Drills for improving speed and target acquisition?

SixKiller87

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Aug 8, 2018
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2018 has been my first season shooting practical rifle matches and I’ve been bitten by the bug. I’ve shot a few national matches and a few club level matches this year and feel like I have gotten a lot of the basics and fundamentals down and will continue to work on these, however I feel like my most glaring weakness is speed. I feel like working on my position building and target acquisition on a shot timer for practice will be some of the low hanging fruits of improving for next season and I’m just wondering if there are any other good drills and practice regimens for improving my speed?
 
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pga43

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2018 has been my first season shooting practical rifle matches and I’ve been bitten by the bug. I’ve shot a few national matches and a few club level matches this year and feel like I have gotten a lot of the basics and fundamentals down and will continue to work on these, however I feel like my most glaring weakness is speed. I feel like working on my position building and target acquisition on a shot timer for practice will be some of the low hanging fruits of improving for next season and I’m just wondering if there are any other good drills and practice regimens for improving my speed?

I look forward to reading the answers to this question, thx for asking.


Greg
 
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Laughing_Jackal

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Paul Reid's drill (the "11 second drill") is one I try to dry fire often and has helped me:
https://www.facebook.com/Rotormate/videos/vb.680179519/10156355314384520/?type=2&video_source=user_video_tab

He begins explaining the drill around 2:55. The premise is basically learning how to get into position quickly and getting a shot off, with the goal being able to get a successful shot off in 11 seconds. However, you may have to start at 15 or 20 seconds and work your way down. Obviously target size and distance will play a role as well.

Doing this type of drill reminds me of training for USPSA/IPSC with draw times.

I'm definitely interested in what others have to share as well. The 90 second stages are tough for me, but I'm working towards getting quicker.
 

Sheldon N

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I'd say that 75% of improving speed is eliminating waste, then the last 25% is actually moving faster. Mental cues I've been working on...

1) Achieve NPA first try. Feet in the right spot with fewest steps, body drops exactly into shooting position with no re-shuffle needed.
2) Visual target transition from looking at target with naked eye to in scope. Try to place rifle on bag and point at target exactly while building NPA, then have target already in scope. No adjusting zoom ring, no panning around, no reshuffle of NPA position. You've got to do both #1 and #2 in conjunction for this to work.
3) Speed of relaxation. Once you hit position how fast can you "settle" and eliminate wobble? I've been trying to work on starting that relaxation even as I'm falling into position.

As far as drills, I'm just a big fan of repetition of position building from all types of barricades. Shoot or dry fire, just do one shot per position and then transition again and again. The 11 second drill is a good one, though I think the cues above are the key foundation vs practicing a rush-into-position prematurely with just pure speed as a goal. Another dry fire drill I've done in the past few weeks is working on a "three breath cycle" transitioning positions. Break a shot on exhale, inhale exhale during transition, inhale as you settle, exhale and break the shot then transition. Could also run as a two breath cycle breathing more deeply/slowly. Do it for 10 or 15 positions consecutively working on building a rhythm.
 
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Rugster

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I think Sheldon hit it on the head with eliminating waste. You’ll find the top shooters don’t actually appear to be moving quickly, but they never time out. It’s about fluidity and economy of motion.

As an example, take the PRS barricade stage for instance since speed is particularly important here. Try this: get into your final shooting position where you are rock solid and feel confident you would make a hit...ok now work back from there. How do you get into that position most economically when approaching the barricade from 10 yards back (as per rules). When you get up to the barricade your left knee goes to the ground, your right knee stays up and your right elbow goes directly onto your right knee. This all happens in one fluid motion. You can practice that without even having a rifle in your hand. When you drop your rifle onto the barricade, it should already be on the magnification power with which you plan to shoot the stage. Now when you get onto the glass, you should see the target in your reticle. This is another time killer. So many new guys are in their scope searching for the target. You want to pick a bush/berm/tree etc that you can see with your naked eye that is near the target. Doing this allows you to know to a pretty good degree where to point your rifle. When you mount the barricade. As soon as you see the target in your reticle you should be closing your bolt. Don’t wait until you put your cross hair in the middle of the target. Also, when you close the bolt, do it smoothly enough that you don’t lose your sight picture. Break the shot but keep your cheek on the rifle, run your bolt smoothly again and send the second round. You can see there’s a lot that goes into just the first shot or two, but much of it translates to the next shot and the next.

If you’re saying your slow, and I had to guess, I’d say you might be shooting with too high magnification. Something MOST of us were guilty of when we started out.
 

Dthomas3523

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There are plenty of drills to be found online and you can make up your own. For speed, after 6mo of competition, here’s some things I learned:

  • Pick landmarks and don’t go over 18x(at least until you find target or are prone/long distance. If there’s an odd shaped tree or something like that, it’s quicker to scan for that landmark if you don’t fall right on target. Goal is to fall right on, but knowing what’s around it is ridiculously helpful
  • Have a plan. Already know you are going to shoot 3 shots, exactly how you’re going to pick up the rifle and bag, move, how you’re going to set up, shoot 3 more shots, do it again, then drop that mag on the movement so you don’t have to do a mag change during the next string, etc etc
  • Practice/learn to shoot most/many obstacles with one back or as few things as possible. Look at the guys who are extremely fast on PRS barricade. One bag. Of course some stages may need extra stuff, but overall, less is better. I fell down this pitfall in a few matches
Practicing those three things and the basic fundamentals will put you quite high in hits for a match
 

Sheldon N

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Agree with the idea of using landmarks and reference points to locate targets in pre-stage preparation. I'll spend a good amount of time on glass looking at each target and their surroundings, then will go back/forth between glass and naked eye so I can know where the target is without magnification. I want to be able to look naked eye at each target and see it. Not just "it's in those trees" but see exactly where in the trees even if I can't actually see it. Then I'll mentally run through the stage as though I'm shooting it, looking at each target as I visualize. Then when on the clock I look at the target during transitions, using that as the reference point to start building the position as mentioned in my post above.
 
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SixKiller87

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I think Sheldon hit it on the head with eliminating waste. You’ll find the top shooters don’t actually appear to be moving quickly, but they never time out. It’s about fluidity and economy of motion.

As an example, take the PRS barricade stage for instance since speed is particularly important here. Try this: get into your final shooting position where you are rock solid and feel confident you would make a hit...ok now work back from there. How do you get into that position most economically when approaching the barricade from 10 yards back (as per rules). When you get up to the barricade your left knee goes to the ground, your right knee stays up and your right elbow goes directly onto your right knee. This all happens in one fluid motion. You can practice that without even having a rifle in your hand. When you drop your rifle onto the barricade, it should already be on the magnification power with which you plan to shoot the stage. Now when you get onto the glass, you should see the target in your reticle. This is another time killer. So many new guys are in their scope searching for the target. You want to pick a bush/berm/tree etc that you can see with your naked eye that is near the target. Doing this allows you to know to a pretty good degree where to point your rifle. When you mount the barricade. As soon as you see the target in your reticle you should be closing your bolt. Don’t wait until you put your cross hair in the middle of the target. Also, when you close the bolt, do it smoothly enough that you don’t lose your sight picture. Break the shot but keep your cheek on the rifle, run your bolt smoothly again and send the second round. You can see there’s a lot that goes into just the first shot or two, but much of it translates to the next shot and the next.

If you’re saying your slow, and I had to guess, I’d say you might be shooting with too high magnification. Something MOST of us were guilty of when we started out.
Paul Reid's drill (the "11 second drill") is one I try to dry fire often and has helped me:
https://www.facebook.com/Rotormate/videos/vb.680179519/10156355314384520/?type=2&video_source=user_video_tab

He begins explaining the drill around 2:55. The premise is basically learning how to get into position quickly and getting a shot off, with the goal being able to get a successful shot off in 11 seconds. However, you may have to start at 15 or 20 seconds and work your way down. Obviously target size and distance will play a role as well.

Doing this type of drill reminds me of training for USPSA/IPSC with draw times.

I'm definitely interested in what others have to share as well. The 90 second stages are tough for me, but I'm working towards getting quicker.
Thanks for this video. I will definitely be trying out this drill.
 
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SixKiller87

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Aug 8, 2018
6
4
6
I think Sheldon hit it on the head with eliminating waste. You’ll find the top shooters don’t actually appear to be moving quickly, but they never time out. It’s about fluidity and economy of motion.

As an example, take the PRS barricade stage for instance since speed is particularly important here. Try this: get into your final shooting position where you are rock solid and feel confident you would make a hit...ok now work back from there. How do you get into that position most economically when approaching the barricade from 10 yards back (as per rules). When you get up to the barricade your left knee goes to the ground, your right knee stays up and your right elbow goes directly onto your right knee. This all happens in one fluid motion. You can practice that without even having a rifle in your hand. When you drop your rifle onto the barricade, it should already be on the magnification power with which you plan to shoot the stage. Now when you get onto the glass, you should see the target in your reticle. This is another time killer. So many new guys are in their scope searching for the target. You want to pick a bush/berm/tree etc that you can see with your naked eye that is near the target. Doing this allows you to know to a pretty good degree where to point your rifle. When you mount the barricade. As soon as you see the target in your reticle you should be closing your bolt. Don’t wait until you put your cross hair in the middle of the target. Also, when you close the bolt, do it smoothly enough that you don’t lose your sight picture. Break the shot but keep your cheek on the rifle, run your bolt smoothly again and send the second round. You can see there’s a lot that goes into just the first shot or two, but much of it translates to the next shot and the next.

If you’re saying your slow, and I had to guess, I’d say you might be shooting with too high magnification. Something MOST of us were guilty of when we started out.
I think Sheldon hit it on the head with eliminating waste. You’ll find the top shooters don’t actually appear to be moving quickly, but they never time out. It’s about fluidity and economy of motion.

As an example, take the PRS barricade stage for instance since speed is particularly important here. Try this: get into your final shooting position where you are rock solid and feel confident you would make a hit...ok now work back from there. How do you get into that position most economically when approaching the barricade from 10 yards back (as per rules). When you get up to the barricade your left knee goes to the ground, your right knee stays up and your right elbow goes directly onto your right knee. This all happens in one fluid motion. You can practice that without even having a rifle in your hand. When you drop your rifle onto the barricade, it should already be on the magnification power with which you plan to shoot the stage. Now when you get onto the glass, you should see the target in your reticle. This is another time killer. So many new guys are in their scope searching for the target. You want to pick a bush/berm/tree etc that you can see with your naked eye that is near the target. Doing this allows you to know to a pretty good degree where to point your rifle. When you mount the barricade. As soon as you see the target in your reticle you should be closing your bolt. Don’t wait until you put your cross hair in the middle of the target. Also, when you close the bolt, do it smoothly enough that you don’t lose your sight picture. Break the shot but keep your cheek on the rifle, run your bolt smoothly again and send the second round. You can see there’s a lot that goes into just the first shot or two, but much of it translates to the next shot and the next.

If you’re saying your slow, and I had to guess, I’d say you might be shooting with too high magnification. Something MOST of us were guilty of when we started out.
I agree with that and never really thought of it as an eliminating waste rather than shooting faster. It makes sense. I’ve actually just started backing off the magnification which has seemed to help a bit.
 

MDrimfirerookie

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great thread, watching intently as this was my first year shooting competitively as well.


Also, if you can, video yourself shooting a stage and watch where the time ticks away. It’s much easier to diagnose wasted time watching the video than in the moment. Doing that has helped me tremendously.
absolutely in my plans for 2019 right here! coming from a team sports background it never crossed my mind until i saw someone else doing it toward the end of this year. makes perfect sense and will definitely allow you to diagnose all sorts of issues
 

Laughing_Jackal

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Glad you guys are getting something out of Paul Reid's 11 second drill! All the Kudos goes to Paul Reid on that!

Going back to the idea of USPSA/IPSC, I would learn to break the shot when it's "good enough"...When my sights landed on the A-Zone, break the shot. It didn't have to be absolutely centered up and perfect for the sake of speed. This has been something I've been trying to learn as well with Precision Rifle, even though it seems counter-productive sometimes. However, I think practicing this and learning what "good enough" looks like consistently could help with speed.

+1 on videoing yourself. A buddy and I did that, and I would focus/zoom in on things to pay attention to... such as his finger flying off the trigger after some shots, body position (NPA, square behind rifle), face straining, muscling the rifle, breathing, holding breath, etc.. This is very humbling and a great way to correct yourself on things you might not have been aware of.

And if you want some "trial by fire" on target acquisition, go shoot Steel Safari.. After shooting that match for the first time, every PRS stage I've ever shot thereafter seemed like a piece of cake as far as finding targets and getting on target.
 
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