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Author Topic: Target Shooting Training  (Read 1315 times)
Bill-52
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« on: August 09, 2013, 09:17:52 AM »

Having built a couple flintlock longrifles and joined a club that encourages black powder shooters, I'm now enjoying time spent on the range.  Both rifles shoot better than the shooter, so I'd like to improve my target shooting performance.  Any recommendations or suggestions for training techniques, exercises or other things I can do to become a better shooter?

As a youngster, I went through the Pro-Marksman, Marksman, etc. program with a .22 caliber rifle, so I'm familiar with the basics.  And I have no plans to compete or hunt -- just want to get better.  I'm already committed to practice, practice & more practice.  I'd just like to make that practice as worthwhile as possible.

Thanks for any thoughts.

Bill
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PPatch
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2013, 09:58:30 AM »

A subjective area Bill. Shooting well involves both mental and physical discipline. Some days you are ON, others not so much. You are correct with "practice" though, there is no substitute. As soon as you stop practicing your skills tend to gradually begin slipping away, to keep your hand in you need to keep at it. If it is possible find someone who is an accomplished shooter and is willing to coach you. Another's eye always helps pick out the little things that lead to better shot placement and aid in finding problem areas you need to work on. An example would be flinching. Some areas to concentrate on are:

Body Position: Is the rifle pointing naturally at the target area once you position yourself to shoot? If not adjust your position until it is. Do not force this or pretzel yourself here, you should feel "right" and natural once in position and feel no muscle strain and the gun pointing  generally at the target so that it only has to move slightly to line up vertically.

Breathing (very important): Once in position, with the muzzle in line with the target, a normal, natural, breath should see the muzzle lower until it is slightly below the target. Hold the breath there and clear your mind while allowing air to escape until the sights aline with the target. Relax that grip, muscles all balled up help nothing here. That extra cup of coffee didn't help either.

Trigger Release: Incrementally, smoothly, pull back on the trigger (just close your hand actually) and release the shot - then freeze for a moment, relax, and "call" your shot - mentally picture where it hit before you look. You will get very good at this eventually. Check the shot, ask yourself what went wrong, what went right and what would improve things. If you are getting good groups you are doing well whether they are hitting the bullseye or not. you can always move the point of impact by adjusting things such as sights, body position, breathing and trigger work.

Pretty basic I know, but mastering the basics leads to better shooting. Break the elements, the act, of shooting down (here is where another person can help) into individual movements and stages, once you have a good sequence stick with it unless you can improve it. The clear air of mornings are generally the best times to shoot, before the sun gets up and causes heat waves. If you are having a less than good day go do something else, do not force it, it won't get better that day.

Have fun, be safe and enjoy.

dave
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Dave Parks   /   Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Kermit
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2013, 10:48:42 AM »

Good, Dave. I'll add that every really good shooter I've known kept in good physical shape with both aerobic and strength training. And we're not talking about spending hours at the gym. A good brisk daily walk and basic high school PE calesthenics makes a difference.
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"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Mae West
SCLoyalist
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2013, 12:22:30 PM »

There's a book "With Winning in Mind" by Larry Bassham that goes into the mental aspects of sports, especially shooting.

Take photos of targets from especially good days on the range and annotate with what load and hold you achieved those results.

Work up loads for each gun off a rest.   If you know you  have a load that can deliver a 3" group at 100 yds off a rest, then you'll know that any shot that hits in the 5 ring or any 10" group is because of a flaw in your technique.

Shoot a lot at 100 yds.  In many matches the difference in points between 1st and 5th place on the 25 yd 6 bull may only be 5 points.  Out at 100 yds, the difference may be 20 points.   I've seen lots of shooters who aren't willing to expend the energy to set up targets at 100 yds, and as a result they do okay at 25 yard targets, mediocre at 50 yds, and get their heads handed to them in a bag at 100 yds.   

If your schedule permits it, go to the range a couple of days before a match and try to shoot a practice match using the same sized  targets.  If your club uses metallic silhouettes regularly,  make a cardboard template of them so you can spray paint the same target onto a piece of cardboard and practice on it.    And, if you do lots of woodswalks, load from a pouch during practice sessions.

Spend 10 minutes a night dry firing your rifle.  Find a  tiny dot on the wall for a target and dryfire away. It'll help build muscle memory and keep the rifle feeling familiar.    Find a posture you can comfortably repeat,  be alert for the front sight bobbing when you pull the trigger.   
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smylee grouch
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2013, 12:42:44 PM »

It wont hurt to have your rifle in a close to get to position so every time you walk by you can shoulder it and aim at that small dot for a few seconds. This should help to keep your shooting muscle memory fresh.
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Standing Bear
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2013, 05:08:06 PM »

Long barreled flinters have a slow barrel time - from time the sear is broken to the time the projectile leaves the barrel.  For a shooter experienced in other disciplines, the need for follow through cannot be totally understood, Dry firing and shooting pellet guns helps me.

Remember that you don't have to pull the trigger.  If it isn't an x ring sight picture, put it down.  This ain't no speed game.

Sight picture, trigger control, follow through -
TC
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Nothing is hard if you have the right equipment and know how to use it.  OR have friends who have both.

http://texasyouthhunting.com/
Leatherbelly
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2013, 07:02:05 PM »

  Loading: a tight bore patch ball combination. A short starter. A ball 5 thou under bore size and a 20 thou denim patch.Now,practice with that! I'll bet you shoot tighter groups!(at 50 yards, 25 doesn't tell you much)Good luck.
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I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
Thomas Jefferson
D. Taylor Sapergia
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2013, 07:59:09 PM »

The best advice I've heard in a long time..."Aim small - miss small!"
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D. Taylor Sapergia
www.sapergia.blogspot.com
necchi
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JohnT


« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2013, 08:50:22 PM »

Body Position: (aka: Natural Point of aim)
Breathing (very important):
Trigger Release:

There's a book "With Winning in Mind" by Larry Bassham that goes into the mental aspects of sports, especially shooting.
The mind game

every really good shooter I've known kept in good physical shape with both aerobic and strength training.

Sight picture, trigger control, follow through -
Follow through is a big deal, don't peek.

keep your shooting muscle memory fresh.
Practice, even in the house

All of this is great advice!!  Being a good shooter is about the shooter.

Sorry Leather belly, your advice is about the gun, the gun is just the tool. Once the tool is tuned itís all about what the shooter can do with the tool,,
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Candle Snuffer
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Traditional Muzzle Loading Powder, Patch & Ball


« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2013, 11:51:49 PM »

The best advice I've heard in a long time..."Aim small - miss small!"

Agreed.

Seems to me the first step is to find the load that works best in your rifle for the purpose you will be using it for, while getting it zeroed in.

Since I shoot primarily offhand, with the occasional cross stick, and chunk gun match, familiarization of your muzzle loader(s), (to me), is highly important, if not the very first steps before fine tuning ones shooting mechanics.

Also agree that there is some good advise here, in this thread. 
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Snuffer
Bill-52
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Posts: 288


« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2013, 08:39:15 AM »

Great advice -- thanks everyone.  Being able to bring structure and purpose to my practice is important.  This is exactly the advice I was looking for.  Thanks again.

Bill
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Leatherbelly
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2013, 02:15:44 PM »

 
"Sorry Leather belly, your advice is about the gun, the gun is just the tool. Once the tool is tuned itís all about what the shooter can do with the tool,,"   quote from necchi

It's hard to tell who's who here. If the tool isn't up to snuff,then all other advice is moot. How do you advise a guy who shoots a 10 under ball with a 12 thou patch...just an example, not saying the poster does this but who knows. Loose combos make loose groups,just sayin.
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I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
Thomas Jefferson
necchi
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Posts: 193

JohnT


« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2013, 03:09:04 PM »

You are absolutely right.
But there are a ton of "how do I get my gun shooting" topics,
(ball, patch, lube, powder, caps, flint, cleaning, etc.,,,) with fewer topics about how a shooter trains for the shot.
Sorry again, I didn't mean to infringe upon your advice, but why mix the topic with advice about a rifles shooting characteristics when the questions asked where about the shooter?
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Candle Snuffer
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Posts: 329


Traditional Muzzle Loading Powder, Patch & Ball


« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2013, 05:30:38 PM »

Any recommendations or suggestions for training techniques, exercises or other things I can do to become a better shooter?

Actually, the last 10 words of the OP, suggest load combination suggestions, as well as finding the best load for a rifle, welcome to suggestion. Smiley
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Snuffer
necchi
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JohnT


« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2013, 06:27:35 PM »

well snuffer, I hate to burst your bubble too,
But finding the true accurate load for a gun is just a matter of experimentation and elimination of 4 simple variables, it ain't rocket science.
For all the struggle people put into finding out what someone elses load is, then trying to replicate that in his/her own rifle is or can be only a base guide line. Each individual brings to the loading regime his/her own personal and physical controls to the variables.
To find the best accurate load to any rifle requires, again,, experimentation and elimination of 4 simple variables.

If you want to just use someone elses load of a 495 ball, 80rns of 2F, a 15thousands patch and bore butter because that's the best Clem uses in his gun,, you go right ahead.
 Because if that's all your going to do, then reading about the things a shooter needs to do, too and for, the shooter himself as particular to developing shooting skills,, your wasting time,, you won't "get it"

Before one speaks of the shooters skill's it should be understood that the rifle is in it's best condition and already tuned to it's best load.
The rifle and it's load is the tool. Everyone that does fine craftsmanship keeps his tools in top condition,, it's the same with a skilled shooter.

Good Luck,, JohnT

p.s., you count different than I do, the last ten words are:

practice as worthwhile as possible.

Thanks for any thoughts.

Bill
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Candle Snuffer
Sr. Member
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Posts: 329


Traditional Muzzle Loading Powder, Patch & Ball


« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2013, 07:12:45 PM »

What don't you understand about finding a load your firearm likes that is the most accurate in your rifle?  This is the first step normally taken by all who shoot a muzzle loader.  It is conducted from the bench until you have shot the tightest group possible, (doesn't matter where that group is on paper), then after finding this load, you next make your sight adjustments.

You can not possibly work on any shooting mechanics until you've solved your zero.  Everyone knows this.  It's common sense. Wink
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Snuffer
Bill-52
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Posts: 288


« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2013, 08:24:47 PM »

Whoa, guys -- my fault.  I probably should have provided more background.  I have sighted in the one rifle I'm shooting now and worked up an acceptable load, ball & patch combination.  I'm now starting to shoot sitting & standing off hand at 100 yards.  I'm 61, so eyesight and steadiness are not as good as they once were.  Given those limitations, my query was intended to focus on what can I do in terms of personal training to be the best shooter I can.

I do appreciate the comments about patch & ball combination.  This barrel has less than 100 shots through it, so I've always considered the patch & ball combination subject to refinement as the barrel seasons and as I progress.

I really do appreciate the very thoughtful and insightful comments and suggestions.  It's been 40+ years since I've done any sort of target shooting.  The thought of just plinking away at targets is not appealing.  I prefer the challenge of working to improve my target shooting, not just via the rifle but also my personal performance.  Just my personality, I guess...

Bill
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necchi
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Posts: 193

JohnT


« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2013, 08:57:13 PM »

And there you have it Candle Snuffer my friend. No harm No foul  Wink

And possibly much to your surprise there is a lot a shooter can do to improve his shooting skills long before he has a rifle zeroed. Exercises done in the house with or without a rifle in your hands can be done to improve the shooters accuracy

Again, the rifle is the tool. Of course the rifle should be in top condition,, that includes being as accurate as it can be, (get it yet?)
An accurate rifle is one thing.
A skilled shooter is another.

The two are different. And both require different attention and action.

JohnT
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