Sunday, October 1, 2017

Saga of Tishminga

Just had to use that title, Tishminga is such a great name.  Hope she does not mind but yesterday was such a great illustration for those who want to be competitive.  I had the privilege of hand judging Tishminga for four matches in a row at the Camp Bounty shoot.

In the first match she was high left, then low right, then high left and then low right, all by a wide margin.  It was obvious to me that she was thinking during her draw and shooting right where she was thinking. So I counseled her to stop thinking.

In the second match I told her just to draw and shoot and not worry where she was going to hit, I would line her up on the target. She did not need to think about hitting, I would take care of that.  I have used this technique before, it especially works well with a new shooter with a good stance and a stable draw.  You can normally sight them just like you would a gun.  If you can get them to not think about where they are going to hit, then it is just an alignment issue and it is normally easy to walk them right onto the target.

We continued on into the third and fourth match with Tishminga either on the target or just a little off, no wide swings.  I did notice that she was hesitating a bit to aim her gun. Generally, the aimed shots were a misses whereas when she just drew and shot she would be right where I had aligned her.  We do not aim!!!!!!! We draw and fire wherever we are aligned.  

You need to make your alignment adjustment before the set command.  Then forget about it. Never worry about where you are going to hit. Thinking about where you are going to hit only causes you to miss and to be slow.  No thinking after the set command.

Tishminga got more accurate and quicker as the shoot when on.  After four rounds, I was on the line at the same time, but did note she handily sent her opponent to boot hill.

Don't think!
Don't aim!
Just draw and fire!
You will hit because you are aligned on the target!

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Finalized Draw.

I  think I may have turned some heads in Nebraska.  In one match I put a shot low on the plate and then followed it up with two more in the same hole.  You could have cover all three shots with a quarter. The sign of a finalized draw.  In another match, I put a hit just to the left of the light, about a half inch from the light, then put the second hit about a half inch from the light on the right and said to my hand judge "Next one in the middle."  The third shot was exactly in the middle although a little low.  The hand judge was still talking about it the next day, although really, "I was just foolin about" when I made the comment.
I don't know if it help me, the hand judge hit 80% as he put me out of the contest in two successive rounds the next day.

Although I brag about my finalized draw that is not to say I didn't have any accuracy problems.  The three shot quarter shots came when I was down 2 shots, having missed the first three.  At a venue like Nebraska, which is the toughest venue on the circuit, you just can't see your misses. If you have a finalized draw and your alignment is off you can go through match without hitting a shot. 

I had more than one match where I and the hand judge thought I was high when in fact I was low.  If you are off just a bit you can consistently drill those shots into successive misses. But don't ever change the draw.  The problem is the alignment, not the draw.  If you start changing the draw you are lost.  You will never be accurate.

All I can suggest if you are missing and can't find the target, guess. At Kansas, on the south range that has the same problem as Nebraska, I missed about ten in a row thinking I was shooting high. Finally I guessed, maybe I am low, and I was and then put three on the plate.  Don't have blind faith in the hand judge.  Many times a low hit right under the target will look like a high hit to the hand judge because the backstop above the target will move.  On range A, lane 4 at Nebraska, you will see a hit high and right because of a defect in the ballistic. I still have not figured out whether that is true hit or just the way the ballistic moves on a miss any where.

If you have a finalized draw you can still struggle to find the target.  Don't give up.  Help is on the way.  At Nebraska it is impossible to see your misses at 21 feet.  But the second chance match was shot at 15 feet and you could see ever hit, on the plate or on the backstop.  With the move to 15 feet at the World you can expect a much better hit percentage by all shooters because all will be able to see the exact location of the misses.  For us finalized draw shooters, it should be a walk in the park, just like shooting at the camp with that 8 by 40 foot wall.

Remember, "We don't practice missing!"

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Train to Win: Loverboy's Slump

At a recent shoot at the Camp, we had 17 of the toughest gunslingers in the valley. Rodeo Romeo was probably the quickest shooter there, but finished 7th. Afterwards on facebook he commented that he has "accuracy issues and needs to go back to the wall."  Rodeo does not have any accuracy issues. He is one of the most accurate shooters in the CFDA. When he hits early he will normally follow up with two more hits almost on top of the first, three hits, and he is done. It is the sign of a finalized draw.

Rodeo's slump stems from one or more of three issues: 1) alignment, 2) mental toughness, and 3) temper.

Alignment:  When Rodeo's first shot is high on the target, he will follow it with 2 more high on the target.  When his first shot is low on the target, he will follow it with two more low on the target. If he is shooting at 21 feet all will be within 3 inches, at 15 feet all will be within 2 inches.  It is the sign of a finalized and accurate draw.  But if his early shots are off of the target, he struggles.  He is like Albert Pujols trying to hit Jenny Finch.  Because his practice has been so focused on speed and accuracy, he does not have chunked data in his subconscious on how to walk his hits to the target.  He needs to store data on how the make those small incremental alignment changes that will bring the hits to the target and once on the target to the light.   With the wall, Rodeo has no excuse to be less than 80% at any speed.  If the first shot is a miss, his second should be on the target, next shot should be closer to the light, next shot in the light, and then sit down because of his speed.

Elevation:  For most folks, I suggest that they determine their target height then draw two lines, one 3 inches above and one 3 inches below the target height and shoot 50 rounds from 6 feet. An average shooter will start out with 40%  in target zone for first 15-20 rounds then move to 60% and then by last 10 shots be 100% in the target zone, all done without thinking about it. Let the subconscious do the work. One inch change at 6 feet equals about 4 inches at 21 feet.  This drill will probably not work for Levi because he is so accurate. He will put the first shot at the target height and follow it with 49 more in the target zone. What will he have learned, little.

For Levi I suggest he shoot at 6 feet and at a 17 inch or blocker target.  Draw a line 3 inches above the center of light and a line 3 inches below the center of the light.  For first five shots, the target is the area below the bottom line.  First shot is a guess. He needs to adjust the elevation before set command however he does that. Do not aim! Do not think! Adjust the elevation, waggle and draw! The shot will go where ever it is aligned. Keep adjusting until the hits are below line.  For Levi, for the next five shots, the target is the area above the top line.  For the third five shots, target is the middle six inch area.  Do three sets of 15.  The point is to store data on how to make small incremental adjustments prior to the set command so that you can walk your hits to the light.  Do not adjust by aiming!  Do not adjust by thinking!  Make the adjustment, then let the shot go where the alignment takes it.  Make all adjustments before the set command, then forget them.

Right and Left:  I normally do not concern myself with right or left when I practice because those adjustments are so easy to make.  But some shooters struggle with it so I will cover it.  Right or left adjustments are made by rotating your stance. For me one degree of rotation equals about 4 inches of movement at 21 feet.  I wrote a earlier post on this.  Adjustment right or left again should be made before the set command.  

A good drill for this is to shoot cross target. See my post on this.

If you are trying to adjust right or left by changing your draw you will be hopeless lost.  Never ever change your draw to adjust. All adjustments should be by alignment and done before the set command.

Mental Toughness:  When Rodeo is on, mentally tough, he will put three on the plate at .35 speed or less all within a 2-3 inch circle.  He is shooting from his subconscious.  When he is struggling he will shoot at .38 speed and where he hits is just a matter of chance. "Any thinking will transform an expert into a novice."  The Sports Gene. When he is struggling he has moved from shooting from the subconscious to shooting from the frontal lobe. He is thinking about it.

If you are missing to the left, and you think about it while you are making your draw you will hit exactly where your mind has told your body to shoot, and you will miss to the right.  Shooting from the frontal lobe results in wide swings. First, a miss to the right, then a miss to the left, then a high miss, then a low miss.  The body does what the mind tells it to do.   You also run the risk of changing your draw.  Once you start changing your draw you are lost to the agonies of the mind.

A pre-shot routine is essential to mental toughness. I have given you mine in a prior post.  Walking the hits to the light is not about accuracy, it is about mental toughness.  Evaluate, adjust, waggle, (no thinking after the waggle), coiled spring, shot will go where alignment takes it, normally closer to the light than the last.

Temper:  I have noticed that Rodeo has a temper.  When he is struggling, he will get mad at himself.  This does not help. The last shot is water under the bridge.  Anger will only be a disruption of mental toughness. 

I struggle many times when my first shot is near perfect.  A perfect first shot disrupts my pre-shot routine. I have no adjustments to make.  A miss is just a opportunity to get useful information on our alignment so we can continue our stroll to the light.  Once  you have evaluated a miss for alignment information, forget it.  It is just a distraction.

Rodeo Romeo, who I believe to be one of the few shooters capable of being a true 3 flat shooter (.25 to .35 at 80%) gave me permission to write this post.  I greatly appreciate his permission.  After he wins World, he is going teach me to go fast!

If you want to go fast, go to the Camp.......!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Train to Win: Where do we go from here?

Rodeo Romeo and I do not disagree on much when it comes too fastdraw, but he has said that if there is another human being doing something then he can do it too if he works hard enough, or words to that effect.  That is also the premise of the book "The Sports Gene," in the first few chapters, that it is all about learning and practice.  Then the author destroys that premise by showing that top performance sometimes results from genes, such as the cow stealing tribe in Kenyan that produce elite runners.

The truth is we are all given certain talents and abilities and how far we go depends on those abilities as well as how we use them. At Shady Mtn I have tested the reaction times and draw times of most of the shooters. It is an elite set of champions. The two fastest reaction times were Holli Day and her mother, Troublemaker.

Holli Day is a 175/150/30 shooter when she shoots to her ability. Troublemaker is a 180/400/30  shooter when on.  That is reaction time/draw time/flight time or .355 and .610 respectively. Where do we go from here?

Troublemaker has the most clear cut decision to make.  At the Colorado State Championship, she missed a total of five shots for the entire event and finished 2nd. She can keep her current draw and become a solid 6 flat shooter.  With enough events clearly she can move into the top ten of Top Gun shooters as 6 flat shooter.  She will be at the top of most events if she is shooting 80% or better.  Her choice is between staying with her current draw and being a top shooter with that draw or totally abandoning the draw to learn a draw that will move her down to maybe a 5 flat shooter or even a 4 flat shooter.  The room for improvement is clearly in her draw time.

Half Cock Willie (7th in Four Corners Territorial) faces a similar decision. He can stay where he is at as a 5 flat shooter, or abandon that draw to move to one with more potential.

I face a similar decision.  I am a 200/200/30 shooter. I have tried and tried to improve reaction time.  My only place for gain is draw time.  200/150/30 would be nice. My mentor is itching to tear down and rebuild. Been down that road before.

The point of this post is that after World a shooter should evaluate where they want to go in this sport.  It helps to know your reaction time/draw time/flight time.  You can get those by using a program such as coach's eye.  If you are in the Valley of the Sun, see me and I will video you and calculate those for you.   That information would be useful in trying to decide what to work on.

Rodeo says it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit and hence at least 21 days to rebuild your draw after abandonment. I agree with the "at least" statement.  Back to the premise, maybe you are at the limit of your ability, but you will not know until you try. Loverboy and Doc are on me constantly to get faster. We will see come October 11.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Train to Win: Quickness

Stampede Loverboy may disagree with me but I think quickness is the fourth most important element. Any way here are the answers from Rodeo Romeo.  If you want to go fast go to the Camp.
Levi Jordan Auctioneer
Everett Hitch invited me to write an article for his blog about the mechanics of quickness. Since I couldn't find the "new post" link I am posting it here with permission to copy and preserve as a repost to his blog page. 

I like to keep things real simple and basic. Some people like to make things harder than it is or should be. I also like to isolate skills and work on them one at a time instead of trying to do everything all at once. When we are talking about training quickness we have to understand some basic principles of the universe and figure out how to take advantage of those principles to make them work for us. 

60 mph vs. 700 fps:
The first principle we need to understand is the more you help the gun the slower you are and the less you take advantage of this universal principle.
Mohamed Ali has the fastest punch recorded at 60 mph, that is 88 fps. The wax bullet propelled by a shot gun primer is roughly 700 fps on average. Dave Mongo-Miller and Russell Duty Firearm Patriot did recent testing to confirm this stat. So the longer the Draw or the further the Poke the longer you are going 88 fps rather than 700fps. To overcome this you have to have quick reaction time and quick hand speed. That will only get you a few .100 of a second up to about .10. To shave off .10's of seconds you have to shorten the Draw and travel distance of the gun combined with reaction time and hand speed. Let the gun do the work and figure out a way to take full advantage of 700 fps as fast as you can. 

Practice with purpose.
Practice with goals.
Isolate skills when you practice. 

The concept of you have to train your body for speed and quickness first is controversial by some. All the fast guys say you have to train to go fast first then let the accuracy catch up. The critics are the ones not doing it.
I have an advantage with a 40' greased wall and I can put a timer on the target and one on the wall to record the times of the misses. You will have to be willing to miss some when you change things but have the persistence and discipline to stick with it until you master the skill to a proficient level. Don't be afraid to miss some because your subconscious mind will automatically be working to improve accuracy as you isolate other skills.
Accuracy is still king but guys are training harder and getting better so speed and quickness is just as important to even qualify for Magnificent 7 shoot offs. Even though we are talking about quickness it doesn't matter how fast you are without accuracy so you really do have to have both to win. 

There are 5 different skills to work on separately in practice to get all to come together at a match.
Reaction time / hand speed / short Draw / gun travel distance / timing. 

When you first start training to go faster the first thing you lose is timing but you have to start at the beginning to get your timing down in the end. 

Don't ever pass up an opportunity to practice with a start light or start response of some kind. If you don't have a target and timer you can dry fire in front of your TV. Turn it on, turn the sound off. As the scene on the TV changes Draw and dry fire. It's random and you don't know when it will change.
Train reaction time at red lights. When the light turns green react and step on the gas. When you see brake lights ahead of you slap the steering wheel or just close your gun hand, some kind of reaction. Be creative in practicing reaction responses during you every day life. 

As your practicing reaction drills practice drawing to your anchor spot with quickness. 

That black spot on the side of the shirts of the Fast guys is affectionately referred to as "The Gunfighter Badge". If you see the gunfighter badge on your opponent you know he is going to be fast because he has a short draw. If you are a poker this is one of the hardest skills to retrain. It takes 21 days of continuous conscious effort to form a new habit. It's not easy to change. It won't happen in a week. This is where you have to have persistence, discipline, and a burning desire to accomplish this goal. 90% of the people reading this won't do it. 80% of the people that try it won't accomplish it. 20% of the ones that try will have some success improving. 10% will make the 21 day commitment to make dramatic changes in improvement. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. It takes work. 1 out of 10 will have the burning desire and discipline to make effective change. Prove me wrong, I dare you. 

Pretty simple. The less you help the gun the faster you are. Smooth is fast. The goal is to get to your Draw position as fast as possible and take advantage of 700 fps. Get that bullet off down range as quick as you can. 

You have to go threw the pain of developing the other skills even before you arrive at timing. Most people have a comfortable draw that is fairly accurate and you have the timing down when to pull the trigger. When your training for quickness you have to relearn the timing going faster.
When you are training train up close to the target. 3-5'. You always want to train to increase confidence. It's harder and more frustrating trying to figure it all out slinging wax at 21'. Develop your natural Draw. You do that up close. Start without the light. Shoot 10-15 shots on the target at your Draw hight and tighten up your hit pattern to about 6" circle. Then turn the light on and practice quickness keeping that 6" pattern. Make a quickness goal. Use your target goal of the fastest time at the closest distance. Move back 3' at a time. You have to hit the target every shot and hit your fastest time at that distance to move back another 3'. If you miss you have to move back to the previous spot and hit the fastest goal time again. Move back 3' don't do the math and cheat an equivalent time. Keep your goal time the same all the way back to 15'. Discipline is the key here to keep you pushing for quickness. 

See you in the Magnificent 7

Rodeo Romeo.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Train to Win::Accuracy

You train to be accurate by going as fast as you can as often as you can. Accuracy is acquired by committing your finalized draw to the subconscious.  You do that by speed training.  If you shoot from the frontal lobe for any reason, whether it is because you thinking or trying to change your draw you will be inaccurate and slow.

Finalized Draw:  You will not be an accurate shooter until you have finalized your draw. By that I mean you draw your gun to the same anchor point, hopefully to the same stable position, and fire.  Each draw is identical to the previous draw.  The bullet hits the same location every time, whether on the target or not. If you are missing with a finalized draw, it is not a accuracy problem but an alignment problem (See earlier post on alignment).  You finalize your draw by repetition.  Any change to your draw requires you to refinalize your draw.  That is why grailfever is so devastating to a gunslinger.  If you are constantly changing your draw to gain that last millisecond, you will never have a finalized draw and will be relegated to boot hill rather quickly in competition.

Stop practicing missing:  Every shot is an opportunity to store information in your subconscious. The mind and body is a marvelous thing.  If given an opportunity, it will without any effort on your part, store information in the subconscious, but you have to give it the opportunity by letting it see the exact location of every hit.  If a shooter is hitting 30% on the light at 21 feet, he gets 15 opportunities in a fifty shot practice session.  If the same shooter is shooting at 5 feet with his target height marked on the target, he probably gets 50 opportunities to store information in his subconscious, all while going as fast as he can. Don't practice slow shooting.  Why waste that wax!  When I see a quick shooter slow shoot I always think, hope he or she gets beat on time, that will teach them to believe in myths.  The truth is that your quickest draw is your most accurate!

Speed drills for accuracy:

Shoot on cardboard off the light at 6 feet at your target height (two lines 6 inches apart at appropriate height).  Go as fast as you can.  It is a speed drill.  You are finalizing your draw at the fastest possible speed.  Trying to go slow teaches you nothing.  It screws up draw. You don't have to worry about accuracy.  Your body and mind with do that for you.  You will find that you move to 100% by the end of the drill without any conscious effort.  That is the point.  Commit that accurate draw to the subconscious.  

If you have a training partner try the Shady/Ruah speed run.  Shoot on the light at 5 feet 5 shots.  All shot should hit because you are so close.  Again you are trying to get on the light as quick as possible going as fast as possible.  Because you are at five feet all conscious effort at hitting should be absence,  Only speed matters.  But because you see all hits, you will be storing that accuracy information.  Then move to ten feet five shots, then to 15 feet 5 shots, then to 21 feet 5 shots, then maybe to 30 feet.  We have found that a average session will be at 80% accuracy, a good session nearer to 90%.  There is something about starting out hitting, keeps you hitting.  Maybe because if our initial five shots are in the cone of fire, and as you move back the cone does not change if your initial target area on the target is a 5 inch area.

Draw, fire, reholster, draw, fire, reholster, draw fire, reholster for five shots on a target where you see every hit and at 5 feet.  See if you can get it down to two seconds for five shots. What you are doing is finalizing your draw. Since you are repeating the draw, you don't have time to think.  Of course, you are also storing information on accuracy.  Chunking data and automation go hand in hand on the road to being an expert. The Sports Gene.

Myths:  Some have tried to tell me that a gunslinger needs at least 2 draws to be competitive.  I simply do not believe it.  If my fastest draw is 100% accurate, why should I ever slow down.  The myth that you have to slow down to hit comes from those that have a defective draw or have not finalized their draw. If you flail or if you are trying to be accurate by changing your draw, maybe it does help to slow down.  If you have finalized your draw, never ever slow down!

"Put the fear of Alleluia in 'em!"
               "We don't practice missing!"

Monday, August 7, 2017

The 2 Up Fluster

Lil' James had breezed through the field winning the South Dakota Championship and appeared to be on his way in the Territorial when he lost. He came off the line whimpering, almost a full fledged cry, he is only 8. I went over to console him and asked what was wrong. He said "I lost and I was up 2-0."  Ah, the 2 up fluster.

I told Lil' James I had just hand judged Buzzard Cooper, a many time champion, who was up 2-0 to a much slower shooter and he lost.  It happens to the best of gunfighters. 

Later in the territorial I was up 2-0 to a shooter who is twice as slow as me, got the 2 up flusters and lost. I then missed every shot against Lucky O'Reilly, one of my favorite draws, to finish 12th in the Territorial.  Lucky continued on until he got up 2-0 against a much slower shooter and lost to him, only to draw and lose to him again to finish 4th in the Territorial.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to overcome the 2 up flusters, I am all ears. Lucky told me a shooter from early days that would wear heavy ear plugs, never know what the score was and just kept shooting until someone told him to stop. I think that is probably the answer. Totally and completely ignore the score.  Easy to say but hard to do.