After my last range session, one of the things I thought might help me get through my recent range struggles was to work with an instructor again. I knew from my previous instructor led sessions that not only did I shoot better but I also felt less anxiety about being at the range. I emailed my previous instructor, Will and gave him the rundown on how I had been shooting/feeling and we set up my next session. One of the main differences between this instructor session versus my previous was that this time I had my own pistol to bring.
As we stepped upped to our lane I proceeded to unpack and get our lane setup. Before we started shooting and even before we picked up the pistol, Will talked to me about some of the drills we would do and that the goal was to take things back to the basics. He walked through some of the shooting fundamentals and then I proceeded with dry firing. The thing is everything he was saying to me wasn't foreign at all. I had been to the range enough to understand how I should be standing, what my grip should be like, how to align my sights, and so forth. I had no issues with the dry fire practice as I never do. It's usually not until I put a live round in the gun that my anxiety seems begins to rise.
Leading up to my first shot I was still pausing a lot and trying make sure all of my fundamentals were in check and even then it wasn't very good. Will gave me a few pointers about trigger control and shot follow through and that seemed to help. From that point we started focusing on the following set drills:
- Deliberate dry fire. (Unloaded gun with no magazine)
- From high ready
- Extend while exercising the fundamentals of shooting and dry fire
- Return to the high ready starting position and repeat at least 5 times or until comfortable
- Deliberate live fire (Loaded magazines with 5 rounds each)
- From high ready
- Extend while exercising the fundamentals of shooting and fire one shot
- Return to the high ready starting position and repeat at least 15 times or until comfortable and hitting the target
- Trigger Reset Drill (Loaded magazines with 5 rounds each)
- Shoot target with 5 rounds concentrating on the trigger control/reset action
- Repeat for at least 3 magazines
- Dot Drill 1 (Loaded magazines with 10 rounds each)
- Pick 2 circles
- From high ready
- Extend and fire 5 rounds at one circle
- Return to high ready and repeat on the next circle.
- Dot Drill 2 (Loaded magazines with 10 rounds each)
- Same as above but you will not return to high ready between circles.
- Shoot 5 rounds at each of the 2 circles
- Dot Drill 3 (Loaded magazines with 10 rounds each)
- Pick 2 circles and shoot each one with 1 shot each alternating until you have finished all 10 rounds
Throughout the drills, my shots were on target and from what Will was seeing, I had/have everything down. And what we both realized (well, I already knew) that a lot of my issues were in my head. He noted that despite me saying how uneasy I felt at the range, I didn't look it. I set up the lane without any problem or instruction from him. In his eyes, it's like I've been doing this for a while.
The thing is I know that it's in my head. That apprehension I feel when I first go to shoot a live round is going to be there no matter what. After all, I have a potentially deadly weapon in my hands. It deserves respect and the responsibility is high. Once I got going shooting, I was fine. We shot approximately 205 rounds - the most I ever shot and the most action my VP9 has seen since I got it. When I got home, my barrel was still warm.
I think one of the things Will said to me that I need to keep in my mind is that my sight alignment and sight picture don't need to be perfect. They only need to be acceptable. I definitely think I was spending a lot of time ensuring those two items were perfect and that delay in shooting only got in my head even more. So in the past, I always warmed up with some dry fire and then proceeded with single round shots one at a time. One of the things Will recommended to try next is to load my magazine with 10 rounds and shoot all 10 rounds at once. Not going super fast but still using the fundamentals and this might help to get rid of some of the anxiety. Then I can start on my drills. In my head, that completely makes sense to me because I tend to take a lot of time getting that first round shot that I start to get more anxious and then I don't want to shoot. Basically, exactly what happened last time.
I feel so much better after my session with Will. Having someone with this expertise and experience telling me that everything he sees me doing is correct is definitely a good confidence booster. I'm actually looking forward to hitting the range next time.
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