How Should I Shoot This?


Up against the wall, Left or right?
Course designers like to start you in the middle of a wall or barricade with shooting ports in it, so which way do you go? If you are right handed it will be better to go to the far left first and work to the right as it is easier to set up coming into a port to your right side and your muzzle direction will be more downrange while moving and reloading. Sometimes you will be allowed to start in a position, if the wall or barricade is small enough, where you can simply draw and start engaging the targets on one end or the other ( check the course description to find out) if so then that will be a good place to start but it seldom works out best to start in the middle of a barricade.

Time waits for no one
Many times you will find a popper that activates something such as a mover, don't shoot the popper and then just wait for it to fall and activate,... you can probably shoot at least one or two other targets before coming back to the moving target. Sometimes you may want to double the popper to get it to activate the mover quicker. If you look at the popper being shot by someone else, and use a stopwatch to time the delay from the ding to the presentation of the moving target, you will know how much time is really available and it's probably more than you would think by just watching. You can also use the stopwatch to see how long the mover is available to shoot, it will usually allow 2 hits in one presentation if you are ready for it. By knowing the delay and duration of the mover you can take control of the situation instead of chasing it. The same goes for poppers in a row or in front of a plate, shoot some other target rather than just waiting, again if there are no other targets available then you may want to double the popper to get it down faster.

If you got it use it
Course designers will ask you to do things and hold things and place objects ( usually just to screw you up) before you can shoot. If the course description allows you may want to use your teeth, knees, elbow, armpit, shotshell pouch, magnet or whatever you have ....this is freestyle after all. Just be sure you don't spend more effort or time on tricks than you would use just shooting strong hand.

Walk and chew gum
If the tasks are easy enough you can do two things at once, start to move and reload at the same time are obvious but there are others such as drawing with one hand while you open a door with the other. If the targets are easy, shoot the last one as you exit the shooting position or stepping through a door. I have had stages where I had to mag change and open a door very close to me, rather than do two separate motions I pressed the mag release with my right hand while opening the door with my left and then grabbed the mag and inserted it while stepping into the doorway. There are lots of other examples just don't get too tricky or it's like reading the newspaper while you're driving on the highway, possible but likely to crash.

Shoot easy targets on the move
Some targets just beg to be to be shot on the move and if you are going to be running right beside or towards them it's not that hard to do. Practice this by setting up about 2 steps before the spot you plan to shoot from ( but keep your finger out of the trigger until you are ready to shoot) staying low as you run in a smooth motion with knees bent and shoot as your foot is lifting off the ground (1. Don't run more than 1 step per shot with your finger in the trigger and 2. Don't let your muzzle go sideways to 90 as you run past the target or you'll be DQ'd)

No shoots don't exist
Don't be intimidated by no shoot targets, as a matter of fact don't pay any mind to them as you won't be shooting them. If you start thinking about no shoots your subconscious may get the wrong idea and put some holes in them. If a target is surrounded, just think, I will really have to call my shots on this target.

Never do a flat footed reload (if you aren't required to)
This goes without saying but it bears repeating. Even if you only shoot 2 rounds and then reload on the move it's better to use more magazines than get caught flat footed. Go back over your whole stage plan and see if there isn't some better place to reload even if you have to make an extra reload on the move it will still be faster. Be conservative in estimating your round count and change with 1 or 2 rounds left in the mag just in case you have to make up a shot, you never want to run dry ( if you shoot 10 round mags you will get very good at this)

If you have more shots at a position than your capacity and you have to make a reload, see if a step one way or the other might help at least give a better shot at the targets at that position an put that in your plan as well.

To Prone or Not to prone?
Unless it's the last shooting position or the port is so low there is no other way, try squatting, kneeling on one knee, stretch one leg out and sit on the other one, lean sideways, scrunch down do whatever you feel will work and still allow you to get your hits and get up fast.( a good stretch before hand will help a lot). A prone shooting position in the middle of a field course means the course designer is either an 18 yr. old or a sadist.

Be Positive in your strategy
When you first look over some complicated or difficult freestyle stages you might start doubting your ability to come up with a good workable plan. If possible watch some other shooters go through and use their good ideas but don't just copy them, you have to shoot according to your ability. Be positive, go through the stage and pick the positions where you will shoot each target one shot at a time and where on the target you will hit with as little wasted time or extra motion between shots and shooting positions as possible, that will be your best strategy. Don't think about whacking no shoots or missing that popper, if you think negative your subconscious may just do it anyway. When all else fails put your sight on the target, prep the trigger, pull the trigger, see your sight lift off the target in recoil, and you will have a hit. Shoot each each stage one shot at a time with the least wasted time between shots and that will be your best stage strategy.

Study up to be Studly
Like I said nothing in here is new and we're just scratching the surface, to improve more try reading; the excellent "Shooting from Within" by Michael J Plaxco, it covers most basics and some visualization. "Beyond Fundamentals" by Brian Enos goes into many of the mental aspects of the game. "The Burner Series" tapes covering all aspects by Jerry Barnhart covers all the basics plus teaches much more on movers, breaking down a stage in time etc. etc, it is an excellent all encompassing training course. Another helpful tape is the "Advanced Practical Pistol " by Plaxco or any recent US Nationals tape all available from GUN VIDEO. If you can try and attend some of the big matches and schedule yourself to watch some of the top shooters, you can learn a lot if you pay attention to the details.

IPSC Ontario