I’ve been getting back into cycling recently. In doing so, I’ve been spending some time on message boards, and subreddits relating to the topic to get caught up on things as I’ve been off the bike for about 7 years. I’ve noticed some interesting parallels between the cycling and shooting communities, but I’ve also noticed one big glaring difference:
Almost all cyclists have data.
I came across a thread on a road bike forum where a somewhat new cyclist had gotten the bug to upgrade some parts on his bike. Much like new shooters, it was obvious this chap had a bad case of upgrade-itis. He purchased a $300 carbon fiber part, and was asking how to install it on his bike in place of the “old” aluminum part.
He got jumped on.
Folks came out of the woodwork telling him that this “upgrade” wasn’t worth the money, and that he should spend the money on a better pair of shorts, better helmet, or better tires, because those are the things that will actually make a difference in his riding, not the $300 carbon fiber part that looks cool.
Every cyclist I know has some sort of computer or smart phone app to track their rides. A simple handlebar computer isn’t expensive, and they spit out all sorts of data about the ride which makes it very easy to tell whether or not an upgrade was worth it or not. Buy new tires, and now you’re going faster? Awesome. Buy new shorts and you’re able to ride longer without pain? Awesome.
Unfortunately, most folks in the shooting community lack the data they need to get better. I would surmise that most people who shoot regularly want to get better, but they don’t know how. They go to the range (sometimes very frequently) and do what they’ve been told to do by someone else who probably sucks at shooting. When they aren’t seeing results, they get the “itis”.
Maybe it starts with an extended magazine release or a set of sights endorsed by someone on TV. How many people with an extended magazine release have any data to tell them whether or not their new toy makes their mag changes faster, other than it “feeling faster” (which if we’re being honest, a lot of us would probably interpret ‘different’ as ‘faster’)? How many people can tell whether or not their new sights are actually more accurate/faster than their old ones? How many people even own a shot timer so they could get the data if they wanted it? Hell, how many people even know what a shot timer is?
I’m not against upgrades, but I want to know if my new toy is actually an upgrade. If you don’t have a means to collect data, maybe that’s where you should throw a hundred bucks the next time you get the itis.
The data will change your life.
Here’s a Pocket Pro 2 Shot Timer. It’s what I own, and it’s the timer I like the best of all the ones I’ve used. Spend your upgrade-itis money on this.
Experience has shown me and I hope others can agree that it takes someone else who knows more to help train you and it also take you to train yourself. My dad taught me the basics of safety and handling. However I lacked in handling without knowing it(when it came to handguns), heel of my hand would want to overlap causing it to shoot slightly off center, centering the gun in my palms fixed it. Next was sights, I always focused on both sights and the target to align them, now it’s just focus on the front sight and now can hit a paper plate at 25m with some ease.
Learning things from other people will get you to a single point or close to it, sometimes it takes personal practice and self realization on how to improve. Snap-caps and trigger pull help, right now I’m lacking in shooting on the move, reloading mags, and shooting multiple targets. Practicing with a inert gun should help with this and shooting at the range should prove that it worked or I need to work harder. However youtube is a great resource if 1 on 1 training isn’t available and personal time is available, either way it can be hard because some bad habits die hard and it’s better to keep focused on training positively.
I too have been looking at how to measure my progress. Time to reload, time from draw, time, time, time. Time has the best measurable part of dryfire, but hinges on the practitioner ensuring that he is practicing good form. The data from regular, live-ammo practice is the next one.
There’s plenty of quantifiable data from shooting. I agree with you in that there seems to be a huge gap between ‘recreational shooters’ and those that keep a record of their improvements (My draw time with a pistol, to hitting a 5″ by 5″ target at 21 ft has gone down from 1.8 seconds, to 1.3).
I’ve enjoyed your writings, swing by my blog at https://foxroe3gun.wordpress.com/ as I’ve been tackling more of the “practice” aspect of the road of a competitive shooter.