Tips from a Trainer

All shooting sports - ISSF/ IPSC/ HFT/ Sporting Clays etc.
Raj Khalid
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Tips from a Trainer

Post by Raj Khalid » Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:22 pm

Hi shooters, I am an old pistol shooter, old in age and in experience.
I started shooting in 1979 and I think there are only 2 of us still shooting competitively. I must confess my scores are nothing like they used to be.
In over 40 years of pistol shooting I have met many great shooters and coaches, visited many places where competitions take place and spoken to a lot of pistol shooters.

I call myself a trainer because someone once told me that "COACH" is a title for someone who has an established record of excellence at world level. Unless one has climbed Everest how can one tell others how to do this. Whereas a TRAINER can pass on thoughts, ideas which she/he has heard from others and the reader or listener can take them at what ever value they like.

In my opinion there are 3 levels of teaching,
INSTRUCTOR who can recite the basics of any skill
TRAINER one who has absorbed the above skills and put them into practice over many many years but not achieved International Success
COACH need I say anything more?

I will pass on tips from my experience over time and I welcome emails from sincere pistol shooters who would like to share my thoughts.

As a reference I look up to a few great shooters and whose thoughts I tend to believe in.
1) Ragnar Skanakar (What can I say about him that you dont know already)
2) Doc Darius Young the only person (at least that I know of) who has held all 5 ISSF Pistol Titles in the USA
3) Eric Buljung still the World record holder in Standard Pistol (584) whom I met over a week in 1981
4) Alan Westlake shooter and pistol smith extraordinaire who made the Britarms /22 pistol and still makes firearms according to the new laws in the UK
5) Geissmann and Heidigar from Hammerli who I met in 1985 when I visited their factory in Lenzburg

I look forward to our conversations.
I repeat, all that I have to convey are MY OPINIONS and may not be the only truth so I will not enter into debate over technical subjects.

Raj Khalid

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Vikram
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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by Vikram » Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:47 pm

It is a privilege to have someone like you on this forum.
It ain’t over ’til it’s over! "Rocky,Rocky,Rocky....."

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by pran80 » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:13 pm

Raj,
Welcome to IFG. look forward to learn from your experience.
Regards,
Pranjal

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by pgupta » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:48 pm

Your experience will be a great asset to the young, aspiring as well as experienced shooters. Looking forward to your nuggets of wisdom.
Regards.

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by timmy » Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:53 am

Raj: I look forward to hearing your experiences and stories. I'm glad to have you posting here on IFG.
“The principle of self defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by Prabhath » Tue Apr 06, 2021 6:23 pm

Welcome aboard and great to have someone with your knowledge around.

Raj Khalid
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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by Raj Khalid » Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:43 pm

Thank you for the warm welcome. Yes I too am pleased to be sharing views with all of you.
Each and every one who takes shooting seriously will have something to share which we all value.
I will try and post at least each week in some kind of order but please feel free to email or DM me if you want me to dwell on something specific.

Raj Khalid
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Re: Tips from a Trainer Philosophies of Shooting

Post by Raj Khalid » Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:41 pm

So let me start by describing the three approaches people take to develop skills in competitive shooting. While I talk about pistol shooting some aspects may well apply to rifle shooting also. Again, these are my thoughts and experiences so take this with a sense of sharing.

Shooting requires a combination of technical, physical and "mental" skills. The ways of achieving these are described below

I have often been asked about the merits of physical conditioning, live shooting and dry firing. I have seen combinations of various kinds in my experience and they are described as

1) ONLY SHOOT this was a philosophy in use at the USAMU at Ft Benning Ga where great rifle shooters like Lones Wigger trained as well as Eric Buljung the World Record holder in Standard Pistol. The philosophy is to shoot live each and every day. This way you develop the skills to shoot well. Also the act of holding your rifle and pistol all day will strengthen the muscles required. Above all, the mind is only concerned about shooting all day with no distractions. Very few people use this approach since it requires a lot of money for ammo and to meet the daily necessities of living. At the USAMU the shooters were provided with food and housing by the Army and the necessary ammo, equipment and physical and mental coaching.
They also had a regular salary and eventually they had a pension. I don't think too many of us have the luxury other than shooters from the uniformed services.

2) Shoot and run. This means a combination of live shooting and physical training to develop fitness and strength. Doc Darius Young was, I think, a proponent of this method. He ran about 5 miles every day in the morning, then trained by either shooting 200 pellets from his air pistol or 100 rounds from his free pistol. In the evening he spent time with weights and free arm exercises to build up muscle strength. This was the basic foundation on which he built up other skills in Timed and Rapid Fire. Again he was with the Army Reserves so he had access to ammo and equipment.

3) Click & Run. This was the predominant philosophy adopted by the Russian and East European shooters. They had a combination of running and strength training along with a lot of dry firing. This required little ammo and once you had the pistol you were on your way to success. I cannot emphasise enough how much I believe in this philosophy. It requires little money, just your time and effort. On an average the good shooters fired 50 shots dry for every one shot live. The minimum is 10 shots dry for every live shot fired.

These are the basic foundations, on top of this you can layer your mental and tactical training.

I welcome your thoughts on the above.

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by partheus » Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:03 pm

Thank you for sharing! I am a competitive shooter in 10 meter air pistol and I must say, your insight is very interesting. I've had trainers treat running with a "would be good if you did" attitude rather than making it a central tenet of their training.

Is running only important to bring down the heart beat? If so, what is an ideal heart rate for 10 meter shooting? I ask because I routinely see very unfit, overweight people shoot exceedingly well. They aren't all that experienced and have been at it for an year or so on and off. Even many of the competitors in international events don't really seem all that fit. I totally get spending more time with the gun and specific weight training. But, while the benefits of running and general overall fitness makes sense, is it really that important for shooting?

Also, I noticed that there's a discernible difference between dry firing and live firing. The trigger just feels very different on dry and live fire, even though I checked the pull weight and it was 500ish grams on both counts. The difference however, is enough for me to feel like I am wasting my time with dry firing. Is this a common problem? I don't know if this is equipment specific though since I've only fired a Steyr Evo 10 mech. I am a lefty and it's hard to come by left handed pistols to try out here in India.

Raj Khalid
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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by Raj Khalid » Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:22 am

Hi Partheus

Quick replies to your questions
1) The USAMU always makes it clear that physical fitness alone will NOT make you a better shooter but it will accelerate your path there. So even to live a healthy life some fitness always helps. Yes a lower heart rate will help in the stress of competition when your pulse rate tends to rise.
2) So there are many "apparently" over weight and apparently unfit people who shoot well. As an example a Sumo wrestler is overweight and looks unfit but in reality he is supremely fit. It has also been established that largely mesomorphs i.e. people who are slightly overweight and have a larger girth tend to make good shooters.
3) I also think that the ultimate quality of many Caucasian shooters is their large wrists which give them incredible stable hold

4) To sum up, running will improve your ability to cope with stress, will make you more resistant to illness and give you a sense of confidence. I cannot run since my knees are damaged but I cycle each and every day

5) I can write a book on dry firing but in my opinion that is the ONLY way to success unless you have enough money and time to just shoot live.

6) The deep dark secret is that when you shoot dry there is nothing to analyse but your own technique. When you shoot live your mind and attention is more focused on where your shot went.

7) In the days when I used to train new shooters I always told them to put away their scopes for at least one entire session of 25 meter shooting.

Enjoy

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by rahulbdelhi » Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:11 pm

partheus wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:03 pm
Also, I noticed that there's a discernible difference between dry firing and live firing. The trigger just feels very different on dry and live fire
I have also felt the same trigger difference between live and dry fire, and I m also using a Styer eVo10 mech. I wonder if its something specific to that particular make and model.

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by sumbriavikramaditya » Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:09 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience. It's an honour to have you on this forum. Looking forward to learning a lot from you, sir.

Regards

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by AgentDoubleS » Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:40 am

Raj, welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your experiences and insights.

I have started shooting competitively after a long gap(a few decades). I shot 50mtrs prone and 3 position rifle events at GVMs and then life took over.

I now shoot revolver (.38spl) and pistol events(9mm, .45acp) - PPC1500, Police Pistol, Service Pistols, IPSC etc.

I follow the 3rd approach you describe above and for a very simple reason- I find 15 mins of ‘clicking’ 5 days a week better than 75mins of shooting one day per week. Dry practice helps me maintain the regularity and muscle memory required for some of these events. Plus as you said shooting more frequently, even though I reload, is an expensive and time consuming affair. The range timings aren’t always suitable either.

Dry practice has not just helped me tighten groups, but also improve my reloads (revolver and pistol), help me find the right positions- some parts of theses matches have to be shot prone, some kneeling, some sitting and some with left hand, behind barricade and the list goes one.

Revolvers definitely offer a lot of advantage when trying to dry fire. I have made some snap caps at home that I regularly use with my speedloaders. I use some miniaturised targets printed on A4 sheets stuck to the wall.

The wife clicked this picture just a couple of days ago without me knowing :lol:
49E1E666-2E42-4A0C-A15A-55F98F9EFF6B.jpeg
Trying to improve my sitting position for a 50mtr shoot for a Police Pistol-2 competition.

I run 20-25 kms a week but have seen a lot more benefit with weight training- probably to do with the increased strength in the upper body. I mix up running with basic exercises with 7.5-10kg dumbbells or some occasional visits to the gym.

Looking forward to more updates and posts from you.

Cheers
SS
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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by partheus » Sun Apr 11, 2021 9:16 am

Thank you for your response, Raj. This helps a lot! :D
rahulbdelhi wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:11 pm
I have also felt the same trigger difference between live and dry fire, and I m also using a Styer eVo10 mech. I wonder if its something specific to that particular make and model.
@Rahul it might be. The trigger feels lighter during dry firing, but heavier during live fire. I am not sure if its equipment specific though as I've never shot competing products. But, other shooters I've spoken to have complained about the Steyr's trigger. No one seems to like it.

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Re: Tips from a Trainer

Post by Raj Khalid » Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:36 pm

I thought I would share a story about one of the greatest pistol shooters (in my opinion). Col T D Smith of the US Air force was a pistol shooter and in 1963 he established a record in Centre Fire pistol by shooting a score of 597 which still stands after the targets were changed. He shot 298 in pecision and 299 in duell. He used a Colt 1911 modified to shoot .38 spl midrange wadcutters.

One of his training methods was based on a 25 meter target painted on a steel plate with a cut out slightly larger than the 10 ring. He also hung a bell behind the steel target and he kept shooting and made sure he heard the bell ring each time. No scope and no scoring.

Again, this is not something we can adopt simply because we don't have enough ammo to shoot live all day.

My own modification is to cut out the 9 ring from an air pistol target and to shoot 70 pellets on this and make sure there are as few shots on target and that most of them pass through the cut out of the 9 ring. When you shoot like this you are not looking at scores but trying for perfect technical execution.
Try it and let me know what you think.

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