BJ Norris’ Blog

Your Source for Shooting News & Tips

Training with a .22

As an instructor and shooter myself, probably the most common error I see in pistol shooting is trigger control. The importance of trigger control can’t be overemphasized in pistol shooting, if you cannot fire the gun without moving it, almost every other aspect of shooting is null and void. There are several ways to help your trigger control, shooting groups and dry fire are two such ways, but both of those have their own issues.
Shooting groups with your normal centerfire gun gets expensive very quickly, even if you do reload, and also the recoil and blast of the round can mask the small imperfections in your technique that make all the difference as the range increases.
Dry fire trigger control practice can get boring, that leads to sloppiness which only reinforces the bad habits that you are trying to work out of your shooting. Without objective feedback on target, it’s very hard to tell if you are improving. It’s also easy to do since you know that the gun is not going to fire, so there is no reason to flinch or pull away.
Which leads us to looking somewhere in between, something affordable, yet provides objective feedback, both on target and recoil when we pull the trigger, enter a high-quality .22 pistol. I’ll talk about what it has done for my shooting in a second, but first lets go over my criteria for a gun to fit this training purpose. The first thing is that it must be accurate, otherwise it will be impossible to gauge your improvement rate and if you even have a problem at all! Second, it must be reliable, nothing will disrupt  your focus faster than your equipment not working correctly. Third, it must have good sights and a good trigger, both of these are almost mandatory if you want to do well shooting groups at 15, 20 and 25 yards. My choice is a S&W M41, which right out of the box fits all three categories about as well as any gun can. You’ll also need a total of about 5 magazines.
Now that you have your .22, how to use it? Well, I like to use a five bulls-eye target from LE Targets, called the SI-5, set at anywhere from 10-25 yards depending on your skill level. Most of my practice is done at the 15 yard line. The goal is to shoot the tightest possible group, even if it isn’t dead center in the target. By shooting a small group, you reinforce making sure the sights are in exactly the same place and holding them there until the bullet leaves the barrel of every shot. There are several other games you can play as well, such as rapid fire groups and transition groups, albeit with a larger area for the rounds to hit.
After about a week of 2-300 rounds of slow-fire .22 a day, I noticed a huge improvement in my Steel Challenge shooting, being much more consistent and accurate on the plates, even shooting faster in some cases since I had practiced putting the sights on a small point quickly. I’m ready to find out what a month or two of the same routine will bring to the shooting line!
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March 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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