Welcome to “Journey to…” my personal training diary. This is “Journey to USPSA Regionals” where I write about my journey to becoming competitive at a USPSA regional level. In this episode, I write about how horrible my baseline live fire training stats are and the epiphany that it lead me to. Do not miss out on this very fascinating and informative journal entry.
Video is da Bomb!
Let me just say, video is da bomb! If you have been following this series, you know that I have been struggling with my grip. Modern pistols (especially striker fire pistols) do not fit big hands very well. They were made to fit a wider variety of hands, including female hands. Therefore, those of us who have bear paws will have to re-learn the grip on them.
One night while I was working on some of the material for posts, I was watching some of my GoPro head camera footage from a recent live fire training. While viewing in slow motion and re-running the footage over and over, I was able to identify from where some of my grip issues were coming. In some cases they were so slight and happened so briefly, that I had to go frame by frame to identify my concerns.
So, video is da bomb!
You should try it yourself. Actually being able to see how you shoot may be as significant of a training aid as the drills themselves. It makes you your own coach. I am sold.
Live Fire Baseline
One of the key things I did over the past couple of weeks was to baseline some of my times and scores for my live fire drills. All I have to say is… dis-a-freakin-pointing!! Here are some of the stats:
700 Pt Aggregate – 480’s
Bill Drill – 3.5 sec
5/4/3/2/1 Drill (Deliberate) – 3’ish secs is where I start seeing my ability and accuracy diminish.
These baseline scores are horrible! I was almost too ashamed to post them in this article, but hey “the emperor has no clothes”! Also, it makes me responsible and accountable for making improvements.
But… these horrible baseline scores forced me to dissect the actions and find the root cause(s).
Figuring It Out
The horrible baseline live fire scores made me start looking at some of my GoPro footage. Right off the bat, I was able to see which way my recoil was deviating from a straight up/down controlled rocking. In my case, the barrel was flinging up and to the right at around a 3 o’clock recoil.
Zero’ing in on the hands, I could see that my hands were flexing apart just as my finger squeezed off a round. This created a slight opening that was allowing the recoil a “path” to deviate. I noted that my weak hand was high on the gun, but slightly forward of the rearest most position from where it should and could be.
From the baseline drills, I also identified my draw to sight alignment as being the key area where I was losing time. The Bill Drill helped me realize that if I controlled the recoil (or when I controlled it), that my re-acquisition and trigger tempo pull could be sped up as needed. It was getting the gun out and aligning it on target for the initial shot that was chewing up time.
Breaking It Down
I did the 5/4/3/2/1 drill as a dry fire drill for the next week starting with just getting the gun out and moving. Slowly, I was able to detect the two definitive root causes. First and foremost, I saw that I was carelessly removing the gun. About 80% of the time, this caused my gun to “stick” (catch, create friction) when coming out of the holster. This was causing me to re-adjust my grip as I was removing the gun anytime it caught. Later, this would cause me to have a sloppy grip.
Once I was able to isolate these issues, I started working on the push to target/sight alignments. Again, I isolated two issues. One was inconsistent – arm movement post draw to on target. In part, this was caused by the catching of the gun coming out of the holster. The other part was engaging “soft resistance” in the tone of my structure as I pushed the gun. This is something I learned in martial arts and fighting. When you throw a punch, you can not just fling your arm out – you have to do so with some tone in the structure.
The second concern was eye focus. I was letting my eyes frantically chase the gun as it was coming up (trying in vain) to find the sights. Instead of doing this, I noticed some iterations when I just kept my eyes focused on the target. When I focused on where I wanted to hit and let my arms/hands move the gun to my eyes – B I N G O! The gun, sights and target were all aligned!!
Back At The Range
When I returned to the range, a solid week of dry fire training and deliberate focus (Haley Strategic, I am stealing your term!) allowed me to:
- achieve clear improvements in my control
- become far more sensitive about my ability to detect the “killer” habits
- begin to shoot more naturally
As a reader, you may think that bullet point 2 and 3 are at odds with one another, but they are not. I have found that when I concentrate hard on my shooting, then I detect less and make more mistakes. The increased sensitivity allowed me to concentrate less and detect more, thus leading to the more natural and less forced shooting.
I love it when these days happen!
Toys For Big Boys
Some of you have been following my “Journey to…” diary series and know that I have been testing some training toys. Specifically, I have been working with:
- Dry Fire Mag (http://www.dryfiremag.com/)
- MantisX (https://mantisx.com/)
- Laser Pistol/SIRT (https://nextleveltraining.com/)
- L.A.S.R (https://lasrapp.com)
Also, I recently received (or will be receiving):
- Dry Fire Training Cards (https://dryfiretrainingcards.com)
- Shot Verifier (https://shot-veryfier.com)
- Southwest Shooting Authority Glock Trigger Reset system (https://southwestshootingauthority.com)
Let me say first and foremost, thank you to these vendors for providing the exemplary products for me to try out. Each and every one have been high quality and well thought out products (so far). Having done product development myself, I know how hard it is!
I also want to note and point out that this is not a final review of these products. I have had a chance to use some of these products more than others… Stay tuned for the final reviews.
Here are some brief, early thoughts:
- So far, I am finding the MantisX and SIRT pistol to be great benefits to my training. MantisX has helped me tremendously in reducing the little idiosyncrasies in my trigger consistency. The SIRT gives me a lot of options that I would not have with just my pistol.
- The Dry Fire Mag has a lot of potential, but after changing my trigger a bit, I found that it does not work with my main gun. The one thing I am trying to “tune” in on is the feel. The trigger feel is a bit odd (soft) given the type of trigger setup on my guns. I doubt others would find it the same. I actually had to measure the trigger pull to verify the weight. It is true, but the very slow ramp of the weight is deceiving. My trigger setups are more blunt and I like my pull/break to be (nearly) all-in-one.
- I am very disappointed in the L.A.S.R tool. It only runs on Windows and I have a Mac. Very, very, very disappointed.
- I briefly reviewed the Dry Fire Training Cards and find them very interesting. There are lots of good stuff in them, but I would like to see some “game” aspect to using them.
Like I said, so far all of the products have had a lot of good thoughts put into them and in no way do I want to diminish their value. I am impressed.
Read all of the articles for my “Journey To USPSA Regionals”: