Warming Up In The Practice Bays

Ben BerryBlog

I saw some discussion elsewhere online talking about the upcoming Low Cap Nationals and how best to take advantage of the practice/warmup bays that are typically available at Frostproof (as well as any halfway decent range that is hosting a match as big as Nationals). It wouldn’t be productive for me to post my answer there, but it got me thinking about the question. Should you use the practice/warmup bays at big matches? No. But I thought the different reasons why were worth talking about. So, to start, let’s paint the picture of what these bays look like, in my … Read More

More Reps?

Ben BerryBlog

Reloading with the new mag on the way to the gun before the old one hits the ground

At a match last weekend, while our squad was shooting the classifier, a friend who practices a lot but only gets to shoot one match a month asked me: “How do you guys reload like that? I try and practice reloads, and mine are never that smooth.” and then he mimed fumbling a reload as I started to consider what he was asking. “What do you do?” he asked. “Just more reps?” Now, I don’t know what other guys do, just what’s worked for me. But here’s what I told him: More reps won’t fix doing the wrong thing. All … Read More

“Just Go Shoot”

Ben BerryBlog

This summer, one of the changes I’m making to my practice is to live fire at least one evening a week. Last year, I would live fire every weekend I wasn’t shooting a match, which was two practice sessions most months. This new schedule gives me four a month, with as many as six if I go on the weekends. This is much more in line with the typical practice schedule for someone who wants to be competitive at the GM level. The First Practice Last Friday, June 22nd, was the second week of this new routine. It had been … Read More

Lesson From Practice

Ben BerryBlog

Another example of why you have to look for patterns in your practice and not just score the targets, from my practice this past weekend: Technically this run on Ben Stoeger’s Practical Accuracy was all 6 hits, none even really cutting it close. And the time was fast. A few hundredths faster than the runs before it. But it was also sloppy and bad technique. I felt myself pulling the trigger with my whole hand, and so it’s no coincidence that 4 of the 6 shots clustered low left. So for the next rep, I focused on gripping the gun … Read More

Reading Targets in Practice

Ben BerryBlog

During my practice session at the range on Saturday, I shot a lot of dots, all at 7 yards. I’m still working out these changes to my grip and trigger pull, but I can feel the progress, I just have to make it repeatable. But in the targets I shot, I saw an interesting example of the value of reading the pattern in the targets, not just scoring them. (Also a major theme of Ben Stoeger’s “Breakthrough Marksmanship” book.) Here are the first and last sheets I shot of the day: The first sheet is all over the place. You … Read More

Flying To A Match With Guns

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2017 Iron Sights Nationals - USPSA Nationals - Southern Utah Practical Shooters - St. George, UT - Berry Shooting

I flew to Iron Sights Nationals  in St. George, Utah this year, and it was the second time I’d ever flow with guns. Nobody ever talks about the hassles of flying with competition guns and enough ammo to shoot a 417-round match (it’s a lot more than 417 rounds), so I wanted to talk about my experience while it was fresh. First off, ship your ammo. It is somewhat expensive, but well, well worth it. Compared to the $25 for another checked bag or $100 for an overweight bag, not to mention match fees, plane ticket, and so on, shipping … Read More

Thoughts on IPSC Nationals 2017

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2017 US IPSC Nationals - Universal Shooting Academy - Frostproof, FL - Berry Shooting

Two weeks ago, I shot the 2017 US IPSC Nationals the biggest (and only) match in the US under IPSC rules, the international version of USPSA. The rules of the two are mostly the same, but the small variations can make key differences. For example, the IPSC rules about walking the stages the day before you actually shoot the match are the same, but are enforced differently. Where the US defaults to allowing competitors to walk stages any time the range is open and there’s not a squad on the stage, IPSC goes the other way: competitors are not allowed … Read More

Pre-match Jitters

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It’s Friday night. You’re shooting a match tomorrow. And you’re scared of something. Whatever it is, you can’t fix it before tomorrow. But, if you really dig deep and figure out what’s got you scared, you can fix it before it happens the next time. Maybe you’re just generally nervous about the match. You’ve shot matches before so it’s not the first timer’s jitters, but you just can’t shake the feeling that you’re anxious. You’ve packed your bag, you’ve chamber checked all the ammo, the guns are spotless, the magazines are already loaded. The car is packed, the coffee is … Read More

Changing Direction

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Ben Stoeger Practical Shooting Fundamentals Class - Oxford, NC

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about since making GM is the past, or particularly, my past. I shot my first match 8 years ago, an indoor IDPA match with a borrowed 1911. I originally classified as SSP Novice. I joined USPSA four years ago, and initially classified as Production C. What’s interesting is that none of those really matter. How bad I was to start doesn’t really matter. That I started in IDPA doesn’t really matter. My past only matters insofar as it gives me knowledge and experience to help me make decisions today. But I don’t … Read More

The Initiative

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the concept of the initiative. The initiative is the idea that, in a two-sided conflict, it is better to be the one acting first and forcing your opponent to react. You set the tone, you drive the tempo, you set the priorities. This lets you choose things advantageous to you while your opponent has to react to limit the damage to them of your choices. In chess, each player makes one move at a time. You move, he moves, you move, he moves. If you are spending every one of your turns reacting … Read More

The Importance of Reproducibility

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When I look back at 2016 and try to distill the actual lessons I learned specific to shooting, the one that most stands out to me is the value of repeatability. In matches, consistency is key. Stage wins are largely irrelevant to match wins. You can take second or third on every stage and win the match because the guy who wins half the stages drops out of the top ten on the others because of his risky plans. I know this. But somehow I never made the connection to practice. My practice was very unstructured. I never consciously planned … Read More

Missing Your Goal

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In December 2015, I set the goal to become a GM in 2016. At the time I was a high-A close to making Master. In Mid-December 2016, sitting at 93% and grasping at straws to try to make the goal happen, I shot a classifier match. Of the six classifiers, one was GM, one was low but counted, and four were too low to count. Embarrassing, right? No. Even though I didn’t achieve the goal of GM in 2016, I don’t regret one bit setting it or pursuing it doggedly, because it gave me a sense of purpose. Every daily … Read More