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Nick’s Team FNH USA co-competitor, Diana Liedorff preaches routine. Doing the same thing the same way – all the time. Everything from how you pack your range bag to where you put your empties. The idea being, eliminating the variables lets you concentrate on what you’re doing so you can git ‘er done faster and more accurately. But even if you’re not a top-level 3-gunner — or a competitor at all — that’s still good advice. Going through the same routines each and every time you shoot can make you smoother, improve your accuracy and even make you safer on the range or in the field. What are your shooting habits?

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  1. I don’t have a habit, I have an addiction. I refuse treatment for it and will have to live with the results.

  2. I have been compulsively buying ammo for about 3 years, but no habits when it comes to shooting.

  3. Routine can be good sometimes, but too much familiarity breeds contempt and complacency. Additionally, if your concerns involve defensive use, having a set routine that never changes could lead to mistakes in a situation that doesn’t follow routine. On the other hand, consistency in your shooting positions, breathing, safety, reloads etc builds muscle memory. I suppose it depends on which part of the range trip. I try to do something different every time I go to the range. Semper Gummy!

    • I’m sure the bad guy will play his role exactly the way I practiced it. NOT!

      When it comes to practicing for self-defense situations, you need randomness that requires quick decisions and flexibility. You never know where, how, or when the threat will come at you. Try to be prepared to react to Whatever it might be.

      • On the other hand…

        Practicing your draw, trigger pull, safety, etc. will allow you to complete those difficult operations quickly and flawlessly when you’re in a DGU. When I need the gun in my hand pointed at the bad guy, I need it NOW, and I don’t need any flub-ups while I’m getting it there.

    • I am also of the “mix it up a bit” routine. I try new things or firing in different styles every time I go.

      I also try to go at different times. While I do love lazily driving to the range ever Sunday, coffee in hand, I find going after work is a very different state of mind, and it forces me to concentrate more on what I’m doing.

  4. Don’t change your accessories all the time. Mark your screws if applicable with a paint pen to ensure mounts return to zero. Don’t touch a zero’d guns sights. Don’t switch ammo brands. Shoot one particular gun 90% of the time. Try out new magazines well before a competition. Don’t mess with what is working well.

      • Dirk is very naughty. Next thing you know, he’ll be pining away for Evie Hudak. For his own good, don’t encourage him.

        • Dammit! My day is not complete until I read at least one lecherous comment from Dirk trying to get Ms. Wells to ‘friend’ him. Why not have him contribute to the site? He can write a diary: My Trials and Tribulations of Baggin’ That MILF. 😀

        • Ralph – if I EVER make a pass or favorable comment about Evie Hudak, please, shoot me. It means I have been infected and turned . . . .

        • Dag nabbit Evie is a handsome older gentleman with a strange name please stop makin fun of him Ralph.

  5. I have the bad habit of shooting pistols with my weak eye. I still hit everything I aim at out to 50 yards, but for some reason I keep catching myself after almost all of the ammo is gone.

    • If I’m hitting targets with a pistol at 50 yards, I don’t call that a bad habit. I call it excellent. Do what comes natural man. You can’t argue with the results.

      • Well they are full sized silhouettes at 50, but I’m not shooting from a rest either. I’d call that “combat accuracy”. The biggest issue is that standing under the canopy at the range I have a hard time seeing the dots, but when I realize what I’m doing and switch eyes the seem brighter. Maybe that’s just because I’ve been keeping that eye closed though…

  6. I tend to rotate through my collection, and make sure I’m not just proficient with each variety but handle them naturally. My problem is I like variety, so I have revolvers, semiautos, shotties, rifles. I try to stay on top of the pieces most likely to be carried or used in a home defense situation first, but erasing the center of a targets with my Buckmark or popping full, cheap sodas 100 yards away with my Mosin is a great way to kill a couple hours. The trips to the local indoor range are usually used for training with pistols at common defensive distances, at least once every couple weeks. Got a membership for my 40th birthday… thanks Mrs. Scooter! I try to shoot two-handed, one-handed, off-handed, and although we can’t draw at the range, I can set the gun down as it would be stored or carried and grab it to pop off two to the chest and one to the noggin. Trips to my in-laws property are usual call to bring out long guns and stretch out across the field. Metal real estate sign frames make great target stands, and a metal-fabricating buddy made me a dueling tree we have yet to break in… may need to make a trip tomorrow afternoon!

  7. Six years ago I got a nasty case of scope bite from a Marlin 1894 in .44 magnum. I’ve had a horrible flinching habit ever since. I don’t get to go shooting often and it’s gotten worse over the years. How can I fix it?

    • Shoot without a scope. Have a friend load your mags with live rounds and snap caps (about $17 per six) so you won’t know which is which. Tell him not to alternate. He can use all snaps caps or all live rounds or any irregular mix.

      Focus as completely as possible on basics — sight alignment, deep breath, let half of breath out, hold breath as you squeeeeeeze the trigger, release breath. In through nose, out through lips. Zen baby zen. Your flinch will disappear.

    • What I teach and practice myself, is having someone else load a few snap caps randomly throughout a magazine. Serves a few purposes. First, it proves to the stubborn that they do indeed have a flinching problem and that their off shots are not due to recoil or report. Second, it trains shooters to overcome said flinching by psychologically decoupling trigger pull from recoil and report, and by extension, quelling the urge to flinch. It also provides practice clearing surprise malfunctions.

      Other practices of mine include opening my eyes, racking the action to chamber a round while acquiring from low ready a target previously placed at a random distance by someone else. This simulates engaging a target in the home, as not every firearm is chambered as a matter of routine (Colt LE-6920 and Glock.), and the target encounter distance could be anything. Freaks you out to suddenly see the target at about 1 yard sometimes!

    • I developed a flinch as well when I first started shooting. One thing I found helped was I put in earplugs, and then put headphones over that. Something about shooting a gun that is nearly silent (along with zero ambient noise) really helps put you “in the zone”.

      It helped me get over my reaction to the gunshot noise.

  8. The unloading requirement immediately after shooting a competition course is a bad habit to engrain, one that could prove deadly in real life if you ever have to use your weapon.

  9. This works for competition shooting and defensive training to an extent. However, one needs to be adaptable and skilled in many scenarios and techniques to be a martial artist, in the true sense of the word. Someone who trains to use their weapon for self defense should train for a true mastership of their weapon in any situation. Force on force and scenario training are the best ways to develop this skill. An MMA fighter can’t just practice all his moves on a punching bag, at some point he’s got to spar with a living thinking human being who can throw him off his routine.

  10. Good advice! I go to the range twice a week and follow the same routine every time: Drive through McDonalds, get a cup of coffee and sausage McMuffin, sit in the parking lot waiting for the range to open, eat the McMuffin, drink the coffee, and listen to the radio. No deviations!

    • Add a diet coke to go along with the coffee and sausage McMuffin, and that would be my exact routine … once I finally got my FOID card back. It has been a disorienting and sad last few months without that routine.

  11. I mix up my range routine to keep it fresh.

    Sometimes I yell “F the Pohleez” and do a mag dump.
    Sometimes I yell “From the government and here to help my ass” and do a mag dump.
    Sometimes I yell “For the queen!” and mag dump, but only if Im shooting my PPK.
    Sometimes I yell “Yeah thats right fool” while holding my gun sideways and making a stabbing motion each trigger pull.
    Sometimes I yell ‘ ‘Merica” while mag dumping with a gun in each hand.
    And finally when Im really serious I try to double tap each target in every lane..usually the other shooters dont mind.

  12. One mag in the rifle, six on my right leg. two shots rapidly left, up, right, down, center, repeatedly on the target.

  13. Double tap- repeat as needed til target changes shape, catches fire, ceases to be a threat, or any combination there of.

  14. I tend to walk onto the range, casually swap my defensive mag for one with target loads, then do a full panic fast as I can pull the trigger mag dump from the holster.

    With the results of that in mind I shoot.

    I like to work a little strong only and a little weak only.

    I like to work man down weak and strong.

    Mostly I like to work heavy hitting-rapid delivery to the target(s) of as much lead as I can send as fast as I can put it on target.

    Honestly I think 2 misses for 7 tries in 5 seconds at 55yards on a torso target is bad shooting, standing, unbraced, with a 1911.

    I spend a lot more time on targets that are more realistically closer. Clear the garment and draw while moving to cover, engage rapidly as is accurate for the range from behind cover, mag swap, repeat for a different target, preferable farther away.

    I have many drills, designed to focus on real world problems and to keep it interesting.

    • ooh I missed something; consistency is the key to winning in competition and dying in the street. I try not to let any consistency enter my range time. I may talk a bit and suddenly start shooting, I eat whatever and drink whatever, the more coffee the better and being hung over is an awesome opportunity. I want to have different shoes, coats stance and ranges, just as random as it can possibly be. I’d be happy if people regularly kidnapped me and released me on strange ranges at odd hours.

      Planning rocks, when you’re a competitive shooter. It’s also great when you’re working fundamentals.

      Anything familiar when you’re developing combat shooting skills is a huge no no. Better that every course is a surprise.

  15. Doing things exactly the same may work fine for competition shooters, but for defensive shooting the moment something doesn’t go to plan could cost you your life.

    When I was being taught to dive, the trainer would tear off our masks, yank out our regulators or release our weight belts – sometimes more than one surprise at a time. The goal being to prepare you for the unexpected. I believe that lesson should carry through to everything in your life.

  16. At the range, I work on accuracy at distance with target ammunition in my revolver and Russian military in my pistol and long gun. Routine practice is with only those three.

    The milsurp in the rifle is very close in ballistics to Hornady plastic tipped, so the practice is good for meat season. I use iron sights on a Mosin made in 1938, and have yet to starve.

    At home, I’ll have someone set up good guy, bad guy and neutral object targets randomly in the southeast corner bowl (about an acre of scrub, saplings and trees with a lot of ground cover) then go down blindfolded.

    The “backstop” is 360° of planet unless I were to aim upward at 18° or more.

    I turn randomly a few turns left, a different number right and so on for a half minute, then whip off the blindfold and run three magazines through the TT-33 taking out what needs taking out as quickly as possible.

    I do pretty well, and the unpredictable nature of the exercise keeps me reasonably sharp.

    May it serve me well, and may I never need it.

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