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 Post subject: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERENCE

Master at Arms

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The topic looks funny. Ofcourse these two are very different (but inter-linked) things and every shooter will claim to have good understanding of this difference. However, in a heated discussion in another thread, I got a feeling that basic shooting training and various types of competition shooting styles were being confused.

Basic Shooting / Firing Training, as the name implies, is the process of teaching a person how to fire. The basic concept remains same for all type of weapons namely pistol, rifle and shotgun but the steps would differ, depending on the type of weapons being used. The basic shooting training, very broadly, consists of two important parts.......

1. Handling and maintenance of the weapon(s).
2. Learning the basic shooting technique.

From here on, I will be more focussed on handgun shooting. Many of these aspects will apply to rifle shooting as well, however, may or may not apply to shotgun shooting which is quite different.

If you go through the training manuals of various armies available on the internet, you would see that first lesson is regarding the orientation with the weapon. Safety aspects...... which are mandatory to be learnt as a first step and without which, no training school / instructor will let you handle the weapon. And than some basic knowledge about the weapon, its stripping assembling, maintenance etc. After safety aspects related to weapon and the range are learnt, the basic shooting training may start concurrently with other aspects like maintenance etc.

What all is included in basic shooting training of a handgun? The important aspects are......
1. A new shooter is taught how to stand (stance) and how to hold (grip) the weapon. A new shooter must learn the correct technique with regard to positioning of his legs / feet, alignment of his shoulders, neck / head, arms and finally, how to hold the gun correctly.

2. A new shooter is taught how to acquire the correct sight picture. He is taught to align his eyes, while looking through the rear sight notch and front sight tip, with the target. After the shooters eye, sights and target are aligned, the shooter is taught to shift his focus back to front sight tip (and not on target). So the target becomes blurred and the shooter is looking at the front sight tip. Steps like identification of master eye, technique of closing the non-shooting eye etc are also part of this step.

3. A new shooter is taught how to operate the trigger of the handgun. He is taught to feel the trigger movement, register different stages of its travel in his mind and operate it with a gentle squeeze applying consistent pressure instead of pressing the trigger abruptly. He is taught the art of moving his trigger finger alone while the remaining fingers and his hand(s) remain absolutely motionless and still to an extent that trigger breaks and the guns fires (this is called surprise break). All experts agree on this that bad trigger control is the reason for most shooting errors. That way, it is perhaps the most important of all the steps.

4. While a shooter is doing above step 2 & 3, he must not breath. The shooter is therefore taught the essentials of breathing control.
Also, after he has fired a shot, he is taught to go through a process of "follow through".
There are many finer details related to handgun shooting which can be read in various articles given in this section but I have only mentioned the basic steps, the major steps above.

During the beginning of basic shooting training, a shooter is asked to do the above steps slowly, one by one. First doing dry rehearsals and when he is good enough, by doing the actual firing. But all this is done slowly, giving time to the new shooter to develop his concentration, think about the step before performing it and feeling the effect / result of various actions. It is important for him to go slow and learn to do the thing correctly. Than a shooter is asked to repeat the above steps again and again and again, till the time he becomes proficient and starts doing them as a reflex action.

The above, in my view, holds the same place in learning shooting which grammar has in learning a language. The initial learning of grammar in any new language that one is trying to learn would be very slow and one should never try to rush through it otherwise he would not learn correctly. But after this initial learning process is completed, the subsequent learning would be fast. If a person goes for a shortcut during basic learning of grammar, he may still start speaking and writing that language but would never be proficient and would keep committing basic language mistakes. Initially, the people will ignore his mistakes as he would be considered a novice but as he would grow old, people would laugh at him if he would commit a basic grammar mistake in his speech / writing. The same applies to shooting. Basic shooting training is like a grammar which has to be learnt if one wants to be a proficient shooter, no other way.

So far...... the shooter is learning how to shoot properly with a correct technique. HE IS NOT DOING ANY COMPETITION SHOOTING SO FAR. Please note that the above steps are common for all and must be learnt by all shooters, whether he is a professional soldier, a competition shooter or a common civilian who just wants to learn shooting from self defence point of view.

Now..... when a shooter is doing all above, how his proficiency and improvement is being judged? How is this being established that he is improving / has improved and is learning the art of shooting well? Philosophically speaking, the ability of the shooter to do all above steps correctly time a again is the indicator that he is learning the art well or has learnt it properly. How does it transform on ground? Well, if the shooter is gripping the gun correctly every time, is acquiring a correct sight picture on the same target everytime, is operating the trigger correctly in identical fashion every time and is keeping his breath under control every time THAN, provided the weapon he is shooting is reasonably accurate, the shots fired by him must hit close to each other on the target every time. These closely hit shots on the target are called a group. That is the reason why, GROUPING FIRE IS THE BASIC TEST IN ALL ARMIES TO JUDGE THE BASIC SHOOTING PROFICIENCY OF A FIRER.

When a shooter reaches a stage where he starts making small groups consistently, he is considered to have acquired the basic shooting skills.

NOW THE SHOOTER IS READY. From here on..... a shooter may take different roads, depending upon his requirement / need.

If he is a professional soldier / LEA person, he can now move on the stage of applying this basic skill in different practical situations related to his job / profession.

If he is a civilian and his purpose was just to learn shooting from the point of view of self defence than he need not go any further. He should keep practicing the basic skill regularly so that he does not forget it but need not go too much ahead which would require acquisition of higher degree of skill. He may however add handgun drawing and some basic movement drills to his practice so that he is proficient and confident when he comes across a SD situation. Most of us fall in this category. When we get better, we start taking part in casual competitions or just start shooting on proper ISSF targets just to bring in the aspect of scoring which makes it more interesting. Nevertheless, it is not professional competition shooting.

And.... if he wants to continue shooting as a sport than he is ready for it now. He has different options in this regard.

1. He may choose any of the ISSF pistol matches. ISSF matches include precision shooting matches (also called Bull's Eye Shooting) as well as rapid fire matches or a combination of both. Some of these matches are played in Olympic Games also. All ISSF matches are shot with single hand. Different types of ISSF pistol matches being played at different levels include......

    - 25 M Standard Pistol Match: Shot from 25 M with single hand using a match .22 LR pistol. 60 shots in each match, comprising three stages. Each stage consists of 4 strings of 5 shots each, shot in 150 seconds, 20 seconds and 10 seconds respectively. Shot on a standard pistol target (the target that most of us use during range sessions). Details at .... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25_metre_standard_pistol

    - 25 M Centre Fire Pistol: Any pistol between .30 to .45 caliber can be used. Single hand from 25 M. Total of 60 shots, two stages of 30 shots each. Each stage comprises of 3 strings (5 shots each) of precision shooting (5 shots in 5 mins) and 3 strings of rapid fire (shooter has 3 seconds to raise his arm and shoot at the target). Details can be seen at ...... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25_metre_center-fire_pistol

    - 25 M Rapid Fire Pistol Match: Shot from 25 M with single hand using a .22 LR pistol. A shooter shoots three stages with time limit of 8, 6 and 4 seconds respectively in which he has to shoot five bullet on five different targets which are visible side way and on a whistle, are turned towards the shooter. After completion of time limit for that stage (8,6 or 4 secs), the target again turn side ways. Two sets of these stages are shot, making a total of 60 shots or 600 points. Details at .... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25_metre_rapid_fire_pistol

    - 50 M Free Pistol Match:Shot with single hand from 50 M. 60 shots are fired in two hours.

    - Other than this many other event like CISM matches etc are also played. Certain matches involve shooting from hip position with single hand from 15 M and aimed fire with single hand from 35 M shooting a string of 6 shots each. Two stages and total of 24 shots.

    - As you would have noticed, all ISSF / Olympic pistol events involve shooting from a static position, with single hand though timings for different stages are different. These matches, however, do not involve MOVEMENT.

    - The second aspect to be noted is that contrary to common belief that all Bull's eye shooting matches are dull and slow matches with no thrill in it, only one stage of few matches is slow precision shooting. Most of the other stages are timed and some of them require top level shooting skills. Most of us practice the slow fire stage only and do not move on to the next stages which are much more challenging. Shooting 5 shots on five different targets in 4 seconds when the targets appear infront of you is not easy at all. But most of our ranges do not have this facility.


2. Practical Shooting Matches:Now, there are shooter who believe that ISSF pistol matches lack thrill and excitement of real life shooting and for them, they are a little boring and require too much of concentration.

Such shooter can venture into the world of practical shooting competitions such as IPSC or IDPA. These matches, in concept, try to replicate combat situations which, in view of practical shooting lovers, are more close to real life combat situation. There are many interesting matches in IPSC and IDPA sport shooting competition which one may undertake. Regular championships at various levels are held for different disciplines of IPSC and IDPA or other practical shooting competitions. All of them involve physical movement which brings in an extra factor and make it different from ISSF matches. The shooter needs to be physically fit to take part in such matches otherwise he will not be able to compete in good time. Conversely, practical shooting matches do not require too much precision as the targets are much bigger and different.

What differentiates IPSC / IDPA from ISSF pistol matches is the movement of the shooter. There is NO DIFFERENCE IN BASIC SHOOTING TECHNIQUE though various steps involved in different matches would differ and would involve a different kind of practice.

In ISSF matches, the shooter is static while the target is sometimes static and some times moving (turning towards the shooter) and different matches are shot in different timings, from very slow to really fast.

In IPSC / IDPA / other practical shooting competitions, the shooter has to move around and shoot various targets. This has its own peculiar joy / challenge and requires the shooter to be more fit, physically. At the same time, he needs to have strong basic shooting skills and he would be shooting in an environment where he would be breathing heavily due to physical exertion. An ISSF shooter, on the other hand, is relaxed physically when he is shooting. So this part makes practical shooting very challenging and interesting but necessitates good basic shooting skills otherwise one would not perform well.

BUT BASICALLY, BOTH ISSF AS WELL AS PRACTICAL SHOOTING COMPETITIONS FALL IN TO THE CATEGORY OF SPORT SHOOTING. Which one of them is better? Well, it would differ from person to person; depends what you like and what you prefer. One has the challenge of extreme precision which requires lot of focus and the other has the challenge of being more physical which requires more physical fitness. Saying that this one is very challenging and that one is wastage of time would only indicate, in my personal view, that the person has little knowledge about shooting as a whole. Personally, being a casual shooter, I would like to do both; depends how I am feeling that day. At professional level however, one will have to select one of them as it may be extremely difficult, both from financial as well as availability of time for practice point of view to undertake both types of shooting at one time.

Basic shooting training, in my view, stands common for all types of sport shooting as well as SD training and military / LEA training. It is the training about using the handgun. I am of the view that without basic training, a shooter may take part in any of the above matches, whether ISSF or practical shooting, but would SELDOM be able to achieve a higher skill level because of deficiency in his shooting technique. Neither he would be a proficient / confident operator during SD situations. And of course, if he is a professional soldier / LEA guy, he would more often than not endanger his life and compromise his task because of not being able to perform when it matters. BTW, YOU WILL NEVER COME ACROSS A QUALITY IPSC / IDPA SHOOTER WHO IS NOT CAPABLE OF MAKING SMALL GROUPS WHEN SHOOTING DELIBERATE / SLOW. All good IPSC / IDPA shooter will have strong basic shooting skills. That is why he is a good IPSC / IDPA shooter.

The above is my point of view on the subject. I do not want to convince anyone on that and would not like to start a similar debate involving personal attacks and egos as we did in another thread. All those who feel that basic shooting training (which is finally tested in terms of grouping fire / ability to make small groups) is not needed and they can straightaway jump to disciplines requiring higher skills (BOTH ISSF MATCHES AS WELL AS IPSC / IDPA / ANY OTHER PRACTICAL SHOOTING MATCH) can go ahead with their training the way they feel like. All those who feel that for SD, one does not need to go through the rigours of learning basic shooting technique can also go ahead with their idea and try their luck.


Those who agree with the above may also like to go through following links (for acquiring specific details, advised by world renowned shooters).......

http://thegunforum.net/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=475&p=7892#p7892

http://thegunforum.net/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=13

http://thegunforum.net/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=458

http://thegunforum.net/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=717

http://thegunforum.net/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=31

We have so much on this forum.......... if we read it. :character-oldtimer:


Best regards

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

Sharp Shooter

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Thank you KBW for the time for this post.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

Master at Arms

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Very comprehensive post sir. It must have taken hours to compose such a high quality post. Thank you very much for your time and effort.
I agree with your views.


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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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Very thorough post KBW sb. We must give credit where due, and indeed some disciplines of bulls eye shooting are not achievable for many.

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Basic shooting training, in my view, stands common for all types of sport shooting as well as SD training and military / LEA training. It is the training about using the handgun. I am of the view that without basic training, a shooter may take part in any of the above matches, whether ISSF or practical shooting, but would SELDOM be able to achieve a higher skill level because of deficiency in his shooting technique. Neither he would be a proficient / confident operator during SD situations. And of course, if he is a professional soldier / LEA guy, he would more often than not endanger his life and compromise his task because of not being able to perform when it matters. BTW, YOU WILL NEVER COME ACROSS A QUALITY IPSC / IDPA SHOOTER WHO IS NOT CAPABLE OF MAKING SMALL GROUPS WHEN SHOOTING DELIBERATE / SLOW. All good IPSC / IDPA shooter will have strong basic shooting skills. That is why he is a good IPSC / IDPA shooter.


This is what any true professional shooter, from any discipline, would never disagree with, and every one must understand the importance of weapon handling (safety and proficiency combined).

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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Very informative post Sir. I agree that without develping basic skill, we can not do well in any discipline of shooting and also self defence. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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nice and informative post KBW bro,
and thanks for the time you spent on this article.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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Wow, amazing detailed "article" written, KBW! Thanks for the time and effort, which it must have taken a lot of!

There is one thing I have observed in a couple of shooters. They cannot concentrate all that much while shooting bullseye, but are pretty accurate in rapid shooting! But then again, learning the basics is must.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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Mangloo Ramzani wrote:
There is one thing I have observed in a couple of shooters. They cannot concentrate all that much while shooting bullseye, but are pretty accurate in rapid shooting! But then again, learning the basics is must.
What you written MR, if we put it on ground than it would mean that a person shooting 5 shots in 60 secs makes a 8" group (for example) but when he fires 5 shots in 5 or less than 5 seconds, he makes a 5" group.
This can happen with many shooters sometimes (even to experienced shooters) but not on regular basis. The guy is over concentrating, taking too much time, tiring himself in the process and committing a trigger or sighting fault at the nick of time when he is pressing the trigger.

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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KBW Sahib very informative post thanks :handgestures-salute:


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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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Was going through different topics in this section and came across this well written informative topic by KBW and thought I should give it a small bump :)

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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KBW sb firstly thank you for such a information rich article. But sir one question that comes to my mind was regarding the part about stance. When I started precision shooting i was taught to stand with both feet parrel, back straight etc etc. But as i went ahead I found better results and improvement when i took a left leg forward stance like a basic boxing position and sort of leaned into the target. So does a shooter have learn a particular ztance or he can develope on a stance that he is comfortable in

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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I had the same question as FK bro.

@KBW shb: Excellent post, thanks for SA for bumping it :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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Thanks brothers. A shooter must feel comfortable with his stance but it has to be technically correct as well. For a right hand shooter, keeping the left foot and the body weight a little forward is a technically correct stance and majority of shooters feel quite comfortable with it. But left foot just a little forward, not too much forward. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Basic Shooting Training & Competition Shooting - DIFFERE

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For sure - we really do have so much on this forum...if we read it...!

I can only think of the hours you must have spent doing this write-up...excellent and very elaborative.

Thank you...
Was a pleasure going through it again...
Cheers...

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