Back to the range we go, it’s time to put the stress of a worldwide pandemic and return to the relatively stress free environment of the range. For those of you have already had a chance to shoot then I hope you will find some useful information here in how to improve your use of you time on the range. You want to give yourself the best chance at a productive and hopefully enjoyable session, in light of that there are a few things I would suggest that you can do to achieve this.
Manage your expectations, try and create the right mind-set for your training, this can be said of all training but most importantly during transitions. Accept what you have been able to do during your time away from the range and use the first session to assess where you are.
Making a packing/checklist – Ammo, Air, Targets & target holder, breech flag to the range and home from the range will help with your preparation. Remember to hydrate before, during and after your session and have something to eat, your energy and endurance levels may not be what they were, this only to be expected.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the range environment, chances are it will have changed due to new restrictions etc. There might be differences between your home range/dry set up and the club ranges, such as target height and lighting.
During this transition back to the range you will want to focus on the fundamentals, alignment, natural point of aim (NPA), and inner position. It’s been a long time since you were potentially on the firing point, take some extra time to make sure you are in the right place by establishing the centre point of the target and building the position from there.
Just because we are shooting live doesn’t mean we should forget our technique. Knowing your process and trusting it, writing it down, specifically your shot routine will help keep your mind focused.
There is good chance that you are physically different now depending on how lockdown has treated you……! These physical differences will affect several things, fit of the jacket and trousers, placement of the sling and kneeling roll, how you contact yourself your hip and elbow in standing and how you contact the rifle, butt plate, cheek piece, palm rest, pistol grip and trigger arrangement eye in relation to the back sight. Making a change to any of the contact points will have an effect on the others, drop the butt plate and the cheek piece will need to be adjusted too.
Now before you start reaching for the Allen keys and screwdrivers it is important to know which of the contact points feel different. It is essential to constantly refer to your NPA, muscle tensions and the overall feel of the position.
Let the gun be, if you need to make an adjustment you need to know where you are pointing first.
You are likely going to be carrying some extra tension in your body, this will transfer to your position, trying to relax may be a challenge, try utilising some positive muscle relaxation or breathing techniques to reduce them. Make notes, you need to where you are before you can make the correct adjustments.
Give yourself a bit of room for manoeuvre in your aim, by opening up the front sight which can be more forgiving in terms of movement in the hold, it will be easier to see. Adjusting the iris on the back sight will allow for any lighting discrepancies, if you’re wandering which way to move it then its best to do it by eye, don’t get bogged down in settings, use what looks right, they are adjustable for a reason!!!!! This can be a temporary change for just the first part of you training.
Don’t rush the target, the little black spot will be demanding your attention and possibly force you to rush your shot routine, ultimately this will lead to you skipping parts of your process like your pre aim and target approach. I think that shooting at a blank target is invaluable, it takes away the pressure of the aiming mark and allows you to really concentrate on your inner position and NPA.
Now I know I have mentioned the inner position and NPA more than once and this is because it is the foundation of all shooting. If you don’t know your inner position then you are going to be manipulating your NPA, which we all know leads to overall position inconsistency and cannot be maintained for an extended period of time. Incorporating some training without your kit is a very easy way to improve your understanding of which muscles are active during shooting, while also increasing your inner position knowledge.
On a final note here are some quick do’s and don’ts for your first sessions back at the range –
-Check your equipment
-Have a plan/goal
-Maximise your time on the range
-Consult your diary and make notes
-Put pressure on yourself
-Be Allen key happy
-Forget to warm up and cool down
-Forget to enjoy and have fun!
Louise Minnett - LCM400 - ISSF B Licence Coach - 07990 582498