I started my pistol shooting career in January 1958. My battalion told me I would be in charge of training a pistol team. I drew 4,000 rounds hard ball and put out bulletins for volunteers. No one came out to shoot so I had 4,000 rounds of hard ball ammo to shoot each month. This all took place in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where it was extremely cold. Using Arms Room Weapons I came out each day to shoot. Of course, I did not have any training with pistols before so I got off to a bad start. I did not have the training as a new shooter on the proper use of fundamentals. I sure shot a lot of ammo and in March we had the Pistol Matches to select the personnel for 4th Army Tryouts. We shot a 900 aggregate with hard ball and I won the first match (slow fire 20 rounds) with a pair of 82's which gave me 164 total. This 164 I fired beat the best shooter in 4th Army, which at that time was Major Dunn. This was not a high score to be winning a match, but the adverse conditions were: We had a 30 to 40 MPH wind, no cover, cold, raining, and I had all the shots on the target. As a result, I was 20 points ahead of my nearest competitor.

No one had told me about the proper use of the fundamentals, so I would squeeze the trigger when I was in the black and quit squeezing when the wind blew me out. As a result, I won the match as a new shooter and placed third in the aggregate (900).

At this point I was selected for the 4th Army Team and got the proper instruction on the fundamentals of pistol shooting.

At this time I had decided on some goals to shoot for and it took many years to accomplish these:

  1. To become a Distinguished Pistol Shot (1959).
  2. To become a 2600 Pistol Shot (1959).
  3. To win a match at Camp Perry (1970).
  4. To win a National Record (1966).
  5. To later become a 2650 Shot (1973) 2662.

When you are a new shooter starting at the bottom, just becoming a Distinguished shooter is like climbing a high mountain. You learn a lot by listening to the old shooters and gaining small bits of information. They will help you add a little more to the fundamentals and enable you to shoot better. When you stop at a certain level of shooting you have to find some means to pull yourself a little higher and progress further.

Every person who shoots does not become an outstanding shooter. Some do not have the time or the desire. Others do not have the power of concentration.

To become one of the top shooters in a particular field you have to develop a technique that fits you. What works for one does not always work for another.

Let's talk about my technique. I am short and heavy and I have small hands. My stance is about the same as stated in the book, about 45 degrees from target, feet should be wide. My grip is modified to fit my small hand. To get a good grip I place my three fingers around the front of the receiver (2d joint) and hold while I pull my hand and thumb around to get a firm grip which will not shift In my hand while firing. Try to keep the 2d joint directly in front and under the trigger guard. I do not jam the grip safety tang down into my hand, as you can not squeeze the trigger without moving the pistol. In slow fire I do not grip as hard or tight as when I shoot timed and rapid. I grip tighter in timed rapid because it aids me in recovery with my arm locked up. I also shoot very fast slow fire. I have a good fast even squeeze which I have perfected in my technique. Very often I will shoot two shots in slow fire before coming down. If I have trouble squeezing, I shoot the same as if I were shooting timed fire and concentrate on trigger control. This also helps me when I shoot in the wind. When the wind comes down to its lowest level it is several seconds before it picks up again. If you practice this, it is not a new technique when you have to use it.

In timed fire use a firm grip, locking arm, wrist, and hand so recovery is faster. You have to be very aggressive so as to start your shot, shoot and follow through, and repeat for four more shots. You have to have faith in your hold, depending on sight alignment and trigger squeeze.

In rapid you have to speed up the technique you developed for timed fire. You can squeeze a trigger fast and with even pressure in one to 1 1/2 seconds, allowing you to align sights in same period of time.

Let's talk a little about preparation time. The night before you should get together what you will need to shoot the next day. Get the proper amount of rest. Don't strain your eyes by watching TV or movies.

Some of the things I do to enable me to keep up with the top shooters are:

  1. The night before a match, I get a good night's sleep.
  2. No smoking during the matches.
  3. No coffee except decaffeinated.
  4. No carbonated drinks (due to gas on stomach and some have caffeine).
  5. No strenuous exercise or work before or during matches.
  6. No alcoholic beverages before or during match.
  7. To prevent eye strain, no movies or late TV.
  8. I do not eat until after each day's matches.
  9. I read between strings of slow fire because I shoot so fast (approximately 2-3 minutes). During my shooting I concentrate on one shot or one string. This reading helps me keep my mind from building up so much match pressure.

Regardless of what method you use and technique you perfect you have to master the fundamentals of sight alignment and trigger squeeze that will not misalign the sight while waiting for the shot to break. recover, analyze and correct mistakes. By making less mistakes you are able to win over your competitors.