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.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Train to Win: Luck of the Draw

The second most important element of being competitive in cowboy fast draw is luck of the draw.  We have a tendency to use luck of the draw as an excuse for our placing.  We say we had a tough draw.  It is true that we have no control over the draw and sometimes it seems that it is unfair, but I would suggest over the long haul it all evens out.

I would also suggest that how we react to the draw is more important than the draw itself. I have heard shooters say they didn't have a chance and then list the four shooter who beat them.  Their reaction probably determined the outcome, not the draw.  When there were 15 left in the Four Corners, Half Cock Willie drew in succession Everett Hitch and Parttime. Turned out that was a tough draw for Everett and Parttime not Willie, he won both matches.  Old West in the main match drew Rodeo Romeo and Powder Keg twice, he won all three matches and was clean in the main match.

You can not control the draw but you can control how you react to it. Your attitude should be that you are the toughest and best gunfighter in the field.  Drawing a quick shooter is just an opportunity to excel.  It is your chance to put that shooter one x down.

Statistics show that the CFDA shooter gets better the more rounds they shoot.  If you are going to get that quick shooter it is better to draw him early. That is your best chance. Relish the opportunity.  Old West drew Powder Keg early and gave him 2 x s but that was not enough.  If Powder Keg gets to the magnificent shoot off, he will be a 4 flat shooter (.35-.45, better than 80%).  Even if you are 4 flat shooter yourself, he will at the lower end of that range.  He is a tough magnificent shooter.

Don't lament the draw! Relish the draw!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Train to Win: Mental Toughness

Old West is probably the toughest gunfighter in the Valley of the Sun right now. He is not the quickest nor the most accurate but he is the toughest. Powder Keg was but has moved to Washington. At the Four Corners, Powder Keg would have been seeded 1st or so but he drew Old West twice in the main match and Old West was clean in the main match.

Mental toughness is a combination of confidence and focus. Unless you are mentally tough you will not be competitive in cowboy fast draw.  It is the most important element. At Colorado I was tough for about 30 of 32 matches.  In the state I drew a shooter who I routinely handle on a monthly basis. I thought, "He must be hitting, but I am quicker, all I have to do is hit!" That thought cost me the match and moved me from 2nd seed to 5th seed.  In the Four Corners again I drew a shooter who I routinely handle on a weekly basis.  Again I thought, "He must be hitting, but I am quicker, all I have to do is hit!" Again that thought cost me a spot in the Magnificent Shootoff.

Any thought after the set command is bad.  Any thought about speed is bad. Any thought about hitting is bad. Any thought about your opponent is bad. Any thought about your last shot is bad. Any thought about your draw is bad. A shooter must shoot from the subconscious to shoot to their potential.  How do you do that?

We can learn a lot from professional golfers.  They are mentally tough. If they are not then they are not playing on the tour. If you watch them you will see that they go through the same pre-shot routine every time.  They evaluate the shot and chose their club (mental process).  Once they have decided on a shot they commit to it. They never second guess or think of the shot after they have made their decision. Then they go through their physical routine (physical process). Then most do a waggle, and then hit the shot.

A pro golfer pre-shot routine is what helps them be mentally tough.  Shooters need to develop a pre-shot routine 

My pre-shoot routine is this.  First shot is a guess on alignment. I evaluate the shot (mental process). Then I adjust my alignment, right and left, and my elevation.  After the adjustments I do not think about alignment or anything else.  I am committed to the shot. I do my waggle and I am a loaded spring waiting for the light to explode.  Any thought after the set command is bad.  On the second shot I have more information concerning my alignment to process.  Again evaluate the shot, make the adjustments, waggle, boom.   

Generally, I am walking my hits to the light.  A well shot match for me is one where each subsequent shot is closer to the light.  Walking the hits to the light is about mental toughness, not accuracy.  The process gives my mind something constructive to do while I am waiting for the set command.  The waggle is my signal to myself that I am ready to go, a loaded spring.  No more thoughts of any kind.  If I follow the routine, I will be a 80% or better shooter hitting as fast as I am capable.  Interestingly if I try to go fast, thinking about it, I am generally 30-40 mls slower.  My last shot at Colorado was mentally tough and my fastest of 4 days of shooting.

Slowing down to hit is a myth.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Masters, Wanna Be s, and a fair fight.

In Master Gunfighter 101 there was posted interviews by the "Masters" about techniques for speed and accuracy. I was disappointed that most of the  "masters" did not have any tips to give on accuracy training except that stampede loverboy who mentioned his horse routine. (I highly recommend the horse routine).  Kodiak did mention he shoots a lot at 5 feet which is an accuracy technique although he did not mention it as such.

Stampede Loveboy had the highest hit percentage at the Reno event, 78%, and he should have won the event going away had it been a fair fight which of course it was not, the rules being set to favor the world record holders and illegal draws.

Marshal Cooper in his interview perpetuated the myth that you have to learn to go fast first and then learn accuracy by repetition and chance.

Dismal and I have started our training for Nationals.  We are exclusively doing speed work BUT are training for accuracy subconsciously.  We are shooting at about 10 feet with the target height set appropriately for 21 foot matches. Since we are close to the target we hit 100% and see all of our hits.  Our subconscious moves us to the light even though we are just trying to go fast. These are all stimulated championship matches. Our opponents hit 100% at a speed that is just beyond our current capability. For me that is .400. I am still looking for my first stimulated championship. Dismal is 2-1 in championships.

I started Dismal's opponent at .85 which he handled in a tight match. I then moved him to .825 and by then he had gotten dialed in and handled that match with all .7s with a .675.  I then moved his opponent to .775, and the wheels came off.  He just was trying to hard for speed and could not break .800.

This is a fun routine.  It is good for getting on the light but there is no wasted wax.  You see all of your hits so your subconscious trains you for accuracy.  The 45 days to Nationals will be a good test of this technique.  My gains in speed will be small but I am hopeful I will pick up some milliseconds.  Dismal has lots to room to improve and I am hopeful he will be a 7 flat shooter (6.5 to 7.5 at 60% or better) by mid June.  If he is, who is going to beat him.  My quest is to be a 4 flat shooter, .35 to .45 at better than 60%. Not many of those out there.

"We don't practice missing!"  Alleluia Ruah.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Unintended Results!

Shady and I really had a good practice session earlier this week.  We were working exclusively on speed, specifically getting on the light quicker. We shot a combined 80% or better for the 50 rounds each session.

We started out at 5 feet, then moved back to 10 feet and then back to 15, then some back at 5 feet.  Our only focus was trying to get on the light.  We then shot from 21 feet, hitting better than 80%, I put 4 within 1 inch of the light.  Shady had 5 shells left so just for fun we moved back to 30 feet.  We hit a combined 80% from 30 feet, 4 of 5.

So why the improved accuracy when we were working exclusively on speed, getting on the light.  I think there were two main factors involved.  One was the finalization of our draws.  Neither of us were changing anything about our draws.  We were just trying to get on the light. We were not thinking of our draw or worrying about accuracy.  We were just drawing, over and over again.  By the end of the session our draws were pretty well in the groove.  My last three shots at 30 feet were within a 6 inch circle and within 5 milliseconds of each other in time. Pretty good indication of a consistent draw.

The other factor I think is the close work.  If you can see the specific location of a hit and you immediately draw again, your body and mind (subconscious)  will move your next hit towards the light.  Just let it happen.  You will get more and more accurate the deeper into the set that you go.

Levi's 3,6,9,12,15 feet technique is not only great for speed, but it will increase your accuracy.  We all are 80% or better shooters, we just need to get out of the way, and let it happen.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Move On Up

Wednesday I had a chance to help a new shooter. I think it was her first time shooting CFDA in a public setting.  She missed her first 15 shots all high, but in the same area.  I began to help her. We changed her stance, holster location, draw, got her to cock in the holster.  Lots of changes.  She is a disciplined student. If she continues, she will be good relatively quickly.  She missed the next 10 shots again high in the same area.  So we moved up to 10 feet. Once she found the target, she began to hit at a 80% rate. She got down into the sevens.

Thursday, I was at the Camp and got to observe two Top Ten caliber Top Guns practicing at 21 feet for about 20 shots. They both were hitting less than 30%.  Now I ask you what good did those 20 shots do.  There was no pattern to the misses. What did they learn.  Wasted wax.

If you can not hit the target, move on up.  Move closer.  Once you begin to hit the target and you see the exact location of the hit, your mind and body will move your hits closer and closer to the light.  It is even best if you do it without trying.  Let your subconscious make the changes.  It will. You need to learn to make those slight, small changes, changes by the subconscious.  Changes by the conscious are generally too large.  

When I start a youth out or a new shooter I like to start them at 10 feet on 24 inch target.  It boasters their confidence.  It makes it fun.  It also gives their subconscious the opportunity to adjust their draw so that they hit the target.  Success breeds success. 

But shooting up close is not only for the novice.  In practice, anytime you are having a problem finding the target, "move on up!" even if for just a few rounds.  Give your subconscious the opportunity to work for you.  It will adjust your draw in those small increments that are needed.  If you hit the center of the target at 10 feet you will hit the target at 21 feet.

I know some of you practice at the Camp.  A good practice routine at the Camp would be as follow:  Ten rounds on the clock at 5 feet. On the clock because my manta is never ever slow down.  I want to be sure I am not lollygagging.  Where on the target is important. For me that is the lower right quarter at 5 five feet, hopefully all in a five inch circle.  Then 20 rounds on the wall without the light between two lines five inches apart at five feet. Target height is crucial here, you must know your target height.  With these 20 you are finalizing your draw and chunking data.  You are putting into your subconscious how to make those small incremental adjustments to walk the hits to the light.  The last 20 can be on the light at 15 or 21 or wherever you want.  Just remember, practicing missing does not help.  Having problems finding the target, then: