my shots. In fact, after a turn-then-draw start, I know I broke the first shot on the first target before I had acquired the dot, which sorta rattled me. The rest of the stage was "okay" - I got all my hits, but my points on this stage were the worst of the day (down 12 points on a 22-round stage).

All in all, it was a good day, but not an entirely satisfying day from a "nailing the fundamentals" perspective. It was good to get out and enjoy some sunshine (!) and shoot with friends. It was good to have my favorite Open gun back from rebarreling, and have it run like a champ right out of the gate (thanks JPL!). It was good to fire some live rounds and feel some of the things I've been working on *start* to bear fruit. I'm delighted that the new grip is starting to feel "natural", that the draw is coming together, and that the dot is starting to "just magically appear" in my line of sight.

But, truth be told, I'm disappointed that I didn't have more discipline. The breakdowns in the day weren't the failure in execution of an emerging skill... they were mental breakdowns, the failure to stay *committed* to an emerging skill. When I *chose* to do the right things, they worked. When I failed to make that mental commitment, they didn't. My bad.

So, I come out of the first match of the year encouraged by progress, enriched by the experience... and aware that I have lots more work to do. Among the things that I have added to my list-of-things-to-work-on are:

  • make sure I have live-fire worked into the practice mix. It's not enough to practice transition drills on reduced-size targets in the family-room at home, I need to groove the sensation of snapping my eyes to the next *real* target on the range. I can't afford to build a big disconnect between "how it feels in practice" and "how it feels in a match". (Hey, Travis - email on the way about those A-zone plates!)
  • I need to make sure I start adding other fundamentals into my dryfire mix. So far, I've basically been working on draw, sight-acquisition, and target transitions. I need to make sure I don't fail to apply the same rigor to things like reloads, turn-then-draw, etc. Basically, that means working through the next layer of Steve Anderson's book.
  • In that same vein, I need to make sure that I don't become a "specialist" at the dry-fire skills and, in doing so, fail to build the ability to compete. It struck me throughout the day just how many "things" there were on these 6 little stages that were NOT "typical" things one might think to practice... table start with the gun under a box, uprange-movement around a wall-end to get to another array, etc. Right now my quiver only has a couple of good arrows in it... I need to make sure I am constantly adding new arrows, not just strengthening the ones I already have.
  • I need to make sure I work on my mental game. That was a *huge* part of my success in sailboat racing - I always *knew* that (because of training and preparation and big-race experience) I was the fastest guy out there, and that self-awareness made me able drive out all the distractions to focus on "my game" rather than reacting to other things. I noticed yesterday that all kinds of things "got in my head"... cold, standing-around time, tired feet, frustration carried over from the last stage, whatever. Even if it is "just a club match", I need to re-kindle that ability to drive out the distractions and "stay on my game".
  • and, carrying that on one thought further, I need to make sure I "stay in my head", and stay committed to doing the things I want to accomplish. A quick glance at the results shows *exactly* which stages I focused on, and which stages I watched other competitors' runs and let my competitive juices over-run my plan for the day. Yeah, if I see someone smoke a run in front of me, I want to smoke *mine*... but I have to remind myself that "now is not the time". I can't afford to go on auto-pilot... I need to stay focused on the skills until they become ingrained. *Then* I'll smoke it <g>

What's really interesting is that, the stages where I stayed focused and stayed committed to good fundamentals were my best stages of the match. The stages where I "just shot", were the worst. I'm going to write that across the results with a big Sharpie... and use it as motivation to do better next week.


Edited by bgary
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