Ernie Bishop, USA dealer for SEB Coaxial, offered this story about teaching a young boy how to shoot — passing on the heritage of marksmanship to the next generation. Ernie was working with an 8-year-old novice. With Ernie showing him the ropes, the young man was able to make hits at 1440 yards!
Teaching a Young Man about Long-Range Shooting, by Ernie Bishop
I was able to do some coaching with an eight-year-old boy shooting distance with a Savage 6.5-284 rifle (factory 1:9″-twist barrel), 3-12X Huskemaw scope, and MAC brake. Chuck McIntosh was helping as well. I can’t wait to see how this young man develops as a shooter. It was a real pleasure coaching him.
Click for Full-screen Photo
We ended the day’s shooting session with the young man making multiple connections at 1440 yards with the Savage rifle (top photo). We were very proud of this young man. During our session, the young shooter also fired a suppressed 300 Remington Ultra Magnum. The boy made managed a first-shot connection at 500 yards on a 5″ square target.
Click for Full-screen Photo
The next day I brought a couple of Specialty Pistols for our young marksman to play with. The photo shows a rear grip XP-100 with McRee chassis, chambered in .284 Winchester for 168gr SMKs. The young man went out to 850 yards with this after he got bored with 10″ targets at 400 and 500 yards (he never missed at 400 and 500!).
Click for Full-screen Photo
We ended up having switchy winds, which made things more difficult, but still fun. We also shot at 750 yards with the 6.5-284 bench pistol.
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In today’s economy, Free is good. Here’s a list of older shooting books that can be downloaded for FREE from Google Books. This list, created by German Salazar, includes many classic treatises on marksmanship that still have value for today’s competitive shooters. In addition, we’ve included illustrated firearm histories, such as Townsend Whelen’s fascinating book, The American Rifle, and The Gun and its Development (9th Ed.), by William Wellington Greener.
In the list below, the title link will take you to the Google Books page for each book. You can read the entire book online, or you can download it to your computer as a PDF file* and save it (or print it). You can also create your own Google Library and save the books there for access from any computer.
*To download a book, first click the title from the list above. Then, once you’re at the Google book site, look for the icon that looks like a gear in the upper right-hand corner. Click that and a pull-down menu will appear. Select “Download PDF” from the menu — this will bring up a security question to make sure you are a human. Respond to the security question correctly and your normal download prompt will appear. Choose a location to hold your new e-book, and click “save”.
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When a rifle isn’t shooting up to it’s potential, we need to ask: “Is it the gun or the shooter?” Having multiple shooters test the same rifle in the same conditions with the same load can be very revealing…
When developing a load for a new rifle, one can easily get consumed by all the potential variables — charge weight, seating depth, neck tension, primer options, neck lube, and so on. When you’re fully focused on loading variables, and the results on the target are disappointing, you may quickly assume you need to change your load. But we learned that sometimes the load is just fine — the problem is the trigger puller, or the set-up on the bench.
Here’s an example. A while back we tested two new Savage F-Class rifles, both chambered in 6mmBR. Initial results were promising, but not great — one gun’s owner was getting round groups with shots distributed at 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 8 o’clock, and none were touching. We could have concluded that the load was no good. But then another shooter sat down behind the rifle and put the next two shots, identical load, through the same hole. Shooter #2 eventually produced a 6-shot group that was a vertical line, with 2 shots in each hole but at three different points of impact. OK, now we can conclude the load needs to be tuned to get rid of the vertical. Right? Wrong. Shooter #3 sat down behind the gun and produced a group that strung horizontally but had almost no vertical.
Hmmm… what gives?
Well each of the three shooters had a different way of holding the gun and adjusting the rear bag. Shooter #1, the gun’s owner, used a wrap-around hold with hand and cheek pressure, and he was squeezing the bag. All that contact was moving the shot up, down, left and right. Shooter #2 was using no cheek pressure, and very slight thumb pressure behind the tang, but he was experimenting with different amounts of bag “squeeze”. His hold eliminated the side push, but variances in squeeze technique and down pressure caused the vertical string. When he kept things constant, the gun put successive shots through the same hole. Shooter #3 was using heavy cheek pressure. This settled the gun down vertically, but it also side-loaded the rifle. The result was almost no vertical, but this shooting style produced too much horizontal.
A “Second Opinion” Is Always Useful
Conclusion? Before you spend all day fiddling with a load, you might want to adjust your shooting style and see if that affects the group size and shape on the target. Additionally, it is nearly always useful to have another experienced shooter try your rifle. In our test session, each time we changed “drivers”, the way the shots grouped on the target changed significantly. We went from a big round group, to vertical string, to horizontal string.
Interestingly, all three shooters were able to diagnose problems in their shooting styles, and then refine their gun-handling. As a result, in a second session, we all shot that gun better, and the average group size dropped from 0.5-0.6 inches into the threes — with NO changes to the load.
That’s right, we cut group size in half, and we didn’t alter the load one bit. Switching shooters demonstrated that the load was good and the gun was good. The skill of the trigger-puller(s) proved to be the limiting factor in terms of group size.
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Top Shot Season 4 Champion Chris Cheng has written a new shooting skills book, Shoot to Win. This book is designed primarily for new shooters looking to master basic techniques. However, it also provides tips for all competitors, no matter what their skill levels. On the Top Shot TV show, Cheng was able to beat many more experienced marksman because he was smart, he trained methodically, and he had excellent fundamentals. He showed the world that a relative novice with proper training can prevail in head-to-head competition over more experienced shooters who may have acquired “bad habits” (technique flaws) over the years.
Chris Cheng won the title of “Top Shot,” a $100,000 cash prize, and a professional shooting contract. How did a tech support guy with limited shooting experience beat out 17 other competitors — including military snipers, police officers, and seasoned shooting pros? Well, that’s the question this book answers. Cheng covers his approach to staying calm under pressure, teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership.
Chris was excited about his new book: “Shoot to Win is coming out October 7th! This has been almost two years in the making….” The book is primarily a treatise on beginning rifle, pistol, and shotgun marksmanship. The book also how explains how Chris trained for, and then won the Top Shot competition. If you are interested in Shoot to Win by Chris Cheng, you can pre-order the hard copy book at Amazon.com right now (for October 7, 2014 release). An eBook version will be coming out later this fall as well.
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Randi Rogers of Team Comp-Tac is one of best female action shooters in the world. Still in her early 20s, Randi has already captured over 30 World and National Titles in six different shooting sports. Competing as ‘Holy Terror’, Randi has won the ladies’ division at the SASS Cowboy Action World Championships so many times, they might as well retire the Ladies’ Trophy with her name on it. Randi, who started shooting at age 11, now competes in several disciplines including Cowboy Action Shooting, USPSA, Steel Challenge, IDPA, and NRA Action Pistol. When Randi is not on the road or in the office (where she serves as Comp-Tac’s Marketing/Sales Manager), there’s a good chance you’ll find Randi on the range preparing for the next match. In this article, first published on RandiRogersShooting.com, Randi talks about the “mental game” and how she gets ready for a big match.
Preparing Mentally for a Shooting Competitionby Randi Rogers
As I head to the USPSA Nationals this weekend I have a lot of tasks to complete. One of the most important [tasks] is preparing mentally. For an experienced shooter, the mental part of shooting is more important than knowing how to pull a trigger. The mind is an amazing thing and if you/it believes something, your mind will override all the skills you have. Example: if you think that you are bad at throwing a ball you will throw the ball badly.
Over the years I have formed a few techniques to help myself with my mental game:
1. Make Peace with your Current Skills. When I get on the plane is when my mental preperation really starts. This is when I decide that I am ready to shoot, confident in my skills and can achive the goals I set for myself. From this point forward I make peace with my shooting and tell myself that if I follow my plan I will achive my goals. There is no longer any time for me to become a better shooter.
2. Set a Goal and a Plan. When I attend a shooting competition I have a goal in mind and a plan for how I want to get there. This varies on what shooting sport it is. I may have the goal that I want to place in the top half of the shooters in my division. In order to achieve that goal I may have decided that I need to concentrate on accuracy. When you set goals and plans they need to reflect all of the work you have been doing. For instance, it does not make sense to say “I will win everything” if you haven’t practiced in four years. It is important to set achievable but still challenging goals.
3. Stay Positive! Whenever you set goals or “talk” to yourself mentally it is important to stay away from negative commands and negative words. I don’t tell myself “Don’t Miss,” because this is a negative command. It is like telling a child “Don’t spill the milk.” What are they going to do? Spill the milk.
4. Stick to the Plan. As I get ready and start competing in the match sometimes my mental voice goes haywire saying things like, “that wasn’t fast enough,” “that was a huge mistake,” “look how fast they are,” “they are going to beat you” and so on. It is hard but you have to banish these thoughts. You can’t change your plan now, there is nothing that you can do to suddenly become a better shooter. Instead think of your goal and plan and repeat it to yourself over and over again. For instance, “I am going to finish in the top half of my division and I am going to shoot accurately.”
As I head into the USPSA National Championship this weekend my mental plan is to [remember] “Sights” and “Stay Aggressive.” I want to make sure I am remembering to look at my sights and shoot accurately, but I also want to make sure that I am not getting lazy. I need to move and shoot as fast as possible while still making my hits. As for my goal, I will keep that a secret for now.
Have a great next match and remember Rise to the Challenge! — Randi Rogers, Team Comp-Tac
Watch Randi Speed Through a Cowboy Action Competition Stage
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Readers often ask us: “Is there a decent, easy-to-comprehend book that can help my wind-reading?” Many of our Forum members have recommended The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters by Linda Miller and Keith Cunningham. This 146-page book, published in 2007, is a very informative resource. But you don’t have to take our word for it. If you click this link, you can read book excerpts and decide for yourself. When the Amazon page opens, click the book cover (labeled “Look Inside”) and another screen will appear. This lets you preview the first few chapters, and see some illustrations.
Other books cover wind reading in a broader discussion of ballistics or long-range shooting, such as Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting by Bryan Litz. But the Miller & Cunningham book is ALL about wind reading from cover to cover, and that is its strength. The book focuses on real world skills that can help you accurately gauge wind angle, wind velocity, and wind cycles.
All other factors being equal, it is your ability to read the wind that will make the most difference in your shooting accuracy. The better you understand the behavior of the wind, the better you will understand the behavior of your bullet. — Wind Book for Rifle Shooters
The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters cover the techniques and tactics used by expert wind-readers. There are numerous charts and illustrations. The authors show you how to put together a simple wind-reading “toolbox” for calculating wind speed, direction, deflection and drift. Then they explain how to use these tools to read flags and mirage, record and interpret your observations, and time your shots to compensate for wind. Here are some reviews from actual book buyers:
I believe this is a must-have book if you are a long-range sport shooter. I compete in F-Class Open and when I first purchased this book and read it from cover to cover, it helped me understand wind reading and making accurate scope corrections. Buy this book, read it, put into practice what it tells you, you will not be disappointed. — P. Janzso
If you have one book for wind reading, this should be it. Whether you’re a novice or experienced wind shooter this book has something for you. It covers how to get wind speed and direction from flags, mirage, and natural phenomenon. In my opinion this is the best book for learning to read wind speed and direction. — Muddler
As far as I know this is the only book of its type. It’s very well written in a way that’s easy to understand for such a complex subject. The charts and graphs are extremely helpful. It’s a bit on the short side at about 146 pages but still packed with knowledge. — R. Johnson
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In the archives of On The Mark magazine, DCM Emeritus Gary Anderson, an Olympic Gold medal-winning shooter in his younger years, offers sage advice for competitive shooters.
In his article Ten Lessons I Wished I Had Learned as a Young Shooter, Anderson provides ten important guidelines for everyone involved in competitive shooting. Here are the Ten Lessons, but you should read the full article. Anderson provides detailed explanations of each topic with examples from his shooting career.
LESSON 1 – NATURAL ABILITY WILL NOT MAKE YOU A SHOOTING CHAMPION.
(You also need hard work, training effort and perseverance.)
LESSON 2 – ANGER IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD SHOOTING.
(The key to recovering from a bad shot is to stay cool, no matter what happens.)
LESSON 3 – BAD SHOTS CAN TEACH YOU MORE THAN GOOD SHOTS.
(Today, error analysis is one of the most powerful tools for improving scores.)
LESSON 4 – NEVER GO WITHOUT A SHOT PLAN.
(A shot plan is a detailed breakdown of each of the steps involved in firing a shot.)
LESSON 5 – PRACTICE IN BAD CONDITIONS AS WELL AS GOOD CONDITIONS.
(Most competitions are fired in windy conditions or where there are plenty of distractions.)
LESSON 6 – CHAMPIONS ARE POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE.
(Negative shooters expect bad results; positive shooters expect to train hard to change bad results.)
LESSON 7 – IT’S NOT ABOUT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE.
(It’s about how hard you try to win.)
LESSON 8 – YOUR DOG WON’T BITE YOU AFTER SHOOTING A BAD SCORE.
(Hopefully your coach, parents and friends won’t bite you either.)
LESSON 9 – YOUR PRESS CLIPPINGS CAN HURT YOU OR HELP YOU.
(Winning can go to our heads. We start thinking we are so good we don’t have to work hard any more.)
LESSON 10 — YOU NEVER SHOT YOUR BEST SCORE.
(Great champions are always looking for ways to improve.)
About Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson served as the Director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) from 1999-2009, and is now DCM Emeritus. As a Nebraska farmboy, Gary grew up hunting and shooting. Dreams of winning an Olympic Gold Medal in shooting led Gary to the U.S. Army. In 1959, he joined the elite U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Just two years later, he won his first national championship.
At the 1962 World Shooting Championships in Egypt, Anderson stunned the shooting world by winning four individual titles and setting three new world records. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Gary won the 300m free-rifle Gold Medal, setting a new world record in the process. At the 1966 World Shooting Championships in Germany, Anderson won three additional world titles. At the 1968 Olympics, Gary won a second gold medal in the 300m free-rifle event.
Gary retired from active international competition after the 1969 World Championships in Spain, where he set a 50m, three-position world record. After his “retirement” from international competition, Gary competed in the National High Power Championships, winning the President’s National Trophy in 1973, 1975 and 1976. Over his competitive career, Anderson won two Olympic Gold Medals, seven World Championships, and sixteen National Championships. No American has ever won more major shooting titles.
Gary’s influence on shooting sports extends beyond the United States. Gary has attended eleven Summer Olympic Games, three as a competitor and eight as technical delegate or a jury member. Gary is the first American ever elected as Vice President of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), and still serves in that capacity. In 2012, Gary received the International Olympic Committee’s highest honor, the Olympic Order.
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Ben Emms of Australia won the U.S. Fullbore Championship with an 891-114V score. One point back, Nancy Tompkins finished second, earning the Silver Medal with 890-105V. Michigander Charles Hayes won the F-TR division with 807-34V.
For the “slings and irons” Target Rifle competitors, the individual championship came down to a ten-person Shoot-Off. Americans fared well. Along with Tompkins’ second-place finish, Kelly Bachand placed fifth, Trudie Fay was eighth, Steven Powell finished ninth, and SSG Shane Barnhardt was tenth. Overall, that was a great showing by Americans. This bodes well for the 2015 Fullbore World Championship at Camp Perry.
Today the Fullbore Championships conclude with Palma Team matches. The top shooters are on the firing line, doing their best for their teams and respective countries.
Annette Wachter, aka “30 Cal Gal” offers this report from yesterday: “Here is my Award for most awesome team shirt. Saturday was a crazy morning. I got into position to shoot and there was zero wind. But by the time I took a shot it went to 11 minutes! I Got blown off the target twice. Had to laugh. Nothing I could do. I held great elevation though.”
Competitor’s Report from Kelly Bachand, Kelly’s Gun Sales
Well it all turned out pretty darn well. I was in 7th place in the grand aggregate at the beginning of the day. After the first match of the day I dropped to 10th, and after shooting one of the best strings I’ve ever shot in my life I moved up to 3rd! I then shot in the Top 10 Shoot-Off to determine the final standing and I ended up 5th overall. I’m really quite pleased with this result and I feel very blessed.
Click No Bang — You Have to Load the Rifle!
Going into the final string at 1000 yards I felt myself starting to get a little worked up. I stopped and prayed and really worked at calming myself down. I got in position and got ready to shoot, loaded my first round, made my wind call and took the shot. “Click”. It didn’t go off and worse still I jerked the heck out of the trigger. It’s odd that it didn’t go off, but it happens once in a while, I usually just cock the rifle again and the round goes off on the second try. I line up the sights again, “Click”. Yikes! I jerked the trigger again and there must be something wrong with my rifle! I pull the bolt back and check the end cap, it’s not loose, so I go to eject the round to inspect it and I discover that I never loaded the rifle to begin with! That really calmed me down, quite a lot. I was almost laughing at myself on the line.
Reading the Wind
After the embarassing “click no bang” sequence, I picked an indicator — there was a flag almost pointing at me, and I used it to judge the angle changes. I watched other flags and the mirage for velocity changes and I tried my best to break good shots, and it worked. It was as if God helped me break the right shots at the right time. On a number of occasions I took a shot I called on one side or the other and the wind had either picked up or let off in such a way that if I hadn’t shot it exactly where I did then I would have lost points (calling a shot is just guessing where the shot will be based on how it felt and what it looked like when the gun went off). It was awesome. I ended up with a 75-8V, one of only five 75s that were shot on that string. This means that in 10-15 mph crosswinds, from 1000 yards away, with iron sights, and supported by a sling, I kept 15 consecutive shots inside an area less than two feet across with more than half of them in an area less than one foot across.
The Top 10 Shoot-Off
Since this match is a dress rehearsal for the World Long Range Championships next year there is then a shoot off among the top 10 scoring competitors. Fifteen more shots at 1000 yards and the score from that additional string is added to each shooter’s running total. The overall winner is the one with the most points.
During the Shoot-Off, the wind had picked up a little more, but not much. The biggest challenge I had was that the wind had such a speed that even from prone and with a sling the rifle was no longer steady. Instead the rifle sights were bouncing around as if I was shooting standing. So it was no longer good enough to simply have a good handle on the wind, we now also needed to squeeze the shot off at precisely the right moment. Needless to say some shooters excelled and some did not. Nancy Tompkins impressed everyone present by shooting a 75-7V in these conditions. I had a 70-4V which moved me from 3rd place to 5th place overall.
So I just got 5th place in the U.S. Fullbore Nationals and I’m honestly quite blown away by that result. There were some of the best shooters in the world present. Some of the other countries brought the same shooters who will compete next year in the World Long Range Championships — they were here. This also served as a try-out session for the U.S. Palma Team so many of the best shooters from the USA were present and competing. And then there is me. I’ve shot just two matches this year: a local 1000 yard match back home, and these Nationals. I practiced about half a dozen times and usually at less than 200 yards before coming to Nationals. Yet, despite the many reasons I shouldn’t have done well here, God saw fit to bless me and helped me to shoot very well.
Most of us can figure out how to zero our rifles at 100 yards. But do you know how to get a solid zero at long range — as far as 1000 yards? You need to know your ballistics, otherwise you may waste a lot of ammo “sprayin’ and prayin’”. You definitely need to know your exact muzzle velocity, within a few FPS. This is not as simple as it seems, because it is not uncommon for chronograph results to be off by 10 to 20 fps or more, just through calibration error. Accordingly, you may want to test with a pair of chronos and record the results from each (you may be surprised at the variances).
Video Illustrates Zeroing Process
The process of zeroing rifles for long range is covered in a new “Firearm Science” video from the NRA. This video features George Reinas, a popular competitor on the Top Shot TV Show. George demonstrates how to adjust his scope to compensate for bullet drop at long range. Our friend Dennis Santiago was involved in the making of this video, which was filmed at the Burbank Rifle & Revolver Club in Southern California. The video is narrated by the talented Jessie Duff, one of America’s best action shooters.
When zeroing at long range, you should first consult a good ballistics program. Select your baseline zero distance (such as 100 yards), then plug in the MV along with salient environmental factors: Altitude, Air Pressure, Temperature, Humidity. After you enter bullet BC, your ballistics program will calculate the drop to the target, expressed in MOA or Mils. Some programs will actually list the number of clicks up from your current zero.
You can print out the data from your ballistics solver as a “drop chart” that can be attached to your rifle stock. If you shoot at various altitudes you may need multiple drop charts.
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Todd Jarrett is one of the world’s best handgun shooters. A multi-time World Champion, Todd knows a thing or two about semi-auto pistols, particularly 1911s and 1911-based raceguns. Jarrett holds four World titles, nine National titles and has won more than 50 Area championships, as well as many other action shooting events. Jarrett is the only USPSA Triple Crown Winner and he holds four USPSA National titles: Open, Limited, Production, and Limited-10. Jarrett revealed in an interview that between 1988 and 2001 he shot about 1.7 million rounds during practice: “I had a gun in my hand for two hours every day for 10 years to develop my skill level”.
In the video below, Todd explains how to get the proper grip on your handgun, and how to employ a proper stance. We’ve watched many videos on pistol shooting. This is one of the best instructional videos we’ve seen. Todd explains, in easy-to-understand terms, the key elements of grip and stance. One very important point he demonstrates is how to align the grip in your hand so that the gun points naturally — something very important when rapid aiming is required. If you watch this video, you’ll learn valuable lessons — whether you shoot competitively or just want to have better control and accuracy when using your handgun defensively.
Related Article: Thumbs-Forward Shooting Grip for 1911s
“Shooting semiautomatic pistols using the thumbs-forward method really becomes useful … where speed and accuracy are both needed. By positioning the thumbs-forward along the slide (or slightly off of the slide) you are in essence creating a second sighting device: wherever your shooting thumb is pointing is where the pistol is pointing. This makes it incredibly fast to draw the pistol, get your proper grip, and press forward to the target without needing to hunt around for the front sight.” — Cheaper Than Dirt Blog, 9/13/2010.
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Competitive shooting is one of the few sports where people with physical disabilities and handicaps can compete side-by-side with their able-bodied counterparts. The NRA’s Disabled Shooting Services Program helps disabled shooters participate in NRA rifle and pistol competitions. The NRA’s Special Authorization Card allows disabled competitors to shoot from a modified position or wheelchair based on the type of disability or handicap.
Jessi McClain, NRA Disabled Shooting Services Coordinator explains how allowances are made: “Physical limitations may prevent a shooter from getting into a certain position to compete. For example, a paraplegic person can’t shoot from the standing position, so [he] would use an adaptive shooting position to compete”.
To obtain a Special Authorization Card, competitors can download two forms online. The first is to be completed by the shooter, and the second by his/her doctor. Forms can then be sent to NRA Headquarters along with pictures of the modified shooting position and/or adaptive device being used to compete. The Manager of the specific shooting discipline (rifle, pistol, air gun, etc.) then reviews the request. If approved, a temporary card good for one year is issued. For juniors, Special Authorization Cards are issued for several years at a time so that re-evaluations can be completed as children’s bodies change.
The medical waiver application is fairly simple and consists of two documents. The first form, the Competitor Application, should be filled out by the shooter. The second document is a Medical Form that must be completed by the competitor’s physician.
Once received, the applications are reviewed by the NRA. After approving the application, the competitor will receive a card authorizing him/her to use the adapted position or equipment. The Authorization Card must be shown to the Match Director prior to the start of any competition.
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Tyrel Cooper of Creedmoor Sports will be competing at Camp Perry this summer. A past member of the USAMU, Cooper’s shooting resume includes five national championships (one each in 2008, 2011, 2012, and two in 2013). He is the current (2013) NRA National Long Range Champion, and reigning (2013) NRA National Service Rifle Champion. In this article, Cooper offers advice to other competitive shooters.
Below is a 2012 file photo of SSG Ty Cooper shooting a service rifle. Cooper won the 2013 NRA National High Power Rifle Long Range Championships with a final score of 1243-71X. In the Long Range Championships, Cooper used a Nesika-actioned bolt gun with long barrel chambered in 7mm SAUM.
Mental Preparation by Tyrel Cooper
Getting focused mentally is an important part of preparation for Perry. I have shot two long range team matches and a no-sighter, 50-shot across-the-course match since last Perry — that’s it. So I expect to be a little rusty but at the same time I am preparing myself to win mentally. I am telling myself “I am the 2014 Nation Champion”. Now my goal hasn’t been to be the Service Rifle National Champion; no, my goal the last 4 years has been to be the overall National Champion and do it with a Service Rifle. Now I haven’t achieved that goal and with today’s rifles and calibers it might never happen. The purpose of this goal is to look past a service rifle and go after everyone.
In 2011 I was chasing Sherri Gallagher, since then I have been chasing Brandon Green and last year almost got him. If I get beat by a Service Rifle I am going to make him or her work for it. So there is your peak into my mental process. I go for the top and if I am hanging with them then the Service Rifle National Championship will come, Kind of like how I shoot for X’s and Tens will come.
Now I understand everyone is at different levels. You have to figure out what your goals are and then lie to yourself that you’ve already achieved them. Here is a trick that I used back in 2008: When I was a kid just starting out, my Dad made me read several books on shooting. One of them being With Winning In Mind by Lanny Bassham. One of the things I remember from his book is that he would make notes and place them where he would see them often. They contained his goals or stated he was already a world champion. I took a page from his book and did the same thing.
I made 3×5 cards and wrote my personal best 500 and 800 aggregate scores and taped on the horn of my truck, above the radio in my truck, on my laptop and a few other places I would see them often. Every time I saw those I would tell myself that I average those scores and I would get used to seeing them. By doing this you are lying to yourself to overcome the mental blocks the subconscious mind lays out for you.
I went from my worst year in 2007 to winning my first National Championship in 2008. I kind of slacked off in 2009 because I had reached my goals and didn’t set new ones and it showed, so I had to find new goals and motivation which I did and that pushed me back to the top.
Long story short, this is a mental sport and you have to figure out what you need to do to perform at your highest levels and breaking through those mental road blocks. You have to figure out how to get yourself to relax and control your mind keeping calm when you are shooting a personal best, either standing or on the day.
Here is a tip from my mental process from shooting. First I shoot for Xs, I took the line from the movie The Patriot and applied it to my shooting, “Aim small, miss small” and it is true. If you accept wide shots then you will keep shooting wide shots.
Slow, Solid, Smooth, Center
Always focus on the positive and good shots, and what you did physically and mentally, when you shot them. When I am nervous and need to calm myself down I tell myself: slow, solid, smooth, center.
I want my movement to be slow… I can shoot tens and Xs all day with slow movement.
Solid like a rock, a rock doesn’t move and that’s how I want my positions. By saying solid it reminds me to go through my little checks to make sure I am doing what I need to do make that happen.
Smooth — that is my trigger word for smooth movement. You don’t want fast choppy movement but slow and smooth. This also reminds me to be smooth on the trigger. You can be smooth-fast or you can be smooth-slow but you have to be smooth and most people aren’t when they think they are. Just before leaving the USAMU, I walked up and down the line of five shooters during a rapid fire string and only one of them was smooth with their trigger control. It’s the second most important thing when it comes to shooting.
This reminds me that I want my shots in the middle. It is just a positive reinforcement of where I want my shots to go. I shoot a reverse flat tire so it also kind of reminds me as to what I am looking for.
Organizing Your Gear
[This year] I have all new gear, a new place, and I am creating a new system. Coming from the Army Marksmanship Unit, I had years to develop and refine my system from my daily routines, to my gear, and to my set-up process. I wanted to share with you a little bit of what I am going through right now.
I went and shot a match at [Fort] Benning a few weekends ago and I had more issues with my gear and system than I did with the act of shooting, it was frustrating and I didn’t like it one bit. So in my preparation for Perry, I took all of my gear apart in my living room and started over. I went through as if I was going to shoot a match; placing gear where I wanted it in or on my Creedmoor Range Cart. There is a lot to be said for having a system and not having to worry about where your gear is or isn’t. Once I got all of my gear in place, I put my new Ron Brown Sling on my rifle and dry fired a little bit. Worked on sitting and prone to figure out what sling notches I would need to use and how my new glove/mitt combination would work. My gear is set and ready to go in my living room, and even though I am not leaving until Sunday, I am setting all the shooting gear and equipment aside to make sure I have everything I need.
If you don’t have a system with your gear where everything has its place or certain spot, then I would suggest you start working on one. When it comes to a match, you don’t want to be searching for something or worrying if it was forgotten at home.
If you have a good system, it allows you to focus on the important things such as how to get your mind in your little bubble, working on what you need to think about to shoot Xs, and thinking about whatever reminders you need to think about to get you to perform at your highest level.
My reminder that I ask myself when I am setting up my gear either in my living room or getting ready to head down range is this: Scope, mat, rifle, stool, jacket, sweatshirt, sling, glove, ammo, mags, data book, and ear plugs. This is the most important stuff that I can’t shoot a match without. I always have extra pens, flags and small stuff in my stool.
Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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