DK Firearms

Help! I am a terrible shot :(

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  • Porter

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    Jun 3, 2008
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    I took my Sigarms 1911 out for the first time on Sunday, and while I am happy to report that it outperformed the brand new Kimber in the lane next to me (I had no failures of any sort in 100+ rounds, he had 5), I have to admit that I am a terrible shot.

    After about 50 rounds I finally started consistently putting round on paper at 7 yards. Yes, it was that bad. Once I did begin at least hitting paper everything was falling low and to the left of point of aim. Whatever I am doing wrong I did consistently wrong on the last two mags, because I managed to shoot a ragged hole. However, the hole was not being made where I wanted it to be made.

    So, based on my description, does anyone have any suggestions as to what stupid mistake I am making?

    This is my first pistol, I have fired numerous rifles, and while I am not a sharpshooter with a rifle, I am considerably better than with my pistol.
    Texas SOT
     

    JKTex

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    Sounds like you're anticipating recoil and jerking the trigger. That's my fault as well.

    When I start doing that, I'll dry fire a few times and you'll see how much you're jerking it. You'll get nice a steady and at that point, start shooting live rounds again and repeat what you did.

    Another trick some suggest is to load up a snap cap or 2 in a mag (better, let someone else do it so you don't know where they are) and when you get to one, you'll see how much you're jerking it.

    Look for the surprise fire also. Gently pull on the trigger and let loose, them pull again, each time getting firmer and firmer until "bang".

    Those are things I've had suggested.

    I'm attaching a chart I just found that is great to let you see what you're likely doing depending on where you're hitting.

    OK, guess I'm not. I already reached my pic quota with the 1 pic I've got posted somewhere else.
     

    Porter

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    I have seen that chart before, but can never find it when I want to. I PM'd you my email. Would you mind shooting a copy of it over to me?
     

    htxred

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    im a pretty good shot inside the shooter's box. id have to see you shoot in order for me to help you out. ima warn you though, i have a big problem with only making one hole when i shoot. so you might not want my advise..... lol :p

    anyways if you're anywhere near shiloh, stop by and i'll see if i cant get you hittin ipsc groups. :D
     

    JKTex

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    SIG_Fiend

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    Those charts have entirely too much info on them in my opinion. Draw a big plus sign or cross on the center of the target. If you are a right handed shooter and you are hitting ANYWHERE to the left, it's almost guaranteed to be a trigger control issue. If left handed then it's the reverse (hitting to the right would be trigger control). Trigger control issues are the number one factor in inaccuracy problems IMO.

    9 times out of 10 inaccuracy issues are either due to improper trigger control or improper sight focus. Very, very, rarely are the sights ever off. Some people advocate "point shooting", target focus, etc but for the sake of pure accuracy just focus on the front sight. As far as the trigger issue goes, there's a good drill which helped me out immensely. It's called the "surprise" break. Basically, once you line up on target and have your sights aligned, start focusing on the front sight hard. While doing this, you want to very, very slowly start easing the trigger back. Don't even try to "make" the gun shoot, just pull it back slowly, slowly increasing pressure. The whole time, it can help to say to yourself or out loud FRONT SIGHT, FRONT SIGHT, FRONT SIGHT to get your mind focused on concentrating there. If done correctly, eventually the gun will go off when you don't expect it. The point is, this keeps you from yanking the trigger back. With the sights in proper alignment, a front sight focus, and not yanking the trigger, the shots should hit right at the point of aim every time. There are other issues that can creep up as well though like improper sight alignment with the eye (this can really show up if you are cross dominant, wear glasses, etc). Though, other issues aside, start there and see how you do.

    One other piece of advice I picked up from those more knowledgeable than myself, stop making the gun shoot. What I mean by that is no one can ever really hold the gun completely still. Some people feel rushed by the slight movement in the gun when held extended. Don't worry about it, as long as you aren't shaking all over the place, a little movement is not going to hurt your accuracy too much (well unless you are shooting bullseye matches or something). Stop feeling rushed to press the shot off and focus purely on properly aligning the sights and squeezing the trigger.

    One thing that might also help is to shoot at no target whatsoever. If it's indoors, just don't put a target on the hangar, outdoors just shoot into the berm or whatever. Take your focus off the target or other aspects and allow yourself to focus on the front sight and trigger control. Eventually I think a person needs to see the bullet holes on the target after their string of fire (don't be focusing on the target and looking for bullet holes WHILE shooting). After seeing the results it will start to make more sense and will increase your confidence level.

    I highly recommend buying this video: Link

    Hehe, I feel like a salesman for Yeager at TR sometimes but, that video is the single best thing I have found thus far for learning handgun shooting proficiency. For someone starting out, it would give you a big head start over the normal route most people take.
     

    TexasHK

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    Being a 1911 fan myself and experiencing differences in shooting, I'd give two possibilities from seeing others shoot a 1911 style:
    First off, at first glance reading your description I'd say you could be jerking the trigger in anticipation of the climb and recoil, which is easy to see witht he dry firing, but I'd say to make sure that just the pad of your trigger finger is on the trigger and talk yourself through a nice and easy trigger pull.

    Another possibility that I've seen comes close to a limp wrist as you could be 'helping the round down range.' I've seen this when a shooter flinches the muzzle down a bit when firing. This will cause you to drop your rounds fairly low and to one side. The best course of action for this could be to take a good firm stance, make sure you are locking your arm(s) depending on the stance you use (squared up or weaver stance) and talk yourself through a nice squeeze a few times. Once you try this and those rounds come back to center, you should gain confidence and eventually do it without thinking.

    But without seeing you shoot, these are my two best guesses.
     

    LittleGun

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    These suggestions are things my instructor told me when I was shooting for the first time. My problems were anticipating the shot and too forceful on the trigger. All my shows left and low. I learned not to anticipation the shot - just let it happen. I used the suggestion of fixating on the front sight by verbally repeating SIGHT...SIGHT...SIGHT...SIGHT. Then blam! The gun fired and I wasn't expecting it so I didn't ruin the shot. Once I learned to relax and go easy on the trigger, my accuracy dramatically improved.
     

    mac79912

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    Yep sounds like limp wristing.Try dry firing to practice.Had the same problem when I first started shooting the 1911.
     

    JKTex

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    I like the charts but agree, there's lot of info. that's too defined/refined for shooting. So they can be used, but as a guide but not the final word. The causes are all pretty good where you're shooting might not be exactly in those regions.

    It's a tool that can help if you don't try to let it drive and understand those lines (maybe remove the lines so we don't fixate on the "region").

    I like the "sight, sight, sight" as it's just something that will allow you to focus on something else rather than hyper-focus on the upcoming shot.
     

    Kerbouchard

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    Dry fire...dry fire, a lot. And then dry fire some more. The shooting range is a place to confirm that your practice dry firing is working.

    Also, when dry firing, place a dime on top of the slide. If the dime moves, you need to work on your trigger pull. Don't put too much finger on the trigger. The tip of the finger in the 'fingernail area' should be what is used to bring the trigger straight back. Try not to anticipate the shot. Bring your finger back in one smooth and continuous motion, and you should be a little 'surprised' when it fires. Try shooting from a rest. Let others shoot your 1911, perhaps there is something wrong with your sights or your gun. Try to borrow somebody else's weapon and see how it shoots.

    Sometimes a person and a gun are incompatible. It may be that the grip, trigger pull, or whatever just doesn't work for you.

    Check your eye dominance. This can sometimes be a problem for new shooters...To check your eye dominance, poke a hole in the center of a 8x11 piece of paper with a pencil. Hold it at arms length with both eyes open. Look through the hole. Bring the paper in closer. When the paper touches your face, the eye that you are using to look through it is your dominant eye. If you are a right handed shooter and left eye dominant, try shooting with both eyes open.

    When shooting, concentrate on the front sight. The rear sights should be a little blurry, and the target should NOT be in focus. Concentrate on that front sight and bring the trigger straight back. Do not try to guess where the trigger will break or when.

    Grip: Your grip should be firm. With a 1911, your right thumb should rest just above the safety, pointing towards your target. Your left thumb should be along the frame further up. Your support hand should be 'pushing' the bottom of the grip back into your strong hand. This helps with recoil.

    Being as this is your first handgun, but you are an accomplished shooter, there are a few other things you can try...

    1.) Borrow somebody's .22. No recoil and much cheaper to practice with. Practicing and learning with a handgun that has recoil will cause you to develop bad habits(if not accompanied by a lot of dry fire)
    2.) Purchase some snap caps. Have a friend randomly load your magazine for you. Shoot the magazine. You're going to be surprised at how much 'recoil' you have when you get to the snap cap. :wink:

    Anticipating recoil and incorporating it into the muscle memory of your trigger pull is probably the most common and most costly error to correct for the simple reason of: The more you practice, the worse off you get. Putting thousands of rounds down range will not improve your technique if you are practicing the wrong technique.

    Uhmm, if none of that works, pay for some lessons. Pay for lessons, anyway, if you can.

    Good Luck, and be sure to post a range report after you get some dry fire practice time in!
     

    Texas1911

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    I think dry firing is only good to gain trigger memory. When someone is flinching then they will not benefit from dry firing simply because the loud bang is not there, you are relaxed and you know that it won't be scary when it trips the hammer.

    The number one thing that helps a flinch is distracting yourself and focusing on something else besides accuracy, the loud noise, etc. Every shot should surprise you.

    As you get more and more used to the loud noise and recoil you'll develop less and less anticipation. Then it will become manageable, and you can start to tune it out.

    A .22 is a good idea. The guns are light and really emphasize poor trigger control and flinching.

    Practice, practice, practice. If you find yourself really going to crap with your shooting then take a break and return to it. Work with a partner that can help you.

    Try different things. No one is the same and that means that no one method works the same for everyone. Dry firing may help you, front sight focus may help you, they might all add up to better shooting. You'll find what works for you and what doesn't.
     

    LHB1

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    I have to admit that I am a terrible shot. After about 50 rounds I finally started consistently putting round on paper at 7 yards. Yes, it was that bad. Once I did begin at least hitting paper everything was falling low and to the left of point of aim.

    Porter,
    If you can meet me at Carter's northside shooting range on Treaschwig sometime, I will offer my assistance towards improving your shooting. I shot Bullseye competition at a younger age and still shoot regularly for my personal enjoyment. Just went to the range today and fired 50 rounds at 20 yds. There were about 9 shots in the nine ring and 1 in the eight ring. The other 40 shots were in a hole that used to be the 3" bullseye. There are certain basic fundamentals required to shoot a pistol accurately:
    - Consistent grip
    - Sight Alignment
    - Trigger Control.
    Of these, Trigger Control is by far the hardest to master and is the cause of 99% of all misses when shooting pistols IMO. Send me a PM or e-mail if you are interested.
     

    buyit

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    I just wanted to add that if you are gripping the firearm too weakly this can cause you to pull shots low. This happens because when you squeeze the trigger the fingers on your grip also close, causing you to "milk" the grip. Try holding the gun really tight when you fire. This has a few unintended benefits also: it is harder to be disarmed by a bad guy if you grip your handgun tight, and in a scenario when you need to fire your handgun, with all that adrenaline in your veins, [likely] you'll be gripping your handgun with all your might.

    Personally my biggest accuracy problem was mental. I'm convinced I'll make a bad shot, then I raise my gun and naturally my hand isn't totally still [this is natural FYI]. This even further diminishes my confidence. So when you finally go to pull the trigger you are totally psyched out. The fact is if you can just breathe slow and focus on that front sight, every little nook and cranny of it, and pull through the trigger smoothly and linearly, then your shots will improve. Shoot a lot and your confidence and groups will improve.
     

    Porter

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    Ok guys, I tried some of everyone's advice at lunch today, and I am happy to report that my groupings improved immensely. On a silhouette target at 10 yards, everything was inside the 7 ring with the exception of 1 stray shot. I even managed 5 bullseyes on my last 5 shots. Thanks to everyone for the excellent advice. I still need tons more practice, and I think I'm going to take those of you who offered face to face help up when time allows. Tightening my grip (nearly strangling the gun it feels like), and better focus on the front site paid off tremendously.
     

    LittleGun

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    That's great news! As a new shooter myself, I know how you feel. Now that you are discovering the basics, you'll continue to improve. Hey LHB1, is that offer for shooting tips open to anyone? I'm not far from Carters Country.
     

    LHB1

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    That's great news! As a new shooter myself, I know how you feel. Now that you are discovering the basics, you'll continue to improve. Hey LHB1, is that offer for shooting tips open to anyone? I'm not far from Carters Country.

    Sure, LittleGun. I'm planning to be at Carter's tomorrow morning at 9:00 for a couple of hours shooting. I'll be on the 20 yd line shooting a two tone 1911 with a brass catcher net beside me. If you can't make it then, let me know when you can. I'm retired and can go just about any time during the week. May be slightly restricted next week as I will be keeping my young grandson while Momma and Grandma are both busy/out of town. Send me an e-mail or PM if you can't make it tomorrow and we will get together at first opportunity. I always like to have someone to shoot with.
     

    Army 1911

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    Sounds like you are breaking your wrist down to control anticipated recoil. You may also have to much finger in the trigger. Use just the pad. You might want to change the thumb position on the left hand. Assuming a 2 hand hold. Point the left thumb toward the target and lay it along the frame. Put your right thumb on top of the left (yes it will be behind it. Push with your right hand forward into the left. This has corrected a lot of shooters who tend to shoot left.

    As long as your shots are grouped relatively tight, and consistant other things are correctable.
     
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