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Shotgun grouping... from a pistol.

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by BHPshooter, Oct 16, 2003.

  1. BHPshooter

    BHPshooter Well-Known Member

    I just got back from a little trip to the range. While very relaxing, which was the main reason I go, I can't help but be a little concerned about my groups. Now, I realize that I'm a beginner, and I know that I've improved a lot, but I guess this just frustrates me.

    I was shooting with my FEG PJK-FP9, which is a Hi Power clone that has had trigger work. The trigger on this one is about twice as light (or half as heavy :p ) as my BHP. I didn't do as well as I have done the last time out with my BHP, so I figure, okay, I'll try the FEG and maybe do better... not so.


    I would do okay, but there are a few things that limit my shooting ability:
    1. I have "essential palsic tremor."
    2. Most of the time when I go shooting, I get excited enough to hyperventhilate and "get shaky."
    3. I need to practice trigger control more.
    4. For the first little bit, I'm okay. But then I start to flinch. I usually counter this by loading a snap-cap and dry-firing until I am following up properly again.

      I generally shoot 5- or 10-shot strings since my ammo budget has gone down recently. :uhoh: I can usually get the first two where I want them, but on round 3 or 4, I tend to pull, or flinch, or... I think you get the idea.

      So, are there any pointers that anyone could give me? Is it just another case of practice, practice, practice? I'd appreciate any advice you may care to give.


      P.S. I was shooting at about 25 feet.

    Attached Files:

  2. Preacherman

    Preacherman Well-Known Member

    Wes, I'd suggest a couple of training techniques to get your basics in place.

    1. DRY-FIRE, DRY-FIRE, DRY-FIRE! There is absolutely no substitute for trigger time. Get a snap-cap, put it in the chamber, and spend fifteen or twenty minutes each night sighting on a target (a spider on the wall, a spot on the ceiling, whatever), and concentrate on holding your sight picture as steady as possible, squeezing the trigger slowly and smoothly, and ensuring that the sights do not move off target as the hammer falls. I'd also suggest that as you line up the sights, you consciously ensure that the tip of the front sight is exactly in line (horizontally! :D ) with the "ears" of the rear sight, and that there's an equal amount of "daylight" on either side of the front sight blade.

    2. Practice a couple of range sessions using a rested position, and a bulls-eye position. For the rested position, get a range bench, set up some sandbags, and support your shooting hand on the sandbags (note - do NOT rest the gun itself on the bag!). Try slow, careful shots, in the same way as your dry-firing practice. Make sure your arm is STRAIGHT behind the gun, both horizontally and vertically. If you "break" your wrist downward, it will throw off the impact point of the bullet. Then, try shooting one-handed, standing with your body pointed at ninety degrees to the target, extending the shooting hand straight out, with the arm locked, and shooting slowly and carefully.

    Emphasis in all this is always on sight picture first, then a smooth, slow take-up on the trigger while concentrating on holding the sight picture. If you find yourself quivering or losing the sight picture, hold the trigger pull at the point you've got to, re-acquire sight picture, and continue the trigger squeeze. Don't let go the trigger, re-acquire sight picture, and start all over again - learn to hold half-way through the trigger squeeze and re-acquire the sights.

    3. These techniques should soon have you producing a decent group. Now, using the same techniques, extend the range. Start at (say) 10 feet, and over a few weeks, go all the way out to 25 yards. You should soon be able to hold all your groups at 25 yards to less than 5", if the gun's any good. Now's the time to go back to combat-style shooting and see about duplicating that group size at a faster pace.

    Hope this helps.
  3. BHPshooter

    BHPshooter Well-Known Member

    Thank you sir. That makes a lot of sense. ;)

  4. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

    25 feet!? ... well indeed that is rather an open group ..... my FEG will put em all in black at that distance.

    So .... technique then .......... as has been said already .... dry-fire ... over and over. Release is much of the deal and ...... do NOT forget to hold that sight pic .... right up to and after release.

    When a shot goes you should think ''Oh .. it's gone'' ...... be smooth. Don't worry re movement ... impossible to hold totally steady ..... let the maintained sight pic wander a bit but concentrate on that release .. SMOOTH ... and ... whatever you do ....... do NOT focus on target as about to release ... focus back onto a near perfect sight pic. Remember - with a short sight base ... the merest change in alignment of sights = large error!

    I'll stick my neck out and wager ....... do these things and your group WILL improve ... I'll all but promise!!
  5. Michael

    Michael Well-Known Member

    Howdy sir,

    I, also, have essential palsic tremor (was a really grand thing to have during my early law enforcement days -- bad guys see my hands shaking and think I'm scared :D). The good news -- you can overcome it to a large degree through practice. In addition to what Preacherman and P95 advise, I use one additional technique that has helped me greatly. I have Novak sights on my BHP, and the .125 inch width of that sight makes this drill possible (as opposed to the tiny thumbnail sights on older BHP's). Balance the face of a dime on the front sight, carefully assume your shooting position of preference, and practice squeezing the trigger smoothly. You will know when you've arrived as the dime will not fall from the front sight. Works wonders and provides instant visual feedback of your progress. Like most things, once you get over the hump, refining and maintaining the ability is much easier. The next time you practice you may still lose the dime the first time or two, but not 50 times in a row as might happen your first attempt. Good luck, sir, and let me know how it works for you.


  6. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    Make each count as if it were the only shot of the day.
    Think not of shots past nor shots to come.

    After gaining accuracy, speed will come.

  7. Keith

    Keith Well-Known Member

    Buy a .22! I know, I'm a broken record....

    But look, you're new at this. You say you get excited and hyperventilate - why do you think that is? I would bet that most of that is simply anticipation of the loud noise and recoil of these centerfire guns.

    Buy a .22 so you can shoot thousands of rounds for dirt cheap, and without the noise and recoil. And also (and just as importantly), try to have fun! Don't go down there with some goal revolving around group size!

    One of the best things a newby can do is avoid shooting at paper. Find a place where you can shoot at one of these little steel "gong" or spinner targets. Buy one of these targets with 3 varying size spinners and put it out there at 5 or 10 yards and shoot at the biggest one. When you can hit is consistently, move it further away or shoot at the next smallest one, etc.

    For some reason, shooting at "gongs" is a lot less tense than shooting at paper. You either hit it or miss it, and when you hit it you get a resounding "ping" that is very gratifying. It's also better training because you can make adjustments while you shoot the string instead of having to wait and look at the paper afterwards.

    I don't know where you live, but if you can find an old gravel pit or something (ask around) where you don't have to shoot in front of an audience, you'll also do much better. A lot of this is probably just "performance anxiety" from shooting down at the range in front of people with a lot more experience.

  8. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

    Wes, you are in Utah, come shooting with us sometime. www.udpl.net

    There are plenty of really good shooters who you could shoot with, watch, and learn from. We are a friendly bunch and are always willing to help out newer people.

    Also, don't beat yourself up too horribly about group size. There is a whole lot more to shooting than just turning in pretty little groups.
  9. Rich357

    Rich357 Well-Known Member

    Hi fumegator,

    I have some of the same problems.

    I find I am "hyper" when I get to the range. It usually takes me about 20 minutes to relax and settle in to being more consistant in my shooting.

    Part of the problem of not doing so well with the last few shots in your magazine could be because of not breathing enough. You may also need to practice holding weight at arms length. You may be pushing to get your last shots off because your arm is getting tired. At that point I try to back off, take my finger out of the trigger guard and set my hand and pistol down (pointing down range) for a maybe 5 seconds. And, I try to breath. I also tell myself to squeeze the trigger. I want to think of it as a smooth motion, even if the trigger is the type that is like breaking a glass rod. At least this works for me. But, I'm still open to doing things differently.

    Another thing that helps is trying a more firm grip and sometimes holding your arms straighter, a little like a Bullseye shooter.

    Putting a small, bright, stick on spot in the middle of your bullseye is also helpful. It makes me concentrate on a really small part of the target.

    And, dry firing.

    Good luck,
  10. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

    One more small point .. try not to ''dwell in the aim'' ........ as often as not ... target aquisition and centering on same is a matter of a coupla seconds maybe - max .... once achieved let that SMOOTH trigger pull get under way as sight picture is maintained ... and ... BANG ... shot gone and probably very close to where you wanted.

    It is very common for guys to stand there aiming ... and always thinking ''I can make this better and steadier'' .... wrong! The prime moment for release is IMO just after first good aquisition.

    As has been said ...... if you tire whilst trying to sight .. come down and breath deep a time or two, relax, and start again. Speed comes later.
  11. Rich357

    Rich357 Well-Known Member

    Very good point, P95Carry.

  12. kalibear45

    kalibear45 Well-Known Member

    Dude, that looks like a pretty good group to me. I don't think the bad guy will be getting up! :D

    How fast were you shooting?
  13. Owen

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

    dude, thats a 50 foot bullseye target. IIRC, the bullseye is about 3" in diameter so it looks to me like you shot about a 4" group with one flyer. That's not a terrible target. Especially considering you have a palsy.

    The group is round, which indicates you don't have a systematic problem. Round groups are the result of your natural wobble area. To me that says you are trusting your hold (good). You could probably stand to drift the rear sight to the left a little. Notice that there is only one hole on the left side of the bullseye. with that group centered on the bullseye, they will almost all be in the black.

    If you hyperventilate when you are shooting, you need to work on controlling your arousal level.

    Oh yeah, you need to work on controlling your arousal level, alot!

  14. WonderNine

    WonderNine member

    You just need practice. Once you get your trigger control down and figure out the sights you'll be much better off. Did you shoot those from a benchrest or offhand? Take your time when you're shooting for accuracy, it's not a speed competition. When I'm shooting for accuracy I typically shoot about one round every ten seconds or so.
  15. BHPshooter

    BHPshooter Well-Known Member

    Wow, I'm gonna check that out. I can't believe I didn't know about that before! :D

    Well, this one being one of the worst targets from that trip, was shot pretty quick (2- 10 round strings). Not "asfastasyoucanpullthetrigger," but kind of like a "flash sight picture."

  16. BHPshooter

    BHPshooter Well-Known Member

    All of the shooting was offhand. I don't remember if that particular target was of one-handed or two-handed. :uhoh:

    *sigh* I don't know, maybe I'm expecting too much. I know I have improved a lot since I got my gun... Maybe it is just an issue of practicing.

  17. Bullet Bob

    Bullet Bob Well-Known Member

    I second Keith's recommendation - nothing teaches, or is more fun, than a .22.
  18. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    It a small thing, but if you drifted the rear sight slightly to the left the group would be better centered and if nothing else you'd feel better.

    Take another blank target that is identical too this one. Place the fired target behing the clean one and look at them with a strong light. Move the fired target around to center the image on the one over it. You may be suprised at what you see.

    Another old trick. Next time you're at the range put the target up backwards. Then shoot a group while estimating there the center is. When you get the target back turn it around and see what it looks like. Again, you might be suprised.
  19. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Hah! I thought I was the last person living who still does that.
  20. Chupacabra

    Chupacabra Well-Known Member

    Fumegator - Hey! That looks like one of my targets! :neener:

    My problem is I get impatient and don't give myself that extra split second to get the gun pointed exactly where I want it. When I relax and clear my mind, the groups tighten up and I surprise myself.

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