Taurus PT1911: Hitting Low and to Left, How To Hit 5 1/2 Inch Diameter Target Circle
After I failed my "NRA First Steps Orientation Pistol" Course, I practiced with three large human paper targets (21 inchs high and 10 and 1/2 inchs wide). I failed the NRA course because I did not hit a 5 and 1/2 inch circle 5 times. The target was 21 feet away. I didn't even hit the circle once.
This was the first time I ever fired any gun.
During the day, I shot about 60 rounds at the three human paper targets. Each shot landed on the paper bottom half. It never landed on the top half. The shots were 3 inchs away or much more from the center. Most of the shots were 6 inchs away from the center and more. A few shots hit the edge of the paper.
I won't be able to get a carry permit from that first course in Virginia. I'm taking the "NRA Conceal Carry " course next Saturday, so if I pass that second course I can still get a carry permit.
This is how I shot. I followed all the instructions from the NRA instructor. She stood next to me while I took the test. She went over everything during the lecture part of the course that we had to know.
Each time I shot, I put only one round in the magazine, put the magazine in the gun, and cocked the gun.
I'm right handed, so I put my index finger on the barrel (on right side) and properly gripped the gun with my right hand.
I clenched the fingers of my right hand with my left hand with the left hand thumb on the opposite side (left side) of the barrel to the index finger of my right hand. The left thumb and right index fingers evenly balanced the gun.
I kept my legs apart just under my two shoulders. I slightly bent my knees. I extended my arms out in front of myself. I crotched down a little and leaned forward a little.
I kept my non-dominate eye closed. I lined up the front gun sight (a white dot) on the center of the 5 1/2 inch target circle. I moved the rear sight, so that its two dots perfectly lined up with the white dot of the front sight.
I let out a breath of air then fired. My hands shook a tiny amount each time. I kept the gun pointed at the target for a second after firing. I felt that there wasn't much recoil, but the gun firing altered where I wanted the bullet to go! I got the impression of something harmlessly snapping in my hand.
What do I have to do to hit the 5 and 1/2 inch circle 21 feet away.
I was never nervous. I was cold. This was the first time I fired any gun. I put a coat on during the last ten or so shots, but that didn't help.
My guess is that I make tiny moves as I fired, and I can do better.
Monday after relaxing, I'm going to go back to the target range and most likely later in the week. I'll fire at least 50 rounds. Should I go back every day.
Am I expecting too much of myself. Should I just practice and take the course again when I can shoot better.
I did learn from the course.
My instructor (in so many words) told me that I should purchase another gun. She though that I was nervous. I explained to her that I only want to own one gun that can be moved to any US state. (I also recently ordered three 7 round magazines for the gun.)
The instructor charges $50 an hour for extra training. I don't want to go this route because she helped me a lot already. I don't think she has anything left to offer.
I'm sure everyone else in the course passed.
I don't have any more ideas.
Last edited by SelfDefenseNovice; 01-20-2013 at 12:58 AM.
Reason: Add more information
You are receiving training so I expect you are being told how to do it. What you need is to develop trigger control. Dry firing is a good way to gain familiarity with the gun/trigger and ultimately trigger control. The more practice you get with the trigger the better.
Remove the magazine and make certain the chamber is empty. Triple check to insure it is empty. Remove all ammunition from the room you are going to dry fire in. Then simply pull the slide back to cock it then aim at a target and practice your squeeze re cock and do it again many times. After you feel a bit more confident than you are now try laying a penny across the slide or sight and try not to have it fall off when you fire (dry/no ammo) keep that up till you can squeeze it off without disturbing the aim or losing the penny.
Good luck and have fun in the process.
I ordered 10 snap caps to help with dry firing the gun. Without them, I am fearful of damaging the gun! I probably won't have the snap caps till after next Saturday's course.
Originally Posted by TOF
Do you think they'll let me take the NRA course with a rented 22 pistol and qualify for the VA conceal carry permit for the M1911 gun.
The instructor allowed me to use her 22 to try and hit the 5 and 1/2 inch circle. I hit the circle once with several misses.
You have a trigger-control problem.
TOF gave you very good advice.
You may also be "milking" the pistol's grip.
That means that you are tightening your grip on the gun with your lower three fingers, in concert with your index finger's tightening on the trigger.
You need to isolate your trigger finger. (That's dancer-jargon for being able to tighten each finger separately.)
You can learn this by merely doing the indicated dry-fire exercise. If you remember, I suggested another way to protect the gun's firing pin, until your snap-caps arrive.
You don't need to purchase another gun. You don't need to use a .22 rimfire.
My tiny, lightweight wife learned to shoot pistols with a .45 almost exactly a duplicate of yours. Because I prepared her very well, she found it quite comfortable.
The instructor was correct, that you probably are nervous about shooting, and maybe even afraid of the gun's noise and recoil.
• Noise won't hurt you. It's just noise. In particular, noise won't hurt you if you wear hearing protection. If you truly concentrate on your shooting technique, you won't hear the noise.
• Holding the pistol tighter will actually reduce any possible painful recoil to almost nothing. Holding it loosely, or relaxing your grip as you fire a shot, will definitely cause pain. Hold on tightly. Follow through.
Do you have a friend that is a decent shooter? If so, get with him (or her) and spend a couple of days at the range.
I've never been one to advise a person totally unfamiliar with firearms, to take a shooting course right off the bat. I've always advised that they spend some time shooting and getting used to a gun, all the noise it makes, and proper stance, etc.
Once a person has shot several hundred rounds, they know what to expect and will be better prepared to be relaxed when taking a course. They will also have been able to talk to and watch other shooters, and gain information that way.
It sound as if you just need more range time, in a friendly environment that will not make you tense. As I mentioned previously. Get with an experience friend or two if possible, buy some ammo, and plan on shooting at least 200-500 rds. per outing. Take your time, ask questions, watch them as they shoot, and try to emulate their actions.
It's got to be shooters error since you shot are all over the place. Keep both eyes open and try not to limp wrist,pull the gun up when squeezing the trigger, as the instructor seems to be covering the basics. If all your shot are high and in one place it may be the gun sights need adjusting. I know you need a breakdown period with the gun so keep up the practice.
TOF and Steve are spot on.You described averything to pull off an accurate shot,you just don't see what you're doing wrong.Stance and breathing are the least important but you need to have the basics down before you can deviate from them.Get in stance,aim,PRESS the trigger-not squeeze.By the sounds of it you are snatching the trigger,anticipating recoil and flinching,or milking the grip,which is tightening you grip on the lower fingers trying to hold back muzzle flip.
The sights are going to move,no way around it.What you do is a controlled wobble.You'll find a pattern to the wobble,every time the sights come on target press,then stop if the shot doesn't break but don't relax or press harder.The next time you cross the desired point of impact (POI) press more.When you zone in you will group where you want it to,and it takes lots of practice dryfire and live with lots of ammo.DA triggers are the best to learn this with,with a SA trigger you will tend to jerk the trigger which will normally throw a righty to shoot low left-if you don't jerk with too little finger on the trigger.
Also,forget the dots because they rarely line up perfect,they are a reference for up close defensive shooting where you have a large target (like the 5.5" plate) and you can hit it.Stare at the front sight,put the top centered and level with the rear,press the trigger as you are on target.Your rear is a bit fuzzy but still distinct enough to line up,your target is going to be blurry but your eye is automatically going to pick the center of what you're seeing.Put the sight picture there and press.Doing this dryfiring will help immensely if you hit the range next time and concentrate,totally forgetting what the gun will do when it goes off,it isn't going to hurt you.Few people just pick up a gun and are an instictive shooter,learning to ride a bike is easier.
I bought 5 snap caps and practiced off and on all day dry firing at a 5 and 1/2 inch circle 21 feet away from me. I concentrated on not squeezing my right hand three fingers (from pinky in).
I went to the range and shot about 50 rounds. The first 2 or 3 rounds where near the center of the target. I was amazed. The rest of the rounds were all lower to the left, same as before. Through all the rounds that I shot I tried to keep a tight grip of my right hand on the gun. I now think while firing my left hand grip was not as strong as my right hand grip. My left hand covered my right hand.
Today for 10 rounds, I decided to aim for just below the right collar bone and (amazingly) 6/7 shots were near the center of the target! To do this, I computed where my shots were going when I shot at the center and adjusted my aim accordingly to get the rounds to go into the center area. I aimed for the colar bone and hit close to center.
I asked this person who talked to me last Saturday about this. He said I was, basically, squeezing my three fingers on the other side of the index finger. He gave me the following chart:
I guess I'm still squeezing my three finger tips, and I have to dry fire some more.
I'm right handed.
I tried pressing the trigger "slowly" and that helped.
I have to concentrate on pressing slowly more!
Results: Out of 50 rounds, 1 in 5 was in a 5 1/2 inch circle hand drawn over a human figure. 40 rounds were low and to the left as usual. I was also good with about 4 head shots.
I wore gloves because it was cold. Since I wear glasses, I didn't wear goggles.
If I concentrate I feel I can do better. I just have to remember to slowly press the trigger, not move, and concentrate.
My ear surpression headset wasn't sufficient. One problem was that the noise at the range broke my concentration several times. I ordered a 75 decible reduction headset, but I'm doubtful that I'll have it before Saturday. Thursday or Friday, I'm going to try adding wax ear plugs.
I'm also going to try using several paper targets. For example, five pieces of paper for 50 rounds. This will improve my concentration.
(I've been a serious weighlifter for 16 years, so my hand grip isn't weak.)
Instead of wax earplugs, try the yellow or orange, cylindrical foam ones that you can buy at any gunshop or range. Wear them inside your headset.
They're supposed to be single-use-only, but I've always washed 'em in warm, soapy water, and then rinsed them well. They last for three or four uses, at least.
Grip strength is not the major issue.
Isolation is the important thing.
The grip improver I recommended in your other thread is arranged to help you learn to isolate your trigger finger. Look at it, and you'll understand.
You don't need it for strength training. You need it for isolation training.
Not sure if you mentioned that you already had some electronic ear-muffs.
If not, do some research on different models. I have a pair and they work great. They're not cheap, but mine are several years old, and were about $125.00 at the time.
Maybe they've come down in price since.
You may want to try what Steve suggests...you may have extra sensitive ears.......I have been using cheaper model headsets for years, and never had any problems.
Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1
I shot about 50 rounds today. Shooting slow is my greatest aid. I hit center (hypothetical circle with diameter of 5 and 1/2 inchs) about half the time. The rest of the shots were low and to the left.
I also went to the indoor range today at the same time as my test on Saturday.
I wore gloves, scarf, undershirt, heavy long underware, boots, hat, and a coat. (My face feels like I have sun burn.) I don't have a cold.
It wasn't very noisey today. It was more friendly there because five or six Navy men were around.
The electronic ear-muffs (Tactical 6SElectronic Hearing Protector) that I ordered cost $111.16 before taxes.
I tried the orange foam ear-plugs, but they didn't fit my ears. They were loose. I've used the wax ear-plugs before and will probably use those for the test. Wax greatly reduces noise!
I bought an extra heavy tension gripmaster (white). I like it. How often should I use it to prepare for my test on Saturday. The medium tesion one was too easy for me.
Do you have any last minute suggestions for my test on Saturday.
Use the Gripmaster whenever you're just sitting, for instance while watching TV or a movie.
Don't over-do it. This isn't weight training. Don't make your hand or fingers tired.
Grip with all four fingers, hold. Release the index finger only. Maintain the hold, and press slowly with only the index finger. Press, release, press, release, etc.
Be slow and smooth. Feel to see that your other fingers aren't moving. They must maintain the hold.
If you can, use only the first joint of your index finger.
Do maybe five index-finger presses, and let all your fingers relax.
Then start all over again.
If your fingers tire, stop.
Due to snow, my class originally scheduled for tomorrow was rescheduled to Feb 3.
Today, I went to the range and about 2/3rds of my shots were within a hypothetical 5 and 1/2 inch circle. The rest were still low and to the left. I liked my wax earplugs.
Since I have another week, how often should I go to the range. How many rounds should I shoot. What type of targets should I shoot at.
The test that I took last week was a 5 and 1/2 inch blue circle.
There is no such thing as "too much practice."
There is, however, such a thing as practicing the wrong skills, or practicing errors, so be sure that your practice is slow, and that you are only trying to be smooth.
You can either draw an appropriately-sized circle on your paper, shoot at paper plates of the appropriate size, or use blank, featureless targets and try to form the smallest group possible while aiming generally at the target's "center of mass." Any of those will work well for you, if you are slow and smooth.
Is it possible for you to start shooting at five or seven yards, and then to move back (or to move the target back) to 15 yards when you are making all of your five- or seven-yard hits?
There's a lot to remember when you first start shooting. The good news is that is sounds like you are improving from one shot in the circle to "2/3" of your shots. Congrats! That's progress!
I'll suggest one or two other things:
Once on target keep thinking, "front sight, press". Meaning remember to focus on the front sight, align the front and rear sights properly - focus on the front sight, with the target a slightly fuzzier image in the background. Your eye can only focus on one plane at a time (either the rear sight, the front sight, or the target). So aim at the circle, align the front and rear sights - focus on the front sight and slowly "press" the trigger to the rear.
Regarding your shooting low and left. Without seeing you shoot I'll just guess at the reason and you can check to see if it helps. I think (as Steve1911A1 said above) that this is trigger-related. So try to remember, in addition to the "front sight press" to slowly press the trigger.
We all have a natural "arc of movement" when trying to align the sight. Your body allows the gun to move slightly and your brain make the necessary corrections and directs the proper muscles to move it back on target. This happens over and over again as you are fixed on the target. Don't try to time the shot or rush it, to fire when you see the front sight pass the center of the circle. Just keep focusing on sight alignment and continue to slowly press the trigger.
Here's an old target of me shooting my new Taurus PT1911 a few years ago. Now I'm an old retired guy with a benign tremor (meaning I shake more than most when focusing on a target). You can see the five shot group missed the bullseye. But once you become consistent you can simply aim higher or lower, left or right, to move your group (point of impact) to your target (point of aim).
So, once you start to get tighter groups but they are all to the left, then you may need to simply aim slighty right to compensate. Just keep practicing the fundamentals with dryfiring and range time. Believe me, we've all been there.
Good luck on your next class - and don't forget to relax and have fun!
All good advice from far more experienced shooters, which is why this site is such a great resource! It sounds like you are overthinking. As someone in construction and engineering, anything worth doing is worth overanalyzing for me, and many of your problems were mine as well when I first started shooting regularly. Trying to get the grip just so, trying to get the proper head/sight/target alignment as per too many internet gurus and Youtube ninjas, trying to focus on every single aspect at the same time.
A golf pro I took lessons from years ago gave me great advice. When you are at the driving range, it is the time to isolate a single aspect you want to improve and forget about everything else. When you step up to the tee on the course, forget everything and just hit the damn ball.
I've applied this to the range, when I'm weak in something I will slow fire from a bench rest and work on that one thing until I get it right. When the wife and I are competing against one another, I forget everything and just focus on the black crosshairs inside the orange dot inside the black dot on the white piece of paper.
Relax and have fun! While I began shooting regularly to hone any self defense skills I may need, it quickly became an end to itself. We shifted gears to become .22lr plinkers so we could shoot a lot and often for less cost. We do it to do it, relax, relax, relax!
Ad Addendum: The target shown above is not typical of mere mortals, and is obviously the work of a pod person. This is an alien species, and is not to be construed as what most humans typically do.
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