From: Doug White <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [Shooting] How to improve my accuracy?
Organization: MIT Lincoln Laboratory
In article <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
# I've been shooting a few months now, and I think I'm reasonably
# familiar with my gun (SIG P226 :). I can hit the paper 90+% of
# the time, but where I hit kind of scatters all over the paper.
# My goal is to be able to hit where I think I'm aiming with overwhelming
# Where do I look for effective techniques to improve and maintain my
# ability? Books? Classes? Competition? Other?
# I would prefer something that I can learn on my own or be taught,
# and then be able to monitor myself after that. I guess that means
# I'm looking for two classes of techniques: how to shoot accurately,
# and how to monitor/evaluate my progress.
# I see competition as a last resort, but I don't rule it out.
I'm going to risk stating what you may already know, but YOU'VE GOT TO
FOCUS ON THE FRONT SIGHT! I teach marksmanship classes for the club at MIT,
and fully half of the people we get (WITH prior pistol experience) think
they should be focusing on the target. Even if you KNOW to focus on the
front sight, it's sometimes hard to tell. The best diagnostic is
'calling the shot'. If you are focused on the sights, you should have
a clear image after the shot breaks of where the sights were aligned
relative to the target. If you can't tell (without a scope) where your
shots are going, it's a good indication that you're watching the target.
You can't focus on both the target and the sights simultaneously, and the
target isn't moving. The target will be a black blurry blob, but that's
OK, you can still judge where the center is amazingly well without having
it in focus. The most critical part is the angular alignment of the front
and rear sight, and you can't control that well if you aren't focused on the
The next most crucial task is firing the pistol without disturbing the
sight alignment. Depending on the trigger pull of your pistol, this can
be tough. No matter what happens, you've got to pull STRAIGHT back. The
best way to work on this is LOTS of dry-firing. Another good exercise is
'ball and dummy'. Load up some dummy cartridges, and mix them in with
good rounds. Load your magazines without looking at the cartridges.
When you get one of the dummies, if the pistol hangs out there and goes
click, you're in business. More likely, it will dive or flip in some
direction. YOU are doing that, and you have to dry-fire until every time
you pull the trigger, nothing moves.
Most of the rest of the game relies on practicing until you develop good
consistency. Every time you pick up the pistol, your grip and stance
have to be the same. You need to develop a stance that aligns the pistol
on the target without any extra effort. At the firing line, get into your
stance, close your eyes, and raise and lower the pistol a few times. With
the pistol raised, open your eyes and see where it is pointed. If it
isn't lined up on the target, move your FEET to line things up. This
produces a 'natural point of aim' where you are not using your muscles to
apply any sideways force on the pistol. This is particularly important in
sustained fire, so that the pistol will naturally spring back lined up on
the target. You need a firm grip (my coach always said 'the tighter the
grip the tighter the group'), concentrating on applying pressure on the
front and back strap, not on the sides.
For books, I would start by tracking down the NRA Basic Pistol Marksmanship
text. It has a set of diagrams that can help you diagnose common problems
from where your shots group (7:00 = jerking trigger etc.). It does a good
job of covering all of the basics for any kind of pistol shooting. Once
you've got that under your belt,