Not everyone wants to get better at shooting. Some folks are content with their skill, and their approach to the shooting sports is similar to that of a casual golfer. Go to the range a couple weekends, hang out with your friends, have some fun, shoot some bullets, run some stages. That’s an awesome way to go through life and have fun, but it’s also not for everyone. Some shooters are deeply competitive people, and whether they’ve always been that way or had their passion awakened by the shooting sports, they yearn to improve their shooting.
This article is for the second group. If you’re relatively new to shooting and are looking to improve, the good news is that, thanks to the Internet, it’s a golden age of resources for competition shooters. There are print, video, and web based materials available for shooters of every skill level. Whether you’re a brand new IDPA Novice and want to make Sharpshooter, or a USPSA A-Class shooter looking to make the jump to Master or even Grandmaster, there’s something for everyone.
One of the best beginner resources is the book Shoot by champion shooter and Team Smith & Wesson captain Julie Golob. Julie’s approach to shoot was to create a guide for the shooting sports that would allow a new shooter to read the book, and then head out to a match and be prepared to shoot with a basic understanding of the rules and gear required.
Another great beginner tool are the videos posted by Ruger. On their YouTube channel at RugerFirearms, they have video guides for getting involved in both USPSA and IDPA shooting. They also have guides for Steel Challenge, Metallic Silhouette, and other shooting sports. These short, simple videos present a basic picture of what to expect at a match, and some of the gear that you’ll need.
Here’s where the pool gets deep. Most shooters looking to really improve are in that middle tier of skill; C-class through low A-class in USPSA. The number of sources of information for shooters at this skill level can actually be a little bit daunting, especially since they often cover similar ground with slightly different approaches.
The gold standard of shooting books for practical shooters is Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals by Brian Enos. This has been required reading for anyone getting into the shooting sports, and is frequently revisited by experienced shooters looking to get a deeper understanding of the mental aspect. Purchase Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals at Amazon.com.
For pure drill training, Refinement and Repetition, Dry-fire Drills for Dramatic Improvement by Steven Anderson has served the shooting community well for many years. Steve is a USPSA Grandmaster shooter, and while he’s never won a National championship, his drills have helped many a shooter stuck in a rut move forward. Purchase Refinement and Repetition, Dry-fire Drills for Dramatic Improvement at Amazon.com.
If you’re looking for a champion’s training program, look no further than the multiple books authored by USPSA Production Champion Ben Stoeger. Ben has a theory- and technique-oriented book called Practical Pistol: Fundamental Techniques and Competition Skills that is a great starting point before diving into his dry-fire books, which give you drills and practice techniques to work on 15 minutes each day. Purchase Practical Pistol: Fundamental Techniques and Competition Skills at Amazon.com.
Another great intermediate resource is Pistol-Training.Com, a member of the GunUp Blogger Network. Pistol-Training has a great collection of posts on the blog itself, as well as lists of drills, dry-fire practice programs, and informative articles for shooters.
The last item we’ll take a look at in the Intermediate Section is our favorite, and it’s Mike Seeklander’s Your Competition Handgun Training Program. The program can be had as just a book, or the book and DVDs, or the book, DVDs, and a logbook. What we really like about Mike’s program is it takes a holistic approach to shooting science. It doesn’t just have live-fire drills, it doesn’t just have dry-fire drills, but it also includes chapters on mental training and mindset, vision training, and even physical fitness. By looking at shooting skill as the sum of many individual parts, Mike’s program offers rewards beyond just better scores, but also provides opportunities for a lifestyle improvement as well. At GunUp, that’s an idea we can support.
Purchase Your Compeition Handgun Training Program for at Amazon.com.
It’s hard to say what characterizes an intermediate resource from an advanced resource when it comes to the shooting sports. Partly, this is because even an IDPA Master Class shooter looking to win a National Championship and become a DM can benefit from using the intermediate resources and tweaking the difficulty. That’s the thing about the shooting sports – there are no “advanced techniques”. Winning is all about performing the fundamentals of marksmanship faster and more accurately than the other guy. That’s what being the best is all about. You shoot quicker, you shoot more accurately, whatever game you’re playing the “advanced” technique is simply “be better.”
This is where YouTube videos become such a solid resource. Just like professional athletes watch tapes of themselves and their opponents, a lot of information can be gleaned from videos of the top pros. Spend an afternoon every now and then watching videos of Dave Sevigny, Rob Leatham, and Jerry Miculek. See what they do, their footwork, reloads, everything. Take notes, make diagrams, and take their techniques to your next practice session.
If you want to find information on how to get better at shooting, it’s out there. It’s available. Once you find it, it’s up to you to put in the work. See you on the range!
By Caleb Giddings. Originally published in the July 2013 issue of GunUp the Magazine.