We talked about how you might progress from yard line to yard line in a earlier post. Now we want to look at what each range session might look like. From five to seven yards fire one shot at a time and check to see how your grip was. Did your support hand loosen or come off the pistol. Where did the round go in the target. Were the sights aligned when the gun fired?
If you are doing things correct but the rounds are not going where they should you may want to buy six or so dummy rounds at your local gun store. Mix in two or three dummy rounds with six live rounds in a magazine. As the pistol fires you should visually concentrate on the front sight. Sooner or later you will hit a dummy round and the pistol will go click* instead of bang.
Ask yourself what the front sight of your pistol did when the click happened. In a perfect world the front sight should not move. Often as a new shooter the front sight will dip or move to the side. This means the tension on your hand changed as you fired the pistol or you pushed the pistol forward as you pressed the trigger. This last error occurs often when you are subconsciously trying to stop the recoil by leaning into the pistol or pressing it forward at the same time as you press the trigger. You are not letting the pistol fire and recoil before you push the pistol back down on target. Remember you must not move when the pistol fires. Nothing moves except the trigger finger. You must slow down and concentrate on each step of the process being done correctly and at the correct time.
*When you get a click you will have to tap and rack it just like in your home practice. If you are shooting at an indoor range you may rack the pistol slowly so that the dummy round falls out on the bench while keeping the muzzle facing down range. If you tap and rack it as normal the dummy round will fly out and may go forward of the bench. Then you can’t retrieve your dummy rounds without stopping the firing line and other shooters from practicing.
When you are keeping most of the rounds in the circle then you can think about where you are spending too much time in that process. Ask yourself, how long do I really need to look at that front sight before I start to press the trigger? How long do I have to wait after the recoil is finished and then bring the pistol back down on target? Are you resetting the trigger very fast and then pressing the trigger at a slower relative speed? If you are slowly resetting the trigger or at the same speed that you are pressing the trigger you are doing it wrong.
When you are getting the rounds inside the circle again start shooting two rounds in a string then going through the same thought process as above. Going from shooting one round at a time all the way up until you are smoothly and accurately shooting four rounds in a string without breaking your grip and with all the rounds in the circle. Then you can work at that yard line next time but shoot slightly faster. After that you can move back to a farther distance (such as going from 5 to 10 yards) and work on the accuracy again while shooting slower. Go back to shooting one or two rounds at a time from the new distance. Just keep doing this until you are shooting accurately at 25 yards. Shoot the rounds and look at your grip, think about what you saw when the pistol fired. Did you see the front sight move up or did it dip? Then check the target. Where did the rounds go? Make a plan for fixing any problems. Did you shoot too fast? Does your grip need adjusting? Do you need to put dummy rounds in the pistol? Take your time and think before and while you are shooting.
At some point you may hit a wall and need to get some hands on instruction. You may have to pay an instructor to watch you shoot and give you advice on how to improve. We’ll talk more about that next time.