Recoil Anticipation

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I’d argue that recoil anticipation (also known as flinch, pre-ignition push, trigger jerk, and a variety of cuss words…) is the single biggest detriment to novice shooters. Novice here also includes gun owners, law enforcement, and military personnel with years and decades of “experience” that never developed shooting ability beyond passing routine qualification.

Learning how to overcome (or at least greatly reduce) the very natural tendency to react to recoil, noise, flash, and movement of a discharging firearm while attempting to maintain alignment on target is the most single most important thing a firearm user can do to improve proficiency. This also increases the ability to followthrough and call shots, critical to refining a shot process.

The lack of attention paid to this critical element of successful shooting is the biggest reason why many gun owners, law enforcement, and military personnel never progress beyond the elementary, initial, basic skill levels used during initial entry , basic, academy training. Far too many personnel are even aware of this being an issue and most of them completely fail to actively address it.

For intermediate shooters, DRY FIRE DOES NOT FIX RECOIL ANTICIPATION BECAUSE KNOWLEDGE CHANGES EXECUTION . Here’s the proof right here and this is extremely common. Slight disruption to the gun sufficient to cause a miss as distance increases. At close range, people often chalk this off to sight picture when actuality it’s a slight case of recoil anticipation. Take this back to 15 or 25 yards, it’s a miss. This drill works great with a partner but if you’re working alone, try mixing in some dummy rounds. Facts not opinions is what I am after. Hold yourself accountable and fix your deficiencies.

Note, this doesn’t mean that dry practice isn’t useful and won’t help at all. Continued dry practice will continue to enhance (or at least maintain) the ability to more rapidly obtain sufficient alignment on target and manipulate the trigger without causing disruption. The point is that after a certain point of development, dry practice alone won’t magically fix recoil anticipation because it’s purposely done dry/empty (obviously) and knowledge of that removes that tendency. Only intelligent exposure to live fire, preferably done with dummy rounds (skip loading and other approaches) and perhaps additional feedback from sensors (MantisX, SCATT, etc.), can do this.

If you want to get stronger, you need to subject yourself to the stress of lifting heavier weight, preferably done with intelligently-programmed increases. If you want to eliminate recoil anticipation, you need to subject yourself to recoil, preferably done with intelligently-programmed intermittent exposures (training partner loads as demonstrated below, dummy rounds, intermix shooting with lower recoiling firearm/cartridge, etc.)

https://www.facebook.com/114008039194217/videos/vb.114008039194217/435200330372416/

More on this:

https://firearmusernetwork.com/grooving-bad-habits/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/training-and-habits/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/misplaced-tactical-training/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/pistol-shooting-questions/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/head-shots-are-still-misses/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/shooting-basics-uspsa-idpa-ipsc/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/dummies-steal-dummy-rounds-smart-shooters-use-them/

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Dental Hygiene Level Effort

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One of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered when trying to help shooters (military, law enforcement, and civilian/private gun owners alike) is that it wouldn’t take much effort to make a marked improvement.

My advice to LE students at the academy I instructed for was a simple dry practice routine:
Five careful “shots”
Five presentations from the duty holster

Do this in the locker/ready room at the start and end of each shift. The officers were gearing up/down and checking equipment anyway, so adding this only takes a minute or two. However, even for those skipping half the sessions would end up with well over a thousand quality “shots” and presentation reps before the end of their rookie year taking no real amount of time and costing nothing.

Everybody that bothered to do it reported their next qualification went notably better with a much improved score. Amazingly enough…

I refer to this as the dental hygiene level of effort. Dedicate about the same amount of time it takes to brush and floss your teeth every day to learning a new skill can yield long-term results.

The big problem was how few bothered to do so.

Solving Dunning-Kruger Effect

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Dunning–Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability or skill maintain illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their ability, skill, and/or experience as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority comes from the inability of low-ability people to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition (an awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes), low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

Dunning–Kruger Effect impacts all humans and everyone (including you and me) is potentially susceptible. It has been recognized by many people over the course of human history. Dr. David Dunning and his graduate student Justin Kruger established a variety of test methodologies to measure this phenomenon and published a formal research paper about their found results.

David McRaney is the host of the excellent You Are Not So Smart podcast. He recounts when he first realized the Dunning-Kruger Effect impacted him.

I remember the first time in my life that I really recognized that [Dunning-Kruger Effect] was true.

In college, I staged a fighting game tournament where I set up all these video game systems and I invited people from around the country to the university to play. We had a group of friends – it was like, 8 to 10 people in our hometown who played this game – and we thought that we were amazing at it. We thought that we were the best in the world and I had no problem inviting the champions at this game from around the country to come to play against us.

Every single one of us lost our matches immediately. Like, we didn’t even place. We didn’t even come close. We were absolutely destroyed. And I remember all of us sort of shaking our heads and rubbing our temples and thinking, “How could we not just be not okay but actually suck? I mean, how is that possible?”

I bet that sort of thing happens a lot amongst people who are sort of at the amateur level and feel that they have achieved something.

Every human is susceptible to Dunning-Kruger Effect. The challenge is to be willing to find the means to overcome it. Because this is a cognitive bias – a mistake in reasoning, evaluating, and/or remembering – nobody can reliably do it on their own. As McRaney’s example illustrates, it was only after he and his friends organized a tournament, invited everyone that was interested and thought they were good, and measured the results did he finally snap out of his delusion of competence.

Dr. David Dunning confirms this is the path to solving Dunning-Kruger Effect.

“Why don’t people know themselves?”

You begin to realize that there are just some really big barriers to knowing yourself. That’s if you make it a private task that only you are engaged in. If you don’t talk to [and engage with] other people.

If you talk to other people, they can be sources of invaluable insight into yourself. Some of these insights may be unpleasant. Also, just watching what other people do and benchmarking what you do versus what they do can be a source of insight. It takes a village, if you will, for a person to know themselves.

We engaged in a number of studies where we exposed people to others who are performing very poorly to performing extremely well and what we find is that the collective is pretty good at knowing who’s bad.

A last hint is to ask, “Are you vaguely embarrassed by things you did 5 or 10 years ago?” And if you are, that means you’re improving. I mean, if you think about the self you were 10 years ago and you’re not embarrassed by something that you did, you might be off the task.

TL;DR
Go shoot a match or compete in something outside your unit or immediate group of friends once in a while. If you don’t, you’re almost certainly a victim of Dunning-Kruger Effect and are not able to even realize it.

Full interview with Dr. David Dunning:

YANSS Podcast 036 – Why We Are Unaware that We Lack the Skill to Tell How Unskilled and Unaware We Are


As measured ability/knowledge improves, so does the awareness and self estimate of that ability/knowledge. The top 20% will tend to underestimate their measured ability/knowledge.

It’s worth pointing out that it is wrong to believe the D-K effect applies only to people who are “incompetent.” This is wrong on two levels. The first is that the DK effect does not apply only to “incompetent people” but to everyone, with respect to any area of knowledge.

It is important to how the D-K effect is interpreted. The vast majority of people who bring it up seem to think that it applies only to dumb people and that it says dumb people think they are smarter than smart people. Neither of these things are true. Further – if you think it only applies to other people (which itself, ironically, is part of the DK effect) then you miss the core lesson and opportunity for self-improvement and critical thinking.

More:

Misunderstanding Dunning-Kruger

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2017/01/24/the-dunning-kruger-effect-shows-why-some-people-think-theyre-great-even-when-their-work-is-terrible/

Think, Don’t Plink

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https://www.tacticalperformancecenter.com/blogs/the-dump-pouch/110306694-designing-a-practice

One of our mottos here at the Tactical Performance Center is “think don’t plink.” More than just a catchy phrase, there is deep wisdom in this statement: each round you fire should have a purpose.

I have lived by this motto and every shot I have fired, of my own ammo, in the last eight years has had one of three purposes:

Does the gun work?
Did my outcome match my intent?
Did I follow the process I wanted to follow to release this shot?

Unfortunately, this approach is rarely seen at the range. Too often I see shooters simply turning money into noise without gaining performance improvement. Occasionally I’ll even have a shooter tell me something like “Yeah, great practice. 1,000 rounds down range.” They grow quiet though when I respond with “Great! Did you get 200 bucks of improvement?”

As shooting becomes more expensive and the reasons we shoot–whether it be training to defend our life, protect the public, or win a match–have become more pressing, we owe it to ourselves, and those we protect, to be as good as we can be.

The good news is that improving our performance doesn’t mean that we need to spend more money on ammo or even more time at the range. We just need to build better practices!

At our TPC boot camps, we do just this. While we focus on principles and fundamentals for world class shooting, these concepts are new to most and unlikely to stick after just three days of instruction. For that reason, we also teach our students how to design practices that lock in those fundamentals and improve the speed and consistency with which they can deliver shots.

Here is how we work with our students to develop a practice:

START WITH THE FUNDAMENTALS

Start and end with the fundamentals of grip, stance, isolating the trigger, letting recoil happen, calling shots, and active follow through. If these are not holding, stop and work on just them. If you have 200 rounds, use a large percent of them here.

ONLY DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO WITH LIVE FIRE

You can perfect a reload with very little live fire but a lot of dry practice. We can hone technique dry and then measure or experiment live.

THINK SMALL, LOOK SMALL

I recently had a fellow instructor who was visually leaving targets early in a rush to get to the next target. This was causing misses and hurting his competition performance. Together we designed an *exercise using dots focused on follow thru. He did this exercise with 100 rounds a day, over two days. At his next performance at a large competition he found that his problem was solved.

*Note that we designed an “exercise”, not a drill. We want to improve a fundamental skill that we can reuse elsewhere, purposefully, not just as a series of sequences where we can fool ourselves with improvement by memorizing a sequence of actions.

END WITH THE FUNDAMENTALS

We used this process to design a 200-round practice with a group of students at a recent boot camp. Our “look small” goal was to improve our ability to isolate the trigger, including under speed stress. The class had wisely deduced that a lot of low hanging fruit in improving their performance could be found in the trigger pull.

Here is what our practice looked like:

  • 75 dots, dry, focusing on a different element of the shooting cycle on each row
  • 75 dots, live, focusing on isolating the trigger on each dot (3 shots per dot)
  • 40 alpha exercise (from the Army Marksmanship Unit Action Shooting team)
  • ½ USPSA metric target, at 15 yards (this simulates a 30 yard shot)
  • 40 shots, in 5 shot strings, as fast as the sights present what you need to see
  • Strong focus on isolating the trigger
  • 75 dots, live, focusing on isolating the trigger on each dot (3 shots per dot)
  • 75 dots, dry, focusing on isolating the trigger on each dot and active follow through

This practice took 190 rounds and an hour and a half to complete. Every person on the line got 20+ Alphas, with some in the high 30’s. When I asked them “was that worth 1.5 hours and 20 bucks in ammo?” the universal answer was that it was the best experience shooting, in terms of improvement, they’d ever had.

Now imagine doing that twice a week. How good would you get with $40 a week in ammo and three hours of your time?

I encourage you to bring PURPOSE and PLANNING to your practices. You will improve at a dramatic rate and the gains will be more permanent.

Think, don’t plink!

Competitive Shooting: Not Just a Game

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Field Notes Ep. 13, Competitive Shooting with Robert Vogel, Not Just a Game.

It’s worth noting that Mr. Vogel won his first national championship using the same firearm he carried on duty as a law enforcement officer.

More from Robert Vogel:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/tag/robert-vogel/

Definitions: Training, Instruction, Practice

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From Merriam-Webster

develop, development

  • to set forth or make clear by degrees or in detail
  • to make visible or manifest
  • to work out the possibilities
  • to create or produce especially by deliberate effort over time
  • to make active or promote the growth of
  • to make available or usable

process

  • progress, advance in the process of time
  • a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result
  • a series of actions or operations conducing to an end; especially: a continuous operation or treatment

training

  • a process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job
  • the process by which an athlete prepares for competition by exercising, practicing, etc.
  • the act, process, or method of one that trains
  • the skill, knowledge, or experience acquired by one that trains
  • the state of being trained

practice

  • to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient
  • to train by repeated exercises
  • to be professionally engaged in

instruction

  • direction calling for compliance
  • the action, practice, or profession of teaching
  • instructions (plural), an outline or manual of technical procedure

education

  • the action or process of educating or of being educated; also: a stage of such a process
  • the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process a person of little education
  • the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools

coaching
[from the concept that the tutor conveys the student through examinations]

  • a private tutor hired a coach to help her daughter prepare for the test
  • one who instructs or trains; especially one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport

Training classes are NOT, I repeat NOT making you a better shooter….GASP, what did he say? | masf.co

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https://gatdaily.com/training-classes-are-not-i-repeat-not-making-you-a-better-shooter-gasp-what-did-he-say/

Training classes are NOT, I repeat NOT making you a better shooter….GASP, what did he say? That’s right, taking a weekend class with your favorite instructor does not make you a better shooter. I don’t care if you take 10 classes a year. Taking a class does nothing more than give you ideas, theories and mental stimulus or “tools” for the proverbial “toolbox”. Improvement happens with purposeful and regimented practice wherein the tools you gain from those classes can be utilized toward a goal that is worked for. That’s how you make the training classes pay off.

http://masf.co/2016/07/17/training-classes-are-not-i-repeat-not-making-you-a-better-shooter-gasp-what-did-he-say/

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