Performance Shooting Techniques By:



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I just took a two-day class with a well-known shooter. The material was very good and I can’t say I disagree with any of it. Good drills and good ideas. The instructor’s shooting ability was really something to behold, though of course I knew that going in. Why do I mention this? Most of the students in the class were serious enthusiasts, but many were not very good shooters. No class has “the secret drill” that will make you better. Some techniques are better than others but that doesn’t matter if you can’t hit your target on demand.

I believe you should learn proper technique from the beginning, but that does not mean you can take advantage of it at that point. I think better shooters make better instructors, all things being equal. That doesn’t mean that you will become a better shooter just by going to one of the absolute best shooters out there. Some milestones matter. Justin Dyal likes to call them monkey bars or stepping stones, that you must get to before being able to take advantage of higher-level ideas. If you are new to golf, do you think you will actually learn more from Tiger Woods than you would from a competent basic golf instructor? I would say no.

In order to take advantage of the knowledge and training that someone like Tiger Woods offers, you need to have a baseline ability to build on. Same with shooting. If you can’t shoot a reasonably tight group without obvious errors, you need to work on that before worrying about high-level recoil control. Or movement. Or really just about anything else. classes have a prerequisite for attendance. Among a few other very basic things, you must be able to hit a 3×5 index card 5 times in a row, from 5 yards, with no time limit. This is not done to avoid having to teach basic marksmanship, though I would argue that a performance shooting class is not the best place for that. It is done for two reasons. One is to see that you have enough of the fundamentals down pat that we can try to work on higher speed and accuracy concepts and drills. The other reason is to see if you are actually serious about improving your shooting.

A gun owner who wants to be a shooter should go to the range and learn to shoot. Long before the tremendous resource that is the internet, a beginning shooter could very easily find information on how to shoot accurately. I was fortunate to have a very competent mentor teach me how to hit my target, but I also read everything I could find and worked on it daily. With a little dedicated practice, a new shooter should be able to teach themselves how to hit a 3×5 card at 5 yards. Some consistent dry fire combined with a range trip every week for a little while will get it done.

So, while I don’t object to teaching absolute beginners, and have done so on and off for much of my life, no one simply gets better by going to classes. You get better by putting in the work. Not in class but outside of class. On your own or with a friend is fine, but you have to do the work. If you’ll do the work, then arguments about this technique or that technique become much less meaningful. And when you do find something that is meaningful, you will be in a position to take advantage of it. Classes can help point the way, but only you can make it matter.