I remember the very first time I rode a motorcycle. My dad took me to a parking lot at the local college. I hopped on, grabbed the clutch, started the bike, kicked the shifter down into first gear, slowly let out the clutch, and rolled my right wrist forward. I was riding a motorcycle! After an hour of figure-eights, I told my dad I was ready to go for my first ride. We went down some winding country roads, and I felt like I was ‘flying’. To my surprise I was going 45 MPH on a 55MPH road and traffic started to back up behind us. I pulled over, and I remembered telling my dad that I was nervous going any faster. I felt like I was rushing to get down the road. He told me some words that I would remember the rest of my life. “Son, you will build confidence as you ride this motorcycle over the next few weeks, soon you will want to go faster and faster; and you will soon think 45MPH is slow and you won’t feel like you are in a ‘Rush’. Take your time and get comfortable.” I remembered his advice when I started to push the limits of my motorcycle and soon 60 MPH was fast and then 80MPH was fast. I pushed myself to be a better rider, but I felt the only way I would be able to go faster and be confident, was to go faster.
This same sensation is true for shooting. I remember the first time I shot Smoke and Hope with my Rimfire Pistol Open. I shot a modest 3.00 seconds, and I thought I was doing well. When the buzzer went off, I felt a sensation of a ‘Rush’ to get all 5 shots fired. I then aimed to shoot a total stage of 10.00 seconds, and I remember the first time I shot a sub-2.50 second string. I thought…I mean I knew, I was going fast! I then looked at the results of the last World Speed Shooting Championship and realized I needed to be in the 1.5 second range to be as good as the fastest in the world. WOW, how was I ever going to get there? The answer: analyze what I was doing and PRACTICE!
Assuming you have solid trigger control, speed comes from two areas: the positioning of your body in relation to the target and secondly the communication between your eyes to your brain and then your brain to your trigger finger.
Indexing is the body position and ability to get from target to target. The majority of indexing is in your lower body. For me, indexing is your body’s ability to see a target and get your body in position to get the sights of your gun on target. This aides in point shooting or instinctive shooting. Your gun is either right on target when you transition or very close. It is important to train your body to index well. Drive at the knees! In Steel Challenge, the transition to the Stop Plate on ‘Five to Go’ is a great example. For me, indexing with a rifle is second nature and indexing with a handgun takes just a little bit more work. This is because of the relationship of my face to the stock of the rifle. Just point shooting on a target and pulling the trigger can be a successful strategy for some, but my experience is I can get quite a few targets by indexing and pulling the trigger, but I am not consistent. The key component is then to see your sights on the target after you index.
As with my motorcycle, you have to go fast to get the excitement and out of control sensation – in control. What I have found is I can shoot “fast enough” but I have to slow the experience down in my brain. Let’s get this out of the way. Out of control is out of control. Slow is slow. You have to continue to push your “Edge” that I have written about previously. You can only shoot as fast as you can see the target, the sight is on the target and you pull the trigger to get your hit. The majority of time when I miss a target is because I have not waited to see the full sight picture on the target. Sometimes I will try to ‘cheat’ at plate by shooting at the edge of the plate and allow the swing of my gun result in the shot being on target. Admittedly, sometimes it works out and others it does not. The key is you have to be able to see it. If you were to survey Grand Master shooters across the country they will all tell you the same thing, you have to get your sights on target and get your hits. Most people cannot miss quick enough to get make-up shots to get on the podium in a match.
Remember, don’t get into ‘Rush’ mode when the buzzer goes off. Assertively get your eyes on the target, get your gun and sight picture there, pull the trigger like you have done thousands of times, and then transition your body and eyes hard to the next target. Practice doing this as fast as you can see. Get rid of the ‘Rush’ mode and just go fast until you can’t see your sights when you get to the target. Push this ‘Edge’ and you will be RACING!
See you out on the range soon! Steve