March 28th, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action — Commence Fire

If you own a modern smart-phone, you have a shooting coach in your pocket. What we mean is that the video-recording capability of your smart phone can help improve your shooting. Have you ever watched yourself shooting, under match conditions? Well you may be shocked (and surprised) by what you see. Video reveals all. If you are flinching, you’ll see it. If you’re not returning your rifle to the same place on the rests after each shot, you’ll see it. If you are not maintaining a consistent cheek weld from shot to shot, you’ll see it.

If you are a serious competitive shooter (or aspire to be one), you should take a camera to the range next time you practice. Have a friend film you while you are shooting in “match-like conditions”, i.e. with time limits and a specific course of fire. After the filming session, review the video carefully.

Our IT guy, JayChris, has improved his shooting skills by filming his practice sessions and watching for gun-handling errors or other mistakes. Recently Jay won the F-Open division at the TCSA (Rattlesnake) match. Jay says his progress has been aided by video analysis:

“Video-tape yourself in match conditions (or under mock match conditions when practicing). I have video from my first season of shooting at a long range match some years ago. I can compare that to video shot in 2014. Going back to year one, I could see how much moving around I was doing. The video camera is a useful tool. I video myself every so often at the practice range, just to make sure I’m consistent. When reviewing the video, I’ve caught myself dropping a shot right after re-settling into a new position where I didn’t even notice I was doing it while shooting.”

Video analysis has helped our IT Guy, JayChris, shoot better and make fewer mistakes.
JayChris Video

Watch Your Position on Video
Jay continues: “Watching myself and other shooters on video has shown me how important it is to establish a comfortable shooting position. I used to move all over the place between shots. I spent some time getting a feel for a position where I could eject and load without breaking my cheek/shoulder weld, and that I could hold through a 20-shot string. It’s probably not as super critical as sling shooting positions, but I think it makes a big difference. It also helps ensure that your view through the scope remains the same. If you have parallax, changing your cheek weld has consequences. This includes making sure your rifle is set on the bags at a comfortable height — too high or too low and you are straining yourself and adding muscle tension into the equation.”

Use Video To Analyze Mistakes After Matches
Video can help you identify inconsistent holds and gun-handling mistakes. A video review can be part of the regular “post-mortem” you should do after every match. Bryan Litz says: “After each match, carefully analyze how you lost points and make a plan to improve. Beginning shooters will lose a lot of points to fundamental things like sight alignment and trigger control. At every step along the way, always ask yourself why you’re losing points and address the issues.”

Video can help you spot problems (such as inconsistent head position or bad trigger technique) that cost you points. We had one friend who was complaining about “mysterious horizontal” at matches. A post-match video session revealed that he was yanking the trigger to the side, rather than pulling straight back. He then consciously worked on his trigger control and his scores improved noticeably.

Video Equipment — What You Need
If you own a digital point-and-shoot camera made within the last four years, chances are you can shoot video. It may not be HD video, but it will suffice for the task of analyzing your shooting technique. Apple iPhones and iPads (and some Android phones) can take excellent video as well, but you’ll have to figure out a mounting system if you’re out by yourself. If you don’t currently own any device that can shoot video, consider one of the choices below. You can get a great camera for under $250.00 these days. The selections below all feature wide-angle capability, so you can position the camera close to the shooter. That’s important when shooting at crowded ranges. The Panasonic Lumix ZS20 has built-in GPS functionality, so you can tag your photos/videos with latitude and longitude.

One tip — you do NOT need to record at 1920×1080 Full HD resolution. It’s nice that some of the latest cameras (including the GoPro) offer this resolution, but 1920×1080 files will be HUGE, and older computers may have trouble playing back the video. For your range movies (to be viewed on a computer), we suggest you record at 720p HD.

Recommended Cameras with Video Capability

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March 28th, 2014

Pistol Instructor Training for Women at 2014 NRA Convention

Report Based on Story by Lars Dalseide in NRABlog.com
This story is for the female shooters out there. Ever think about becoming an NRA Certified Instructor? You can make that happen at this year’s NRA Convention in Indianapolis. Starting on Friday, April 25th, the first day of the Annual Meetings & Exhibits, a few dozen ladies will gather at the Indiana Convention Center for a 3-day NRA Pistol Instructor course. All the instructors are women. The entire course runs $250. That covers the course materials, range use, firearm use, ammunition and range equipment.

After all is said and done, you will be required to demonstrate solid and safe pistol handling skills and successfully complete qualification exercises as well as receive the endorsement of the NRA Training Counselor conducting the course. Accomplish that and you will become an NRA-certified pistol instructor. To learn more the NRA female instructor development program, contact Diane Danielson at femaleinstructors@nrahq.org or 703-267-3999 for an application. CLICK HERE for more details.


In this video, Tatiana Whitlock talks about becoming an NRA Certified Instructor (1:40 time mark). Tatiana is also a martial arts expert, who favors the Israeli Krav Maga self-defense system.

NRA Instructor Tatiana Whitlock Show Her Skills with Firearms and Martial Arts

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March 28th, 2014

BYOB — Build Your Own Bench with Free Plans

Serious shooters spend lots of time in the reloading room. If you want to produce great ammo, start with a good, solid bench with a very rigid working surface and plenty of storage space. Here we present three sets of FREE workbench plans. Any one of these bench designs can be a good summer do-it-yourself project for those with basic word-working skills.

Easy-to-Build Basic Bench
Simpson, maker of Strong-Tie fasteners, offers FREE Workbench Plans for a sturdy, 48″-wide bench with a pegboard backing and both upper and lower shelves. A complete list of fasteners and cut lengths is provided. For use as a loading bench with mounted presses, double-up the bench-top for extra ridigity. Without much difficulty, the plans can be adapted to build a wider bench if you prefer. The same downloadable document also contains plans for an 80″-high 6-shelf unit, a 72″-high heavy-duty shelving unit (with 4 shelves), and a 48″-wide heavy-duty table.

FREE Strongtie Bench Plans (.pdf file).

Corner Bench with Swinging Doors
The next design is rather unique — a corner bench with swing-out cabinets. This reloading bench is based on plans by M. L. McPherson as published in the October 1993 American Rifleman. The compact footprint that makes good use of corner space that is usually poorly utilized. This set of plans originally came from Ray-Vin.com. The folks who started Ray-Vin have retired.

Reloading bench plans

FREE Corner Bench Plans (330kb .pdf file)

Classic NRMA Bench with Cabinets
The last bench design is a large, versatile bench with a full set of enclosed overhead cabinets. A National Reloading Manufacturers Association (NRMA) design, this bench requires many hours to build, but it will house all your reloading gear and provide a very stable platform for your presses.This bench was designed to be as versatile as possible to meet the needs of most reloaders. However, the bench design can easily be customized. For instance, it can be made larger or smaller to meet space requirements or quantities of equipment and components. As it is currently designed, the work area is about waist-high for a 6’2″ person. This can be adjusted to fit your height simply by making the legs longer or shorter.

NRMA reloading bench

FREE NRMA Reloading Bench Plans (2.42 megabyte .pdf file).

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