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CA Guns & Huting: Shoot More

CA Guns & Hunting: Shoot more; miss less (practice makes perfect)

By STEVE COMUS/Cal. Guns & Hunting Guns EditorPublished: Feb 14, 2019

Facts are facts. If you want to miss less, shoot more. It really is that simple. It may not be particularly easy sometimes, but it is simple.

With each passing year, it gets harder and harder for folks to shoot both frequently and significantly. Schedules and money are both tight for many, to say nothing about the increasing challenges of finding easy and quick access to places to shoot.

cgh_comus_olympicchampOLYMPIC CHAMPIONS LIKE Kim Rhode from Southern California may have seemingly endless talent, but they also practice a whole bunch. Such champions definitely shoot more and miss less. Here, Kim is shown in competition at a World Cup event.

There are two avenues of approach to make sure one shoots more, either of which can work fine. It just depends upon which way works best for the individual shooter. Or, do both.

Ideally, a disciplined shooter should shoot at least weekly (daily is awesome, but few can do that). Likely for many folks, the most frequent shooting sessions would be monthly.

Bottom line is that good shooting requires a combination of trigger time and frequency. Under the trigger time banner is the gross number of rounds fired. For example, a monthly shooting routine might see 1,000 rounds per session going downrange. Weekly routines would see 250 per session. Because of the frequency requirement, four 250-round sessions are better than one 1,000-round session.

Shooters need a plan if they are to realize their full potential. It is fun to just go out plinking and burn up a bunch of ammo. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is a whole lot better than nothing.

However, disciplined shooting will help improve results in both the short and long terms. For a plan, shooters should consider exactly what it is they want to achieve.

cgh_comus_airgunsmakeAIRGUNS MAKE IT possible to shoot in areas where regular firearms cannot be shot, which means that they afford opportunities to practice and shoot more for shooters who live in more congested areas. Here, author shoots a Umarex air rifle.

Here are some thoughts:

Familiarization. Before anyone can be truly proficient, he or she must be familiar with the firearm and the sights must put the bullet/pattern where the eyes are looking. Hence, a beginning routine to follow for from one to three sessions can be as simple as paying close attention to handling, cycling and manipulating the particular gun or guns – loading and unloading, those sorts of things. Once the guns can be handled and shot fluidly and properly, then it can be time to get serious about performance of the gun/shooter combination. No two shooters are exactly alike. Take time at this point in the routine to make sure that handling dynamics are solid. This can make fine-tuning later much easier and quicker.

Proficiency. Shooters need to determine the range at which they want to be proficient and the size/type of target they want to be able to hit. For defensive handguns, the distance might be 15 feet or so, and the area to put the shots might be 8 inches in diameter. For rifles, the distance may be 100 yards (or more) and the hit zone 2 inches (eventually less, but a couple of inches suffices for openers). Or, it could be anything between. The point is that by determining the distance and effective hit zone size, it is easier to focus on being consistent within that hit zone size at that distance. But don’t cheat. Sometimes 8 out of 10 shots may be in the intended hit zone, but 2 of them are out – sometimes way out. It is easy to discount them and think things are fine. Not so. ALL hits have to be in the intended zone. If they aren’t, keep trying; shoot again – and again, if necessary.

Repeatability. Anyone can get lucky and hit something by accident. The secret to not missing is to be able to hit within the hit zone repeatedly and predictably. At first, it might be putting two or three out of five shots in the zone. With practice, the number in the zone will increase until all are there. At that point, it is time to start putting them all in the middle of the hit zone and doing it more quickly. During this part of the routine, the shooter should feel more and more comfortable with the gun and gain confidence that shots are going to go exactly where they are intended to go. Handling should become smoother and more automatic. In other words, everything should come together for each shot individually and for all shots collectively. If not, focus and shoot some more.

Fine-tuning. Once routines of frequency and shot volume are established and consistent, it is time to fine-tune both proficiency and accuracy. This means a more deliberate approach where even occasional “fliers” are taken seriously. This is when both the shooter and the gun are considered a single entity (the gun is an extension of the shooter), and where the shot placement results are the primary measure of success or failure. By doing this, it is easier to isolate what the problem or problems are and address them effectively.

There is no real shortcut to it. In order not to miss, it takes time and effort. However, there are ways to make it possible to log in more trigger time more often in a general sense. One way is called airguns.

Airguns can be used safely inside buildings like houses and garages (don’t violate any local ordinances or rules). Or, where possible and legal, they can be used in back yards. Good airguns have good triggers and good sights. They can be great tools (think Umarex) to use when going to a range with a regular firearm is either inconvenient or impossible.

Regular and frequent airgun shooting can make any trip to the range with a real gun much more productive because shooting either kind of gun involves all of the same muscles and hand/eye coordination. Or, if there are local shooting leagues, they can make it easier to shoot at least weekly. This is particularly true of trap and skeet leagues at the various clay target facilities.

In the end, it is about commitment. Those who practice frequently and seriously will hit more and miss less. It truly is that simple.

cgh_comus_shootingfromSHOOTING FROM THE various positions can be great practice for hunters, once their rigs are sighted-in. Here, the shooter practices from the prone position, using bipods to steady the rifle.

cgh_comus_rangesessionsRANGE SESSIONS ARE important, not just to allow more shooting, but to sight-in rigs to make certain that the gun is shooting where the shooter is looking.

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