Practical shooting manual

VIII. Practice And Training
A . Tr a i n i ng B as i c s
Hot Versus Cold Shooting
There has been quite a bit written on hot versus cold shooting. There really is no “cold” Practical Shooting; you almost always get to look at the course, plan it out, and do somedry draws with sight pictures. Cold shooting is real life — like grabbing your gun out ofa dresser drawer in the middle of the night when you hear a strange noise. That will real-ly get your adrenaline moving! Improving Your Cold Shooting
If there is a serious difference between when you shoot a match and practice, start treat- ing your practice like a match. Set up a course of fire. Don your gear, mentally rehearse itand shoot it for score. Note time and points. Now shoot several more times and see howmuch you improve. If your mental game is well-developed, you most likely won’timprove too much unless you really blew the first run.
Every other club match, hang it out on the edge. Burn the stages as hard as you can.
The next match, hang back and see what is happening. Watch your times and scores andfind out how much of a difference there is. If you are on the edge and still hitting every-thing, why not shoot there all the time? Here is a basic training and shooting schedule. Use this to start with and then develop your own. This is based on someone that wants to go all the way.
You should try to get in 20 to 30 minutes of dry fire practice daily one day off per week, and two to three live fire practice sessions per week using 300 rounds minimum each. Allpractice performance needs to be tracked. Use sheets at the end of this Manual or devel-op your own.
Perfect Practice = No Reason To Make Mistakes
There is no reason to make mistakes in practice or in a match. The only reason an error occurs is because of a poor mental game.
Club Matches
Shoot only the ones that you think will help you improve. Don’t waste your valuable time on poor matches, spend it practicing instead. Shoot to win all of them. You have topay attention and focus just like the world title is on the line. Every shot has to count. Ifyou are screwing around not paying attention in a club match, you are going to screwaround in a major match and it will cost you money. When you focus every time at a clubmatch a major match is the same and won’t negatively affect your performance justbecause you’re in the “big show.” Major Matches
Shoot every one that you can. I would set a minimum at fifteen a year if you want to be a serious competitor. This match experience will add up fast. You will learn what ittakes to be competitive on a national level.
Get Out And Do It!
Let’s eliminate some excuses. Your goal is to excel at Practical Shooting, so here are some things to think about when planning your practices.
Quality Counts
Make every round worth something. Use your Timer wisely, keep track of your progess religiously, and learn from each trip to the range. You’re spending money to do this, makesure that you’re getting what you pay for. This is one of the few sports that offers you totalcontrol over that aspect.
Time Off Counts
Being dedicated is one thing, but don’t push yourself into “Burnoutville.” Use this sug- gestion wisely, because it’s an easy-out that can be abused.
Two Truths and a Lie: There are many things that you can do instead of practicing.
Some of them are more fun. Winning isn’t all that much fun, but will occur naturally withno sweat.
Take the time off from practice that you need to maintain perspective and keep your goals clearly in sight. Don’t skip practice and go to a movie just because you feel like it.
Shoot At Different Times
You’ll probably find that there are ranges open very early in the morning or late at night in your area. Make use of this flexibility, since it will help keep things “fresh” by avoid-ing the same-old-same-old syndrome. Don’t let your practices become a chore; they’resupposed to be a growth experience.
Shoot At Different Places
Whenever possible, vary your location — within reason. Shooting at different ranges will accomplish a couple of things. It will give you some experience in dealing with dif-ferent layouts and locale rules, and it will get you accustomed to traveling and playing“away games.” This is crucial to successful competition in this sport, since almost everyimportant match will require you to travel and compete out of your normal environment.
Dry Fire Goodies
You can shoot at different times easily. It’s called dry fire, and requires a minimum of equipment, expense and preparation, and basically no travel. Discipline does not change,and you have to do some homework — literally. Make sure that there is an area in yourhome that you can safely handle and dry fire a gun, and you’ve got it.
√ You need to triple-check your gun for emptiness every time you pick it up to dry fire.
Skipping this step once can lead to tragedy.
√ You need to make sure that your home dry fire area has a bullet-proof backstop, because the gun is always loaded. Your local gun shop, range, or club can help youfind or design one.
√ You need to make sure that friends and family are aware of this are and the times you Set Goals
This has been covered in several places throughout this Manual, but it is so important that stressing it again makes sense. Improvement occurs when you compare a benchmarkto a new achievement. Setting goals and keeping track of your improvement establishesthe benchmark and makes it possible for you to spot and appreciate new achievements.
Make It Fun
Practical Shooting is an odd combination of severe self-discipline, physics and cama- raderie. I have had some really “golden” times at matches and practices. The key to thisis keeping perspective — you’re in this sport to excel and have fun. Maintain that view-point, and it will happen.
Dry Fire Practice
Skill Building Benefits
Dry fire practice is as important, if not more important, than live fire. Dry fire is how I personally learned to shoot. When I was starting out I couldn’t afford to practice all thetime. Dry fire practice makes the difference when you need to burn in a new skill or can’tget out to the range. You can improve all of the shooting basic skills in dry fire or at leastmaintain you current level. Dry fire and live fire are separate activities in a shooting pro-gram.
Tests have shown that shooters that are trained by dry firing first have fewer bad habits and score better than shooters that just practiced on the range. Obtain the benefits of bothand you will enjoy the best training program.
Dry fire can get boring and old. Change it around, practice different skills, and come up with new exercises to keep it interesting. There are many different ways to practice inyour own home that don’t cost any money. Try all the exercises in this book and work onthem until they are second nature.
If you dry fire every day for at least 15 minutes you will enjoy improvement in your overall shooting. I don’t know anyone that can’t find 15 minutes in their schedule. Do itwhen you wake up before breakfast or before you go to bed. The morning is better as thatis normally when the matches happen. If you get your body in the groove of handling agun every day, next thing you know, the gun will feel like an extension of your body.
Here are a few tips for making dry fire more enjoyable and easier. Trace out the sam- ple targets onto cardboard and make cut-outs. This will let you set up specific arrays. Thedistances of each are included on the targets. (Sample targets included in book) Getting Started
When starting to dry fire, work on a skill ten or twenty times in slow motion. Do it absolutely perfect. Now speed up slightly and get in the groove. After it starts feeling com-fortable, push it as hard as you can. Now go back and the whole process again. Repeat thisprocess over and over. This is the best way to learn a new skill and improve a current one.
Here Are A Few Exercises To Try Out.
Draws:√ Draws to a position: Kneeling, prone, around barricade, around a door, et cetera√ Draws from a position: Seated, out of a box, out of a drawer, tool box√ Turning draws√ Weak hand and strong hand draws√ Weak hand and strong hand transfers√ Target transfers√ Eye speed exercisesReloads:√ Reload to strong or weak hand√ Reload to kneeling and prone√ Reload around door or barricade√ Movement around the house — practice going down a hallway, entering doors, et √ Make up your own. Just make sure that your are practicing a specific skill and are per- Great Time To Practice Visualization
Dry fire practice is the perfect time to work on visualization. Go through each skill mentally prior to performing it. This will familiarize you to the skill and help you focuson the activity at hand.
Live Fire Practice
When you go out to the range, grab your gear and be mentally prepared to work on your shooting skills. When you are practicing focus on it, not the problems of everyday life.
You have work to do.
Track your performance using the tracking sheets included in this Manual. This will give you reference material. You will know exactly how much you are improving and ifyou are stagnating or have reached a plateau on a particular skill. Check several skills ineach practice session. That way if you sustain an injury or can’t shoot for a month you willbe able to look back and check what your performance level was.
Timers And How To Use Them Effectively
tells you what you didright then. It doesn’t pre-dict what you will do in amatch. Don’t get tied-down Sometimes, just go to therange and shoot. Watchwhat happens and learn.
that has the ability easilycheck first shot and tran-sition times it will tellyou where your currentperformance level is.
Shoot with someone that is above your skill level and note their times. Work on your skillsuntil you’re better than them.
A printer helps when tracking performance as you can transfer the data to a tracking sheet later. If you don’t have a printer, write down your times immediately. Otherwise theymight change by the time they get on paper.
When practicing alone, always set the timer for random delay times. This way you never know exactly when the beep will go off and become accustomed to reacting to it. InPractical Shooting the start signal can come from one to five seconds after standby. Fiveseconds on the line can seem like an eternity. Don’t let them catch you off guard by delay-ing a start signal. Keep focused and turn up your auditory awareness.
When setting up stages to practice on, try to set up things that are going to be thrown at you in a major match. The first time you shoot a stage in practice, treat it as if it werea major match. Figure it out, visualize it, and shoot it for score. Then go back and reviewwhat problems you hand and what you can improve. Shoot it again on the edge and seewhat happens. What is the score difference? Now go and work on the specific skills thatyou found need help.
Here are a few sample stages that are easily set up. You need a minimum of nine target stands, four shooting boxes and a chair.
Here are some time fire standards to practice. Two of them are at fifty yards and the other two are at 25. Always try to get in as much practice as possible at fifty yards.
Once again use the tracking sheets to check your points on the standards.
Exercise Schedule
You should exercise about three times a week — cardio one hour and light weights one hour. (Get checked by a doctor prior to exercising and get a personal trainer to set a sched-ule for you.) √ Off days, practice sprinting.
√ Track your fitness level.
General Health Benefits
Working out will not only lengthen your life but improve your shooting. You will be able to get moving faster, into positions quicker, and be more steady while shooting. Thereis no good reason not to do some type of workout, except for medical limitations. I don’tknow of anyone that can’t work in at least 15 minutes a day to go for a walk. If you wantto be the best you can be in life and shooting, working out will improve your attitude andperformance. The following is a basic exercise regimen that will develop the necessarymuscles for the sport.
√ Warm up and stretch out for five minutes. (Some basic stretching exercises are includ- √ One-half to one hour of weight training. Light weights, lots of repetitions.
√ One-half to one hour of cardiovascular training. Either biking, stair stepper, walking √ Cool down period of five to ten minutes.
Do this at least three times per week. Add in a good diet and you will soon be in the Cross-Training
One way to assist a training program and help out your shooting is to cross-train with other sports. The requirements for a sport to cross train in are cardio activity, speed, agili-ty, and mental game. These are some sports that help with shooting.
√ Racquetball: Probably the best speed builder.
√ Golf: Great for the mental game.
√ Mountain Biking: Great cardio builder.
There are many others also, but the important part is to do something.
Your diet affects your shooting. Just like a car, bad fuel = poor performance. A low fat, high-carbohydrate, high-protein diet is the way to go. When you are working out you willneed to increase your caloric intake.
Eating And Drinking “On-Site”
Remember that part of your performance depends on your comfort. Make sure that you take enough water to see you through the day’s competition; avoid carbonated and caf-feinated drinks as much as possible. If you prefer, drink the sport replenishment drinks.
These replace vital elements without adding unwanted caffeine or sugar to your system.
If you’re taking water, freeze the bottles first — they’ll slowly melt, and stay cool untilyou use them.
Watch what you eat — the stuff from the roach-coaches, local snack bars, et cetera can have a negative impact on your performance. You can’t compete if you’re worried aboutfood poisoning or Montezuma’s Revenge. It’s better to provide your own food and know that you’re getting good nutrition without any surprises.



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