Recently, I wrote a blog post discussing shooting segmentation and the batching process that can happen when shooting. Let’s spend a few minutes and discuss the segmentation part of shooting. I was recently training with someone who was at a plateau shooting Steel Challenge Stage Outer Limits. The first shot was assertive and towards the center of the plate every single shot. The second shot on Plate #2 was a little bit more sporadic, but was hitting the plate 95%+ of the time. There was a brief pause after the shot was fired which included a slight delay until either an audible ring or enough time for the brain to process the sights were in the right location when the shot was fired. The third, fourth, and fifth shot were at an acceptable pace. The overall times were right around 4.00 seconds a string. This is a high Master level shooter on all of the other stages, with some in the Grand Master time range.
My job, as a coach, was to identify their shooting tendency and provide them with a way to correct it to become more effective and more efficient. I shared with this person they were hesitating on plate #2 and I asked if they knew that they were doing this. They said that they could feel from time to time they were. I then walked through the psychology of shooting this stage and the fear of leaving the first box and going to the next and not missing the second plate. I told them I wanted them to speed up the second shot and not think about it being the second shot on Outer Limits, but a second shot on any other stage where you see the dot on the plate and pull the trigger. What happened next was interesting, but not all that uncommon. They shot the first shot slightly more aggressively .10 seconds faster, the back shot was much faster and .93 seconds total time on the first two shots. This pace is in where the top third of most Grand Masters in Rimfire Rifle Open are logged. Then they shot plate #4 aggressively, they were not stable into the box and it took 3 shots to hit plate #4 before they finished off with plate #3 and the stop plate. Total time was 4.25 seconds with two pickup shots.
This is where shooting segmentation comes in. Just because you push the pace on one shot, this does not mean you push the pace on all of the shots on the stage or array. You segment your cadence on each target giving each one what it needs. You can’t treat every single shot the same or batch them together. When you watch the top shooters in the sport, they do not shoot all targets at the same speed, there is variation because every target needs its own sight picture and discipline. If your transition from box #1 to box#2 is assertive, but in control and you hit plate #4 99+% of the time, you may not need to speed this shot up.
After reviewing some video, they were able to make the correct adjustments and were shooting in the 3.5-3.6s when they put all of the steps together. If you are not getting the results you are looking for on a stage, with a particular division, step back and look to see where the time is to be lowered. Just shooting everything fast is not the recipe for success. Sometimes you have to break down each shot and transition to find it. Keep this in mind the next time you go to the practice range and find your time!
See you out on the range soon!