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  1. #1
    Somewhat Purple-ish rhino's Avatar
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    Why We Really Miss - Revisited

    When someone misses the target in a pistol match or casual shooting, we frequently hear "I need to use my sights," or "I didn't use my sights." Unless the shots were past 25 yards, it's almost certain that the problem was not related to how the shooter aimed the gun, but instead the fact that their gun moved as they were breaking the shot and the muzzle was no longer pointed at the target when the bullet left the barrel.

    I've been thinking about my own marksmanship lately and I know I've said the same thing after missing. In almost every case, the problems that resulted missing the target (or the area of the target I wanted to hit) had nothing to do with sights or even aiming. It was almost always a result of disturbing the alignment of the gun before the bullet left the barrel.

    It's been posted on INGO before (couldn't find it by searching), but Rob Leatham did a video about this called "AIMING IS USELESS!" that I think any of us with marksmanship issues should watch it as needed (in addition to practicing). Here it is:



    I used to refer to this as "trigger control," but while moving the trigger is part of it, it's not the essential part. The essential part is maintaining the alignment of the gun while you press the trigger until the bullet leaves the barrel. That is THE KEY to hitting the target. So from now on, I'm thinking of it as maintaining alignment of the gun.

    That's the fundamental concept to recognize. After recognition, the rub is developing technique to execute it consistently. As Leatham says, it's simple, but not necessarily easy.



    "The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State."
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  2. #2
    Master Jackson's Avatar
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    I've been to a few training professionals with different ideas of which marksmanship fundamental is most often messed up. Defining the fundamentals as sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, and follow through.

    For example, in the Tom Givens class I believe he said it's almost always trigger control. If I remember right, Awerbuck said follow-through was the most common cause.

    Sometimes when I'm shooting, I get on the trigger too fast, before the sights are lined up or the front sight is settled where it needs to be. I can sometimes even guses where my miss will be because I wasn't managing the sights but I recognized the misalignment as I was breaking the shot. Sometimes I don't remember seeing the sights at all. So in these cases, I believe sight alignment and sight picture are the fundamentals I'm screwing up.

    I also have plenty of instances where I know I'm not managing the trigger (or keeping the gun in alignment until the bullet leaves the barrel, which like rhino, I've come to lump in to "trigger control"). Sometimes I can feel myself do it, some times I can't. Usually when I'm missing and I can't identify the cause, I assume it's a trigger control issue.


  3. #3
    Master Jackson's Avatar
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    I would say the two most difficult fundamentals to define are trigger control and follow through.

    As rhino mentioned, I've come to understand "trigger control" as all the actions necessary to keep the barrel in the proper alignment while breaking the shot.

    Follow-through then, is all the things I need to do to keep the gun in alignment after the shot breaks. But it also includes whatever method you're using to follow up on the sights, seeing them lift, resetting the trigger, moving the eyes and sights to the next target, and generally preparing for the next round of trigger control (gun alignment maintenance) activities.


  4. #4
    Grandmaster rvb's Avatar
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    I bet some people are going to focus on the phrase "Aiming is useless." But that's not what he actually said. He said it's useless IF you can't break the shot cleanly; and aiming is useless UNTIL you have adequate trigger control. The main takeaway from that video/rant is that you WILL miss the target with poor trigger control, it doesn't matter how well you aim.

    I'm to the point that most of my misses ARE aiming issues... eg pulling off too early (the mind getting ahead of things and not focusing on the shot taking place at that moment) or not having the patience to get the sight where I want it on the target before breaking it. But I see it ALL the time where shooters have miss after miss due to poor trigger control. While ROing I can watch their gun pull off target as they yank away at the trigger.

    I still maintain that learning to see that FS and call the shot is one of the best cures for those grabby/flinch-y/whatever trigger pulls. People are surprised they missed because they didn't see the FS yank off target as they broke the shot. A desire to see the FS lift from the aim point is a great counter to the subconscious yank/flinch. And I bet if TGO "told all" in that video, he put that dot on his aim point (aimed), and called his hit from where it lifted on each shot, even if they were aimed quickly/crudely.

    white-wall dryfire is great for this. Break the shot slow, and fast (slap that trigger). Get where you can really do it consistently w/o disturbing the sights, then add in the timing drills, bill drills, etc, that really test the trigger control under speed tension...

    My dot's battery was almost completely dead at practice last night... I can tell you aiming is important, because I had a few make-up shots due to not really knowing where the dot was. Point shooting a steel array proves aiming isn't useless....



    -rvb
    Ryan V. B. TY56060 Come shoot USPSA w Ft Wayne Area Practical Shooters: www.facebook.com/fwuspsa

  5. #5
    Somewhat Purple-ish rhino's Avatar
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    I think we need to choose a new term for what we traditionally call "trigger control" because working the trigger and how you do it is on a small part of the picture. I think it pushes the focus away from maintaining alignment of the gun.



    "The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State."
    INDIANA CONSTITUTION
    Article 1 - Bill of Rights - Section 32

    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

    To prevail you must ACT!

  6. #6
    Grandmaster rvb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson View Post
    As rhino mentioned, I've come to understand "trigger control" as all the actions necessary to keep the barrel in the proper alignment while breaking the shot.

    Follow-through then, is all the things I need to do to keep the gun in alignment after the shot breaks. But it also includes whatever method you're using to follow up on the sights, seeing them lift, resetting the trigger, moving the eyes and sights to the next target, and generally preparing for the next round of trigger control (gun alignment maintenance) activities.
    seeing them lift (calling the shot) is the only part of that relevant to the shot. If you missed, it has nothing to do with trigger reset or preparing for the next shot (unless it caused you to pull-off early, eg not aimed). that stuff happens long after the bullet has left.

    -rvb (thinks reset has nothing to do with making good shots)
    Ryan V. B. TY56060 Come shoot USPSA w Ft Wayne Area Practical Shooters: www.facebook.com/fwuspsa

  7. #7
    Master Jackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rvb View Post

    I still maintain that learning to see that FS and call the shot is one of the best cures for those grabby/flinch-y/whatever trigger pulls. People are surprised they missed because they didn't see the FS yank off target as they broke the shot. A desire to see the FS lift from the aim point is a great counter to the subconscious yank/flinch. And I bet if TGO "told all" in that video, he put that dot on his aim point (aimed), and called his hit from where it lifted on each shot, even if they were aimed quickly/crudely.



    -rvb
    I agree with this. Learning to see the sights goes a long way toward self diagnosis and learning trigger control. I also find that really seeing the sights is one of the skills that drops off when I haven't been shooting for awhile or consistently. Maybe that's a sign that I never really had it down.


  8. #8
    Somewhat Purple-ish rhino's Avatar
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    I don't have enough experience to have an opinion, but I know some people say that shooting with a dot improves your ability to track the front sight through recoil when you switch back to iron sights. If that's true, then it makes sense for people who have difficulty watching the front sight move to try shooting with a red dot for a while and focus on tracking the dot through recoil.



    "The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State."
    INDIANA CONSTITUTION
    Article 1 - Bill of Rights - Section 32

    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

    To prevail you must ACT!

  9. #9
    Master Jackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rvb View Post
    seeing them lift (calling the shot) is the only part of that relevant to the shot. If you missed, it has nothing to do with trigger reset or preparing for the next shot (unless it caused you to pull-off early, eg not aimed). that stuff happens long after the bullet has left.

    -rvb (thinks reset has nothing to do with making good shots)
    I agree. After the sights lift, the bullet is gone and nothing you do will change its path. Those other activities are really just preparing to do it again. So maybe they aren't relevant to follow through as a fundamental aspect of marksmanship.

    Good discussion. Always sharpens my understanding to talk about these things.


  10. #10
    Grandmaster rvb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhino View Post
    I don't have enough experience to have an opinion, but I know some people say that shooting with a dot improves your ability to track the front sight through recoil when you switch back to iron sights. If that's true, then it makes sense for people who have difficulty watching the front sight move to try shooting with a red dot for a while and focus on tracking the dot through recoil.
    It sure seemed to make a difference for me!
    -rvb

    Ryan V. B. TY56060 Come shoot USPSA w Ft Wayne Area Practical Shooters: www.facebook.com/fwuspsa

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