Only Perfect Practice Makes Perfect”
This is a quote that instantly comes to mind when I was thinking up a title for this post. You see, it’s been over 20 years since I started my journey of becoming a better sport shooter. What I never realized back then was just how difficult it was to be consistent and accurate. You see, I had this preconceived notion, that you point and shoot. “It’s easy!”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
You see the problem we have today, is this scourge of edited videos on YouTube. Portraying people out to be natural born Annie Oakley’s or Bob Munden’s. This is complete and total BS. One of my favorites lines (paraphrased) comes from nutn (TNP nutnfancy project) “You think this is easy, why don’t you come out and do it?” or simply “It’s not easy”
IRL, it’s not easy at all. 20 years later and I’m finally at a point where I feel OK about showing my targets and progression.
These are from an STI Spartan V chambered in 9mm. Which brings me to my number one point and basic fundamental of shooting. You MUST pick the right tool for the job. Many folks are new to sport shooting and want to get a “cool” gun. Many start with Glock because they are dependable and very popular. Something else I see is the good old 1911 (.45) as a first gun. I’m going to use my own story to illustrate this point. I was about to turn 18 and was promised my first handgun. I was so excited, but made one of the worst possible decisions because I just didn’t know better. It was my choice, my money, darn it! I’m gonna get what I wanted… What a rookie mistake. I selected a Glock 27. Yup, you read that right, my first gun was a .40 S&W and boy did that little thing kick like a mule. Needless to say, I hated shooting it. It really wasn’t the guns fault, just a terrible first handgun decision. Today, I would go with something like a S&W M&P22, Ruger SR22, G17/19, FNS9, wheel gun (revolver) or SIG P226 (9mm). You see, there is NOTHING wrong with a smaller caliber especially when your first starting to shoot. Learn firearm safety/fundamentals first and your going to have so much more fun with the sport long term. My oldest son is 9 and he is learning with a .22. The most important thing I stress with my children is firearm safety. Remember, there is ZERO margin for error in this sport.
I’m going to digress from my 2nd point just for a little to explain something that really concerns me recently regarding firearm safety. I was at an indoor range and to the stall next to me was a young group of people that rented a bunch of tactical weapons. They had an SBR AR (with E/O tech), Tavor, and a bunch of other stuff. I watched how they handled the weapons and I knew they were clueless. Concerned about my safety I went over to help them out and give a few pointers. The range was full and I could tell the RO was getting annoyed with them. The guy managed to jam the AR at least 3-4 times. I have no clue what he was doing, but I suspect he wasn’t inserting the mag properly into the well. Anyways, each time the gun went bang, the guy jumped back. I was laughing in my head, but then noticed his finger was on the trigger and the barrel wasn’t exactly pointing downrange. I had another talk with him and they apologized. Something else funny was the E/O tech batteries were dead and they couldn’t hit a B27 “ZOMBIE” target at 5 yards. Another dead giveaway of new shooters is their girlfriend/boyfriend recording or taking pictures. That to me screams “stay away!”. Well, I did get to fire the Tavor and what a crunchy trigger that thing has. It’s as heavy as big momma and just as mushy. Par for course on bullpups I guess… It’s still is a worthy weapon system.
OK, where was I going with this? Ah yes, consistency. What did I change that allowed me to turn the corner and become a better shooter? Longer (100-250yds) range shooting. Now, before you get all crazy on me about what constitutes “long” range. Allow me to explain. I’ve been a member of the same club for over 10 years. We have a 250yd max range and it took me many years to post consistent sub MOA groups. It goes back to what I said earlier, you think this is easy? Come out and try it. Now that I can put these groups on paper with consistency, I’ll work my way out to 500yds in 100 yard increments at another club. Each 100yd level of progression must be mastered, before I move on to the next stage. All this adding to my personal data. If in another 20 years I can nail sub MOA groups with a lupua at 1000yds, mission accomplished. You see there are so many variables when it comes to precision long range shooting. Kit, ammo, breathing, trigger pull, wind, heart rate, temp, angle, sunlight/mirage, coriolis effect depending on e/w facing, etc… When I shoot my SPR .308, I always use the exact same ammo. 168gr SMK. I have recorded data with all four seasons and now there are these amazing phone apps that help with ballistics calculations. Just don’t rely on said apps.
250 Yards/FN SPR (.308) w/ 168gr SMK
So, get out there and enjoy this good old American tradition. Be patient and keep practicing the fundamentals. Solid stance, consistent grip, presentation, sight picture/alignment, trigger control, and follow through. You’ll only get out, what you put in.
Be safe and remember to have fun. After all, that’s what it’s all about.