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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Improve Accuracy- One Shot at a Time

Pay attention to where your rounds strike the target.
A little target analysis can tell you a lot of information! 
I got aggravated when I went to the range and the guy next to me loaded up, and then unloaded 17 rounds in five seconds.  He then reloads, and does that again... and again... and again.  Finally, I flag him down and let him know I need to go downrange and change targets.  "Yep, me too!" he replies.  We get to the target stands and... well, I'm not quite sure what target he was shooting at.  There are holes in EVERYTHING.  This guy was shooting something close to a five foot group, and from the seven yard line.

"Man, I can't hit nothing with this damn thing!" he says.  I glance down at what appears to be a relatively new Gen 3 Glock 17 in his holster.  "What's wrong with it?" I ask.  "I don't know... you wanna shoot it and see if you can figure it out?" So we walk back to the firing line and I load up one of his mags... and print a two inch group of five rounds using controlled, slow fire.

"Works okay for me." I tell him.  "Let me see if I can tell what you might be doing wrong." I say as I hand it back to him.  He then empties the mag of the last 10 or 12 rounds in about five seconds.  Again they are all over the place.  His fundamentals suck.  Poor grip, poor stance, really poor trigger control...

"Partner, you have 30 extra minutes to kill learning something?"
"Sure." he says.
"Come down here with me."

"First things first, we gotta fix that grip.  Shake my hand... no... not a dead fish.... OUCH... NO, not a pro wrestler!  Give me a good firm handshake like you would an old friend.  Good, now make it a two handed politician's handshake. Good!  That is how you grip a pistol.  Nice firm but equal pressure.  Now, put your hands together like you're holding a pistol and stick out your trigger finger and your support hand thumb touching, in line, and pointed toward your target... thumb nail and fingernail should be the same length.  Now place your other thumb on top filling the groove between the finger and your other thumb.  There you go!  Thumbs and trigger finger extended and pointed toward the target!  That is how you make a good grip right there John!  Extend your gun (gunless grip) toward the target."  I step in front of him.

"Now, don't move your feet and reach out and touch me in the chest with your "gun".  Can't reach?  Bend forward at the waist, get the weight on the balls of your feet.  Still not reaching?  Roll your shoulders forward and create some isometric pressure in that grip to generate that extra two inches.  Tuck that chin down between those shoulders, bring the gun UP.  It you are having to lower your head, bend more and raise the gun.  Head up!  Perfect!  That is a great stance John, nice and square.  Locked in.  Head is up, shoulders rolled out and locked, good isometric tension and a good grip!"  I pick up and visually and physically clear his pistol... no ammo in sight.

"John, stick out your right hand, open for that handshake."  I place the Glock into his hand and press it deeply into the web of his hand getting a nice, high purchase. "Now shake that 'hand' John.  See that little gap left where your fingers end on this side of the pistol?  Put the meat of your other thumb in that gap.  Now wrap those fingers and extend those thumbs... trigger finger still extended on the opposite side of the pistol.  Notice it is still directly across from your thumb and is placed along the slide?  Good.  Now drop it into the trigger guard and onto the trigger.  Place the trigger on the pad of your finger, but not quite into the joint area of your finger.  Awesome.  Now, a slow and steady squeeze.  You will hafta practice dry-firing a lot on your own time John.  This isn't something you learn over night."

I tell him to load all his mags and when done we head downrange to the fifteen yard line.  I put up one clean target with the blank side out... kind of a clean slate to "erase" the "buckshot" groups already there.  Then I hang a single small paper plate in the middle.  We step back to admire the target.

"Okay John, remembering all the stuff I just showed you, I want you to draw and shoot one round at the tack in the center of the plate."
"From HERE?!  I can almost touch the target"
"Yep, from here.  One round.  Then reholster."
"One round?"
"One round."
He shoots and misses the tack by about a half inch.
This time about a half inch on the other side.
Just misses it.

"There you go John... that's a legit one inch group."
"HAHAHAA!  Yeah, from two feet!"
"Ya gotta start somewhere, right?  Now, take one itty bitty step back and repeat that."

After three rounds again all around the tack there was now a two inch group.
"One small step back John.  Now repeat that... one round at a time, from the holster."

Still a two inch group on the target.  Another small step back, now at about three yards.  Still a two inch group, but I see them starting to drift to seven o'clock.  I remind John to get a good "firm handshake" grip and to be smooth with the trigger.  Then I have him repeat it.  Back to a good two inch, centered group.

Another step back.  Three inch group.  "Remember to roll those shoulders, chin tucked, and bend at the waist John." Another step, still three inches.  All the way back to about five yards.  Then the group starts to open.  I have John take two steps forward and shoot three.  Back to a respectable group. We repeat this a few times until he is steadily keeping them in the hole that is now forming in the plate.  All the way back to the seven, one small step at a time.  When the group starts to open noticeably, we move forward a couple of full steps.  Then shoot back into the group.  Slowly moving back one tiny step at a time.  Before John notices it, we are standing at the fifteen yard line.  He has a five inch HOLE in the center of the eight inch paper plate... a few flyers here and there, but still a hole.  I go replace the paper plate as John reloads his mags.

"Ok John, I want you to draw and shoot one round at the tack in the center of the plate."

In less than an hour (Yes, I know... anyone that knows me will tell you that when I ask you if you have 30 minutes, you'd better have an hour!) John went from shooting a five foot group at seven yards to shooting a respectable seven inch group and a five inch hole at fifteen yards.  This was simply a classic example of what a grouping exercise and a few fundamentals can do for you if you take the time to do them.

I encourage you to practice the fundamentals and then do this grouping exercise about once a month or so.  If you are like John, you will really tighten up your group after just one session.  If you are a more advanced shooter, I will still bet you a box of ammo that your group will still tighten up considerably if you do this.  In a nutshell you just start at point blank range and take a baby step back every time you get a satisfactory group.  If your group is not just about as good as it was from the spot prior, take two full steps forward and repeat the process.  Keep working your way back a step at a time.  If you find ANY of your rounds falling outside the paper plate, you are moving back way too fast and exceeding your range.  

Good luck, and Happy shooting!