Some thoughts on the art of shooting

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pisgah

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I am now four months short of my 65th birthday. I learned the basics of driving at age 12 in a 1964 VW Bug – 4-speed manual transmission, a mighty 40 horsepower engine. The Bug had no gas gauge, just a lever you turned with your foot with which you could switch from the main fuel supply to a reserve that would get you about another 50 miles down the road when the main ran dry and the engine started stumbling. No heater, either – just a vent you could open that allowed hot air from the engine compartment to gently waft in to the cabin once the engine was at operating temperature – and it took a LONG time to get there on cold mornings! Needless to say, no air conditioner, not even a radio, much less a CD or MP3 player. The latter were just Star Trek fantasies at the time -- and Star Trek hadn't even been invented yet!

Looking back, it really wasn't much of a car but it got you where you wanted to go reliably and economically and – this was the important part – it was quite well-suited to teaching a young man the basics of driving. I knew that one day I would have better cars, so I concentrated on learning to be the best driver I could be in anticipation of transferring those basic skills to other, different, and unquestionably better vehicles down the road. Since then I have done just that, having learned to drive everything from tiny, high-performance sports cars to the giant luxury gas hogs of the '70's, to 18-wheelers, to farm equipment – you name it. Each one different from the others, sometimes radically so, but in each case calling for reliance on the same old basics I learned so well in the VW Bug. I guess I could call myself a skilled, well-rounded driver.

Much the same could be said for my evolution as a shooter. I learned handgun shooting basics on a S&W .22/.32 Target revolver, popularly referred to as the Bekeart model, that belonged to my grandfather. A single-shot Springfield Meteor .22 bolt action taught me rifle basics. Using the principles of safe handling, trigger control and sight alignment learned on those guns I gradually moved on to magnum revolvers, single-action, double-action and Glock-style semi-auto handguns, and rifles of just about any type you could name. Like the vehicles I have learned to drive, each gun was different, and each required learning some new technique to be employed effectively, but the learning experience on all of them still fell back on the basics I learned 'way back. I am not bragging when I say that nowadays you can hand me just about any type of firearm ever made, and within a few minutes I will have it loaded and will be hitting targets with satisfying regularity. I have made myself in to a skilled, well-rounded shooter.

I bring all this up because one of the most frequent questions I see asked by new gun owners on this and other gun forums is, “What are the must-do modifications I need to make on this gun?” Now, don't get me wrong – I have modified many a gun in my day Sometimes the mod was meant to improve function, other times to improve its appearance in a way pleasing to me, and sometimes it was just out of the desire for something to do. But the problem I have with the question is that it presupposes that there is something wrong with the new gun that needs fixing before it can be employed for its intended use. In fact, this is rarely true. It's much more often the SHOOTER who needs modification and not the gun.

A quite common example of this is the experienced 1911 shooter who gives in to peer pressure, or just whim, and buys a Glock or some Glock-type clone like the various S&W M&P models. Immediately he discovers that at best all his shots, seemingly inexplicably, are going low/left or low/right – or, worst case, he's not grouping his shots at all. His first query to the forums will usually be “Is there a trigger-mod kit to fix this?” Well – no, not really.

You see, the main problem he's experiencing isn't coming from the gun. The Glock-style trigger isn't WORSE than the 1911 trigger – it's DIFFERENT, just like the Mercedes AMG S63 is different from the 1964 VW Bug. If he insists on trying to make the Glock in to a 1911, disappointment will be the inevitable result. On the other hand, if he takes the trouble to learn the proper employment of the Glock system he may learn that such a trigger is in some ways actually superior in a self-defense pistol.

I guess what I am saying here is pretty simple. Although it is a common human trait, the first question we should always ask in a case like this is not, “What is wrong with this gun?”, but rather, “What am I doing wrong?” In the majority of cases, that is the direction in which we will find answers. And sometimes, frankly, the answer may be that you never should have tried to make the transition to a different type of gun – but if you can make that transition successfully you will have made significant progress towards becoming a skilled, well-rounded shooter.
 

Jeepnik

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The aftermarket parts sellers are going to put a hit out on you. Why how dare you suggest that learning can overcome the differences in firearms. :mrgreen:

Seriously though, you nailed it right on the head. For the most part the only parts I've changed have been sights (hey, I have my preferences) and handgun grips (again I like certain things). And in none of these cases was it "necessary" to make the firearm perform correctly.

I think the best example I can give is a firearm that many have panned. I've read for years that the AMT .45 Backup was a terrible firearm. Terrible trigger, terrible accuracy, terrible reliability. Well, mine has a pretty good DAO trigger, I'm good out to 40 or 50 yards with it, and it works every time I pull the trigger.

The reason for this is simple. I fired it enough to learn how to use it. Firing it that much broke in the trigger and also broke in the feed cycle so it works reliably. The problem with most owners is that they bought it, fired it for one magazine and found it not pleasant. So they put it back in the box and complained about how "terrible" it was.

This lack of willingness to learn how to use them extended, not surprisingly, to the gun rag writers. I've long suspected that many of today's writers are pretty poor firearms users. When they shoot groups, they do it from Ransom rests, or at the least off of sandbags. I don't know about anyone else, but I have never had a Ransom rest or sandbags around when I needed to shoot something that was either shooting back or I wanted to eat.
 

wwb

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Yup.... learned to shoot a rifle with a Winchester bolt action single-shot .22. Now, I have a couple of radically modified rifles that are solely for target/varmint shooting - but for hunting, my 10/22 and M77 .30-06 are bone stock except for the triggers.

It ain't the arrow, it's the Indian.
 

Pat-inCO

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Jeepnik said:
I don't know about anyone else, but I have never had a Ransom rest or
sandbags around when I needed to shoot something that was either
shooting back or I wanted to eat.
While what you say is no doubt true, you also did not have to do a book
report on the gun to get/make money from it.

I like Ayoob's approach of "best three of five" from sand bags will be very
close to what you can get from a Ransom rest.

All that aside, I do believe that any who's first thought is modify the gun
ARE doing them self a severe disservice. I believe that there are MANY,
many, many, on the forum that have an assortment of types/styles of
handgun residing in their safes. As such, many of those (most?) have
taken the time to really learn to shoot each of what they have. Even if
part of that learning process was to trade off one of them. :wink:

I have a book from Gabe Suarez on handgun shooting and one of the
primary items I picked up from that book is . . . dry fire, extensively.
He recommends eight to ten thousand times before you get at all
concerned about other techniques. Rob Leatham has a video out that
is titled AIMING IS USELESS. He then qualifies that by saying "until you
learn to press the trigger without moving the gun".

Gollie-Gee-Whiz, Phred, I wonder if they could be right? :wink:

:D
 

Mike J

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I would tend to agree with you. I believe there are a lot of people here that grew up shooting handguns. I didn't. I grew up with a Red Ryder BB gun. I was always comfortable shooting a rifle & never really learned to shoot pistols well even though I had acquired a couple of them. When I decided I wanted to carry I got serious about learning. At the time I had a Dan Wesson .357 revolver & a Ruger P-94 in .40. I spent a lot of time dry firing the P-94 with a penny balanced on the front sight trying to learn trigger control. Later on I got a Kel-Tec P-11. The P-11's trigger felt like dragging an 8.5 pound weight down a gravel road but once you got used to it the little gun was accurate. I believe if one takes the time to learn to shoot a double action trigger well they will be able to shoot just about anything well.
 
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You mean last month when I went to the range and all three pistols I shot were shooting 3" to the left at 25 feet I should have not adjusted the sights on all three? Geez, I wish I had figure that out then......
 

Bob Wright

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I agree that most of the changes I've made to my guns, mostly Ruger Blackhawks have been cosmetic, such as case hardening. But I have installed the Dragoon grip frame on my hard kicking guns, and converted several to Bisleys (And after testing, converted back to Blackhawk configuration) just to try that style.

But for such guns as need it, I have had triggers lightened to around 2 ~ 2 1/2 pounds and smoothed up. And replaced rear sights on Rugers. The Ruger Blackhawk rear sight has a rounded surface which catches highlights and glare. Some Ruger Blackhawks have come my way without need for trigger work, while most Colts need work in the worst way.

I've not done too much work with the bottom feeders, preferring the revolver instead, and, of late, the Single Action revolver.

Oh, and in some cases, went to the 'smith's shop to alter to a caliber not otherwise offered.

But there is no gun that comes from the factory that can't be made better.



Bob Wright
 

bobski

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Ct., Va., & Vanzant, Mo.
people today are looking for all the short cuts to achieving a goal without having to develop talent and skill over time.

its a generational thing.

people don't want to do anything for very long. they want to get it, do it, move on down the bucket list.

the liberal buzz word phrase is....'to experience it.'

3 things sink a man....

lust of the eyes.
lust of the flesh.
pride of life.

this new generation has bit the lure deep on lust of the eyes.

a gun can never be good enough. no, it has to have ALL the extras too.
its a materialistic thing where the act of acquiring, blinds common sense.

guns gotta look cool and have coolness these days. your graded by what gizmos you got on it.

funny, some of the best guns I own are the ugliest guns one could lay eyes on. everything from grip putty on grips, scratch marks from bouncing around in a shooting box, dings from someone elses' brass hitting it, you name it. and don't ask me to describe my m1a. its down right ugly...but it can drill holes.

i/e: to add to your stories, was a time when you left home and lived in a dorm or barrack.
then you got an apt.
you got married and saved.
you then got a small used house or a fixer upper.
you became successful, you built a bigger new home.
you tired out.
you sold it.
downsized to a smaller ranch in fla w/ac and people just like you.
then moved to a nursing home
or they find you in your dream home with the tv on.

today.........right out of college, they build and buy mc'mansions and just live together. then lose their jobs. and end up going back home with parents.

im getting older too. back then I didn't get it....but I do now. I never knew why old people were grumpy.
its because the more they saw what was becoming of the world, the less they wanted to be part of it.
'keep out' signs make more and more sense to me as I age.

so, same with guns.
they buy a gun.
get all the do-dads on it.
take it to the range and cant hit the broad side of a barn with it because all the u-tube videos in the world wont replace time on trigger over years.
years?
hey wait a minute. thatll take too long!
gun ends up on gunbroken.com.
guy moves on to skydiving.
gun industry laughs all the way to the bank.

fact of life.
I know. I teach and own a range and see it all the time.
 

bobski

Hunter
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I want to make this clear. I enjoy making guns better. but, I make guns better out of a need.
I needed my 45 1911a1 to split playing cards at 25yds for EIC matches, so I had it accurized.
I needed my M1A to knock spindles out at 600yds....so I had it upgraded to national match standards.

I did it...because I identified the need based on all my practice and failures, and did what was needed to achieve the higher goal.
before I improved a gun, I improved myself.
once I did that, I realized that 99% of all guns are just fine. its 99% of the time, the nut behind the bolt that's defective.

new generation wont admit failure. they cant. they were taught they were perfect in every way and they are to celebrate who they are.
great.
99% are lousy shots.
my suggestion?
stop blaming the gun and asking gizmos to make up for the lack of skill one possesses.
go out and buy 2 identical guns. wear one out practicing...and 4 years from now, break out the 2nd one and win matches or impress your peers.
 

pisgah

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DixieBoy said:
Wow! Pisgah, you're still at it!!

Your nose is still so bent out of joint over my response to your horse puckey that you've started a whole thread ...
just to prove ... (prove, darn it!) that YOU know best. What's best for everyone!! Buddy, you're not 64. You're 104!

Look, dude. I am very close to you in age. Been shooting since I was 6. Built mini-bikes by the time I was 10, and
was helping Dad do major auto repair while in Junior High School. Your "credentials" are nothing special; in fact,
they are typical for many of us guys who were born in the early 1950s.

I've also done at least as much shooting as you; I'd venture that I've done more.

The bee in your bonnet is that I know enough about firearms, and have enough years behind me shooting quality
firearms, that I'm not afraid to say when a well known firearm comes from the factory with a terrible trigger,
which ought to be replaced.

I know a guy at my pistol club who is an absolute cheapskate. This guy actually buys Hi-Point pistols, and then
brags about paying under $200 for them from his pal, who is one of the last "kitchen table" FFL's around here.
His pistols are absolute wastes of money, in my opinion. Better than a rock, maybe, but the heck of it is that,
Charlie (the buyer of these monstrosities) is NOT poor. Not by a long shot. But he LOVES the fact that he paid
so little money for his crappy pistols.

You know what, pisgah?

I have never once tried to make Charlie feel bad about his purchases. Or about his lack of knowledge. Because
it's the price that makes Charlie's heart sing. That's what is blowing his skirt up. A blind man could see this.

Now, I came on this forum the other day, asking about after-market triggers for Glock pistols. Straightforward question.
You, in your infinite wisdom, decided to give me a lecture, as if I was your inferior in matters of shooting. This,
despite you knowing nothing at all of my decades of experience with 1911 pistols, XDm pistols, and about a decade
of shooting Ruger's P90 and P97 pistols as well.

No, you just jumped right in and started telling me, and anyone else who'd listen, that YOU knew the way.
And it ticked you off that I was not, and am STILL not, buying your brand of nonsense.

Some pistols, and pistol designs just beg for aftermarket triggers. The Glock is most certainly one of them.

You know, if everyone thought like you do, no one would ever have customized a 1911 pistol. Then we'd all have
ejection ports that were unreliable (because, heaven forbid we lower and flare them, like Wilson and a host of other
gunsmiths began doing decades ago). No one would ever have dared extend a beavertail safety, for fear of offending
your sensibilities. No one would ever have added one of those "memory bumps" on a beavertail safety either, for
surely you are opposed to any and all alterations a shooter and gun owner may make to enhance the shootability and
enjoyment of THEIR own firearm.

I suppose you hate Kimber too, since they, more than any other pistolmaker, incorporated the CHANGES most 1911
shooters wanted in their firearms, and built a business around this. No longer did someone who liked the basic 1911
design have to spend an additional $500, after dropping $500 on the initial purchase, in sending their pistol off to
Wilson, or Clark, or any of the myriad gunsmiths who made a living by making the stock Colt 1911 into an enjoyable
and reliable shooter. Gee, you must hate all of those old smiths, along with hating Kimber, for daring to not follow
your teachings.

How you must hate the Savage Company too. For daring to incorporate VASTLY IMPROVED triggers in their entire line of rifles.
And how you must hate all those American riflemaking firms who followed Savage's lead, in improving their triggers.
You know, on the eve of the year 2018, we're talking about pretty much EVERY American rifle maker.

I'm sure YOU were just fine with the horrible triggers on the old rifles, and would never have dared to put an
aftermarket trigger in one of those rifles. Nope. Not you, pisgah. YOU shot better than Annie Oakley, Sgt. York, and
Roy Rogers too! No way would YOU ever need an improved trigger to enhance your accuracy and shooting experience.

And so, now you sit. And bellyache about people who don't agree with you. And you bellyache about outfits like Ghost,
or Lone Wolf, or Powder River Precision, and a host of others, who DARE to question your authority. How dare they!

Hey, how about this, pisgah? It's New Year's Eve. Suppose, for the New Year, YOU get a life. How about that?

Happy New Year to you. - DixieBoy

Seriously -- who are you?
 

Snake45

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pisgah said:
I bring all this up because one of the most frequent questions I see asked by new gun owners on this and other gun forums is, “What are the must-do modifications I need to make on this gun?”
It's not just guns. The most common question asked in Model Airplane World is "What aftermarket accessories are available for this kit?" This before even seeing if the thing NEEDS any aftermarket resin or photoetched parts. And usually the question is asked by someone who doesn't have the skill to competently assemble the kit straight out of the box.
 

Jimbo357mag

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To each his own.

I like shooting my box stock Marlin and Winchester lever guns and my M1 carbine even though their triggers are heavy and their trigger characteristics are not very suitable for extreme accuracy. On the other hand I have slicked up and changed springs in many of my handguns because that was the easiest way to improve the triggers and the shoot-ability of them.

If someone is happy shooting box stock guns that is fine, but to tell others that they should learn to shoot guns the way they came from the factory and not try to improve their guns in any way is folly. I think it is man's nature to try and improve his machines. 
 

pisgah

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Jimbo357mag said:
If someone is happy shooting box stock guns that is fine, but to tell others that they should learn to shoot guns the way they came from the factory and not try to improve their guns in any way is folly. I think it is man's nature to try and improve his machines. 

And it's not a folly I engage in. If you go back and read my post, I stated that I have modified many guns, and for a variety of reasons. What I find a bit ridiculous is not people who modify their guns to suit them but folks who get a new gun of a type unfamiliar to them and, often before even shooting it or exerting any effort whatsoever to learn and appreciate the design, begin looking for ways to "improve" them. That meets my definition of folly.
 

Snake45

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pisgah said:
Jimbo357mag said:
If someone is happy shooting box stock guns that is fine, but to tell others that they should learn to shoot guns the way they came from the factory and not try to improve their guns in any way is folly. I think it is man's nature to try and improve his machines. 

And it's not a folly I engage in. If you go back and read my post, I stated that I have modified many guns, and for a variety of reasons. What I find a bit ridiculous is not people who modify their guns to suit them but folks who get a new gun of a type unfamiliar to them and, often before even shooting it or exerting any effort whatsoever to learn and appreciate the design, begin looking for ways to "improve" them. That meets my definition of folly.
Quoted for truth. Preach It, Brother Pisgah! :wink:
 

pisgah

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DixieBoy said:
Well, maybe 2018 is going to be the interesting year I'd hoped for ...

Jimbo, of all people, gets it. :shock:

While the sycophants ... remain sycophants. :roll:

And the unthinking remain so. :(

- DixieBoy


Sycophant -- an interesting word for you to use. Definition "A person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage." It does not define me, nor people who might agree with my opinion, as I am no one important, and agreeing with me wouldn't gain anyone any sort of advantage.

After searching back through my recent responses to posts, I realized that you are the fellow who took offense at my staightforward, honest, specific response to a specific question. The nature of your response to my offering of what I consider to be sound advice -- advice which you are under no obligation whatsoever to follow -- makes me wonder what you may really be after. Validation of your own opinions, perhaps?

Well, opinions are like -- well, you know. Everybody's got one and, frankly, I don't give a hoot who agrees or disagrees with mine. Forums exist for sharing experience and opinions, and anyone who takes personal offense at someone else's opinion is sort of missing the whole point, and is sorely lacking in thoughtfulness. As someone much wiser than I (either Dudley Field Malone or Robert Heinlein -- sources do not agree) once said, "I never learned a thing from a man who agreed with me."
 

rugerguy211

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pisgah said:
Although it is a common human trait, the first question we should always ask in a case like this is not, “What is wrong with this gun?”, but rather, “What am I doing wrong?”

But that would require taking responsibility for the poor shooting.
Come on, man! :lol:
That's no longer part of our DNA as a society/culture. :(
 

Snake45

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pisgah said:
DixieBoy said:
Well, maybe 2018 is going to be the interesting year I'd hoped for ...

Jimbo, of all people, gets it. :shock:

While the sycophants ... remain sycophants. :roll:

And the unthinking remain so. :(

- DixieBoy


Sycophant -- an interesting word for you to use. Definition "A person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage." It does not define me, nor people who might agree with my opinion, as I am no one important, and agreeing with me wouldn't gain anyone any sort of advantage.

After searching back through my recent responses to posts, I realized that you are the fellow who took offense at my staightforward, honest, specific response to a specific question. The nature of your response to my offering of what I consider to be sound advice -- advice which you are under no obligation whatsoever to follow -- makes me wonder what you may really be after. Validation of your own opinions, perhaps?
The personal attack is D-Boy's go-to tactic. That's why I've had him blocked for over a year now, and life has been better for me that whole time.

Now, we all just sit back and wait for D-Boy's completely predictable personal attack on me. :lol: Which I won't even see, of course. And I delete his hate-filled PMs unread. :lol: :lol: :lol:
 
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