1. Shooting excellent scores with a pistol requires no other elements than those described in the following sentence.
  2. ALIGN THE SIGHTS PROPERLY ON THAT PART OF THE TARGET REQUIRED FOR YOUR GROUP TO CENTER IN THE BLACK AND CAUSE THE HAMMER TO FALL WITHOUT DISTURBING THAT ALIGNMENT. All elements of pistol shooting such as position, grip, sight alignment, breath control, trigger control, physical condition, and psychology of shooting, when perfected, simply enable the shooter to perform the action described in the above key sentence.

  3. Body Position or Stance
  4. We are all constructed differently and have different natural positions. To find your natural position, face away from the
  5. target 45 degrees. Look at the target by turning your head and eyes only and raise the pistol to the eye, target, line.
  6. Close your eyes, raise your pistol and arm several feet and allow it to fall relaxed, and naturally to the horizontal. If
  7. it falls right down the center of the target, you have your natural position. If it falls to one side, shuffle on your
  8. feet, keeping the body axis from the feet to the shoulder the same, until the pistol is aligned on the target again.
  9. Several tries such as this one will readily show you how far to face away from the target. This test need only be made
  10. during one shooting session. At all following sessions start out with the position that you have decided is natural for you
  11. and stay with it. The feet should be spread apart about the width of your shoulders or a little more. I have noticed that I
  12. spread my feet farther apart than when I first began shooting. Others have told me that they do the same. However, if you
  13. spread your feet unnaturally at first, you will have to exert undue muscular effort to maintain balance. The object is to
  14. be well balanced and comfortable.
  15. The legs should be straight, but not stiff. Allow the knee joints to fall into a locked position, but still be relaxed. The
  16. thigh muscles should be relaxed. If you are tense anywhere, it is a sign of strain and will show up in your trigger
  17. control. The hips should be level and in an easy, natural position. Let your abdomen relax. We have a lot of fun admiring
  18. each other's "pots" during pistol matches, but no one ever attempts to hold it in. Allow the shoulders to hang naturally
  19. and relaxed. I prefer to place my free hand in my side pocket. Some shooters, especially those with long arms, can perform
  20. best by just letting their free arms and hand hang naturally at the side. The object is to entirely forget about it. It
  21. must be relaxed and forgotten. An instructor can easily spat a student who is not relaxed by the attitude of the free arm.
  22. The head and neck should be in an easy natural position. The shooter must look at the target by turning his head and eyes
    slightly without moving from the neck down. The simplest way to do this is to face your entire body away from the target at
  23. the angle you have selected and then turn your head and eyes only to the target before raising your pistol to the firing
  24. position. While looking at the target from this natural position, raise your pistol until you can align the sights on the
  25. target. The important thing is to make your pistol arm fit the body position instead of ruining a good body position by
  26. craning the neck and shoulders trying to get behind the pistol. The body position must be selected first, then use the
  27. pistol arm only to bring the sights in line with the eye and target.
  28. The pistol arm should be extended directly toward the target. The wrist is locked without strain, (this requires practice),
  29. the elbow is locked also but with no sense of strain or tenseness. The gull and arm supported by the muscles on top of the
  30. shoulder, (the trapezius group). Try holding a four and half kilogram weight out in the firing position and feel the top of
  31. your shoulder where the arm joins and you will find the small hard muscles that support your gun arm. You should feel that
  32. the pistol is hanging from above, and not that you are pushing it up from below.
  33. Breath Control
  34. The object of breath control is to enable the shooter to hold his breath with a comfortable feeling long enough to fire one
  35. shot slow fire; 5 shots in 20 seconds timed fire; and 5 shots in 10 seconds rapid fire. I recommend taking several deep
  36. relaxing breaths immediately prior to extending the pistol, and as you extend it, take another breath and exhale until your
  37. lungs feel normal. Hold until you fire the required shots. If you have too much air in the lungs, you will feel the
  38. pressure and it will interfere with your ability to hold. If you completely empty the lungs your arm will begin to shake in
  39. about 5 seconds. You are likely to have more trouble in the timed fire stage than the others. In order to be comfortable
  40. for 20 seconds, you must time your breathing just right and prepare for the string beforehand by taking several deep
  41. breaths. Take a deeper than normal breath at the command "Ready on the right"; take another at "Ready on the left"; at the
  42. command "Ready on the Firing Line" extend your pistol and take another breath and exhale to the point of comfort just as
  43. the targets turn.

  44. Physical Conditioning
  45. Many shooters discount the element of proper physical conditioning. They think that so little effort is required to extend
  46. a two pound pistol and fire it that they need no exercise. I have spent many days at hard labor such as cross-tie loading,
  47. woodcutting, ditch-digging, football, etc., but I have never felt as much fatigue from those labors as I have from a full
  48. day at match shooting. I realize that some of my fatigue is due to a certain amount of nervous tension, however, I have
  49. learned that when I am in top condition, I feel good even after two or three days of match shooting. The real payoff for
  50. good condition lies in the score. I know several shooters who have added fifty points or more to their Grand Aggregates by
  51. conditioning themselves with systematic weight lifting programs prior to the matches. I recommend a mild weight-lifting
  52. program and some road work to put the shooter in a good general condition, then some special exercises for the shooting
  53. arm. These special exercises consist of dry firing with a weight weighing several times more than the pistol. A two litre milk
  54. bottle full of water, or a two and a half kilogram dumb-bell are some of the things I have used. Extend the weight just as you would a
  55. pistol and line it up on an object and try to hold it steady until your arm starts throbbing. Rest for a few minutes and
  56. repeat the exercise. 10 minutes of this each day that you do not shoot on the range will enable you to hold steadier and
  57. longer than before.

  58. Trigger Control
  59. I do not like to use the word "squeeze" in connection with trigger control. When we think of the action of squeezing, we
  60. usually close all four fingers and thumb together at the same time. This is definitely not proper trigger control. The
  61. pressure put on the trigger must come from the trigger finger only The gripping fingers and base of thumb do not move.
  62. Review the chapter on grip. Get the proper grip on your pistol and keep the pressure constant, align the sights on the
  63. target properly, then with the trigger finger only, exert a steady, constantly increasing pressure, straight to the rear,
  64. until the hammer falls. There is a slightly different method of trigger control that I recommend for master shooters only
  65. and even then with extreme caution. The difference is that while the sight picture is not perfect, the trigger pressure is
  66. maintained, but not increased. When the picture becomes good again, the pressure is continued. This method when used
  67. correctly, insures that all shots go off with a perfect sight picture. The danger in this method is the tendency to flinch.
  68. I have been successful in the timed and slow fire stages, but I revert to the constantly increased pressure method in rapid
  69. fire. I just don't have time to interrupt my pressure in the rapid fire stage.
  70. There is one very important element common to both trigger control methods: the shooter does not pick out a definite moment
  71. to fire the gun. He knows by the amount of pressure on the trigger about when the hammer will fall, but not the exact
  72. instant. If he does pick out one exact instant to make the hammer fall, he will invariably flinch.

  73. Flinching
  74. Flinching is the convulsive movement made just as the hammer falls that causes shots to miss the target, or strike anywhere
  75. from the 5 ring to the 8 ring. All shooters suffer from this malady at one time or another. When Joe Benner gets an eight
  76. he has flinched because he would never put pressure on his trigger with his sights aligned in the eight ring, (windy
  77. shooting excepted). Your progress in the competitive field of target shooting depends largely on your ability to overcome
  78. flinching. I include all such movements as "Bucking," "Jerking" in the general term "Flinching." Here is exactly what
  79. happens: If you know the exact moment your pistol is going to fire, your subconscious mind orders you to brace your body
  80. against the recoil, and you do so, resulting in a flinch. The remedy is to never know the exact instant the hammer will
  81. fall. Even then your subconscious mind will make brace, but the reaction time between the explosion and your bracing will
  82. allow the bullet to leave the barrel without being misdirected by your flinch.

  83. Psychology of Shooting
  84. This is a serious problem to many shooters and to some degree a problem to all shooters. I'm referring to the building up
  85. of pressure inside the shooter that makes him shoot like a novice when he is capable of shooting 2600. It prevents the shooter from shooting in matches, the scores that he shoots inpractice. The best cure for this feeling is self confidence. If you shoot 870 with your .22 in practice, walk up on the line with the feeling that you can shoot 870 and will. 870 probably won't put you in the first 5 places, but it is your normal score and you can always shoot it. Sometimes you get hot and shoot 880. Don't keep such an accurate count of your
  86. scores that you end up in the National Match Course knowing that if you shoot 295, you will set a new record. Just shoot
  87. your matches as they come, record your score, and forget about them. Absolutely don't count your competitor's score to the
  88. point that you know exactly how much you need to beat them. Sometimes a shooter shoots 5 or 6 consecutive tens in the slow
  89. fire string. It is awful hard to stay with it. My advice is to spot your shots until you are sure that your sights are set
  90. right and then finish your string without spotting any more.The match shooter has a complicated problem. He wants to win and when he sees a chance to win because of some good strings, his breath quickens, and his heart beats so fast that he can feel it in his trigger finger. As a result he usually blows a five shot string and then for the rest of the match shoots normally. If we could just go to a match and be satisfied with our practice score; refrain from counting up our aggregates as we go; refuse to speculate on how much it will take to win;
  91. refrain from comparing competitor's scores, we would probably shoot much better. Here again experience strengthens our
  92. ability. The match shooter who has been to match after match and been disappointed time after time soon finds that it just
  93. doesn't seem so important to win. Then he begins to shoot his best scores in matches.

  94. Suggestions to the Beginner
  95. We will begin with equipment. I will not discuss equipment any further than to say that you must have complete confidence
  96. in your pistols and your ammunition. If you doubt either, you will blame equipment for your errors, and not correct them.
  97. Dry firing will develop and improve every element of shooting except recovery from recoil. It develops that machine-like
  98. precision in the timings of your timed and rapid fire stages. I suggest a fifteen minute session of dry-firing every day
  99. that you do not shoot on the range. Simulate your range conditions as much as possible.
  100. When you are troubled with flinching, use the roulette system, until you conquer the fault. By the roulette system I mean
  101. that you load all cylinders and spin the cylinder between each shot. This insures that you will soon be putting pressure on
  102. the trigger without knowing whether or not a live one is under the hammer. When the hammer falls and snaps, you will be
  103. able to see your flinch and soon eliminate it.
  104. You must do more than just shoot during your practice sessions. Call your shots slow fire and analyze your weaknesses. No
  105. amount of shooting will improve your score unless some thought and planning go along with the shooting. I shoot a complete
  106. aggregate, (900), with one caliber during each practice session. If you possibly can, practice on the range 3 times a week
  107. and dry fire at home all other days. Don't try to shoot too much during one practice session. One 900 aggregate is just
  108. about enough, especially with the .45. Keep an accurate record of your progress. If you fail to write down your scores, you
  109. will soon remember only the good ones. Always time yourself by some method or have someone time you during practice
  110. sessions. It is second nature to shoot your rapid in 12 seconds if you are not timed.

  111. Slow Fire
  112. Remember that you do not have to shoot before bringing your gun arm down to rest. When a shooter feels any fatigue or feels
  113. that he is running short of breath, by all means he should lower his arm, breathe deeply and try again, after relaxing.
  114. Some excellent slow fire shooters try two or three times before getting a shot off. Don't insist on having the perfect
  115. sight picture before applying pressure to the trigger. You can shoot groups only within pour ability to hold. If you can
  116. hold within the ten ring, then it should go there, but if you are like most of us, even after years of shooting; you are
  117. satisfied to hold within the nine ring and get your tens from the law of averages, and curse your eight's then so be it.

  118. Timed Fire
  119. Prepare your lungs by breathing deeply prior to firing and holding it just as you align your sights. Make rhythm, (interval
  120. between shots), the prime object. Never vary your rhythm. Adjust your recovery so that you have your sight picture in time
  121. for the next shot to go, but do not wait for perfect sight picture. If you maintain your rhythm and fail to get perfect
  122. sight picture, you'll get nines. If you make the gun fire just as the sight picture is perfect, you will get misses.

  123. Rapid Fire
  124. Rhythm is of prime importance. Rhythm is important because you develop rhythm only by putting a uniform pressure on the
  125. trigger after each recovery. Your can improve you rapid fire by learning to fire the first shot within one second after the
  126. target turns to you.

  127. Conclusion
  128. The theory of shooting is simple: You create a machine rest with your stance, grip and breath control. Then with the gun in
  129. the machine rest, you apply pressure directly to the rear until the hammer falls. In practice we sometimes find our machine
    rest wobbly because it has a brain and can count scores and anticipate wins. Through experience and practice you must make
  130. the brain machine-like also.