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General discussion => Black Powder Shooting => Topic started by: 4ster on September 24, 2012, 05:34:49 PM

Title: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: 4ster on September 24, 2012, 05:34:49 PM
Yesterday I shot the pistol with a friend who doesn't shoot.  I think the last time he shot a gun was with me about a decade ago.  My pistol has a 13inch barrel so it is harder to hold than a shorter barreled gun (but she sure hits what she's aimed at).

He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, partly due to his hold I think.  He held his hands out stretched with his left hand supporting the pistol forward of the trigger guard in more of a rifle style hold.  I didn't comment, just watched him carefully for general gun safety issues. 

I don't shoot a traditional BP pistol stance either.  From shooting modern pistol and revolver I am most comfortable and steady in a stiff armed isosceles stance, with the left hand underneath and around the right hand.  If we had been shooting a modern gun I might have suggested such a hold to my friend.

When you are showing a new/inexperienced shooter how to fire your BP pistol:
A) What stance and hold do you demonstrate?
B) What do you insist on, versus just encourage?
Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: Daryl on September 24, 2012, 06:18:18 PM
Steve - pretty much as you do with the arms straight when shooting a single shot ML pistol, but left hand grips the right hand, squeezing the right hand onto the grip.  I sight down over my right armThe right hand merely squeezes the trigger straight back to fire the gun. In itself, the right hand does not grip the pistol with it's fingers.  I have shot with left arm bent at the elbow, tricept resting on my pectoral muscle - I change back and forth, depending on how my back feels. Neither postition seems to hold better accuracy than the other. With an accurate pistol, like Taylor's .60 Hawken Pistol, I've easily shot 50's at 25 yards, as-has he, all balls in a 2" circle (outside diam).

Gripping with the right hand, is what usually pulls shots right and low, due to squeezing the hand more tightly as the trigger is pulled - called 'gripping'. Much depends on the amount of pressure the trigger pulls. Increasing the grip (tension) with the left hand while squeezing, can pull the shots left and low. Heeling, pushing with the heels of the hand sends shots up, as-will showing too much sight. Flinching with a long barreled handgun can throw shots all over, but usually low- sometimes right as with a rifle.

I stand with feel shoulder width apart (mine are quite wide), legs locked at the knees and shoulders square to the target, leaning slightly back - again, depending on how my back feels.

The above is for deliberate target shooting with the single shot handgun.

If someone wanted help, I'd have them shoot this way.  If they insisted on shooting or wanted to shoot sideways like on TV, I'd let them as long as they were safely doing it.
Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: SCLoyalist on September 24, 2012, 07:46:10 PM
The key (or maybe just one key)  to hitting what you aim at with a pistol is being able to hold a steady sight picture during and following the trigger pull.   

Were I teaching ML pistol shooting to someone, I'd go with one handed dueling style only because that's how I perceive the old guns were shot ('spirit of the game') and I only shoot ML pistols in competition where one hand stance is invariably required by the rules.   If he's just shooting for fun, where any hold is legal, I'd have him try sighting,holding and dry-firing several times using isosceles hold, Weaver hold, and one handed dueling style and ask him which he felt was giving him the steadiest sight picture and whether he saw the front sight jump with respect to the rear sight when the hammer fell.   My own grip is fairly loose with my thumb parallel to the tang because through trial and error that's what allows me to hold the steadiest and most consistent as the hammer falls for my Kentucky pistol and TC Patriot shooting fairly light target loads, but that grip might not work for the next guy.   Once he can hold the pistol steady and comfortably for 10 seconds or so and drop the hammer without jerking he'll start grouping and getting hits, and from that comes enjoyment.

About the only thing I'd insist on would be safety related, like priming only the line, how to handle a misfire or suspected dry-ball, muzzle pointed upward to/from loading bench, etc.   

The book "Muzzle Loading Shooting and Winning with the Champions"  (which I believe I saw referenced on the ALR forums just today) devotes about 20 pages to  the art of ML handgun shooting.

Good luck, SCL

Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: 4ster on September 26, 2012, 04:40:18 PM
Thanks!  I will experiment with my own stance and hold a bit. 

My friend was shooting high and to the left, but he has thick glasses and had difficulty lining up the pistol. 

I did not put a rear sight on the pistol, but I have grown used to lining up the slot on the tang bolt and judging the amount of front sight seen over the barrel.  This is harder to do for a novice.

I have to say the best part of shooting with a new shooter is when they take careful aim and miss by a mile, then you take the gun and hit the bullseye.  I know its luck but he doesn't!
Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: Daryl on September 26, 2012, 05:21:10 PM
To shoot well wtihout a rear sight, takes practise that THAT pistol, with an accomplished shot.  A new-to-handguns shooter needs coaching with proper stance, hold and sight alignment with a properly sighted pistol prior to being saddled with a gun lacking a rear sight.  Instinctive shooting with a handgun, or shooting with minimal sights is certainly possible. One must know HOW to shoot a handgun first, though or it can be a long battle.

 I had my riot entire squad or 25 men killing the "metal man" at 25 yards with every shot landing in a  7" circle in the centre of his chest - using a double action revolver, without using any sights, gun never above the shoulders. That's shooting without sights - instinctive shooting at it's best.  None believed it could be done prior to the training.  All it takes is practise and coaching.
Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: bgf on September 26, 2012, 11:08:43 PM
I keep checking for THE secret.  I shoot pistols with one hand (shows how long ago I learned and how little I've shot pistols since :)).  One-handed, dueling style seemed to be what the Friendship rules were getting at when I checked, but I also cannot hit the side of a barn with my BP pistol, although last time I checked I could at least achieve that type of accuracy with most other types!  I suspect the handle is an important piece of the puzzle and why it is different from revolvers and later type handguns, but I don't even have the rudimentary knowledge to ask questions about how to put that puzzle together.
Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: Daryl on September 27, 2012, 02:01:48 AM
Hitting, is why I feel 2 handed hold is the best for teaching someone new to the sport.  The only time I taught one handed shooting, was at 3 to 5 yards, gun tucked back into one's side, out of reach of the perp.  A student learns more quickly, if he/she is hitting- rather than merely slinging lead down range - slowly, with minutes between shots.  It is very easy to get discouraged if being given less than excellent instruction and even then at times, it's trying for an inept student.

Too, it's easier to hold a more steady sight picture with 2 and both hands don't screw up as easily nor as minutely as one will to cause a bad miss.  The student, having to grip, align the sights AND squeeze the trigger at the same time adds to the confusion and with that,  the innevitable missing.  The closer the misses are, the more readily the student listens to further instruction.  Learning the basics before one gets 'fancy' is the best method, imho, but - each to his own.
Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: WadePatton on October 05, 2012, 09:46:30 PM
i used to rack up the trophies shooting 50' offhand with moderns and split the cranium of a varmint recently (he slithered when he should have slathered) with one hand (as the off hand was used to plug my fwd ear), but it _was_ the second shot. 

anyhoo, right after that shot i tried to recall my sight picture. 

no recollection whatsoever.  i had a live target and "instinctively" neutralized it and went on my way.

Methinks, as one who is rather handy with the shortarms, that the technical details involve #1 being able to hold on target, #2 launching the projectile when the bbl is pointed, sights or no, where it needs to be. 

#1 as the projectile always lands where it was pointed, involves training the muscles to support your weapon with sights or sighting surface or hand alignment (hip shooting) such that there is only _enough_ tension to do exactly that.  any more tension creates excess counter-tension which causes more fatigue than necessary and less ability to control the trigger.

#2 controlling the trigger means being able to trip the sear while the bbl is pointed properly, without pulling the shot.  the motor control for this act needs to be separated from the holding on target act.

dry firing is still the best way to learn someone how to keep the sights on target.  the last true novice i taught was 8 years old, she hit everything first session and i attribute it that to: reasonable range, easy weapon, and dry-firing a couple of times.

it ain' old-timey but strap a laser pointer flashlight onto _any_ short arm and dry fire practice with minimal motion in that dot.  start at 10 feet and move up.  or dry-fire practice with iron sights, either way teaches muscle-control/trigger control.   the pointer is just a great tool for teaching that the muzzle is always moving, but that high scores happen by keeping the muzzle in the right place for more of the time and getting that ball going at that right time more often than not.

back to the muscles:  i sort of "freeze/neutralize" all of the hand/arm muscles after acquiring the target and then use whole upper body movement to make minor corrections...all the while the trigger finger operates independently in tickling the sear.

do the same thing with a camera.

Hey that's all crazy and disjointed but maybe somebuddy can pull something out of it.  I've always excelled with offhand stuff, but never tried to write up how i think it happens. 

happy trails
Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: PPatch on October 10, 2012, 01:17:06 AM
i   I've always excelled with offhand stuff, but never tried to write up how i think it happens. 

happy trails

When I was shooting pistol competitions, talking bowling pens and metal plate, I kept my eye on the target and simply looked down the side of my weapon. Almost never used the sights on that 1911. I used my upper body, not arms, to shift the weapon and aquaire the next target. I do the same with my 1851 Navy and those tin cans fly if I'm having a good day, otherwise I may as well put it away. I know this is not the "proper" way to shoot but it works for me.

Title: Re: Teaching a stance for BP pistol
Post by: E. Smith on October 10, 2012, 03:56:03 AM
Left hand behind the back, dueling style, if shooting a flintlock pistol!