The Path to Accuracy
7 Simple, Proven Steps that Will Make You a Better Shooter
Seven solid, field-tested steps to making anyone a better shooter (this means you)
If you know me, or have read anything I have previously written, then you know I’m not the brightest person in the world. My route through the educational process was public schools and state college. I definitely did not get a higher education based on my GPA. (If anyone asks, I will provide my high school transcripts, but let me warn you that they are brutal.)
Regardless, I have followed a path that has led to success. Through the great people I surround myself with, I have learned a thing or two. I’ve taken some absolutely wonderful instruction from people who know far more than I will ever learn, and I have been able to gather a decent amount of information that has helped me throughout my life and career. Where this really stands out is with shooting.
I learned the basics of firearm safety from my family, but I learned to shoot from others who taught me accuracy and consistency. I work off of a few basic principles that I have been taught over the years, and I do my best to impart that information on the people I teach, both civilians and law enforcement. The following highlights are just a few of the different ways I try to bring accuracy and consistency to the people who join me on the range.
I must say that I did not think of any of these ideas. Everything here is from people before me. I certainly respect these people, and I have learned plenty from them over the years. In no particular order, the following are some of those tips.
“Do things correctly, over and over perfectly, and your times will become faster.”
We have all heard them. Some of us may actually use them while speaking with others, but do we really know what all the sayings mean? Take this one: “Smooth is fast.” No, smooth is glass or a baby’s bottom after a bath.
Fast is just fast, such as drivers at an Indy car race or ordering the original burger at Mcdonald’s in San Bernardino.
Fast in shooting comes with practice. A lot of practice and practice done correctly.
Don’t expect to hear a saying, sit in your living room practicing it and be able to go out to the range the next day and profess that you are a prophet. Improvement comes with knowledge and application, and application is the key. Do things correctly, over and over perfectly, and your times will become faster.
Perhaps one of my greatest moments of enlightenment occurred when I was shooting with John “Shrek” Mcphee (former SOF sniper). During our session he talked about grip. I have size 4XL hands, and I learned that I was gripping my pistols wrong, something I had been doing for most of my life. Within three shots, John had me change my grip so I was actually able to lock the pistol into my hands like I had never done before.
What this allowed me to do was acquire a great sight picture. As a bonus, it showed me the gun wouldn’t move either. Even if I had a trigger press that was less than adequate, my rounds would strike the target where I wanted. Grip is one of the keys to accurate shooting, so have a qualified instructor take a look at your grip.
03: DRY FIRE
I dry fire practice a lot, and I mean a lot. Generally this is something I do every night. I started this while in the Academy, and I made sure that I had a complete and sterile area where I practiced. I do the same today; nothing is different.
When I do this, I make sure I have a small target. How small is small? Right now I’m using a peephole in a door that’s about 7 yards out. I make sure my sights are aligned and my grip is perfect and I begin my trigger press. Movement is minimal, and I make sure I get a clean break by watching the front sight lock onto the very small peephole I’m sighting in on with every shot. A clean break is a clean break; anything else is a failure.
I have found this practice helps me with distance shooting as well as perfect placement up close and in compressed timeframes.
Quite simply, the video does not lie. It shows you exactly what you are doing correctly and what you are doing wrong. Again, I learned this from John Mcphee, and all I had to do was see it for myself when he showed me what my inconsistencies were with pistol shooting.
Mcphee is a master when it comes to breaking down the nanoseconds of shooting. He not only goes frame-by-frame to show you what is wrong but also corrects you along the way.
Today, I still put up a tripod and attach an iphone to video what I am doing so I can see what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. I learn each and every time how I
can get better by replaying a draw, a dry fire or any movement that comes with shooting. The video doesn’t lie.
I shoot a lot on the NRA bullseye target. It is a pretty small target that shows a black nine and an X ring. It also allows for a seven and eight ring in the white. I use this target from 3 to 25 yards.
I use a handful of different drills. Ultimately, most of my rounds between those yardages should land in the black. When they do, think about this: A fist-sized group in the black translates to a headshot or a tight chest shot each and every time. For accuracy, this training pays off.
I also use this target with my carbine out to 50 yards. As long as I can place most of my rounds in the black, I am consistent.
I’m sure you’ve heard it. I imagine most everyone has. There is a lot of controversy about instructors and with whom people should train. Here is a logical, practical and effective way to address this.
When searching for an instructor, do your homework. While online, check the “About Us” link on the company’s site. Talk to them, too. Make sure the instructor you’re considering provides instruction that is consistent with your priorities (how you want to learn and the instruction they provide). You know your environment; you also know what will suit you best. Before you reach a conclusion on an instructor, find a handful of instructors who fit your criteria and talk to them before you give your hard-earned money to any of them. Time is money, and time is also limited. Find who works best for you, and move into that arena.
07: WRAP UP
I had an officer ask me recently, “If I pass the FBI qualification course, will I become a better shooter?“My answer was no. I explained to him that he will be a better shooter if he wants to be a better shooter and if he takes the time to learn to be a better shooter.
There is no golden ticket to being a better shooter. You get out of shooting exactly what you put into it. Learning is difficult at times. Taking what others give you and putting those pieces together is all about behavior and consistency.
Stress also plays a role in firearms training. You will most likely put more stress on yourself before any instructor puts stress on you. How you deal with that will show in your performance at the end of the day. Focus on the instruction, and maintain your desire.
FOLLOW THE PATH
Everything discussed here should help the average person become a better shooter. Keep in mind, however, that this is not the be-all, end-all lesson on shooting. This is merely a few items I hope to impart on shooters. Nothing is easy; there are few truly gifted shooters in this world. Most of us have to work at peak performance to see our ideals on the range.
As I stated in the beginning, I am not the brightest individual in the world, but I seek to surround myself with others who are far better and brighter than myself. I learn from them, I open my mind, set my ego aside and go straight to Learning 101. If you follow this path, you’ll also succeed.
“you will be a better shooter if you want to be a better shooter, and if you take the time to learn to be a better shooter.”
A former Special Mission Unit sniper showed the author the benefit of using video. While watching footage, Davis saw his inconsistencies and corrected them.
Dry fire is also part of Davis’ routine. He does this five or six nights per week, and his target is a peephole at about 7 yards.
To enhance his shooting, Davis shoots the NRA bullseye out to 25 yards.