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Boomer Shoot Clinic

Boomer Shoot May 2004
Clinic After Action Report


Clinic Shooters Unite!

Now is the time to learn our lessons – set some goals – and do great feats of marksmanship!

What a great day. It was the first Clinic in four years where it only rained for about twenty minutes. Using the Performance Enhancement skills we know – one looks at that strong wind and driving rain in the following manner. “Sure the rain and twenty five MPH winds are tough to deal with but I will take this opportunity to see how good I really am despite the water on my objective and ocular lens.” I know that sounds ‘tongue in cheek’ but really – that’s how one deals with a hand that one doesn’t like.

We had our small class, SGT Gaya and SP-4 Plumondore gave a small demo on Shooter Observer Dialogue – and off we went on a find day of precision shooting.

There is a method to the madness – let me articulate.

The clinic’s I run are designed around providing you with knowledge and experience so that you – the shooter – can train yourself. I believe that shooters know what they need to do to be the best, but don’t know how to define the questions they have – whose answers will let them be better. I believe if you can put a clear picture of the question you have for yourself, that the solution will be evident. So, we went through the day exercising some of the principals instructed and as a result, I bet every one of you has some goals you have set for yourself over the next year. You are prepared to train yourself because you now know what you need to train on. If you have set some focused goals for the next year – you have taken a step that 90 percent of all shooters don’t know how to take or are scared to take. Trust yourself when it comes to your shooting goals. You know more than anyone else what you need to perfect.

This year I decided to focus on two general areas. Physical skills that are focused on getting a good position, doping winds, calling shots, and dialogue. Then mental skills consisting of some of the Performance Enhancement techniques that assist you in your training for excellence with your physical skills. The Performance Enhancement class emphasized a success oriented thought process, visualization skills and goals setting. For those who have read the data book we used, you will note that it is written in very positive and direct terms – as if you are already a top-notch master of the skills themselves. This is to give you a positive and success oriented vision of your shooting process. Lets cover the physical and mental skills as a review.

Physical Skills

Position: We build a position that points the barrel into the target for us. No matter if you are standing, kneeling, prone – sling, sand bag, bipod, or bench rest – a position is established to do as much of the pointing part as possible. I emphasize comfort in terms of position to the greatest degree as possible. The less fatigue or pain involved in holding a position, the better your seeing and trigger pull will be. We went through the prone supported and bench rest positions with an emphasis on comfort, the ability to breath while in position, and that the position did the pointing for you.

Wind Doping: We had sufficient winds that teams had to dope and adjust in order to get hits on the steel. Doping the winds is relatively easy. The data book has the process. You need to know how much the wind will move your bullet. I based my class on a bullet / cartridge combination that gives basically a G-1 Ballistic Coefficient of .500. This seems to be about right for most of the calibers using match grade bullets. It isn’t perfect but is guaranteed to get you either a hit or so close that a fast follow on shot will give you a hit. The data book has a formula for estimating wind drift. It is OK – ballpark. I also discussed breaking the range into three bands, 380 yards; 380 – 500 yards; and 600 – 700 yards, with each band having a set value for windage needed to compensate for one MPH of full value wind. I saw some of you busy writing this down so I guess my book didn’t have it so here it is – and do remember that it is ball park.

From the barrel to 380 yards (first impact area) I use ¼ MOA for every MPH of full value wind.

From the 380 yard impact area to 500 yards I use ½ MOA for every MPH of full value wind.

From 500 to 700 yards I use ¾ MOA for every MPH of full value wind.

Take my word for it – you would be damn close using ¼ MOA to 380 yards and ½ MOA from 380 – 700 yards so if you want to remember two things – there you have it.

Take a look at the range flags and determine if you need full or half value in terms of your hold or windage adjustment – then look at those wind flags again and say to yourself “that flag equals ‘X’ minutes of right wind” or “that flag equals ‘X’ mils of hold off”. Burn the image of that flag into your mind and equate it to what your windage adjustment or wind hold is. Use the flags for quick reference and avoid trying to re-calculate for every shot.

Some folks will dope the winds and fire the shot with a good call to see how accurately they estimated the wind. I do this when competing. When I am convinced it is accurate – I look at wind flags or mirage and put that image in my mind that the mirage equals ‘X’ minutes or ‘Y’ hold.

There is no need to agonize over a wind dope for the boomer shoot. Use the simple concepts here and go to the next level of basing holds or adjustments off of the wind flags or mirage. Note, when the flags or mirage are blowing harder than your confidence in reading them – estimate the wind again and put a new value on the flags or mirage.

Calling Shots: From my review of wind doping you see that I dope the wind and fire a shot with a good call to give an acid test to my wind estimation. Then I use mirage or flags. The importance of calling shots is on par with the importance of equipment that works. I spent some time on a separate handout on ‘calling’ shots, ‘call areas’, and how to use your calls to tune your zero or to troubleshoot human issues that pop up from time to time. Calling shots trains your eyes to see precision in your sight picture and the better your eyes are at seeing precision, the better your shooting becomes. So calling shots is more than a troubleshooting issue – it is half of the shooting issue. The other half is trigger pull. That’s why we have a saying “train the eyes to see and the finger to move.”

Dialogue: Unless you have a rifle and optic that lets you see your own trace when shooting, you need a spotter / observer / coach. Dialogue between the shooter and observer becomes pretty important, especially when you look over a field littered with boomers that all look alike. We noted three issues with dialogue.

First, are the shooter and observer looking at the same target? I believe we found an easy solution for this is by letting the shooter find a target and talking the observer on to the target. The shooter will see a target he is most comfortable with shooting, and given he is comfortable with what he is seeing – chances are his shots will be more precise.

Second, is the observer seeing bullet trace? Note I didn’t say giving a wind call. You guys were giving great wind calls but some had problems seeing trace. Seeing bullet trace is more a function of the spotting scope you are using. Cheaper ones aren’t as user friendly on the eyes. Past AARs cover spotting scopes in technical detail but expect to pay between $600.00 and $1K for a good one that will let you see trace easily. If you insist on your $150.00 model, spend some time with a shooter and you will learn what trace looks like in your optic. Some of you may already have a goal written saying “I will buy a “X” spotting scope by “Y” date with what ever plan you have for saving your money or searching out the best price. In terms of reading trace – in most cases it is your gear and not you.

Third, is giving a correction based on a shooter’s call. We are logical in our assessment. We trust the shooter’s call. A good ‘No Wind’ zero for windage is a requirement.

Shots going to calls but missing a target aren’t a mechanical problem of zero or wind doping. You give the shooter a wind correction that he takes, and his call is off the target and that is where you see the trace going – right into his call area. Nothing wrong with his zero or your wind – he called the shot off the target and that’s where it went. It is up to the shooter to figure out how to keep his barrel pointed at the target when he pulls the trigger but you can assist with coaching the shooter through his shooting process from the sanity check on his position through his trigger pull.

Shots not going to the shooters call area are a problem that sometimes causes confusion. This is when you as an observer start using performance enhancement techniques for yourself so that you may go through a logical process to come up with a fast, effective solution. Shots not going to a call area mean there is a zero problem so face it logically and you will be amazed how well the process works.

Correct for elevation: Wind won’t do a thing to mess with elevation so if his shots are lower or higher than his calls, correct the shooters elevation into his call area. When done, it is done, and move along. A ‘no-brainer’ and you have corrected 1/3 of the issue if an elevation problem is present.

Correct for windage: If you are shooting in a no wind condition – correct the windage so the shots go to the call area. If you have wind – look at it in two terms. First – did you give a good wind call? Put a clear vision in your mind of the wind conditions from which you gave the shooter your wind call and review your wind call for a second or two. Second – does the shooter have a good ‘no wind’ zero? Then MAKE A DECISION and execute the decision. You may have the shooter use a different hold – you may have the shooter correct his windage to get a no wind zero and start the process all over again. Be observant during the follow on shot to see if it was your wind call or a ‘no wind’ zero problem that was the culprit.

Use Your Data Book: If things get out of hand – pull out the data book and record the shooters calls, his hits, and your wind calls. Sometimes seeing a pattern develop brings out solutions in a manner that makes you realize just how simple this process really is!

Performance Enhancement

Mental Skills: This was the first clinic where I started emphasizing improving performance through developing a positive, success oriented thought process. I didn’t get into the entire Performance Enhancement Model but did give you the link to the 1/25th SBCT web site where I have the entire PE model detailed. We talked a bit about confidence, goal setting, and visualization skills. They work.

Confidence: Confidence has various angles and various techniques of development. We looked at confidence in terms of trusting your eyes to give you a good call, to see trace accurately, and to note physical indicators of wind shifts. The thing that interferes the most with shooter confidence is his conscious mind. New shooters honestly don’t believe they are seeing well enough for a good call – or to read trace accurately. Trust me on this – your eyes pick up trace and your subconscious is given the accurate reading on that trace – where that shot is going – and is doing it at lightning speed with great precision. At times, we are so shocked at just seeing it that we start to contemplate things and then we put the breaks on precision as we have no let our conscious mind interfere with perfection and have given ourselves a chance to second guess things. Trust your eyes – they are seeing just fine. Trust your mind to give you the input you need. Confidence has many facets – we just chose trusting our eyes as being one to focus on for the Clinic.

Goals: Setting and achieving goals are a must for serious marksmen. It isn’t as much what the goals are but how you articulate them to yourself that brings success. I gave a Goals Sheet that I made for myself to show you how to write your goals out so you can motivate yourself to achieve. Always positive, always defined, always written in the first person, always achievable. One issue with goals – have follow on goals set for yourself so when you achieve the goals you have set – you will continue to progress.

Visualization: How many times have I said ‘train the eyes to see’? Visualization skills in shooting paint a perfect picture in the mind (subconscious) and it is a fact that the body responds to the subconscious in the same manner as that picture presents. Present for yourself only a picture of perfection – perfect sight picture and trigger, perfect wind calls, perfect position – and your subconscious will direct your body to do these things to the degree of perfection you established in your picture. Do we make every shot perfectly? Probably not, but we make more good shots than bad so feed on the good shots – build that perfect image in your mind – and forget the bad shots. The more vivid the picture of perfection you are instilling in your subconscious mind – the more your mind will be focused on that perfect picture while you shoot. Let yourself do what you can do perfectly.

Final Thoughts

Again it was my pleasure to have spent this short day with everyone who attended the clinic. As many of you are now realizing on reviewing the day, the data book you have, and the hand outs I gave you – that it really wasn’t the eight hours we spent on the firing line that are paying off. It is how you have changed in terms of your perceptions of your marksmanship ability. I am willing to bet that once you all started reviewing your performance in terms of those subjects we emphasized – that you are seeing you are a whole lot better than you thought.

Stay with your goals and hopefully I will see many of you next year.

Gene Econ
MAJ. SF (Ret)
May 2004