The Fix: Keep Your Eyes Open to Shoot Faster

posted on March 27, 2020

The Problem
You were shooting horizontal and vertical plates with your friends at the club recently and thought you were doing OK. That is until two Junior Shooters you didn’t recognize showed up and asked to join the group. Of course, the youngsters were welcome to the group, but they were warned the shooting was against a timer, so there shouldn’t be disappointment if they didn’t fare as well as some of the other shooters.

When their turn came on the plate rack, they both smoked it in a hail of bullets and brass with no misses. The group was completely dumbfounded as both of them bested the top shooter in the group by a few tenths. You asked if they wanted stay in the rotation and shoot again, and both said yes, after which they did the same thing with almost an equal time.

One of the others shooting with the group asked how they could shoot so smoothly with that degree of consistency and accuracy.

The other replied, “You have to see ’em to hit ’em.” They then excused themselves and moved on to another range.

We were not sure what that statement meant and were too stunned to ask before they left the range.

The Solution
One of the things I like about shooting is seeing young people become involved in the shooting sports, especially if they spend the time and develop the discipline it takes to excel. These two apparently had some good coaching and could apply what they were taught on demand.

I suspect the comment came from the way their coach trained them to shoot multiple shots and multiple targets. When starting with plates on a rack or a dueling tree it is important to see the sights on the plate as the trigger is being pulled through the moment of discharge, which is indicated by the muzzle flash and movement of the gun. Once the discharge is perceived, the eyes should transition automatically to the next target followed by the gun settling into an acceptable sight picture.

This may seem slow at first, but it is important to let the eyes lead when shooting multiple targets at speed. Repetition will increase the speed and reveal what visual input is needed to make a good hit. It may not be the classic perfect sight picture centered on the target, but as long as it generates hits—what’s not to like?

A critical thing to ensure is that the eyes are open and providing input during the entire shot string. It’s a pretty common condition among shooters to blink or otherwise lose the necessary visual input to shoot multiple targets in a fluid and consistent manner.

Often, when this happens, the shooter continues to pull the trigger at the speed he or she deems necessary to run the plates to their satisfaction in the hope that hits will still result. With the disconnect between the eye and the trigger finger, misses are going to happen. This usually increases trigger speed to make up for the lost target and results in more misses because of no visual input to guide the gun to the target.

If the shooter isn’t registering a sight picture sufficient to result in a hit, the trigger shouldn’t break. Outrunning the ability to see the sights on target with the speed of the trigger finger is wasting ammunition and shooting too fast.

If you or your friends find that blinking is a problem for you, refer back to my June 2018 column in Shooting Illustrated for help eliminating that particular malady.


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