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Firearms Training and Qualification Top Tips for Success by John Tate The following will give you

some reminders on how to polish your techniques to maximize your firearms training and qualification results. Of late I've been working with a person who had developed a flinch. eating it has been hard. !ere is some counsel and resources I provided. "ou must do your homework between now and then. !ere are some aids. #nticipation$ flinch$ whatever you want to call it$ is a mental problem$ not a physical one. %It is your mind that tells your body what to do.& elow you'll find more content in which to aid in improving shooting skills$ which means defeating shooting weaknesses. 'pecifically$ review the section on (shooting a pencil.( There are also links to videos by Olympian )eith 'anderson. I advise you to *oogle that name and you'll find several others worth studying. +egarding ,c*ivern's book$ it's available in a nice$ inexpensive reprint. I' -./01 /.20345.062.7 I' -./41 586./.20345.062.8 9or his trigger drills$ see pages /30 . /33 in that book and$ to a lesser degree pp /8:./8;. 'ee in particular the last line on page /331 (The trigger should be allowed to go forward as the same rate of speed as that at which it was drawn back$ whether quickly or slowly.( #lso$ I respectfully draw your attention to this quote from page /8;1 (Trigger control is the (mystery( underlying all of these seemingly marvelous performances$ and nothing else can ever take its place for successful results in double.action revolver shooting.( # closing thought. "ou've heard the aphorism$ <ractice ,akes <erfect. That is quite wrong= <ractice makes permanent= Only <erfect <ractice makes <erfect. >very time you flinch$ you are teaching yourself to do that again. >very time you beat that flinch by depressing attention to the OO, and focus solely on the basics$ especially of sight alignment and trigger control$ you are teaching yourself to do that again. The above is one reason I say$ to learn to shoot$ you must -OT shoot . instead$ you must dry fire. In your case %as with all others who have developed a flinch&$ you cannot progress until you defeat the flinch. I strongly encourage you to do some dry fire practice before coming to the range. The price is right and the results will mirror the effort you put into that practice.


,arksmanship Training for ?aw >nforcement @nderstand that marksmanship is not combat shooting. It is merely one aspect of combat shooting$ but it does not directly involve the issues related to deciding whether to draw your weapon or to fire. Those circumstantial issues determine when you execute the mechanical acts of %#& drawing and % & firing$ mechanical acts in which % & does not necessarily accompany %#&= /. 'afety %9our +ules& . *uns are (always( loaded. . -ever let ,uzzle cover something you're not willing to destroy . )eep finger off trigger A out of trigger guard until ready to shoot . e sure of your target and what's behind it 3. Types of !andguns . +evolvers . 'elf.?oading %semi.automatic& . reak #ction %e.g.$ Berringer$ Thompson Center Contender& 4. 'izes A Calibers of munitions . 'treet DE .46spl or larger. . CC DE 'ame . ack.up DE .33 minF suggest .460 or larger :. Operation A ,aintenance . (Cleanliness is next to *odliness( . +evolver %single A double action& . 'elf.?oading %single A double action& ;. ,arksmanship asics %all apply to handgun %gun&$ rifle$ and shotgun& . 9oundation . -atural <oint of #im . one$ not muscle . 'tanding . )neeling . 'itting . <rone . BrawG*ripGBischarge . Interrogation stance . >lbow @<= . Thrust down$ firm grip$ retention release . Braw A +otate to +etention 9iring <osition . Thrust 'traight OutG,eet (Heak( !and to <ush.<ull *rip . 'ights A Trigger


. Discussion of Draw/Grip/Discharge . Interrogation stance 'tart with you body (bladed( %i.e.$ turned about :;I& such that your gun side is away from the interviewee %or in the case of shooting$ the target&. HhyJ The positives are1 It places your firearm away from your opponentF it pre. positions you in a fighting stanceF it somewhat facilitates a modified$ push.pull grip. #nd$ with time$ you will find a stance that is comfortable and provides the foundation for a natural point of aim should you need to fire quickly. There is one significant negative1 it opens up the gap in the side of body armor making you vulnerable to a side shot. In the (interrogation stance$( start with your hands either holding paper and pen %as in a ticket book and pen& or folded %but -OT with fingers interlaced& over each other at waist level ... probably with non.shooting hand on top. Hhile in this position$ your eyes are on the scene$ evaluating potential threats. *iven that threats exist$ you evaluate the greatest threat . the one to be engaged first if necessary. . ( The idea is to segregate each discrete$ sequential step so that each can be studied and practiced individually and assembled in groups as needed. . %/& >lbow @<= Hhen you decide to draw$ I have found I am1 %#& 9aster= and$ % & I am more 'uccessful in the next step if I draw my shooting hand's elbow forcefully and fully @< so that my shooting hand is now along my side and directly over my gun's grip. This is in contrast to moving my hand in a backward$ arching movement where I have to (remember( where to stop for the next step. . %3& Thrust down$ firm grip$ retention release. Once %/& is accomplished$ thrust down very forcefully. HhyJ Two benefits for two situations. %#& If someone is trying to disarm you$ a preferred defensive tactic is to place your hand over his %or your gun if he hasn't gotten his hand on it&$ and press down as forcefully as you can$ thus trapping the gun %and his hand&$ while you spin sway. % & y pressing down forcefully$ you are preparing to build a solid grip on the gun's butt$ and$ for thumb break holsters$ you are moving in a manner to facilitate an unambiguous move to break that retention. . %4& Braw A +otate to +etention 9iring <osition. #s with the (elbow up( move$ I found making the (draw A rotate( a distinct movement speeds my first good shot. ut$ there is another benefit1 this is the (close attack$ weapon retention( firing position. That is$ you need to know how to draw and fire as soon as the gun clears the holster. To avoid shooting yourself$ integrating the rotate with the draw builds a healthy habit. . %:& Thrust 'traight OutG,eet (Heak( !and to <ush.<ull *rip. If you have a gun with a full.cock safety$ such as a Colt /5// or clone$ now the safety comes off. If you are in a (close attach$ weapon retention( situation$ you are ready to fire. If you intend to make either a semi.aimed or aimed shot$ you have the gun leveled and at


least approximately on target while you are building your two.hand grip and then building a sight picture. %#& uilding the two.hand grip. <ress the forward.moving shooting hand into the other. Hrap your non.shooting hand's fingers over and between the others. 'queeze the non.shooting hand's fingers gently while$ executing a moderate push.pull with the two hands. % & The (push.pull( maneuver is important= <ush out with the shooting hand while pulling back moderately with the non.shooting hand. This combination will give you a better foundation for the first shot and keep your two hands together upon recoil which$ due simply to increased mass$ will speed recovery from recoil$ and will keep the shooting foundation built so it need not be rebuilt. . %;& 'ights A Trigger. #ligning the sights$ initiating a trigger pull %or press&$ and building a sight picture are three distinct acts that can happen in most any order$ depending on the situation. %#& If you must get your shot off as fast as possible$ initiating the trigger pull is K/F then doing the best you can to align the sights simultaneously with moving those sights to center.mass$ is K3. % & "our eyes are on the target$ and peripherally on adLacent potential targets. If you have a moderate amount of time to get off an aimed first shot %e.g. the 3 shots in 3 seconds drill&$ I suggest that initiating the trigger pull is K/$ however your intention is for the shot to break when the sights are aligned and over center.mass. I try to accomplish this as follows1 %i.& Hhen the gun clears the holster and is rotated$ the safety comes off and my finger goes into the trigger guard. %ii.& #s I build my two.hand grip$ I (find the trigger( but apply no pressure. This establishes a foundation for a (low ready( position which I can maintain indefinitely. %iii.& If circumstances warrant$ by employing a smooth$ steady$ continuous and relatively slow trigger press that I initiate while I am aligning my sights. This means I have made the decision to fire= Hith my eyes on the target's center of mass$ I watch for the front sight to move into that line of sight$ then while continuing and progressing with smooth$ steady$ continuous and relatively slow trigger press$ I continue to improveGperfect the sight picture until the gun goes off. . reathing. 9irst$ breathing$ especially deep$ slow breathing helps calm you. In a shooting situation$ restoring and maintaining as much calm as possible is a good thing. 'econdly$ you can't hit what you can't see$ and you can't see well if you are not providing oxygen to your brain and eyes. "ou should -OT attempt to adapt your breathing to your shooting unless you are engaged in deliberate$ carefully aimed shots such as1 . with a pistol1 head shots$ at or beyond /; yard body shotsF . with a rifle or shotgun1 shots at or beyond 4; M ;0 yards. . 'ight #lignment %9ront 'ight= Nerify Nisual 9ocus <ossible&. *iven that you are employing your sights for an aimed shot$ with any firearm$ your physical and mental focus should be on the front sight. HhyJ >specially with a pistol where you only have ; M 8 inches between front and rear sight$ a tiny alignment error results is a huge


displacement of bullet impact. %Hith a sight or cross.hairs$ those are your (front sight( and your physical and mental focus should still be there.& . 'ight <icture %9ront 'ight=& This is merely moving properly aligned sights over the desired point of impact. . Trigger Control. In concept$ this is the simplest aspect of shooting1 make the firearm discharge without disturbing the sight picture. I accomplishment$ it is the hardest aspect of shooting$ especially with I* guns. HhyJ Ouite simply$ your mind knows that having this semi.explosion go off in your hand andGor beating up your face and shoulder is not natural . it's disturbing . it's hard to ignore. #nd ignoring it is a key to effective shooting. The best$ in fact by far the best way to train your mind to ignore the noise and recoil experienced with live fire is to engage in hours and hours of dry fire. The ,arines$ who largely taught me proper shooting$ say you should spend : M ; hours of dry fire for every hour of live fire. #nd this does not change from novice to master. %'everal dry fire drills are provided below.& . 9ollow.Through %!ammer 9alls . then Nothing except 'calling your shot'& There is no better example or explanation for follow.through than this demonstration by Olympic International +apid 9ire <istol and @' #rmy +eserve Team Champion '9C )eith 'anderson. *o to1"c: Biscussion.  'tance A *rip are (personal preference.( I recommend shooting from (interrogation stance( with (mod.Heaver( armGhand position1 (<ush.<ull(  reathe naturally . or$ when actually trying to shoot$ hold breath %about /G3 normal lung capacity& so as to steady the (foundation( for firing.  #lign front A rear sightsF NI'@#? 9OC@' O- 9+O-T 'I*!T=  <lace top of front sight on top of targetF put top of front sight exactly underGon desired point of impact.  ,ake !ammer 9all HIT!O@T BI'T@+ I-* 'I*!T <ICT@+>=  If shot is to be hurried$ squeezeGpress trigger while improving sight picture 2. Bry 9ire >xercises %Training with an UNLOADED firearm!& . (,c*ivern( trigger exercises . Braw by the numbersF repeat A repeat for /0 minutes . 'hoot the TN . ('hoot a <encil( #ll dry fire exercises employ #?? the same #'IC handgun marksmanship elements without the noise$ recoil$ need for shooting facilities or expense of ammunition. #nd$ it's easy to (call your shot.( Thus #?? dry fire exercises$ if executed properly$ promote development of the consistent techniques that will achieve consistent results1


accurate fire$ that is hitting the target with the degree of precision that is sufficient for the task at hand. %Combat shooting does not usually require a high degree of precision.& >d ,c*ivern's trigger exercises will strengthen physical awareness and mental discipline to allow mental focus on marriage of sight picture and trigger movement as opposed to discharge. %9ast and 9ancy +evolver 'hootingF I' - 0.6435.0;;8.8.& The ,c*ivern trigger drills are dry firing drills performed in stages1 /st. 'ingle action$ Two !anded. *o through all dry fire sequences. 9ocus on having hammer fall without any sight movement. 9irst$ very slowly. Then$ with time and mastery of keeping solid sight alignment$ faster and faster. 9aster and faster until satisfied that you're snapping as fast as you can. One very important element1 move the trigger finger back and forth at the '#,> speedF slow back DE slow forwardF fast back DE fast forward. The idea$ of course$ is to make the trigger finger move independently of the other : fingers and the hand itself. 3nd. 'ingle action$ 'trong !and. #s above. 4rd. 'ingle action$ Heak !and. #s above. :th. Bouble #ction$ Two !anded. #s above. ;th. Bouble #ction$ 'trong !and. #s above. 2th. Bouble #ction$ Heak !and. #s above. -ow . think about it . why does the weak hand train the strong handJ It doesn't. It trains the brain= That is what we're trying to train ... the brain= ('hoot the TN.( 'it in (easy chair( with an unloaded gun. @pon stimulus$ raise and fire as fast as possible. 'ights will be silhouetted against TN image making any sight movement easily discernible. ('hooting a <encil( has the standard benefits of dry firing plus limited (feed back( in the form of giving an impact pattern that suggests the degree of consistency. #t eye level$ attach a 4(x4( or larger pad of paper on wall. Braw a /G6( dot at eve level. -ow$ put a standard IC pen %or a K4 lead pencil for /5//s& down the barrel of an unloaded$ cocked handgunF elevate the barrel so the penGpencil rests on back of breach. 'tand with end of barrel about 3 M 4 inches from wall. >stablish sight picture and squeeze. <enGpencil will make a dot about R( under your target dot. +epeat operation and (shoot for group.( Of course$ you will stand with a proper stance$ proper 'natural point of aim$' and employ proper grip and breathing and 9O??OH T!+O@*! and call your shot$ that is$ say where the sights were when the hammer fell. 8. ?ive 9ire. a. all.and.dummy. % est with a revolver$ but works with a <ut one live cartridge in a random location in the cylinder or magazine. 9ill to capacity with either empty brass or dummy rounds. Bon't look while you spin and close the cylinder. -ow$ fire at a target either 4 times or until the gun discharges. If on any 'dry' shots you


flinch$ go back to ,c*ivern drills. Once 4 'dry' shots are fired$ open cylinder$ spin$ and repeat. b. 'ubcaliber practice. *et a conversion kit or subcaliber duplicate %e.g.$ Colt #ce&$ for inexpensive .33 rimfire practice. c. #irgun. %%"es$ air gun=&& #irgun shooting$ even some (airsoft( guns offer excellent$ virtually free practice. It's an excellent way to (shoot at home.( One special benefit1 you will learn the importance of follow.through$ because you can$ in fact$ start to move the gun before the pellet leaves the barrel. O) 9inal hintGtips. 6. Trigger management. There are two kinds of shooting . I'll call them (timed( and (slow( fire. a. (Timed fire( means there is limited target exposureF shoot -OH or the opportunity is gone %or the bad guy shoots you first&. ('low fire( is precision shooting$ where you have lots of time to make a semi.perfect shot. b. To timed fire$ that is$ a real or simulated +I>9 target exposure$ make sure you (squeeze through the exposure.( Hhat do I meanJ 'imply this1 do the best you can to align the sights and establish a proper sight picture while squeezing the trigger. That is$ the two actions occur simultaneously. Hhile trying to attain andGor hold that best sight picture$ start a steady$ continuous squeeze of the trigger. ,aintain the speed of the squeeze until the hammer falls. Bon't stop squeezing if the sight picture gets a bit sloppy . Lust keep on squeezing$ while trying to move the sights back to center$ until discharge. "O@ ,@'T <@?? T!> T+I**>+$ -O ,#TT>+ !OH I,<>+9>CT T!> 'I*!T <ICT@+>$ because the target is going to go away. "ou may not hit exactly center$ but you'll do pretty well. #nd$ you will find that even during even a rapid squeeze$ you will be able to establish a satisfactory sight picture. c. 9or (slow fire$( given proper stance and natural point of aim$ establish sight alignment and sight picture. @nless you are magic$ you will experience some drift away from a perfect hold. -ow$ while doing the best you can to maintain a perfect picture$ squeeze the trigger ... but only increase pressure as you drift I- towards the center of your target. 'top squeezing and hold what you have as you pass through center$ then when you start moving back towards center$ resume your squeeze. 5. Nision management. a. It's hard to hit what you can't see. 9or both pistol and rifle shooting$ what you need to see and focus on is the front sight. It needs to be crisp in your vision. -ow$ for rifle shooters with an aperture rear sight$ you may be able to allow the center of your depth of field to drift towards the target such that both the target and the front sight are in


focus. ut of the two$ the front sight is the more important. 9or aged pistol shooters with aged but 30G30 or better distant vision$ using a pair of S/.00 to S/.3; diopter reading glasses will bring the front sight into perfect focus.& b. Bon't neglect breathing and blinking. "ou need to breathe to keep your blood oxygenated$ and you need to blink to keep your eyes moist and oxygenated. #lso$ for slow fire rifle shooters$ don't stare at black sights and black bullseye on white paper for too long . you'll burn that image into your retina and (you won't be seeing what you're seeing.( The best remedy for this . breathe deeply and look at something green. c. #lways focus on the front sight. 9or a pistol1 front sight. 9or an iron sight rifle1 front sight. 9or an optical sight %telescopeGred dot&1 front sight= HhyJ Otherwise you'll become engrossed in the target and allow the sight to drift off target center. Thus$ while both sight and the target are in the same focal plane and both in visual focus$ keep your mental focus on the front sight. /0. <utting it all together. a. <ractice$ practice$ practice= <ractice your draw 'til you can do it upside down$ on the ground$ being shaken ... whatever. <ractice changing magazines or using your speed loaders 'til you can do it in your sleep. <ractice sight alignment.trigger squeeze. follow your shot 'til that's all you think ofF the recoil and noise are nowhere in your awareness. #nd$ practice follow.through and calling your shot. %If you watch master shooters$ you will see they know when their equipment needs adLustment ... because the bullet didn't hit where the sights were when the shot broke.& b. <ractice in all kinds of weather1 hot$ cold$ wind$ rain$ snow. ,aster draw.and. fire with gloves. <ractice with I* guns around you$ so you learn to ignore those distractions. %*o to a gun range$ find the loudest firearm on the line$ stand beside him and dry fire.& c. <articipate in competition. "ou'll learn new techniques$ meet new friends$ and master pressure and other distractions.


Practice and Training Concepts In today's excerpt . practice. +ather than being the result of genetics or inherent genius$ truly outstanding skill in any domain is rarely achieved with less than ten thousand hours of practice over ten years' time (9or those on their way to greatness Tin intellectual or physical endeavorsU$ several themes regarding practice consistently come to light1 /. <ractice changes your body. +esearchers have recorded a constellation of physical changes %occurring in direct response to practice& in the muscles$ nerves$ hearts$ lungs$ and brains of those showing profound increases in skill level in any domain. 3. 'kills are specific. Individuals becoming great at one particular skill do not serendipitously become great at other skills. Chess champions can remember hundreds of intricate chess positions in sequence but can have a perfectly ordinary memory for everything else. <hysical and intellectual changes are ultraspecific responses to particular skill requirements. 4. The brain drives the brawn. >ven among athletes$ changes in the brain are arguably the most profound$ with a vast increase in precise task knowledge$ a shift from conscious analysis to intuitive thinking %saving time and energy&$ and elaborate self.monitoring mechanisms that allow for constant adLustments in real time. :. <ractice style is crucial. Ordinary practice$ where your current skill level is simply being reinforced$ is not enough to get better. It takes a special kind of practice to force your mind and body into the kind of change necessary to improve. ;. 'hort.term intensity cannot replace long.term commitment. ,any crucial changes take place over long periods of time. <hysiologically$ it's impossible to become great overnight. (#cross the board$ these last two variables . practice style and practice time . emerged as universal and critical. 9rom 'crabble players to dart players to soccer players to violin players$ it was observed that the uppermost achievers not only spent significantly more time in solitary study and drills$ but also exhibited a consistent %and persistent& style of preparation that ). #nders >ricsson came to call 'deliberate practice.' 9irst introduced in a /554 <sychological +eview article$ the notion of deliberate practice went far beyond the simple idea of hard work. It conveyed a method of continual skill improvement. 'Beliberate practice is a very special form of activity that differs from mere experience and mindless drill$' explains >ricsson. '@nlike playful engagement with peers$ deliberate practice is not inherently enLoyable. It ... does not involve a mere execution or repetition of already attained skills but repeated attempts to reach beyond one's current level which is associated with frequent failures.' ...


(In other words$ it is practice that doesn't take no for an answerF practice that perseveresF the type of practice where the individual keeps raising the bar of what he or she considers success. ... (TTakeU >leanor ,aguire's /555 brain scans of ?ondon cabbies$ which revealed greatly enlarged representation in the brain region that controls spatial awareness. The same holds for any specific task being honedF the relevant brain regions adapt accordingly. ... (TThis type of practiceU requires a constant self.critique$ a pathological restlessness$ a passion to aim consistently Lust beyond one's capability so that daily disappointment and failure is actually desired$ and a never.ending resolve to dust oneself off and try again and again and again. ... (The physiology of this process also requires extraordinary amounts of elapsed time . not Lust hours and hours of deliberate practice each day$ >ricsson found$ but also thousands of hours over the course of many years. Interestingly$ a number of separate studies have turned up the same common number$ concluding that truly outstanding skill in any domain is rarely achieved in less than ten thousand hours of practice over ten years' time %which comes to an average of three hours per day&. 9rom sublime pianists to unusually profound physicists$ researchers have been very hard.pressed to find any examples of truly extraordinary performers in any field who reached the top of their game before that ten.thousand.hour mark.( #uthor1 Bavid 'henk Title1 The *enius in #ll of @s <ublisher1 Boubleday Bate1 Copyright 30/0 by Bavid 'henk <ages1 ;4.;8