I’ve been working on accuracy for months. Dry firing in a small corner of my garage, after doing the dishes and walking the dog at night. I rarely hear about handguns being equated with meditation, but I’ve found that the acts of dry firing and draw and fire is as close as I’ve come to meditation in a martial art.
Last time I wrote about the results of all of that practice. Three disappointing attempts to shoot the hole left from the first shot, followed by a revelation, some trigger time with a Glock 17 that shot 22 cal bullets, and then victory.
That was the prelude.
The goal was to draw and shoot a target suspended five yards away. Again, we used a sheet of copy paper. Copy is roughly the size of both a man’s head and the chest cavity. If you can consistently hit it, you might be on your way to developing combat accuracy.
One note on combat accuracy. I had been so tuned into shooting that little dot, that much of my dray fire practice had been weighted more towards hitting the dot, and less towards the actual draw. The goal wasn’t to draw and shoot a dot the size of a bottle cap in less than three seconds. The goal was to draw and shoot a sheet of paper. Big difference.
The drill: Draw and fire on the target. This time we would go in stages. First, draw and fire one round in three seconds. Then two rounds, then three, and finally four rounds. As you can see, the whole drill took about a minute. As you can see, I was slow. I did, however, land every shot on the sheet of paper.
I’ve been to the range twice since I started Daddys gun. Both times I had expert instruction looking over my shoulders and correcting years worth of bad habits. Bad habits from watching bad TV where good guys shot bad guys while displaying bad trigger discipline and bad grip.
First we discussed the proper grip and sighting . A good grip will keep the gun steady during recoil. My grip wasn’t good. Two weeks ago I went to Sam’s house and we trained in the four steps of a basic draw. Sam Hayes is the owner of Caliber Training Group in Atlanta. He gave me a dry firing program to go with my new-found, un-terrible accuracy. Last week we met at a range in Norcross to tie everything together.
Here was the plan. I would take an accuracy test; dropping five rounds on a space the size of a quarter at seven feet. Then we would practice flowing straight from draw to the shot. Once I could consistently hit the dot at seven feet, he would move it further out. There, we would fine tune things.
The problem was, when it came to accuracy, I failed. I had gotten over the habit of peaking down the side of the gun to see where my first shot hit, but I couldn’t manage the tight groups that I had achieved when he first adjusted my grip.
He looked for a flinch. The muscles in my right forearm might have been the source. Maybe I was anticipating the recoil. Maybe…
My grip seemed okay, although the groups that I was shooting suggested otherwise.
“What was that?”
“That look on your face. After you shot. What were you thinking?”
I couldn’t remember. I know, it felt like the gun was about to jump out of my hand. The recoil wasn’t any worse than before. I shoot a full size 9mm M&P. The recoil isn’t non-existent, but it certainly isn’t bone crushing. It wasn’t frightening. It just wasn’t right.
Five or ten rounds later Sam had an a ha moment. He told me to contract the muscles of my arms and chest. I had to create a foundation for the gun. Years of practicing internal martial arts had instilled a “loose is better” mindset. The shift in my structure was like going from Tai Chi to Shotokan. And it worked.
Below are pictures of one of the last groups that I shot. I didn’t hit point of aim, but I was close enough. Thinking of it in terms of a man, I might miss the heart, but I would still dump five bullets, one after another, in his torso.
Note: I need to start working on my triangle push ups. These are my least favorite type of one of my least favorite exercises, but they work every muscle in that aiming triangle. Stronger is better.
Note: I need to practice more.
Note: Had the opportunity to meet Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor. The quote of the day? “A gun actually solves an extremely limited set of problems.” It came up as Claude and Sam discussed the differences between LEO instructors and civilian instructors, as well as the importance of having a tool kit that is heavy on conflict resolution, verbal judo and non-lethal defense.