Hi this is my first post on thehighroad though I have been lurking here for a long time. I am 21 years old and grew up in a non shooting family. I went shooting shotguns for the first time about 2 years ago with a friend and have been shooting ever since. I have 3 long guns but really enjoy pistol shooting. I have a ruger mark 2 and a sig 220. I am a college student so my pistols are the only guns I have at school. I have been shooting pistol for about 9 months and feel like i'm not getting much better I am thinking about how I can get better besides just buying ammo and shooting it. I am thinking about taking a nra basic pistol class and I am wondering if that would be a good choice to become a better shot or if it will be mostly on safe gun handling and range safety. I have studied those matters quite a bit online and I feel I am very safe so I don't necessary want to spend 80 dollars for a safety lesson. Sorry for the length of this post but basically would this class be a good or would I be better off buying books or something else?
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September 25, 2006, 06:47 PM
Hi redm18 and welcome!
I just wanted to greet you. I can't tell you anything about the NRA gun classes, or any shooting classes for that matter because other than what I had in the military, I've never had any formal firearms training. But I'm sure there are many other gun people on this forum who can and will answer your questions.:)
September 25, 2006, 06:48 PM
I was taught marksmanship with rifle and shotgun by my grandpa and uncle. My uncle was the best shot I've ever personally known. The guy coulda made a living as a trick shot. I've watched him flip empty .22 hulls in the air and hit 'em with his beloved Browning .22 auto. He was that good.
However, I taught myself handgun marksmanship. I just read a lot of magazine articles having to do with technique and concentrated on the front sight and the trigger squeeze just as with a rifle and practiced a lot and I got better. DA shooting was something I did totally on my own and have learned to be pretty accurate with DA trigger control.
I'm still sort of evolving my handgun shooting. I've gone from a raving Weaver stance guy to appreciating the advantages of the isoceles and have been shooting that way lately. I read a lot of articles by the top competition shooters, guys like Miculek and Leatham and that type of accomplished shooter, no books, just magazine articles. I figured those guys KNOW what they're talkin' about. Miculek is a particular hero of shooting being such a great revolver shooter. I didn't listen to the "local experts" since we really don't have any around here, LOL! But, you can teach yourself through reading and practice. Now days, there's the internet with lots of sites and info and articles to read, don't even have to buy a magazine.
September 25, 2006, 10:14 PM
I would recommend that you look for gun clubs or ranges that host events in your area (i would recommend that you alter your bio to include an approximate location). Go to some and tell them what you are looking for. Most shooting sports enthusiasts are happy to have others involved in the activity. I believe that the knowledge that you can gain like this would me more valuable than anything you could ever get off the internet (keep in mind that not everyone is going to be an expert).
Welcome, good luck, and be safe!
September 25, 2006, 10:21 PM
If the school has a gun club, join it. Even if they only shoot .22's. Maybe especially if they only shoot .22's. Cheaper for a student. The same principles apply to all handgun shooting. If the school doesn't have a club, find one. Nothing beats regular practice.
September 25, 2006, 10:23 PM
I posted this over at APS, it is a nutshell explanation of what I learned during a session with one of the best bullseye shooters (pistol) in the land. Hope it helps:
Well, IMHO, the most important thing I learned from #6 is trigger control:
Someone, somewhere did a test. They used a computer to track the point of aim while someone aimed their weapon at a target offhand. The resulting "picture" closely resmbled the kind of picture you would get out of a spirograph (hopefully you all know what spirograph is)(if not chime in and I'll try to explain) Anyhoo, the results showed that while yes there were little loops drawn away from the center all around the perimeter where the POA was off target, something on the order of 95% of the time the POA was dead center or in other words the center was blackened in with little "flower petal" loops around it. Picture a daisy I guess. So what was learned from this is that your body has the built in ability to hold on target, all by itself, 95% of the time. What does that tell us? We DO NOT need to concentrate on holding on target. It will be done automatically. So what does THAT tell us? We need to FORGET about how the sights are wandering all over the target and concentrate 100% on a NICE EVEN TRIGGER SQUEEZE so that when the hammer releases it is a surprise. What THIS does is take the blink or flinch out of the picture. He told me everybody flinches or blinks. Even if your EYES don't blink your MIND does. The object is to get that flinch to come just the split second AFTER the shot is released. That's why a surprise trigger break is so important. If you KNOW when the gun will fire you will incorporate your flinch into the shot. That's called "anticipation" or "anticipating the recoil" if you are surprised by the gun firing, the flinch will come too late to have any effect on the shot. If you try to pull the trigger ONLY when the sights are perfectly centered chances are you'll jerk the trigger almost every time. Once you have learned to do this SLOWLY you will maintain your nice trigger squeeze when you start to speed things up. Another great shooter (IDPA style) tells me, "Concentrate on accuracy and the speed will come. THE SPEED WILL COME!!" ( Yea, I was gettin' yelled at at the time. ) he was ruight though. These days I'm a bit faster and the bullets usually go where I want them. I don't know HOW but they do.
And there IMHO is the biggest secret. LET the sights do what they will, YOUR JOB is to ignore that and instead release that hammer as a surprise WITHOUT DISTURBING THE GUN!!
This works even for rifles at long distanceas well btw. I've tried it.
Well, I think that's the gist of it. Naturally theres tons more but this is the biggest part IMHO.
September 25, 2006, 10:58 PM
^Very good advice!
Also, focus on the front sight, not the target. Allow the target to blur in the background and just center your front sight on it.
Get a good feel for the breaking point of your trigger. You can practice this by dry-firing at home.
I attached a helpful chart...
September 25, 2006, 11:45 PM
I fought the idea of a 22lr DA wheelgun for a long time, but when I finally did it & mastered the DAO trigger pull, I shot ALL my guns alot better. Find yourself a nice used DAO wheelgun, several bricks of 22lr, bring some patience w/ you & have a great time learning ;)
September 26, 2006, 12:38 PM
Thank you all for the advice. I am in eastern Iowa and I don't believe there is a club within an hour of me. I think I will have plenty to read but I am still curious if anyone has any experience with the NRA classes. I would love to have a double action .22 revolver but when I bought my mark 2 I got the impression that good examples of .22 da were hard to come by and expensive so it probably will be a purchase I will delay for the time being.
September 26, 2006, 01:46 PM
The best way to get better at shooting is to shoot with people who are better than you.
Don't worry about losing or feeling embarrassed at not doing well at a match. Everyone has been there and knows what it's like. Having tried my hand at everything from International 10 Meter Air Pistol to open-terrain Multigun, I can tell you that the one constant among nearly all shooting disciplines is a willingness to help out those who show an interest in the sport.
See if your university has an extracurricular shooting club, or ask at one of the local gun shops to see if they've got a list of local clubs that hold matches.
September 26, 2006, 03:22 PM
Go to this site bullseyepistol.com (http://www.bullseyepistol.com), scroll down to the section on "Perfecting Technique". Start with the "Army Markmanship Training Guide", the Bible of pistol marksmanship. When you've read it in its entirety then you proceed on to the other articles. Download and print the "Wheel of Misfortune" from the "Error Annalaysis and Correction". Practice with paper targets set at the range they're intended for. Move them closer if you have to but extend the range as soon as you can. Keep score to see improvement. Go to a gun club and shoot the informal matches.
Perfect practice makes perfect, anything else is just play.
September 26, 2006, 05:56 PM
I am 21 years old and grew up in a non shooting family. I went shooting shotguns for the first time about 2 years ago with a friend and have been shooting ever since. I have 3 long guns but really enjoy pistol shooting. I have a ruger mark 2 and a sig 220. I am a college student so my pistols are the only guns I have at school. I have been shooting pistol for about 9 months and feel like i'm not getting much better I am thinking about how I can get better besides just buying ammo and shooting it. I am thinking about taking a nra basic pistol class and I am wondering if that would be a good choice to become a better shot or if it will be mostly on safe gun handling and range safety. I have studied those matters quite a bit online and I feel I am very safe so I don't necessary want to spend 80 dollars for a safety lesson.
Im in a similar situation myself. I just started shooting a few months ago, and i started by taking the NRA basic pistol class at my local gun range. IMO, it was an excellent way to start, with a qualified instructor there. But mostly the class was about safety and very basic things such as loading/unloading, clearing jams, etc.
We watched a ~45min video, spent a couple hours of classroom time with the instructor, then went on to the range for the last couple of hours. They started us on .22's and we worked our way up to .357 magnum and .45 acp.
I dont think its quite what you are looking for since you already seem to have experience with the basics.
September 26, 2006, 06:43 PM
If you can master the double action trigger pull of a quality revolver, you will shoot your semi-autos much better.
After a disappointing session with my Glock, I picked up my old S&W Model 10 .38 Special revolver. I have learned to shoot it pretty well. I then returned to the Glock and was surprised to find myself much more accurate with it. There's just something about squeezing a really good double action revolver trigger that translates over into semi auto shooting.
September 27, 2006, 11:54 AM
Welcome aboard. Probably the single most effective aid in improving marksmanship that I know of is - dry Firing and LOTS of it. As was mentioned, concentrate on the front sight and keeping it immobile and on target when the hammer drops. Some folks balance a coin on top of the barrel and train 'til they can dry fire without dropping the hammer. A TREMENDOUS aid has been the Rovatec Bullite Training system.
( www.rovatec.com ). It consists basically of a Laser bullet and targets that flash when hit. The laser bullet is inserted in the chamber and when hit by the firing pin, projects a momentary, red laser dot onto the point of impact.
September 27, 2006, 12:23 PM
Nothing I can say that hasn't already been said, but maybe I can add a little of my own perspective. I'd been trying to teach myself how to shoot for years, and got to be a pretty decent shot on my own. I've been reading here for a little over a year, been a member for almost a year, frequented other gun boards, read magazines, articles, etc. My shooting got better over time, but about 6 months ago I hit a brick wall in terms of improvement. My shooting had gotten as good as it was going to get without additional help, and had actually started to deteriorate, regardless of frequent practice.
I had long fought the idea of purchasing a .22 - but once I saw that my shooting habits were getting worse, even with practice, I decided to make the leap. I bought a Ruger Mk II and improved pretty quickly. So, you already have one of the most essential tools you can have for improving your pistol marksmanship... a .22 (and a fine one at that :) )
Secondly - and I'll put my flame suit on for this one - reading here isn't going to help much... at least it didn't for me. THR is a great place to learn about a lot of things, but in order to seriously improve your shooting, there's no substitute for a good book, written by expert shooters - and/or classes. I chose to go the book route, and found that with one read of The Army Markmanship Training Guide, my marksmanship got a LOT better. Of course, reading helps nothing if you don't desire to improve. Recently I was introduced to a book called The Pistol Shooter's Treasury.
This book has changed the way I do almost everything regarding shooting.
It's a compilation of atricles written by champion shooters. It's VERY repetitive, and easy to understand - so the fundamentals of shooting are literally implanted in your head. It also has a re-print of The Army Markmanship Training Guide as well as numerous other articles by some of the best pistol shooters in history. It's an old book, and some of the information on ammo, target guns, etc. is SERIOUSLY dated... but the info on shooting is timeless.
Before, I could keep most of my shots within the 9-ring of a silhouette target at about 10-15 yards... Having read that book twice in the last few weeks, I'm now able to keep my rounds inside a target the size of a quarter at that same distance. Practice makes perfect, and dry-firing for 15-20 minutes a day will help dramatically as well. Learn the fundamentals, and test yourself.. There are probably a million things you're doing wrong, and don't even realize it. The book I recommended will identify these problems, but it's up to you to work at correcting them.
Just remember, pistol shooting is ALL fundamentals... THERE ARE NO SECRETS :D It's all a matter of proper grip, proper sight alignment, and trigger control. Easy to read, hard to put into practice. Work at it, take a class, buy a good book or two, and you'll be well on your way to being better at shooting than you imagined. Good luck!
September 27, 2006, 02:44 PM
I didn't read the entire thread so sorry if I'm just repeating what everyone said, but for me, when I took an actual class, I improved A LOT. I guess I just had to be shown how to do it properly.
September 27, 2006, 05:08 PM
If there is not a shooting club in your area, you could start one. I doubt you are the only one there looking for a club.
September 27, 2006, 05:47 PM
You will do much better and learn to do things safely from someone who is trained or has a lot of experience.
I plinked with a handgun for 25 years then I began participating in IDPA matches. This helped me more than anything. Competition matches attract some of the best shooters around and all are willing to help with your gun handling skills, marksmanship and safety.
Competition also helps you to shoot and handle a gun better while under stress.
September 27, 2006, 05:50 PM
For what it's worth, the number one thing that I always tell people that are having trouble shooting a pistol is that they need to concentrate on the front sight, not the target. It seems wierd to do at first, but it is absolutely crucial for accurate shooting. Next in line would be proper grip/stance and not mugging the trigger with your finger. Once you can get those three things in line, it really is sort of a matter of buying ammo and shooting it up, but shooting it up critically. When I decided to become a better pistol shot, I would really think about all the little details I needed to attend to between shots. In other words, I really practiced as opposed to just blasting away. I don't claim to be a super shot, although I am fair, and I can tell you that in the last couple of years my shooting hasn't improved because I got away from really practicing in favor of just burning up ammo. Its still not bad, but I have come to realize that the more you practice the fundamentals, the better you get. Also, everyone is 100% right when they say that you should shoot with people better than you. Nothing will help you out faster than having someone around you that can offer on the spot help, be it a buddy who is a good shot and knows his business or an instructor.
September 29, 2006, 02:44 PM
Thank you for all the advice again I ordered The Pistol Shooters Treasury so that should help me when it gets here. I don't beleive I will join a club or compete at this time because I will be moving away fairly soon so I don't beleive I would even have a chance to get established. I am wondering about what you guys do when you dry firing so if someone could just explain the whole procedure that would be great.
September 29, 2006, 03:41 PM
1. Check that the gun is empty.
2. Make sure there are no rounds in the gun.
3. Do not do it with a Rimfire pistol (.22 etc.) it can damage the pistol.
4. Modern Semi Automatics do not require a Snap Cap (Fake bullet to absorb the firing pin impact.) If you prefer, do use snap caps.
5. If Single Action, cock the hammer.
6. Select a safe area as an aim point, Solid masonry or stone wall etc.
(I tape up a paper plate with a circle in the center or the reflective targets that came with my Bullite)
7. Aim the pistol at your target, just as you would for real firing.
8. Concentrate intensly on your steady front sight. You should see the sight crystally clear. The target should be slightly out of focus.
9. Pull the trigger while concentrating on keeping the sights properly aligned, and the front sight crystal clear, immobile and correctly aligned with the rear sight and the target.
10. When the hammer drops, the front sight alignment with the rear sight and the target should remain perfectly still. (Still concentrating on the front sight.)
Repeat again and again and again and again................
This is how I do it except, as I mentioned above, I use a Bullite Laser Bullet.
( www.rovatec.com ) which shows me exactly where my bullet would have striked.
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