Stiff Arm

Last Sunday night, after shooting the 50 foot targets for the NRA Postal where my unofficial score was 534-6 out of 600-40 (there is no X ring in the two 50 foot Slow Fire targets) with a 96-3 on one of the Rapid Fire targets — not too shabby for this Marksman — a couple of the shooters stuck around for an hour of air pistol.

John Zurek was shooting his “Cadillac” top of the line and then some air pistol which I could never afford so pardon me for not remembering make and model. Regardless, John asked if I would like to try it.

You bet!

“Grip it like your 22,” he said, handing it over.

He set it for dry fire to let me get the feel of the trigger and the pistol’s balance. The electronic trigger was light but required enough effort that I was sure I wouldn’t fire it by accident. And knowing he was watching, I carefully tried to do my very best form as I dry-fired a couple of shots.

I said, “Okay, I’m ready to shoot now.”

But John, who had been watching me, said, “Do a couple more dry.”

Not sure why but trusting his watchful expertise, I did. After two more shots he said that it might help to change how I raised the gun.

What I was doing was keeping my arm straight as it came up but not my wrist. I was holding my wrist close to the correct position but not dead on. Only when I settled on the target would I get my wrist into the correct, final position. It had always bothered me that, when I raised the gun, the rear sight would be on the correct spot on the target but not the front. I always had to do the final adjustment with my wrist to put the front sight (or dot) in the right place.

John said that looseness was probably costing me some points, and not only in Rapid Fire where quickly regaining alignment is critical. He said if I reinforced that “muscle memory” earlier, my hold would be steadier all the time I was on target and my groups would be tighter.

Aha! Smaller wobble.

He said I should get elbow and wrist both in the correct position and lock them there before coming up from the table such that when the sights come on the aiming area, everything would already be lined up.

Good trick, I thought. Before raising the gun, my eye is glued to the target and my head is in the correct position. So, how do I line up the sights with the gun down there without looking?

To get there, I worked it backwards. That is, I aimed the old way (once) and then locked elbow and wrist. Holding that lock, I then lowered the gun to the table and, before relaxing, looked and “felt” my arm and wrist to remember where they needed to be.

“That’s where I want everything to be,” I told myself. I practiced by relaxing and then regaining the position and lock and then verifying alignment after raising my arm. I did this several times, and worked it backwards when it didn’t come out correctly.

I’ll be practicing this for a while to get it working but, yeah, this is definately good.

(Some who can, also teach.)

Thanks, John!

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