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September 15, 2019

Gun Thread: Maybe You Just Suck [Weasel]

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Something has been on my mind for a while and I think it's time we talked about it. What is it you ask? Well, it mostly has to do with training, expectations and improving your shooting. Let's find out more below, shall we?


Shooting, Sucking and You

Here's a wisdom packed short article sent in by our pal redc1c4 touching on a topic I've felt strongly about for some time. If you aren't getting the results you want in your shooting, or anything else in life for that matter, perhaps the first thing to do is just admit that you suck. I mean this sincerely. On a good day I am a half-way competent shooter, but I sure as hell didn't start out that way. When I first started, I sucked, bigly, boldly and badly. After making a lot of random holes in targets at embarrassingly close distances, I sat down and had a talk with myself and we both agreed that I just sucked at shooting. It turns out that shooting, at least shooting consistently well, is one of those things that is harder than it looks. But what to do about it? Should I simply lower my expectations or should I decide to improve? How about being happy with the status quo?

Just because you suck today doesn't mean you have to suck forever, and improving mostly involves starting with good fundamentals rather than spending a fortune on gear.

It's important to set your expectations and work towards the standard you set for yourself as a goal. I went along for a while and then decided to try and stop sucking by developing some skills which meant a) training and 2) practice, practice, practice. I joined a range and spent an hour or two there every week over a number of years practicing the fundamentals of handgun shooting. Rifle shooting represented a different sickness altogether; I found one of best rifle instructors in the country and spent a countless number of days on a 600 acre hay farm learning to shoot at long-range. Later, I entered as many long range matches as possible over a period of years to practice what I'd learned. Beginning to get the point? It's much more about learning the fundamentals and practicing them, than it is about having the newest, shiniest and expensivest gear on the range. I have had my ass absolutely kicked around a rifle range by old experienced guys and gals with goofy looking vintage gear, because they knew how to shoot. Having ultra high-end equipment only begins to make a difference at the very top end of the performance curve.

When I began coaching long-range rifle teams I frequently worked with new shooters and noticed a tendency for many to believe a new scope or another piece of gear was the quick answer to whatever their problemo du jour seemed to be. They were convinced that moving from a basic stock rifle to a very expensive custom made rifle would place them squarely in the winner's circle on match day. BAM! Imagine their confusion and bitter, bitter sadness when the big day arrives and their brand new rifle doesn't seem to shoot any better than the previous one they were convinced had been holding them back all along. Hey! This new rifle is defective too!

So here are some WeaselRules on shooting, training and practice. These are good not only for new shooters, but also maybe for those who have reached a plateau and are looking to up their game. These are the same points I would gently, and sometimes not so gently, make to the dejected shooter toeing the dirt after a train wreck in a match, but they apply to all shooters sooner or later I think.

Don't Read the Internet
The internet is great for cat videos, exiled Nigerian banking official outreach, and our favorite blog, but can be a dangerous place for anyone with just a little bit of knowledge. It's natural for a new shooter to want to immerse themselves in their latest passion, but it's possible to pick up someone else's bad habits, too. Be very careful what and who you believe online, especially anything from a guy you don't know calling himself Weasel. The best way to begin gaining knowledge you can trust is to find someone who does the kind of shooting you like, and who does it very well, and become their best friend.

Talk Less and Listen More
If you are being coached or are paying for lessons, listen to the instructor and refrain from explaining to them how much of an expert you already are. Shooters are a friendly bunch so if you're learning on your own, find the good shooters, ask questions and listen to the answers. Again, listening does not mean blabbering about how much you know from reading an internet discussion forum the night before.

Set Goals, Measure Progress and Manage Expectations
Always have a plan. Even if you're headed to the range for some plain ol' recreational shooting, have some sort of training objective in mind. You don't need to make a big production out of things, but take the time to focus on fundamentals or one particular aspect of shooting for at least a few minutes. Be willing to invest your time but spend it wisely and adopt some method of measuring your progress. Finally, do not become discouraged when you don't become a champion overnight. It takes time, and there's nothing you can do about that other than, well, investing an amount of time directly proportional to the skill level you want to achieve. There is nothing in the world wrong with being new at something and sucking at it, just be determined to improve if that's what you want to do. If your goal is to shoot six inch groups at 7 yards, then be happy shooting six inch groups at 7 yards.

Everyone Has a Bad Day
No shit. And I mean everyone. Don't compound a problem you might have had earlier by acting like a baby and beating yourself up for the rest of the day. I like to tell the story of a very good friend who is one of the top long range shooters in the country who, in the first three relays of a national match, dropped a total of three points and was in 54th place at the end of day one. Did he get mad and quit? No. That day simply wasn't his day. If you make an errant shot, stop and think about what happened. Try to determine what went wrong and don't do that thing anymore. Have a mental checklist beginnning with your setup, stance and grip mechanics; and progressing through target acquisition, trigger squeeze and follow-up, and assess your performance at each step. There is a time to shoot quickly and a time to shoot s-l-o-w-l-y. Learn from your mistakes and when it's your turn to be the loser, don't be a bad one.

Consider Competitive Shooting for Practice
I am a lazy mo-fo, no two ways about it. After I had been shooting and training for a while, I got to a point where I was excusing my often less than stellar performance as good enough. I'd just barely miss a target at say, 800 yards, and would make up all sorts of reasons to myself why it was justified and understandable. After all, it's a teensy little target a long way away! I was definitely at the point where I'd accomplished my goal of learning how to shoot and was then just being lazy in the execution. So I decided to start entering matches knowing that I could measure good days vs bad ones by my scores, and it worked. You cannot hide from a poorly executed shot when the target comes up and your scorer records the results. You do not have to go all bananas and turn it into a semi-career like I did, but consider match shooting as a training tool. It is a whole lot of fun and you will meet some incredibly nice and like-minded people along the way. You won't know what you're doing the first time, but just suck it up. Every single person on the range had a first day, too. Tell the Match Director it's your first match and ask to be squadded with an experienced shooter who can show you the ropes, then come back and tell me at the end of the day it wasn't fun and worthwhile.

Sorry, It Probably Isn't the Gun
Self-explanatory. 'Nuff said.

***

So what do you think? Do you need more practice or do you "need" a new gun or some other gear to improve? Believe me, buying guns is mucho fun-o especially if your objective is owning lots of guns, but if you want to progress with your shooting it takes time, a willingness to learn, and practice. Admitting there is always something to work on is the first step towards being a more consistent shooter. Learn how to shoot before you start throwing new and fancier gear at the problem, and for Pete's sake, always remember it's supposed to be fun!

*******

Link-O-Rama
NRA: Firearm Training
NRA: Competitive Shooting the very best way to practice - Weasel
USA Shooting: Match Finder
Sig Sauer Acaademy: Shooting Classes and Training
SGAmmo - another excellent online ammo resource
AmmoSeek: Online Ammo Shopping Search Tool

***Mail Bag***

Last week in the comments our pal freaked mentioned he had a long gun he wanted to ID and here 'tis:

Maybe the horde can help me identify this rifle I inherited from my Grandfather who lived in Frederick Md and was originally from that area. It looks like it might have started off as a flintlock and was converted to cap, and it might have said “Baltimore” at one time. I have examined it with a magnifying glass but you can’t really see any more than what is in the pictures. That area is worn smooth.

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Man, is that cooler than shit, or what? C'mon guys - help a brother out and help identify the rifle!

******

Please note the new and improved gmail account morongunthread at gmail dot com. An informal Gun Thread archive can be found HERE. If you have a question you would like to ask Gun Thread Staff offline, just send us a note and we'll do our best to answer. If you care to share the story of your favorite firearm, send a picture with your nic and tell us what you sadly lost in the tragic canoe accident. If you would like to remain completely anonymous, just say so. Lurkers are always welcome!

That's it for this week - have you been to the range?


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