Identifying And Correcting Shooter Errors

It is one of my favorite evolutions in our intermediate classes, when we work at identifying and then correcting shooter errors. Applying corrective strategies is not as mysterious or complicated as it may seem nor is it easy, but it does produce results.

Don’t Chase The Bull To Correct

One of the greatest challenges students face is being consistent. This becomes particularly difficult when the student continues to adjust their hold or point of aim to improve their accuracy. One of the biggest mistakes I see made in our classes is when a student chases the bullseye. Instead of shooting with the same hold or point of aim, they continually guess at where they should aim to produce a hit in the scoring ring or target. I can appreciate how frustrating not hitting the target can be, believe me I can really appreciate. However, it does not help your situation if you do nothing to actually fix the problem. In a sense, all you are doing is treating the symptoms and not the underlying cause.

Being Precise Is The First Corrective Step

Precision and accuracyThe other problem created when the student chases the bull is how they loose their ability to be precise. Without precision, accuracy will be an unknown. Precision is more about the shooters ability to be consistent. This will be reflected in the size of the shot group and not in its location. Before I can start applying corrective strategies, the student must demonstrate precision. No matter how much the student wants to improve, if they do not have the intrinsic repeatability of the marksmanship principles then accuracy to any degree will be difficult. The purpose of corrective strategies is to marry precision with accuracy, all else is wasteful.

Look For Patterns To See Errors

There is little point in trying to guess at what the student is doing wrong without repeatability. It puts too much burden on the student. Instead, I look to develop individual baselines with each student during the class. I typically leave diagnostics for the end of the day so I can achieve a better understanding of the students current skill and ability. There are many drills I use to observe the student’s performance. All I’m looking for are patterns. Anything they do over and over again that can illustrate a shooter error. Over the years I have discovered about a dozen unique shooting errors along with the corrective strategies needed to improve. Some are glaring and easy to fix, while others are deceptively difficult and require herculean effort.

Types of Shooter Errors

I break the shooting errors into windage, elevation and compounding. Compounding is the hardest because it combines two or more errors intensifying their negative aspects. Whatever corrective strategy I offer it is designed to target only one shooting error and usually the easier of them all. This is where discipline must be the student’s ally. They have to trust the process and apply the corrective strategies as prescribed. If they can do this consistently over time, they begin to results. No matter how clever my skill at unearthing a shooter’s error, if they cannot see progress within a short period they will loose interest and investment. However, if they can see the positive results quickly they develop an unquenchable thirst to improve. I also find many of the lesser errors correct themselves when we have reached this point.

I thoroughly enjoy the art of diagnosing shooting errors. If the student can improve their marksmanship skills quickly, they become hugely invested in further improving their shooting skills.

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