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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A great time was had by boys and girls, men and women, young and old alike at the 2014 Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) held July 17, 2014 at Camp Perry. This year’s SAFS was a great learning experience for the hundreds of participants, ranging in age from 7 to 70.
Military Rifle Coaches and CMP Rifle Master Instructors taught marksmanship basics and fundamentals to some 472 rifle marksmen (and “markswomen”). The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Rifle Team Members conducted a classroom session in the morning, and then the Army Rifle Coaches provided “world-class” instruction on the firing line. The Rifle SAFS concluded with the Rifle Excellence in Competition (EIC) Match. SEE Match Results.
Here are photos from the CMP SAFS Photo Gallery. CLICK HERE to see hundreds more images …
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In the real world of self-defense, you can’t stand still like a bullseye target shooter*. You may need to move to cover, go to the aid of a family member, or otherwise move while being able to shoot. We’ve seen a variety of “move and shoot” drills, but most involve walking a few steps, then stopping, then moving again.
Here’s a drill that raises the degree of difficulty to another level entirely. In this video, instructor Dave Harrington engages 24 targets (one with a double-tap), while striding briskly (and continuously) on a powered treadmill. That’s right, Harrington stays on the treadmill for nearly a minute, and goes 25 for 25 with two (2) mag changes. (Shots 7 and 8 are a silhouette double-tap, for a total of 25 shots.) Harrington makes it look easy. But do you think you pull this off with no misses?
Shooting from Treadmill — Firing Sequence Starts at 1:20
Our friend Dennis Santiago, who also is a firearms instructor, says Harrington’s treadmill drill is no mean feat: “OK, this I am impressed by. This is not easy.” Another viewer commented: “That, I assure you, is a whole lot harder than it looks to run it clean like [Harrington] did.” As Harrington notes, a treadmill “is extremely unforgiving … you either possess the skill or the treadmill will take you to school.”
*That’s no knock on our bullseye shooters. They are very skilled. However, self-defense is a different challenge altogether.
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Report based on story by Kyle Jillson for NRA Blog
Summer is the time of year to get outside and have fun with family and friends. A great way to enjoy shooting with friends and family members is to attend a Brownells/NRA Day. These fun events will be held throughout the summer, at locations across the USA. These events are designed for all ages — from youngsters to senior citizens. The activities appeal to all skill levels, from first-time shooters to seasoned competitors.
Brownells/NRA Day events are fun affairs, where participants can try out a variety of different shooting disciplines. Events are always a big hit and you won’t find people as friendly and helping anywhere else. Below is a complete list of upcoming July events. If you see one nearby, go to the Brownells/NRA Day website to learn more.
Report based on Story by Kyle Jillson inNRAblog.
Air Rifle Shooters — Do you dream of winning the NRA Indoor National Championships or competing in the Olympics some day? All that may be a few years off, but you can work on becoming an NRA Distinguished Shooter in Sporter and Precision Air Rifle right now…
Making Distinguished in Air Rifle shooting is a goal that can be accomplished by a skilled, dedicated shooter in a few seasons. The discipline you learn along the way will help your overall accuracy with just about any gun. Two separate medallions and lapel pins can be earned by each individual who successfully completes the requirements for both 3-Position Precision and Sporter. Shooters who earn both awards will also receive a Double Distinguished pin.
Steps to Become Distinguish Air Rifle Shooter
So how do you become distinguished? First, you need to be an NRA member. Placing in the top-scoring 10% in a designated tournament (e.g. Indoor National Championships, National Junior Air Gun Championships) will earn a step toward an NRA Distinguished Air Gun Award. Each competitor who makes the same numerical score as the last score in the high 10% will be awarded a step toward NRA Distinguished Air Gun Award. Inner tens will not be used as part of the numerical score to break ties.
It takes a minimum of four (4) steps to be presented with an NRA Distinguished Air Gun Award and you can only earn up to two steps each year. At least one step must be earned for competition in the NRA National Air Gun Championship and Training Summit. Additionally, the steps for 3-Position Sporter Air Rifle or in 3-Position Precision Air Rifle cannot be earned simultaneously. If you’re trying to eventually get both, 3-Position Sporter Air Rifle must be completed first before you can complete steps in 3-Position Precision Air Rifle.
One of our Forum members asked: “Are there any good books on pistol marksmanship? I’m looking for a book that covers techniques and concepts….”
Good Guidebooks for Pistol Shooters
There are actually many good books which can help both novice and experienced pistol shooters improve their skills and accuracy. For new pistol shooters, we recommend the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting. This full-color publication is the designated student “textbook” for the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course.
If you’re interested in bullseye shooting, you should definitely get the USAMU’s The Advanced Pistol Marksmanship Manual. This USAMU pistol marksmanship guide has been a trusted resource since the 1960s. If you are interested in action shooting, we recommend Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals by Brian Enos, and Ben Stoeger’s new-for-2013 Practical Pistol Book. Brian Enos is a well-known pistol competitor with many titles. Ben Stoeger is a two-time U.S. Practical Pistol shooting champion and a member of the USA Team at the 2011 World Pistol Championships. Last but not least, Julie Golob’s new Shooting book covers pistol marksmanship, along with 3-Gun competition. Julie holds multiple national pistol shooting titles.
There are many guides to defensive pistol shooting, but Combat Shooting with Massad Ayoob has won praise from readers, and Ayoob is an entertaining writer. Andy Stanford is a highly respected firearms trainer. His book, Surgical Speed Shooting offers many proven techniques to shoot faster while improving your hit rates.
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The NRA now offers an online training course for its Range Safety Officer (RSO) program. The online course teaches the skills needs to conduct and supervise safe shooting activities and range operations. Online RSO Course students can access the electronic course materials for 90 days. You can complete the course in multiple sessions. The program will save your progress so you can return later.
• Introduction to the NRA Basic Range Safety Officer Course
• The Role of the NRA Range Safety Officer and Range Standard Operating Procedures
• Range Inspection and Range Rules
• Range Safety Briefing
• Emergency Procedures
• Firearm Stoppages and Malfunctions
Who Can Take the Course?: The Online RSO Course is available to anyone who currently possess a valid NRA Firearms Instructor certification or NRA Coach appointment. Course cost is $125.00. Individuals without a trainer rating must attend the in-person Range Safety Officer course consisting of both classroom time and practical exercises on a range.
Certification Procedure: Students must complete all six lessons and a short electronically administered test in order to become a certified Range Safety Officer. Once the test has been passed, newly certified Range Safety Officers will receive an electronic completion certificate that can be printed or saved to a computer.
The NRA RSO program was developed in response to the demand for a nationally-recognized range safety officer certification. More than 54,000 NRA Range Safety Officers are involved in aspects of target shooting, training, and range supervision around the USA.
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Our friend Anette Wachter, aka “30CalGal”, stars in a new video from NRAWomen.TV. In this episode of Tips & Tactics, Anette talks about the “mental game” in competition. Specifically she explains how to “visualize success”:
I have found that a lot of my success in competition has come through what I call a ‘mental rehearsal’. I actually visualize every stage of the match and I visualize the success of the match and winning the match.
I actually visualize that round going downrange into the target, and the target coming up with a dead-center ‘X’. I visualize this over and over. If you visualize success you will achieve success.
If you liked the above clip, here’s another video in which Anette offers tips for shooting with bipod:
Visualization is a process of mental preparation that is done before you get to the range. Many of the greatest shooting champions have used this technique to get ready for big matches, and to optimize their performance during record fire. If you want to enhance your “mental game” through pre-match visualization, we strongly recommend Lanny Bassham’s book, With Winning in Mind.
As a competitive smallbore 3P shooter, Bassham developed a mental management system. Using this system, Lanny Bassham won 22 world individual and team titles, set four world records, and captured an Olympic Gold Medal in Montreal in 1976. His techniques have been embraced by professional and Olympic athletes in many sports. With Winning in Mind covers a complete system of “mental management” techniques used by Olympians and elite champions.
About 30CalGal Life is short. Go Shoot! — Anette Wachter
Along with being a talented competitive shooter, Anette has her own Gun Blog, 30CalGal.com, and she writes for several gun publications including GunUp Magazine, Shooting Sports USA, Sure Shots Magazine, and Wide Open Spaces. She also designs and crafts custom jewelry items, many of which utilize cartridge cases or other shooting-themed components. You can purchase Anette’s jewelry through her AW Collections webstore.
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Report based on story by Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer/Editor
Would you like to learn AR marksmanship under the tutelage of world-class USAMU team members? Then consider attending the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Rifle Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), held Wednesday, July 16-17, during the National Rifle and Pistol Matches at historic Camp Perry. SAFS courses have been conducted at the National Matches since 1918. Hundreds of rifle participants are expected this year.
The school is structured toward teaching new shooters, so no past firearm experience is required. Intermediate shooters are also welcome to participate. Students will learn basic firing practices and competition skills. In addition to the live fire practice, students will compete in an EIC Match. All participants will be instructed by members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) and coached by Military Rifle Team Members or CMP Rifle Master Instructors.
For those already familiar with rifle shooting, an Advanced Rifle Course will also be held to provide additional class instruction and the chance to fire in a special Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) Match. Whether an experience shooter or picking up a firearm for the first time, come enjoy a day of fellowship and fun in one of America’s oldest pastimes with the security and knowledge of some of the best marksmen in the country!
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Imagine you’re out in the field and your scope fails or you have a malfunction with your iron sights (maybe the front blade snaps off). You’d think that means you can’t shoot anymore. Well think again. In fact, as Kirsten Joy Weiss demonstrates in this video, it IS possible to shoot a rifle without a scope or conventional sights — and one can do so with surprising accuracy. Trick shot artist Kirsten shows how you can align a corner of your action with a spot at the end of the barrel to aim at your target. With no sights, Kirsten manages to shoot a very respectable group — drilling 4 of 7 shots in one ragged hole.
Watch Kirsten Put 4 of 7 Shots in One Ragged Hole with No Sights
There is an excellent article about Mirage on the South Texas Marksmanship Training Center (STMTC) website. This article explains what causes mirage and how mirage can move the perceived aiming point on your target. Most importantly, the article explains, in considerable detail, how you can “read” mirage to discern wind speeds and wind directions.
Mirage Is Your Friend
While hot days with lots of mirage can be frustrating, mirage can reveal how the wind is flowing (and changing). If you learn how to recognize and read mirage patterns, you can use that information to shoot higher scores. That’s why many leading long-range shooters tell us: “Mirage is your friend.” As the STMTC article explains: “A mirage condition is not a handicap, since it offers a very accurate method of perceiving small wind changes[.]”
Mirage Illustrated with Diagrams
With simple but effective graphic illustrations, this is one of the best explanations of mirage (and mirage reading) we have found on the internet. This is a “must-read” for any serious competitive shooter. Here is a brief sample from the article, along with an illustration. NOTE: the full article is six times longer and has 8 diagrams.
The term “mirage” as used by the shooter does not refer to a true mirage, but to heat waves and the refraction of light as it is bent passing through air layers of different density. Light which passes obliquely from one wind medium to another it undergoes an abrupt change in direction, whenever its velocity in the second medium is different from the velocity in the first wind medium; the shooter will see a “mirage”.
The density of air, and therefore its refraction, varies with its temperature. A condition of cool air overlaying warm air next to the ground is the cause of heat waves or “mirage”. The warm air, having a lower index of refraction, is mixed with the cooler air above by convection, irregularly bending the light transmitting the target image to the shooter’s eye. Figure 1 shows (greatly exaggerated) the vertical displacement of the target image by heat waves.
Heat waves are easily seen with the unaided eye on a hot, bright day and can be seen with spotting scope on all but the coldest days. To observe heat waves, the scope should be focused on a point about midway to the target. This will cause the target to appear slightly out of focus, but since the high power rifle shooter generally does not try to spot bullet holes, the lack in target clarity is more than compensated by clarity of the heat waves.
Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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The ability to read the wind is what separates good shooters from great shooters. If you want to learn wind-doping from one of the best, watch this video with 2010 National High Power Champion (and U.S. Army 2010 Soldier of the Year) Sherri Gallagher. Part of the USAMU’s Pro Tips Video Series, this video covers the basics of wind reading including: Determining wind direction and speed, Bracketing Wind, Reading Mirage, and Adjusting to cross-winds using both sight/scope adjustments and hold-off methods. Correctly determining wind angle is vital, Sheri explains, because a wind at a 90-degree angle has much more of an effect on bullet lateral movement than a headwind or tailwind. Wind speed, of course, is just as important as wind angle. To calculate wind speed, Sheri recommends “Wind Bracketing”: [This] is where you take the estimate of the highest possible condition and the lowest possible condition and [then] take the average of the two.”
It is also important to understand mirage. Sheri explains that “Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air, based off the temperature of the ground. These layers … are blown by the wind, and can be monitored through a spotting scope to detect direction and speed. You can see what appears to be waves running across the range — this is mirage.” To best evaluate mirage, you need to set your spotting scope correctly. First get the target in sharp focus, then (on most scopes), Sheri advises that you turn your adjustment knob “a quarter-turn counter-clockwise. That will make the mirage your primary focus.”
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