Learn To Call Your Shots
by John Tate
I think the first time I saw this in action was at Quantico, in the mid 80s. I was scoring for a Maj Schmacher (SP?), an Army shooter. He was GOOD! We were at the 600 yd line. He was shooting 10s & Xs … just kept shooting center. (I was a true rookie and couldn’t imagine how someone could do that.) Then, out of the blue, he got up, went over to his armorer, and handed him his M14. The armorer did some magic (maybe tightened the gas plug?), and Schumacher came back, got in position, and started shooting 10s and Xs again. I think he finished with a 195.
But the real lesson is for young shooters who refuse to blame their equipment; kids who don’t know how to say, “I didn’t do that!”
One was a police sniper (Virginia Beach PD; SWAT Team “B.”) He’d just gone to sniper school. Came back, and he couldn’t hit the side of a barn. His boss, SGT Ken Stolle, was a friend and asked me to help. So I watched the kid shoot. Perfect gun (tricked Rem 700 in 308?), and perfect form … and a 3″ group at 100 yds. So I told him: “Get up; give me that gun.” Same result – lousy group. Now I knew I could shoot! So it had to be the gun or ammo. I hand loaded some stuff and BINGO, well under 1″ groups. The ammo he had just didn’t fit the gun. But the kid had no self-confidence. The sniper and I both were shooting prone with sling; otherwise, unsupported. Once the kid learned he and the gun could shoot, he was OK again.
The second instance was at FLETC when I went there for F/A instructor school. All 30 or so of the students were supposed to be good shooters. But one young fellow was awful … and kept getting worse. Like the sniper, he never challenged his equipment. Sure enough, eventually his rear sight fell off! Once that was repaired, he shot like a champ. But the kid had no self-confidence and had been trained, like we all have been, “It’s a poor craftsman who blames is tools.”
But – guns do break. Things come loose. Ammo goes bad. AND THE WIND CHANGES. So calling your shot is a vital skill. And dry fire with positive follow through will instill that skill.
As one of my idols (along with you, my friend) says: “DRY FIRE, DRY FIRE, DRY FIRE and take your dry fire very seriously. That is how you improve every part of your technique.” And I promise one of the conscious activities during Sanderson’s extended follow through must be noticing and remembering “where were the sights when the hammer fell,” that is, calling your shot.