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Thread: Shooting at “your rhythm”

  1. #1

    Shooting at “your rhythm”

    One goal of practical shooting is to get the most amount of points per second, available with your current level of skill. Lately I have been thinking about the rhythm that I shoot and how that relates to my performance.

    Think about the firing cycle of a handgun. The shot fires, the muzzle and sights lift, the slide returns, and it can be fired again. Each shooter has their own rhythm when they shoot a particular pistol. By rhythm, I mean how the gun behaves between shots. Factors that influence a shooter’s individual rhythm, are the particular pistol, the caliber and particular load, their stance and grip, their trigger technique and control, and the overall consistency of their technique. The rhythm of the gun, when shot by Robert Vogel, for example, is a lot different than the same pistol and load shot by an inexperienced shooter.

    I have come to believe that shooting at my natural rhythm, with a particular gun, gives me the best combination of points per second. When I rush my natural rhythm, my points usually go down, and sometimes my time even goes up. When I slow my natural rhythm, time goes up, and unless I slow to precision speed, my accuracy can degrade, as I am shooting off rhythm of the natural movement of the sights. So what do I mean by shooting at my “natural rhythm?” I mean that during recoil, I reset the trigger, and fire the shot as the sights or dot cross back into your desired scoring zone. Upsetting the natural rhythm, by either forcing it quicker, or delaying it, results in a worse result for me.

    To improve my natural rhythm, I often work on grip and stance to minimize movement of the sights, and shoot the Stoeger doubles drill to test those changes.
    Likes pretty much everything in every caliber.

  2. #2
    AR-14 Enthusiast fatdog's Avatar
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    One thing Frank Proctor told me is that he believes everyone has a natural "trigger speed" with any given platform. Obviously some people have a faster speed than others. He cited several people in our circle of local USPSA competitors and pointed out to me those individuals who had developed an above average "natural trigger speed", and I could see what he was talking about when I backed up the timer and looked at lots of splits on the same course with two particular shooters.

    To me, natural trigger speed appeared to be the speed at which they could execute a "good" trigger cycle once the sights had settled. In comparing 2 of our friends who were both M class shooters and quite competitive over the course of time, it was fairly obvious that one was acquiring the sight picture faster than the other and one was executing the shot faster. This showed up only in the transitions from target to target and I was examining the second digit to the right of decimal to see it in that split and subsequent splits on the same target.

    Because of his consistent advantage, I think the guy who was executing the shot faster had a higher natural "trigger speed" with his platform and the other guy had a faster visual speed that included getting the sight alignment before the trigger thing was executed. His splits between targets were much faster but the shot to shot splits on the same target were consistently slower.

    Or maybe I was imagining all of that....would make for an interesting study.

    How much was natural ability and how much was reflecting their approach to practice?

  3. #3
    Member JHC's Avatar
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    This is pretty interesting. I’m sure we aren’t using “natural “ the way some point shooters used “instinctive” right?

    So this natural is guided by the degree of hard work training plus the hardware attributes plus the shooter’s physical attributes. Right?

    Then it can be in flux over time or no?
    As a man sows, so shall he reap.

  4. #4
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    A good friend of mine, who was a nationally ranked Bianchi shooter in his day, was critiquing my shooting (there's a lot to critique ) at various sized steel plates. I was trying to speed up transitions between large targets and slow down for smaller targets. He told me that if I shot in a constant cadence, that I would actually improve my time per stage.
    Real guns have hammers.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    This is pretty interesting. I’m sure we aren’t using “natural “ the way some point shooters used “instinctive” right?

    So this natural is guided by the degree of hard work training plus the hardware attributes plus the shooter’s physical attributes. Right?

    Then it can be in flux over time or no?
    Natural= current maximum proficiency?

  6. #6
    AR-14 Enthusiast fatdog's Avatar
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    When I had that discussion about natural trigger speed with Frank, he was talking about "where you were" at your stage of development. Obviously practice driven. One of the things he told me is that he can sometimes tell who is shooting in a group that he is very familar (like the regulars at our USPSA club matches) with just by listening to their cadence. He had me listen to one of the M's who he described as having pretty fast trigger speed and it started to make sense to me.

  7. #7
    Thinking about the firing cycle, there are two main elements — how quickly the muzzle returns to the target area, and the speed it takes to manipulate the trigger.

    Influencing how quickly the muzzle returns is stance, grip, the pistol, spring weight, muzzle devices and the load. Influencing the trigger speed is the length and weight of the trigger and shooter trigger technique.
    Likes pretty much everything in every caliber.

  8. #8
    At least as far as I've found:

    The shooting stance and it's degree of alignment to the target(s) correlates with reduced lateral offset when the pistol returns following recoil.

    The shooting grip and the degree to which it reduces or eliminates articulation of the wrists and elbows correlates with reduced vertical drifting\correction when the pistol returns following recoil.

    Shooters allowing the trigger to reset under recoil vice after recoil management trim more time away between shots.

    Shooters simultaneously reducing the departure of the front sight from their visual plane AND aggressively reacquiring it post-recoil trim additional time away between shots.

    I like to use a student's breathing as the metronome by which to set the tempo of fire; whether for very deliberate and high-precision shots, for an evenly-cadenced sequence, or for when the student is firing at their maximum visual+mechanical ability.

    Reducing the number of variables in-play, maximizing the metrics by which each expression of the fundamentals is measured, and then honing the sequence of internal+external processes involved with the shooting process has really done well for my folks.
    Jules
    Runcible Works

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    So this natural is guided by the degree of hard work training plus the hardware attributes plus the shooter’s physical attributes. Right?

    Then it can be in flux over time or no?
    Yes and yes

    I'm nowhere near as skilled as GJM but in late 2018 I decided to really focus on pistol shooting in general and USPSA in particular. Now one full season under my belt, I'm beginning to understand the concepts he throws out.

    This one, in particular, has started to become more and more clear to me after about three months of shooting nothing but a RDS equipped handgun.

  10. #10
    To restate my original point, this thread isn’t about improving how you grip the pistol or pull the trigger. We have had many threads about those topics, since the beginning of this forum. This is about harvesting the most points per second, with whatever skill level you currently have. My belief, at least for me, is there is a shooting rhythm that yields the best result for me, and going faster or slower yields a worse result. That is at odds with shooting at a specific qual pace or standard, because that pace may be just right, too fast or too slow for you. If it is the right pace for you, it works, but if it is too fast or slow, it does not work.
    Likes pretty much everything in every caliber.

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