The First Shot
For newer shooters, one of the biggest pieces of feedback I give them when training is to look at the first target they are going to engage and not at the sights of the gun.
Is this really that big of a deal? When I first started shooting Steel Challenge and NSSF, I would look at my sights while ‘aiming’ at the starting cone. Now I point my gun at the cone and transition my eyes to the first target. For me, this change saves .25 seconds per string. Although .25 seconds may not see like a lot of time, in an 8 stage Steel Challenge match with four strings per stage time adds up. In this example, .25seconds X 8 stages X 4 Strings = 8 total seconds. 8 seconds can bump you one full classification in Steel Challenge!
The other important tip I provide shooters is to make sure you get your string off to a good start. You want to make sure you get a hit on the first target. How many times have you missed the first target and a sense of urgency consumes you, then your fundamentals break down and you try to make up time on the next targets? When this happens to me, I end up missing 2-3 targets on the string. It is very important to start your first shot and your first string with all of the fundamentals you have practiced. Just because the ‘buzzer’ goes off does not mean you are getting ‘flashed’ like the movie Men in Black and all of a sudden you forget everything! Take a deep breath and listen for the buzzer. Don’t jerk the gun. Swing the gun with authority to the first target as you do in practice. Get a solid first shot in and the rest of the string is off to a great start! You miss the first shot, odds are you can’t ‘miss fast enough’ to make up the time. Snap your eyes to the target, see the sights aligned/dot hit the target, and squeeze the trigger. Rinse and repeat.
Until next time, see you out on the range soon!