Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 7/24/2003 12:28:36 PM EDT
I've been shooting pistols for more than 10 years, and I never seem to get any better.

Does anyone have any suggestions such as books, videos, websites, etc that might help me improve my skills?

Thanks in advance.
Link Posted: 7/24/2003 12:42:02 PM EDT
Have you tried having a friend load your mags for you, without you looking, mixing in some dummy rounds to show you if your pushing/jerking the trigger? Its a good way to get consistent on your trigger pull.
Also, LOTS & LOTS of dry fire. I do it alot while watching movies.
Keep your distances short, and once you are hitting EXACTLY HOW, WHERE, & WHEN you want, then move out to a bit further distance. Also, accuracy before speed.
I am sure you probably already know all this, just throwing it out there just in case.
Link Posted: 7/24/2003 12:56:42 PM EDT
anybody use the laser target systems for practice?
Link Posted: 7/24/2003 1:00:25 PM EDT
It would help to know what your goals are and where you currently stand.

Are you trying to improve your long range accuracy for hunting or are you trying to become a better IDPA shooter? What are you practicing with?

I tend to be more of a long range shooter but also enjoy shooting steel or bowling pins. My favorite authors are Elmer Keith and Ed McGivern (sp?). (Old school, I know.) I have also learned from a Rob Leatham video and the writings of Jeff Cooper and others.

Bullseyepistol.com has a lot of info about shooting bullseye competion. Much of that info can be applied to other styles of shooting.

Let me know your skill level and where you want to go and maybe I can suggest some things more specific to your situation.

Kent
Link Posted: 7/24/2003 2:59:38 PM EDT
This book is not about how to shoot a pistol.You already know how to shoot it. It is about what to do and what to ignore while shooting.

"So, if the book is not about mechanics what is it about? It's mostly concerned with providing a system - a framework for training and thinking - within which the shooter can work to improve their own skills. Enos dwells on the shooter's need to master focus and awareness as a prerequisite to competitive success. Awareness, in his definition, is a general state of being as you shoot, a way to watch your own performance. Focus is the filter through which you perceive what you are watching.

You might be wondering if this book is a "philosophy of shooting" rather than an instruction manual. It is heavy on philosophy. And, when a book is devoted to an approach rather than specifics it requires more effort from the reader. If you are not willing to spend some time absorbing and thinking about the ideas Enos presents, Practical Shooting is not for you. However, if you are inclined to add some mental effort to the physical effort you already spend practicing, this book is likely to be very rewarding"



http://www.brianenos.com/


Link Posted: 7/25/2003 6:26:49 AM EDT
It will help tremendously if you wear garnet and gold while shooting!

Seriously, the biggest issue with shooting a handgun well is trigger control. Sight picture and sight alignment are easy to figure out, but the trick is to maintain the correct sight alignment right up until the gun fires. If you wish, I can get a little more detailed via a PM. Advise me if you do.

Link Posted: 7/25/2003 6:31:09 AM EDT
I agree with Hawkeye, start close and work your way back as you gain skill enough for that longer shot.
Of course if you picked up any bad habits in 10 years they will be harder to deprogram.
Also, if you are using a Lorcin-Davis-Jennings-Clerke-RG type gun (CHEAP), that won't help either.
You never said what you were using, so I added that in just in case.
On the other hand, I have seen $1700 spent on a Les Baer .45...let's just say he needed braille on his sights.
Link Posted: 7/25/2003 6:35:14 AM EDT
Taking a multiple day long course from one of the better known schools, while expensive, will make you a better shot. They're a lot of fun too.
Link Posted: 7/25/2003 12:31:01 PM EDT
Thanks for the tips, guys.

I went to the range today by myself and really worked on trigger control...I did a bunch better than usual.

I'm shooting an H&K USP .45 so I know it's not the pistol!

I think I need to concentrate and build better habits, rather than just letting lead fly - which I can do very effectively with rifles. It's just frustrating that I'm so much worse w/ pistols than rifles.

I'm thinking about finding a course

Link Posted: 7/25/2003 12:38:47 PM EDT
Dolomite & Hawkeye both have excellent sugestions. I wish I'd taken a shooting course BEFORE burning up the hundreds of dollars in ammo I did learning to solve my problems and shoot accurately-but I got there. My chief problem seemed to be "dragging" the middle part of my trigger finger along/against the grip, as well as finger placement on the trigger (I found that at the bottom of the trigger works best for me). The suggestion of a quality handgun (if you don't already have one) works well also-I started out with a Llama .45 and it was, well, tough to put 5 of 7 rounds on a 9" paper plate at 10yds.-especially given my aforementioned mechanics problems. I don't have that problem any longer, and I shoot a 9mm Beretta, 9mm HiPower, 1911A1 SA .45, Sig P239 .40 and a S&W .357. All have different trigger pulls but my correction in mechanics allows me to shoot all of them well. Good Luck!!
Link Posted: 7/25/2003 12:39:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NoVaGator:
Thanks for the tips, guys.

I went to the range today by myself and really worked on trigger control...I did a bunch better than usual.

I'm shooting an H&K USP .45 so I know it's not the pistol!

I think I need to concentrate and build better habits, rather than just letting lead fly - which I can do very effectively with rifles. It's just frustrating that I'm so much worse w/ pistols than rifles.

I'm thinking about finding a course




Handguns are definitely diff than shooting long guns. Good choice though in the USP 45 . Here's one thing you can do. Buy a 12 lb Wolf hammer spring. Its only about $4. You can put it in yourself on about 60 seconds. It will definitely improve the trigger pull/feel, without compromising reliability.
Link Posted: 7/25/2003 3:56:23 PM EDT
i've only been shooting handguns for 2 years or less and i've found that the shoot n c targets help a lot as you can see instatly where you're hitting and how you need to correct..
Link Posted: 7/25/2003 5:19:08 PM EDT
You can read books and get advice online and it will help you some, but nothing is going to replace having someone who's better/is a good pistol shoot, help you. You need some live in the flesh critiquing while you shoot.

Having been to a few of the 'schools' out there. Far and away the best instruction for your buck on basic and intermediate combat pistol shooting I have been to is John Shaw's Midsouth Institute of Self Defense. Cheesy name, but great instructers - most "have been there done that" while in either the Military or Law enforcement.

You wont spend hours listening to someones "one and only magic way" or picking up their range (like you will at certain Ranches).

Here's the link:

www.weaponstraining.com

PS. Brian Enos's book is fantastic but you need to have the fundimentals down before it will do you much good. The other reccommendations are good, but only if you are practicing correctly.. Repeated bad practice will not help your shooting.
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 5:31:59 AM EDT
I got some good results playing along with Rob Leatham on American Shooter:

www.americanshooter.com/Features/features.html

And buying a .22 pistol. And buying an air pistol. . .
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 5:45:42 AM EDT
Whats a good distance to begin shooting at?
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 5:56:12 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wipeout:
Whats a good distance to begin shooting at?



You need to get hits in the bulleyes every time.
keep moving the target closer untill every shot is dead center and then move it back out untill you start throwing shots, leave it there. Keep practicing untill you can get back to dead center again. Then repeat
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 6:11:28 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wipeout:
Whats a good distance to begin shooting at?



5 yards.


Does anyone have any suggestions such as books, videos, websites, etc that might help me improve my skills?


In respoose to the original post.
I am now trying to sell my HKUSP 40's. I've been trying to improve my shooting for about 3 years now. I originally went with the USP because of reliability, and they were rock solid from that standpoint, I really liked them. Unfortunately, my shooting never got any better -- despite a lot of practice on trigger control, live and dry.

So, eventually, I decided to try a 1911. I did not originally use them due to relatively low mag capacity and a general unfamiliarity with single action gun handling. I ran a side-by-side comparison two weeks ago and I simply could not reproduce the precision of of the 1911 with the USP. And I'm not talking about the accuracy of either gun, I'm talking about my ability to put shots into the same hole, over and over again.

Investigating further I came to a few conclusions which resulted in my switch to 1911's.

I am 5-8 and not getting any taller. My hands are average size, but I cannot get my hand around the frame of a USP. The correct grip for firing a pistol is one which exerts pressure only on the front and back of the grip, with little or no pressure on the sides. If I grip a USP this way, I don't have enough meat on the trigger to consistently press the trigger.

The anatomy of the hand is such that the index finger is designed to move straight back, not in the subtle arc required of a double action trigger. A minor point, really.

The perceived recoil and the ability to recover from it, is negligibly different between 45 and 40. This is not an issue with you since you were using 45 anyway.

Man, this has gotten way too verbose! Just my thoughts. You're probably 6-4 with hands like a sasquatch and none of this is even relevant!
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 6:31:27 AM EDT

Originally Posted By TWIRE:

Originally Posted By Wipeout:
Whats a good distance to begin shooting at?



5 yards.


Does anyone have any suggestions such as books, videos, websites, etc that might help me improve my skills?


In respoose to the original post.
I am now trying to sell my HKUSP 40's. I've been trying to improve my shooting for about 3 years now. I originally went with the USP because of reliability, and they were rock solid from that standpoint, I really liked them. Unfortunately, my shooting never got any better -- despite a lot of practice on trigger control, live and dry.

So, eventually, I decided to try a 1911. I did not originally use them due to relatively low mag capacity and a general unfamiliarity with single action gun handling. I ran a side-by-side comparison two weeks ago and I simply could not reproduce the precision of of the 1911 with the USP. And I'm not talking about the accuracy of either gun, I'm talking about my ability to put shots into the same hole, over and over again.

Investigating further I came to a few conclusions which resulted in my switch to 1911's.

I am 5-8 and not getting any taller. My hands are average size, but I cannot get my hand around the frame of a USP. The correct grip for firing a pistol is one which exerts pressure only on the front and back of the grip, with little or no pressure on the sides. If I grip a USP this way, I don't have enough meat on the trigger to consistently press the trigger.

The anatomy of the hand is such that the index finger is designed to move straight back, not in the subtle arc required of a double action trigger. A minor point, really.

The perceived recoil and the ability to recover from it, is negligibly different between 45 and 40. This is not an issue with you since you were using 45 anyway.

Man, this has gotten way too verbose! Just my thoughts. You're probably 6-4 with hands like a sasquatch and none of this is even relevant!



And here is the EXACT reason and PROOF POSITIVE, that there is no such thing as the "perfect" handgun.
The "perfect" handgun, is the one that YOU, can hit exactly where and when YOU want/need to, at will, and is reliable for YOU.
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 6:32:29 AM EDT
The thing that has helped me the most is developing the skill to call the shots. You know exactly where the sights were when the gun went bang. That way you can say just a second after the shot "I pulled that one to the left" then you can use that info to correct the following shots.

The skill can be developed rather quickly by shooting at a distance you can see the bullets strike on the target with a gun that doesn't recoil much. This way you can keep your eyes open and not be tempted into flinching (or just shutting your eyes) as the shot breaks.

Quite simply once you can call your own shot reliably you can be your own coach. You can read about a technique, employ it, and determine if it is beneficial to you, and adjust the technique so it works for you. This way every shot has a purpose in training you.

Then it is just a matter of putting in the practice so you can perform the fundamentals consistently.

You may also want to look at this months issues of "Shooting" magazine for a fundamentals lesson with Rom Leatham. The lessons on American shooter were also quite good I found.

Kent
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 6:35:20 AM EDT
There is no substitute for good professional training at some place like Blackwater or Thunder-Ranch.

Lots of rounds fired downrange in a short ammount of time under the stress of the class environment and the watchful eye of an instructor will work WONDERS for you.

After 5 days at Blackwater I was ASTOUNDED at how well I could shoot. I shot a stage on the reactive steel Rogers range and did it so fast (and accurately too) that I could not believe I was doing the shooting.

Good training is expensive, but it is absolutely worth it.
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 7:12:44 AM EDT
Again, good comments by all.

I'm about 5'11" but I have the hands of a 6'8" dude. I can palm a basketball pretty easily. The USP's size is great for me as a result.

I'm going to look into the Blackwater courses. Any thought on doing an ARFCOM group at Blackwater?
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 7:17:16 AM EDT
Sasquatch!
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 8:31:13 AM EDT
Get involved in the organized shooting sports. I have learned more about pistols, reloading and techniques in my years in IPSC and IDPA than anywhere else.
Once you get in with the crowd, the seasoned vets will teach you a lot. Not to say there aren't a few horses asses, but overall these sports attract mostly good people eager to help newbies. Hang in there until you meet the right folks.
Attending regular monthly matches allows you to track your progress.
Schools are good supliments if you already have a lot of experience, but nothing beats actual practice. You will only retain so much, and most of the schools are really expensive.
Enos book should be titled "Shooting with Zen".
It is a good read, but in my opinion, he gets too deep into the mental side. Gives the new competitor a little too much to think about.
I would highly recommend Jerry Barnhart's video that is an "overview" of limited IPSC shooting.
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 6:08:51 PM EDT
Link Posted: 7/28/2003 9:12:13 PM EDT
Keep your eyes on the front post! Every time you start straying bullets keep saying to yourself... FRONT SIGHT!
Link Posted: 7/29/2003 4:07:17 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Striker:
Can't believe I'm the first to ask this!
What is your problem NoVagator?
Not grouping,stringing the shots,hitting left,right?



Just a general inconsistency, with a tendency to push it left. Sometimes I'll get one way low and left. No idea what's going on there.
Link Posted: 7/29/2003 4:37:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By NoVaGator:

Originally Posted By Striker:
Can't believe I'm the first to ask this!
What is your problem NoVagator?
Not grouping,stringing the shots,hitting left,right?



Just a general inconsistency, with a tendency to push it left. Sometimes I'll get one way low and left. No idea what's going on there.



If you are right handed, and hitting low left, then two things are going on. First, you have too much finger on the trigger, causing it to push the gun left as you pull the trigger. Second, you are unconsciously anticipating the recoil, and nosing the gun down right before firing.

Do lots of slow dry fire and focus on your trigger pull, and keeping the gun steady as you pull it. Also, do the dummy rounds in the mag. Have a friend load your mags, and slip in a dummy round/snap cap or two. You will instantly see the mistake.
Link Posted: 7/29/2003 5:12:04 AM EDT
Try a videotape of you shooting. That should be interesting if you aren't being smooth.
Link Posted: 7/29/2003 5:22:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/29/2003 5:25:36 AM EDT by Striker]
Link Posted: 7/29/2003 6:33:51 AM EDT
lots of good advice in the foregoing.

being an old (real old) bullseye shooter, i cannot resist comment.

i think you know how to shoot. you are just not doing it. my opinion, you are trying to "pick" at the target. you are waiting for that perfect sight picture, sights aligned, in the center, and then try to pick it off before it moves away from center. sure way to get a jerked shot.

all those that mentioned trigger control know what they are talking about. i have told ppl singly and in groups, for decades, that the gun shoots where you point it. if you point it in the center of the target, cause it to fire, and the shot goes somewhere else, that is where the gun was pointed when it fired.
Link Posted: 7/29/2003 6:58:04 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Striker:
If your hitting left consistently and are right handed, that tells me you are putting side pressure on the grip. Hand guns by virtue of their design are very intolerant of bad grip,trigger control and follow through.
You need to ensure your grip on the gun is putting pressure straight forward and back..not side to side.
Make a C with your strong hand and place the handgun in it. Exert enough pressure to keep from dropping it. The web of your hand should be as high on the backstrap as possible.
Take your weak hand and and make a C as well. Place it over your strong hand keeping your fingers on your weak hand as straight as possible. Put your thumb of your weak hand on the web of your strong hand between your thumb and trigger finger. Make sure it is below the slide! Now gently squeeze your weak hand fingers and thumb together like a clamp. You should only feel pressure on the fingers of your strong hand and the web between your thumb and trigger finger! You will have to practice this as your thumb position might put pressure on the gun the wrong way and cause it to move sideways.
Make sure your strong hand fingers are not squeezing the grip of the gun!
I force mine out into the palm of my weak hand to ensure there is no contact with the grip. You should be able to take a pencil and slide it up between the palm of your strong hand and the grip of the gun.
Like Hawkeye said..make sure you don't have to much finger on the trigger.
When you squeeze off a shot..hold the trigger back until the gun comes out of recoil. Believe it or not..you can release the trigger and move the muzzle before the round has left the barrel.
One more thing..I would suggest shooting from 10 yards. The problem with shooting close is..people have a tendency to stare at the target instead of the front sight because they can see where the rounds are hitting. Then they try and hold off so they can hit the bulls eye. You shouldn't be worried about hitting the bulls eye until you can consistently shoot good groups. Then you can make sight adjustments to hit point of aim/point of impact.
And remember...like was mentioned above..Front sight..front sight..front sight...



Very helpful. thank you.

You're definetly right on the 10 yds thing. I found that my groups are better at 20 yds than they are at 7. I wondered about that, and now that you've mentioned it, I know that I definetly focus more on the front sight when I can't really see the holes on the target.

While the groups are better, I still get the left pull. Sounds like I'm not flinching, It's just something with the grip or trigger pull, I suppose. ?????
Link Posted: 7/29/2003 7:26:46 AM EDT
now, if i can just get a little trigger control on this keyboard.

don't dwell on a bad shot. you don't want to repeat it, so forget it. work on making good shots. the next shot is the most important one of the day. work on that one. no one can hold a gun perfectly still, so quit trying to. accept your wobble and concentrate on trigger control. accept your less than good shots. no human has shot 2700/270X yet or ever will.

the law of averages predict that if all your shots go in the 9 ring your average will be 95%. that aint bad.

when you have the pistol sticking out there, you don't have to make that shot if things get woozy. put it down, rub hands together, look around a little, take some good breaths,pick it up and start over. why does it get woozy, because you have been holding your breath and you have about run out of oxygen. eyeballs take more oxy than anything, so do a couple of deep breathings as you settle the gun in on the target.

breathe in as you lift the pistol a little above the target. let your breath out slowly until the pistol is on target. hold it, and immediately apply ever increasing, never stopping, rearward pressure to the trigger.

get a notebook and keep a record of your scores. work out your average. you cannot expect to beat your average. if you could, you would have a higher average. you can only improve it.

work on your stance, grip, breathing, sights, and trigger control. you may or may not become national champion, but, you will be damned good.

how do i know all this - i went through it, finaly getting my dumb ass to accept the advice of top shooters. only then did i start getting the possibles at 50 yards.

forget the X, those 9's and 10's add up. and, burning up ammo is not the solution. work on each shot. timed and rapid fire is just faster slow fire.

one more thing for now. don't stand there admiring your sight picture. press the shot off. bad shots occur when trying to force a good shot. relax. you can shoot, you just have to find it out.


Link Posted: 7/29/2003 7:45:54 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/29/2003 8:31:07 AM EDT
guys, i apologize for jumping in here again, but, Striker brought up such an excellent point, i cannot resist.

take a bunch of time on a 15/20 yard target to examine finger reach/position on the trigger. make careful note of where the finger is placed. fire five. move the finger a little. fire five. repeat. a picture will develop. getting a good group somewhere?, adjust your sights.

an analogy: consider that i do not fire a gun, i press the trigger and it fires itself. like starting my truck, i do not start it, i turn the key and it starts itself. so, whats the most important thing on the gun: the trigger. work on that.

old fart story: around l960, i just could not break 2600. one who did advised me to tape a sheet of paper to the wall with a small black bullseye on it. put a pencil down the bbl. stand real close to this target so the firing pin would punch the pencil out and make a mark on the target. about an inch from pencel tip to target. one way to check your dry firing "group". i did this faithfully for some weeks and next tournament: 2612 and never looked back.

Dry Firing Works. some one mentioned dummy rounds, somewhere in the mag, unknown to you.
some real surprises there. check this out too.


Link Posted: 8/2/2003 8:11:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/2/2003 8:16:42 AM EDT by cas]
"I'm shooting an H&K USP .45 so I know it's not the pistol!"

It's been my experiance that combat/service autos are NEVER the guns to learn to shoot well on.
I can't tell you the countless times that I've worked with struggeling shooter. Had them stop with they "combat, tactical, high cap, cool looking service auto" and gave them a very un-cool old S&W 38 revolver and made them shoot single action. They're always surprised at how much better they shoot. You have to learn in steps.

A good old book, should you come across one used, is "The pistol shooters treasurey". Though quite dated, and mostly dealing with bullseye shooting, there's still a good deal to learn in there about trigger control and the mental aspects of shooting.
Link Posted: 8/2/2003 1:44:49 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/2/2003 1:46:32 PM EDT by Rickyj]
I am probably the only one who is going to say this but it works for me, buy a handgun scope. Not for your HK, for a .22. (see you even get to buy a new gun this way, how can it get any better than that? ) I did this and the 6x magnification really lets you know how much your hands are shaking. Before I thought I was holding the gun nearly rock steady because it looked that way through open sights. After shooting through a scope I realized I was not, however after a lot of practice (pretty cheap on a .22) I can now hold the magnification steady. It has done wonders for my accuracy.

Edited to add: My accuracy increased greatly on my Glock as well.
Link Posted: 8/9/2003 7:32:49 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/9/2003 7:33:53 AM EDT by Emoto]
My centerfire pistol shooting wasn't any good, either. So, what I decided to do was go to .22 rimfire for a while. I joined my club's pistol team and we shoot NRA Gallery course of fire once a week, sometimes twice. this has really helped me, not only be reinforcing practice, but because skilled shooters were there who could coach me and were happy to.

This is a good site, as well. Lots of good tips: www.bullseyepistol.com/

I am now shooting a little centerfire again and have noticed an improvement. I am going to keep doing the .22 gallery stuff though, because it si so much fun...
Link Posted: 8/9/2003 5:41:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/9/2003 5:48:02 PM EDT by llanero]
On another thread, long ago, Striker posted some extremely valuable advice that has helped me become a much, much better pistol shot than I had been. Thanks, Striker!

The good gentleman has already posted some of it on this thread and here is the rest:
How to shoot by Striker

My kungfu is weak! No link, dangit! Well, like I said, Striker posted the most relevant part of the discourse here already.
Link Posted: 8/11/2003 5:27:25 PM EDT
Top Top