I’m going out on a limb here people, we at 248Shooter need your help. This article is likely to get me blacklisted from advertisers and other industry friends. I’m writing it anyway; it’s an article that needs to be published. Of all the articles, we have shared this might be one of the most important articles in my career. The worst part is I owe it all to a friend who now gets to hold an “I told you so” over my head.
I am a gear whore. I love new shiny objects that promise better shooting or cool guy points. Running this blog, we get lots of cool gadgets thrown at us. We evaluate their use, and you only see reviews on maybe 50% of the items we get sent. The other 50% either doesn’t make the cut or aren’t really of enough benefit to warrant a full review. That doesn’t mean I don’t get all excited at Shot Show, NRA or Great American Outdoor show when the next new gadget comes out. Each time I hope and pray this is the product that is going to take me to the next level.
This weekend at a DMI training course in Adrian, I was forced to acknowledge something I had been refusing to grasp. Upgrades can compensate for bad form to make you a better shooter, but that doesn’t make you a better shooter. Read that sentence again and think on it, I’ll wait.
Ok did it sink in yet? Let me give you an example. My trigger control sucks as much as a single mom working 8 mile. I didn’t notice how bad it was because when using a light triggers the issue is muted. This leads me to believe the problem does not exist. Sure the upgraded triggers make it appear I’m a better shooter, but my skill level remains unchanged. The minute I use a heavy or even standard trigger the fundamental breakdown is observed on the target.
I can rock house on a Trijicon 1-6 optic like we had seen in our recent review. However does that mean I understand proper sight alignment? One thing I learned the other day was my crutch of red dots and optics has ruined me on irons; I never had to learn to use them. A blind monkey has a better shot at a 1-inch group than I do with a handgun based on my sight alignment and trigger press.
The worst part of all this is I didn’t know how bad my skills were. Every time I had an issue I just found a gun, trigger, optic or something else to compensate for my failure. In the end, my gear was much better than I was. This series of bad decisions were further compounded when I would go to the range with friends, and they would comment on how great of a shot I was. This positive reinforcement served to grow my ego, not my skills.
I have complained of guns like the LC9 or P250 with their heavy long trigger pulls. I even bitched about my beloved USP 9 in DA mode. However, it was not the guns and triggers that were at fault it was my inability to properly isolate my trigger finger from the main joint up to create a proper pull.
When bitching about “GLOCK Sights” the problem was 100% on my ability to drive the gun to the proper elevation in front of my face. An issue I did not have after resetting an RMR to compensate.
At the end of the day what do you want to be? A person that can use incredibly expensive and high-end gear to shoot at a mediocre level, or a person who can shoot any gun with consistent skill.
I now look at that upgrades on my weapons as mistakes. Disasters that have allowed me to create a false impression of skills that in reality need massive work. The light triggers and expensive optics are coming off my training weapons. The focus on fundamentals has begun again. Now when I see bad groupings, the answer will be specific drills to strengthen the fundamental flaw instead of overcompensating with the next tool.
At the risk of pissing off our advertisers and supporters, I would suggest the same to you. If you can’t shoot the groups, you want with a mil-spec trigger and iron sights than strip your gun and practice in the raw. Focus on the bad ass gear as something to work up to. Reward yourself with a better optic as a goal for getting solid on Iron Sights. Make that trigger purchase as an achievement after unlocking the required trigger press skills.
Better yet take a class to learn those things you may be missing entirely . All too often my “practice” results in ballistic masturbation. Sending rounds down range, not focusing on any one given skill. With the help of my instructor this weekend, I was able to develop a series of drills that will correct the fundamental issues that I am struggling with. Over the coming weeks, I am going to share some of those drills with you so you too can focus on those small things that make a large difference.
Because some of our readers are certainly more advanced than I am we will continue to offer gear reviews on optics and triggers for those who have truly mastered their fundamental skills. I just caution you to be careful in your upgrades until you can shoot the groups you want with a stock gun. Please take the time to evaluate your specific skill set and determine if you are shooting at the level you want to be. If your not don’t upgrade, instead take the time to take a class near you with a qualified instructor that can get you over the issue you are dealing with.