In just about any given class, there is almost always, someone who has never shot before. I love this kind of student because they have no bad habits to break. They are usually very eager and sometimes a bit nervous to get started with their firearms training journey. That journey is vital to survival in a self-defense situation. I frequently tell our Concealed Carry Handgun classes that if all of the training they intend to do is just that class, to do us all a favor and not apply for their permit. Training is too important to just blow off. Marksmanship is indeed a perishable skill that if left unfed, it will die.
As an instructor approaching 21 years of experience, I have really heard all of the excuses out there. Only so many adjustments can be made to the sights, only so much work a gunsmith can do to the trigger, and yes, the gun really is stupid! The list goes on and on. But one thing that does not lie or make excuses on the range is the target. It tells the full story of our inadequacies on the range. The target shows us exactly where our skills need to be fine-tuned and where improvement needs to be made. If you are not consistently shooting with the same fundamentals (aiming, hold control, trigger control, breath control and follow through), then the target will also reveal this by making it impossible to coach due to shots being everywhere.
Many times, I tell my students not to worry about what is on the paper because you cannot change it. You can only change your next shot. Sometimes, when I shoot, I do not even look at the target until I have completed the course of fire. If I am shooting well, I will not psych myself into being over-confident and start throwing rounds. If I am not doing so well, I will not look down and get discouraged. I just focus on the next shot. Once I have completed the course, I then go down and look over the results. This is where target analysis comes in. You can do this too. When you go to the range, focus on the fundamentals of marksmanship as well as keeping every shot consistent. Don’t try to pre-score your target, just focus on the sight alignment, sight picture, proper grip, slack out, steadily build up the pressure, squeeze, and follow through. Don’t peer down at your target until you have completed your training. Once complete, then you can look at the target and see where you need to improve.
These illustrations will help you understand what it is that you are doing incorrectly, ever how great or small the issue might be. The greater the distance, the more pronounced the errors will be, so start at close range and build up to 15 and 25 yards. As I said before, the target does not lie. Use it’s honesty to your own advantage. Fine tune your skills. Print this up and take it to the range with you. Let your buddy, or if you are really daring, your spouse, coach you. You will see that this stuff really works! Not only will it help you hone your life saving skills, but it is also a lot of fun!
Safe shooting and tight groups,
This article also appears on the Concealed Carry Association of North Carolina in the members only section. To save %10 on CCANC membership, use discount code FreedomH10