Speed Shooting

A user over at TFL posted the following question the other day: how do I shoot faster? It was met with the predictable response of “practice”, which while good doesn’t help as much if you don’t tell the new guy specifically what they need to be practicing.  I’m recycling my response from TFL because it’s Friday and I have things that require doing, however it’s still decent info.  My post is essentially a collection of things I learned from other people, so YMMV:

1. The first item that will help you shoot faster is to develop your recoil control skills, which are primarily a function of your grip and stance. For stance, all of the top competitive pros use the modified isosceles stance, which keeps your knees soft (bent) and your body “forward” so you’re “on the gun”. The second component of recoil control is your grip. Todd Jarrett likes to say “grip the gun 20% tighter”, a technique which (I think) Mas Ayoob refers as the “crush grip”. To establish your optimum grip pressure, hold the gun in your firing grip and grip the pistol until the front sight starts to bounce and shake from your grip pressure, then relax your grip until the sight stops bouncing rapidly – that’s your “ideal” grip pressure for rapid shooting. The 3rd aspect of recoil control is strength – holding the gun that tight takes a considerable amount of grip strength, so I recommend looking into training exercises for your upper body/forearms.

2. The second aspect of “shooting faster” is trigger control. Your average semi-auto cycles in something like 0.06 seconds, which means that the gun is always waiting on you. When you’re shooting fast, you want your trigger finger to come all the way off the trigger of the gun, and then re-engage the trigger, especially if you’re using a revolver or striker-fired pistol. Jerry Miculek keeps the return springs in his revolver at an “unusually” high weight, as he wants his finger to come just off the trigger in between shots. Some guys feel like you should “ride the reset” on the trigger, which means let just enough off for the gun to reset and keep constant contact with the trigger. The problem with riding the reset is that you’re depending on an extremely fine muscle skill to know when that trigger’s reset, and for speed it’s much easier to just come off the trigger in between shots.

3. The third aspect of effective speed shooting is the draw. Back to quoting Todd Jarrett: “If you blow the draw, you blog the string”. So true. Practice your draw at home, using a “progressive draw drill“. That will allow you to up your speed on the draw in a controlled environment.

14 comments for “Speed Shooting

  1. aczarnowski
    February 27, 2009 at 11:55

    Your explanation of trigger work in fast shooting is the first I’ve read that makes sense to me. The ride-the-reset guys always made me wonder why I couldn’t get the feel. Then I read “Inside Delta Force,” which was the first I saw that riding the trigger didn’t work, but the author’s explanation of slapping the trigger didn’t offer much of a counter.

    At least I know I’m not the only guy walking that off-trigger path. Now I just need to get out and practice more with my M&P. Thanks.

  2. Shootin' Buddy
    February 27, 2009 at 13:07

    Shoot better, not faster.

  3. February 27, 2009 at 13:17

    Faster is better where I come from.

  4. February 27, 2009 at 14:13

    “If you blow the draw, you blog the string”.

    Only for some whiny losers who have a site..

  5. Chris
    February 27, 2009 at 15:39

    Massad Ayoob wrote an interesting article about your second point (see below). He compares riding the reset and trigger slap.

    Another way to think about shooting faster is to “see” more (kinda the enos way). Basically your shooting speed is determined by how fast you see the “focus type” required to make the shot.

    Mass article
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_12_54/ai_n30956051

  6. February 27, 2009 at 15:52

    UJ – HA! Figures I’d make that typo.

  7. February 27, 2009 at 18:09

    The primary advice I give students wanting to shoot fast is a little different (in a complementary way not opposite). When you practice you should practice for a given level of accuracy at some distance. Such as the A-zone at 15 feet or some such thing. You need to have the skills to hit that level of accuracy with every shot if you take enough time. You do that. You empty a magazine or 10 shots (half a magazine, right?) into the target hitting every single time. Then you start shooting a little faster with the next magazine. And a little faster with the next. Continue until you are hitting the A-zone (or whatever) 90% of the time. If you get too many misses you slow down a little. If you are getting 100% you speed up. You keep just on the edge of going too fast to get your hits.

    It will also be a great idea to use a shot timer and measure your improvement.

    The basics of it is that if you practice in a way that you maintain accuracy the speed will increase with practice. But if you just shoot fast the accuracy will not come later.

  8. cjr
    February 28, 2009 at 08:54

    “Pinning vs. Slapping” is sort of like “9mm vs. .45″ for people who actually shoot. For myself, I pin the trigger 90% of the time. Anything past about five yards, slapping the trigger leads to C’s and D’s.

    I’ve shot with some guys who always slap the trigger, and they’re very good. Best thing you can do is try both ways.

    I’m not surprised that many people have problems feeling the reset on the M&P – that gun is infamous for having a weak, vague reset. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to fix with a little judicious stoning.

  9. February 28, 2009 at 23:47

    Good stuff Caleb!

  10. Tam
    March 1, 2009 at 14:51

    Shoot better, not faster.

    False dichotomy.

  11. Tam
    March 1, 2009 at 14:56

    (PS: Miculek’s method becomes more imperative with a gun that gets all malf’ed up if you don’t let it reset fully. If you’re looking for good splits with a Smith, removing your finger from the trigger is a positive way to ensure full trigger reset at speed.)

  12. March 1, 2009 at 15:56

    LDA’s have the same problem.

  13. March 2, 2009 at 16:35

    No kidding on the LDA’s. And it’s possible to get the gun to lock up requiring the slide to be racked if you don’t fully reset too.

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