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Login Name Post: Offhand Practice        (Topic#307978)
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7684
08-13-18 12:12 AM - Post#1697476    

    In response to Scipio

Scipio

In 1989 a rather bulldog looking Officer who had served with Carlos sounds like the Bn XO, Major Dick Culver. The OIC of the shop was a great Officer, but he had not served with Carlos in the Nam. I got transferred to CA in 1988, then Okinawa for a year, then three years at Camp Pendleton. I didn't return to Quantico as the Shop Chief until November 1994.

In some muzzle loading competitions they do allow a fouling shot, but not all of them. I can't remember if they allowed a fouling shot at the two World Championships in the UK that I attended as the U.S. Team Armourer, but many of the targets were 18 shots and they scored the top 15 shots only.

I really can't give an "average" amount that the rifles and smoothbores would shoot "off" at different times and weather conditions of the year, as I have been involved with shooting competitions that ranged from comparatively light barreled percussion small caliber Original and Reproduction rifles up to Original and Repro Minie' Rifles/Rifled Muskets and .69 and .75 cal. Original and Repro Flint Muskets.

When we had the tryouts for the International Team in Eastern PA one year, the folks from around Washington (State) reported significant changes in their POI, even though the weather was somewhat similar to back home.

NSSA shooters from all over the Eastern to Midwest part of the country reported differences when they came to Ft. Shenandoah to shoot at the Spring and Fall Championships, though the greatest differences were from the Spring when it could be cool to warm and sometimes hot to the Fall shoots were it went from being cool to downright miserably rainy and or very cold. A couple times (or more) it snowed during the Fall shoot even though it was shot in late September/Early October and that's when POI's changed drastically from Spring and especially Summer Skirmishing.

When I was stationed in Indiana during the mid/late 70's, most of the local competition I shot in was around Fort Wayne. That is in the Northern Part of the Middle of the State. However, when we shot even the next weekend down in Friendship in the lower third of the state, the heavy humidity caused us to have to hold off up to 2 to 4 inches at times (25 and 50 yards respectively) and that was only one week later than the last shoot at Fort Wayne. Because Indiana can get really cold in the Winter with lots of snow, some folks experienced POI changes of 4 inches or more at 50 yards during the winter.

These are only a few examples of why I caution about knowing where the first round will go at different times of the year and in different environmental conditions.

Gus


 
Scipio 
36 Cal.
Posts: 85
08-13-18 07:10 AM - Post#1697492    

    In response to Artificer

Gus:

Culver could have been the fellow. The name 'Willis' or something like that comes up too for some reason. Had a great time there and it was really an education on the differences in individual weapons training and doctrine between the USMC and Army. You guys had quite the machine shop there too.

As for zeros at different firing ranges -- a real good reason to keep records is right there. I experience elevation and sometimes a windage change going between ranges that are within miles of each other. And those differences are very consistent throughout a shooting season.

Have asked the top end guys why and even they didn't know. Only that at that range they had to use a different elevation and sometimes windage.

I don't think it is temperature because during a match the barrel, powder, and air temp normally changes pretty radically and there isn't a corresponding change in elevation. I am ready to bet such changes in zero are due to lighting conditions and how they affect sight picture more than air or powder temp. And I look at mirage from the ground and off a barrel as something that affects sight picture.

I last shot a ML comp was in the mid 80's but I do remember that with that specific rifle, I used a favor low for my first shot if the barrel was clean. Once it got fowled, no change in elevation hold for any string. And that was in south GA during the summer. Brutally hot.

Once I am sure that I won't start a gigantic forest fire here, I will be able to ring out the Jeager I just bought. This time around, I made sure I got something that was balanced, has a higher end barrel, and a stock that actually fits me. Sights? Not so great due to age related vision problems. Really need a tang rear and a hooded front.

I am a big one on hearing other's lessons learned and appreciate your time and comments.

Scipio

 
Richard Eames 
69 Cal.
Posts: 3685
08-13-18 07:17 AM - Post#1697493    

    In response to Colorado Clyde

"In my opinion reading about how to shoot is pretty much useless. If you understand what you're reading then you already know it. If not, then you have not learned it yet."

Folks learn by 7 different ways, reading is one of them, in a previous life I was an industrial trainer.

I increased my BP pistol scores by reading a book on Bulls Eye pistol shooting, the teachings there apply to BP pistol shooting.

I have read all the posts here and one thing that has not been mentioned is "dry firing". All the top pistol and rifle shooters I know dry fire and some do it every day.

Set your trigger, pick up the rifle, aim at a light switch in your house, concentrate on your sights and pull the trigger. Watch for movement in the sights when the trigger breaks.

Put the rifle down and repeat. Do this for 10 minutes each day and your offhand shooting will improve. You are becoming more familiar with it by handling the rifle and improving your muscle tone by picking up the rifle.

You will not wear out the set trigger by dry firing as some think.

I shoot 2 air pistol targets each morning after eating breakfast and dry fire each evening during the commercials while watching the news.

As CC mentioned it's all about practice, dry firing is practice and you do not have to leave home to do it.

Edited by Richard Eames on 08-13-18 07:19 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Colorado Clyde 
Cannon
Posts: 15106
Colorado Clyde
08-13-18 07:46 AM - Post#1697499    

    In response to Richard Eames

I'll concede because, I agree with everything you just said....


 
40 Flint 
54 Cal.
Posts: 1581
40 Flint
08-14-18 12:43 PM - Post#1697715    

    In response to Colorado Clyde

Doing a little shooting today w the .54 flinter. Wasn’t doing well so started an old practice. Load and walk to the line, w frizzen open and cock down dry fire 2-3 times then prime and shoot. Looking better. Sometimes at home I put a piece of soft wood in the jaws and dry fire in the garage

 
Colorado Clyde 
Cannon
Posts: 15106
Colorado Clyde
08-14-18 01:51 PM - Post#1697722    

    In response to 40 Flint

I verbally and repeatedly say to myself "hold, hold, hold" until the smoke clears.


 
SDSmlf 
40 Cal.
Posts: 267
08-14-18 02:30 PM - Post#1697726    

    In response to 40 Flint

  • 40 Flint Said:
Load and walk to the line, w frizzen open and cock down dry fire 2-3 times then prime and shoot. Looking better. Sometimes at home I put a piece of soft wood in the jaws and dry fire in the garage


Have heard it debated that just setting and dry firing a set trigger (assume that’s what you are talking about) puts a lot of stress and wear on your trigger and have been taught to avoid. Seem to remember Paul V going on about it a time or two.

 
40 Flint 
54 Cal.
Posts: 1581
40 Flint
08-14-18 04:51 PM - Post#1697742    

    In response to SDSmlf

Actually I heard cycling the triggers on half cock could break the tip off the sear. Made sense to me and why cock is all the way down. Never had a trigger or sear problem this way since 1973.

 
jon math 
40 Cal.
Posts: 213
jon math
08-15-18 07:06 AM - Post#1697813    

    In response to dsayer

If you have a clear 30 foot distance in your cellar or garage consider getting a half way decent air rifle and setting up a backstop and practice shooting whenever the mood strikes you. A tin of 500 pellets is inexpensive, the rifle almost silent and recoiless. You can shoot and develop your positions and trigger control without developing a bad habit like a flinch or spending a lot of money on balls and powder.


With a pistol I dry fire at least 10 times for every round I send down range, but I also fire 20 or 30 pellets in my garage for every round I fire at the range for score. With a rifle I could never stand dry firing, and only did it if I was noticing a problem on my paper targets; but at the same time going through a tin or two of pellets a week in practice was my norm.


In spite of having developed pretty solid classic positions over the years I’ll use any natural rest available when I hunt.


Edited by jon math on 08-15-18 07:07 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Richard Eames 
69 Cal.
Posts: 3685
08-15-18 10:12 AM - Post#1697837    

    In response to jon math

I practice with an air pistol in place of my B/P pistols since I can shoot in my back yard.

I keep a record of each target that I shoot on a chart. I average the scores after every 10 targets and keep a record of those averages. Since I started shooting in March, my average has come up 10 points for 10 targets. Practice does pay off.

In line pistol shooting a person is allowed 30 minutes for either 10 or 13 shots depending on the match. I use a timer when practicing with BP pistols to keep my rhythm.


 
jon math 
40 Cal.
Posts: 213
jon math
08-15-18 12:10 PM - Post#1697865    

    In response to Richard Eames

Air pistols and rifle are great trainers. True you do not get the recoil, smoke and their lock times are not the same, but they allow one to practice sight alignment, trigger control, position building, and follow through for a cent or two a shot without having to travel to a range.

 
Colorado Clyde 
Cannon
Posts: 15106
Colorado Clyde
08-15-18 01:25 PM - Post#1697886    

    In response to jon math

Air guns are great for leaning to shoot in general, but, I like to practice with whatever gun I'm going to use...That way it has the same weight, feel, trigger pull, recoil, and sight picture.


 
Richard Eames 
69 Cal.
Posts: 3685
08-15-18 02:35 PM - Post#1697903    

    In response to Colorado Clyde

No disagreement from me.

I walk each morning, eat breakfast and shoot 2 targets with the air pistol. I do not have to clean it as a BP pistol. If I had to clean a BP pistol every morning after practice I would not shoot five days a week.

I go check cows on the weekend and do the same thing there except with a pistol.

I do not mind cleaning BP guns, but if I can practice with out cleaning them I will.

 
Richard Eames 
69 Cal.
Posts: 3685
08-15-18 02:40 PM - Post#1697905    

    In response to jon math

A hole in a target and a group on a target is what counts, not how the hole was made.

Dry firing is as important as live practice.

The mental aspect of shooting is the most important, mental is 90% of shooting.



 
Colorado Clyde 
Cannon
Posts: 15106
Colorado Clyde
08-15-18 02:46 PM - Post#1697907    

    In response to Richard Eames

  • Richard Eames Said:


Dry firing is as important as live practice.

The mental aspect of shooting is the most important, mental is 90% of shooting.





Totally agree 100%



 
Dusty Texian 
40 Cal.
Posts: 235
Dusty Texian
08-16-18 08:42 AM - Post#1698012    

    In response to Colorado Clyde

Should receive my first flintlock rifle today , after shooting cap lock rifles for over 40 yrs. it will be something new to me .Follow through has been part of my shooting checks for many yrs . Will soon see how well I can Hold Hold Hold . RW

 
jon math 
40 Cal.
Posts: 213
jon math
08-16-18 09:08 AM - Post#1698014    

    In response to Colorado Clyde

I agree, while the air pistol/rifle practice is great for fundamentals of shooting you still need trigger time with the actual firearm as recoil management is the one thing air does not give practice for. Learning to ignore that side hammer falling, and maintaining your sight alignment is another place air falls down on.

 
Darkhorse 
45 Cal.
Posts: 522
08-16-18 09:05 PM - Post#1698114    

    In response to jon math

Even though I have a personal range down in my woods I still can't shoot everyday. So I use a piece of wood same size as a flint in the jaws of one of my rifles. This helps insure nothing gets broken.
Over the years I've come to the conclusion that if a shooter closes his/hers eyes when the trigger is pulled then that shooter is flinching. Argue if you want my mind won't be changed on this.
I never close my eyes during the entire firing process. I keep trying to just burn that front sight into the target and when the hammer is dropped I see everytime where the sight is in relation to my aiming point. Same thing whether or not I'm dryfiring with a wooden flint or actually shooting the weapon.
If you can't do this simple thing you will always wonder why you don't get those good groups the top shooters get regularly.
Just my opinion of course.

 
Irish lad 
36 Cal.
Posts: 52
Irish lad
08-17-18 06:38 AM - Post#1698146    

    In response to Darkhorse

Absolutely agree.
I always find my right eye being drawn to the sparks when the flint hits the frizzen.
So I use an old frizzen and flint to dry practice and focus on the front sight and follow through.
It seems to have helped since my offhand groups are less awful
Irish

 
Scipio 
36 Cal.
Posts: 85
08-17-18 07:26 AM - Post#1698150    

    In response to Darkhorse

Absolutely correct.

Focus on sight picture through the entire shot. By doing so, the mind and body will try and keep the barrel pointed where the eyes tell them to point. What ever mental program a guy uses, the program must run until the shooter knows absolutely that the ball or bullet has struck his intended target.

Given a rifle that recoils, getting a 'second sight picture' after recoil for a two or three count keeps the brain focused on sight picture through the entire shot too.

When guys have problems is when their brain thinks the shot is over and they start to drop the rifle or pistol before the shot has been fired. I think shooters are more apt to do this when shooting firearms that are cocked by hand. Probably a way for the brain to complete the shot. It is a easy fix though. Self talk focused on holding the sight picture through the entire shot or attaining a new sight picture after recoil for two or three count.

Scipio

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7684
08-17-18 01:28 PM - Post#1698260    

    In response to Scipio

I hope I will be excused for using examples of unmentionable guns in the following, but I do so to point out the importance of holding perfect sight alignment during and after the shot goes off.

I grew up doing lot of hunting mostly with a shotgun, but also with a .22 rifle and pistol. I took many raccoon with my .22 pistol using just one hand while the other held the old large plastic lantern behind my head and shining along my arm, so I could see the sights. 47 Raccoon with 49 shots meant I was doing something right, but I honestly didn’t know what it was.

One week called “Snapping In” in Marine Boot Camp was THE most extensive and intensive exercise in Marksmanship Fundamentals and application while dry firing in different positions one could possibly imagine. It had to be because even when I went through in 1971 and the majority of Recruits had fired some kind of gun before Boot Camp, only a tiny percentage of us had had any kind of real Marksmanship Training before coming on active duty. Most of us had not fired a large caliber rifle and none of us had fired with Iron Sights at ranges of 200 through 500 yards.

I got into competition with ML Rifles and Smoothbores and did well enough not to embarrass myself, but never high enough on the Primitive Range at Friendship to be mentioned in Muzzle Blasts in the mid to late 1970’s. After dropping the ball in Boot Camp and only shooting Sharpshooter, I ran a string of 10 or more Expert Badges on the Rifle Range at annual requalification and when I was allowed to shoot Pistol for score a few years later, had managed to have a string of Expert Badges as well. However, each of those Expert Qualifications were on the LOW end of the points needed to qualify Expert each time.

I did not receive a true personal epiphany on marksmanship, until I attended/graduated the NRA Police Firearms Instructor’s Course in 1986. This even though by then I had been around and done gun work for some of the best Shooters in the country from when I had first joined THE Marine Corps Rifle Team as the Junior Gunsmith in 1975. That meant I also had had much more than the average person’s access to some of the best coaches in the country as well. One might have thought if nothing more than through Osmosis during my duties, that I might have learned more than I did. However, even though there was nothing “new” I had never heard before, “the lights finally went on” during that course.

We Marines were given a couple “free” slots in each class of that course, because we hosted the classes and gave them free access to classroom and the shooting ranges. Many of the members of THE Marine Corps Rifle and Pistol Teams, as well as some other NM Armorers had gone through the course and graduated. They chose to mostly to use revolvers with good sights or NM pistols for the handgun shooting and most used personally owned or borrowed shotguns equipped with rifle sights. There was no Rifle training in that course. Because it was an Instructor’s Certification, it required a 90 percent on the Test and shooting with both the Shotgun and Handgun. Failure to get a 90 percent on any of the three evaluations and one did not graduate and receive the certification. That was difficult enough, but I chose to make it even more difficult on myself, which was almost a HUGE mistake.

I decided it would mean much more for later use of the certification if I used the Marine Corps Issue Shotgun and .45 pistol and the best holster I owned and allowed to carry on Duty. The problem was I had only fired my Issue Pistol once in requalification and had never fired the Issue Shotgun for any kind of a score. I SHOULD have used my S&W Revolver or my own hand built .45 for the handgun and my own M1100 Remington Shotgun with the Rifle Sight Slug Barrel, because I had shot them much, MUCH more often.

When I went to check out the Issue M870 Shotgun, all six of the Battalion Shotguns were missing their rear sights and the front sights had been drastically filed down because they had been messed up. I was shocked on the day I went to draw the shotgun, to learn that was officially approved maintenance procedures because the Corps could not get replacement sights for some reason. OH……C..R..A..P….!! It was also too late to get my personally owned shotgun. Well, I figured I could still do OK with it, since I thought we were only going to be firing Buck Shot. NOPE! We also had to fire 4 rounds of Slugs Offhand for score and the last single Slug from 50 yards….OUCH!!

I was forced to hold that shotgun with as perfect of “spot weld” or cheek position, Natural Point of Aim and more concentration on what was left of the front sight to the flat top on the barrel for a rear sight for “perfect sight alignment,” than I had ever consciously done before. But BECAUSE I was forced to concentrate so much on aligning what little sights I had, I still shot a 96 out of 100 with the combined Buck Shot and Slugs. What a relief that was!! So I had more confidence when we went to the Pistol Range as I had qualified on some Police Range courses before when I was a Reserve Police Officer. I also had qualified Expert a fair number of times with the .45. However, that uplift of confidence did not last long.

For the Handgun Test, the Instructors changed the targets and some of the ranges and types of shooting than what we had practiced. The bullseye and scoring rings were a LOT SMALLER on the 25 yard target and I had never shot on that small of a target with an Issue .45 Pistol and the tiny Issue Sights. When we finished the course, I only scored 82 and that wasn’t good enough to qualify. However, only a few of the best FBI and Federal Marshalls and I think one Police Officer passed. I was much relieved when they told us they did not expect us to pass the first time and everyone who had not qualified, got to shoot again. Long story short, they gave us three times total to shoot and I got a 92 on the last time around, though some of the LEO’s from other agencies did not pass.

A couple weeks later we were test firing some NM Pistols and of course they have great trigger pulls and NM sights. I concentrated on perfect sight alignment throughout and after the shot went off, as I had in the Instructor’s Course. I shot MUCH more accurately than I ever had before. That’s when even with my thick skull, the “Lights finally went on.” My Pistol Requalification scores after that jumped up a great deal to the high end of Expert Scores and two Rifle Requalification details later, I tied the All Time Record at Quantico. This even though with my astigmatism, I would never be able to be a Top Notch National Level shooter.


A little over a year later, I had a chance to prove how important concentrating on “perfect sight alignment” and Natural Point of Aim was/is to Offhand Shooting. My OIC and I were looking for ways to show our appreciation for how well our Marines had done on a Major Inspection. Normally Standard Armorers were only allowed to shoot “familiarization” courses of fire with the pistol and were not allowed to “Qualify” with the pistol until they made the rank of SSgt. Since we were stationed on Edson Range, I suggested getting a special detail to allow our Marines to Qualify with the Pistol. That way, they would be entitled to wear the Pistol Marksmanship Badge they earned in Uniform – unlike most Marines at their ranks. That would give them “bragging rights” with their peers and of course better train them if we had to go into Combat. Our Marines ranged from PFC’s with only one or two familiarization courses, to Sergeants with up to five times, but none ever shot for Qualification. We had both Male and Female Marines at each rank, as well. (Oh, and of course shooting a pistol Offhand is more difficult than shooting a rifle Offhand as most folks realize.)

I was only able to give them four hours of Instruction before they shot for practice/record for the four days of Qualification, but I was able to go over their targets with them after they fired each day. I ensured they got NPA down pat and concentrated hugely on them maintaining perfect sight alignment during and after the pistol went off in our Dry Firing Drills before they shot. My OIC and I were pleased that not only every one of those Marines qualified with the Pistol; but more than half of them shot Expert, most of the rest had shot Sharpshooter and only two shot the lowest qualification of Marksmen. Two of our three Female Marines had shot Expert and one of them was a PFC who had only familiarization fired the pistol one time. That PFC was the High Female Shooter and thus won an extra day of liberty for our unofficial “Annie Oakley” award along with the High Male Marine.

At the next Company Commander’s Uniform Inspection in preparation for the CG’s Inspection, it was quite noticeable that all Armorers were wearing their Rifle and especially their Pistol Marksmanship Badges, as so few of their peers were even allowed to qualify with the Pistol. The Company Commander complimented our Marines on their Marksmanship and said he had a lot less security concerns with the Armory, knowing the Armorers could shoot that well.

Thank you to anyone who endured to read this long post and I hope it sheds some light to some forum members on just how important concentrating on perfect sight alignment during and after each shot is fired - truly is for hunting or target shooting.

Gus


 
Sun City 
32 Cal.
Posts: 28
Sun City
08-28-18 09:13 PM - Post#1700297    

    In response to dsayer

I shot standing/offhand for 60 years! I don't need to do that anymore!

 
dsayer 
40 Cal.
Posts: 328
09-06-18 05:31 PM - Post#1701400    

    In response to Sun City

Whoa... I've been away from the forum for awhile and haven't checked in. Quite the discussion here.

Thanks for all the insight and stories. Sorry I haven't posted any pictures of progress. Been focused on getting ready for hunting season (starts on Saturday), which has meant less rather than more time shooting off hand. Been focused more on shooting from "hunting positions" like seated and kneeling the last couple of weeks.

 
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