ACHIEVE YOUR COM­PET­I­TIVE SHO O T IN G G O A L S 8

TIPS FOR SUC­CESS

Gun World - - Train -

As a par­tic­i­pant in com­pet­i­tive shoot­ing com­pe­ti­tions, I find goal-set­ting an im­por­tant ex­er­cise for in­creas­ing my scores.

How else do I push my­self to shoot a lit­tle bet­ter and move a lit­tle faster? My main goal—to in­crease my scores from pre­vi­ous years—drives me to search for tips to help me ac­com­plish it.

When I first be­gan com­pet­ing, I scraped by, barely miss­ing last-place fin­ishes. I de­cided to put more ef­fort into find­ing what steps I could take to get bet­ter and in­crease my score.

I went on the search to find those lit­tle as­pects of shoot­ing that would help me shave sec­onds off my score. The fol­low­ing tips have helped me along the way.

1. UN­DER­STAND THE COURSE OF FIRE

NRA Ac­tion Pis­tol has a stan­dard course of fire. Prior to a match, I stud­ied videos on­line and printed out and mem­o­rized the course. How­ever, 3-gun matches are a to­tally dif­fer­ent game. Be­cause the stages are al­ways dif­fer­ent, I pay very close at­ten­tion when a range of­fi­cer ex­plains the stage.

Know­ing what tar­gets must be en­gaged with which firearm and from where keeps pro­ce­dural de­duc­tions min­i­mal.

2. KNOW YOUR GEAR

The abil­ity to ma­nip­u­late my gear and firearms on “au­topi­lot” is im­per­a­tive. Know­ing how and where to grab for mag­a­zines dur­ing reloads re­duces fum­bling and un­sure move­ment. Like­wise, un­der­stand­ing my firearms and hav­ing au­to­matic mo­tor pro­grams for load­ing, un­load­ing and clear­ing mal­func­tions saves pre­cious time. For me, spend­ing time ma­nip­u­lat­ing my gear and firearms is more im­por­tant than prac­tic­ing with live fire.

Re­mem­ber: Smooth is fast. You need to be fast to in­crease your scores.

3. HAVE A PLAN

When shoot­ing 3-gun, it’s cru­cial to have a plan and stick to it. Walk­ing stages the day be­fore with pen and pa­per in hand, I de­cide how best to en­gage tar­gets: what or­der, from where and with which firearm. This in­cludes find­ing ar­eas where my ri­fle shoot­ing might be a lit­tle eas­ier if I use avail­able sup­ports such as ta­bles, rail­ings, bar­ri­cades or ter­rain. Also, I search for that spot where I can stand and en­gage the most tar­gets.

4. MEN­TAL IM­AGERY RE­HEARSAL

Whether it’s right be­fore I shoot, as I’m do­ing my walk­through on a stage or the night be­fore, I men­tally re­hearse ex­actly what I want to hap­pen. Us­ing a holis­tic ap­proach to im­agery, I try to in­volve as many of my senses as pos­si­ble. These in­clude, vis­ual (steel fall­ing), kines­thetic (feeling the trig­ger) and au­di­tory (the sound of the bul­let hit­ting steel). Through re­search, I found that men­tal im­agery works best when you imag­ine your­self per­form­ing per­fectly. This cre­ates neu­ral pat­terns in your brain, just as if you had ac­tu­ally per­formed the ac­tion.

5. SHOOT ONE SHOT AT A TIME

I don’t know any­one who doesn’t feel stress when pre­sented

Many com­peti­tors end up shoot­ing be­tween the tar­gets be­cause their minds move on to the next tar­get be­fore they ac­tu­ally shoot the first one. Sight pic­ture, trig­ger press!

6. USE TIME WISELY

Be­cause NRA Ac­tion Pis­tol is only scored by hits, I try to use ev­ery avail­able sec­ond to make each shot a well-aimed one. In 3-gun, on the other hand, time is of the essence. I try not to get sucked into a dif­fi­cult tar­get—wast­ing both time and am­mu­ni­tion. Many times, I need to work my way to an eas­ier tar­get that I have a bet­ter chance of hit­ting.

7. COM­BAT BREATH­ING (AUTOGENIC BREATH­ING)

Prior to and dur­ing shoot­ing, I use a com­bat breath­ing tech­nique. Through con­trolled breath­ing, I gather more air into my lungs, which means more oxy­gen to my body and brain, thereby low­er­ing my heart rate. Com­bat breath­ing is from the di­aphragm; my stom­ach ex­pands to make room for the air as I breathe in and con­tracts as I breathe out. Breathe in for four sec­onds, hold for four sec­onds and exhale for four sec­onds. Michelle Cerino is both a firearms trainer and the pres­i­dent of Cerino Con­sult­ing and Train­ing Group, LLC—a firearms train­ing com­pany she built with her hus­band, Chris, in 2011. She writes, hunts and com­petes in ma­jor 3-gun matches na­tion­wide.

8. ONLY COM­PETE AGAINST YOUR­SELF

When I com­pete, I al­ways lis­ten to the ad­vice other shoot­ers give me. How­ever, I still make my own plan, be­cause I know my abil­i­ties. Also, although I watch peo­ple who are shoot­ing be­fore me, I don’t get all worked up when they burn down a stage. I know how fast I shoot, and I never try to em­u­late their speed. Right now, I am fo­cus­ing on work­ing to­ward en­gag­ing the tar­gets with­out risk­ing a miss. Next year, I’m hop­ing to trust my shots more and to try to in­crease my speed.

From the very first time I be­gan com­pet­ing in 3-gun, I shot with the pros. Yes, I’m very for­tu­nate to have the op­por­tu­nity to watch them shoot and get their ad­vice.

Nev­er­the­less, at times, it could have been quite dis­cour­ag­ing with my stage times be­ing dou­ble theirs. Per­haps that’s why I choose to com­pete only with my­self. I have solid ba­sics, and ev­ery time I com­pete, I’m able to in­crease my per­for­mance.

All in all, these eight lit­tle tips have saved min­utes and added pre­cious points to keep me mov­ing up in my rank­ing. GW

When shoot­ing at an ar­ray of tar­gets, it’s im­por­tant to shoot one tar­get at a time. Don’t men­tally move on to the

next tar­get be­fore the cur­rent tar­get is down.

Short-bar­reled hand­guns sel­dom gen­er­ate the muz­zle ve­loc­ity needed for re­li­able JHP ex­pan­sion, are much harder to shoot well un­der stress due to their shorter sight ra­dius, and, ex­cept for ex­treme cir­cum­stances, they are no more con­ceal­able than a more-ef­fi­cient full-sized gun. Al­ways search for ar­eas where your ri­fle shoot­ing might be a lit­tle eas­ier with the use of sup­ports.

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