“10 Meter Air pistol Shooting – a newbie’s perspective” by Gary Hoover

“10 Meter Air pistol Shooting – a newbie’s perspective”

Gary Hoover

Gary Hoover

by  Gary Hoover 10/28/14

When the pre-class package of reading material arrived from Ruslan Dyatlov of the Midwest Shooting Academy, I eagerly opened the enveloped and quickly scanned the contents. One of the chapters that Ruslan insisted be read several times was simply the basics-stance, grip, breathing, aim, trigger control and follow-through.  My first reaction was “heck, I’ve been shooting regular two-handed pistols for several years.  Certainly I know how to stand, grip the pistol and “squeeze the trigger—right”?  Well, it turns out I was wrong – very wrong!  But before I get too far ahead of the story, let me tell you a little about myself.

I’m 61 years old and have been two-handed range shooting for about 6 years with the normal handguns.   In 2012, I happened to be watching the London Olympics and saw a short report on what they called 50-meter free pistol.  I had never heard of such a sport.  A little Google work and I found not only videos of free pistol but also 10-meter air pistol.   I remember the first exposure to the price of these pistols-shocking to say the least!  Then I discovered the Baikal 46M at an affordable price.  A few nights of shooting this fine pistol and I was hooked.  Several months later, I decided to get a Toz 35 and thoroughly enjoyed shooting it.  In another year, I added a Steyr LP10E and a Morini CM84E to the collection.  At this point, there was certainly no excuse for blaming the pistol for my not-so-great scores.  As time progressed, my score improved some, but my groupings were very erratic.  For the free pistol, I was anywhere from 400 to 460.  For the air pistol, the results were a little better, 440 to 480.  Unfortunately, progress was not being made.  I had read Yuryev’s book cover to cover and probably now qualify for at least an M.D. degree.  I also studied every YouTube video that I could find.  Still, the scores stayed flat.  Soon, I realized that some coaching help was needed and in the summer of 2014, I went for a weekend class at the Midwest Shooting Academy in Royal Oaks, Mi., which brings us back to the six shooting principles emphasized so heavily by Ruslan.  It didn’t take long to realize that my stance was totally wrong and as such, my natural point of aim was anything but natural.  Grip also needed correcting.  My fingertips were incorrectly wrapping around and squeezing the grip unnaturally.  Area aiming was a concept I had read about but didn’t fully understand until the class. Before the class, I thought my biggest issue was trigger control.  It turns out that fundamental needed the least amount of correction.   Follow through was probably the biggest surprise.  One would think that once the bullet or pellet is out of the tube, you’re done!  I was amazed at how much follow through not only improved my groupings but also helped me call the shot more accurately.  And then there is dry fire.  I’ll admit it.  To me, dry fire is pretty dry.  But, I can see the benefit it provides practicing the six fundamentals and, provides great strengthening exercise for the arm.

Following the class, I made a few additional purchases.  I first bought a pair of Varga shooting glasses.  Being 61, I need progressive lenses.  What’s more, I have an astigmatism, which my prescription glasses correct.  What I found works best is to wear the shooting glasses over my prescription glasses.  This may not look the coolest, but it seems to work for me.  Also, the shooting glasses sit away from my prescription glasses so as to not cause any scratching.  The iris attachment is another “option” that I’ve found very helpful in that it allows me to concentrate on just sight alignment since most all other objects around the target are blanked out.  The iris also allows me to get the correct portion of my prescription progressive lenses to consistently be focused about half way between the front and rear sights.  For the shooting glasses, I simply use a straight 0.00 diopter yellow lens in front of the iris.  I chose yellow since all of my shooting, including the free pistol is don indoors.

Another important purchase was a pair of very flat soled shoes.  Once again, going to the Internet revealed that true pistol shooting shoes are not only flat soled but also fully complaint with new the ISSF rules for sole flexure.  The problem was, these shoes were only available on-line—so how does one “try on” the shoe to get the correct fit?  In the end, I opted for a pair of Nike Tiempos, which I purchased on sale at Dick’s for a whopping total of $50.  They work fine and seem to really help provide support and keep my weight distribution balanced between both feet.

In the several months since my class, I’ve definitely become more consistent in my groupings.  My goal before the class was to keep all shots within the 7 ring or better.  Except for an occasional goober, that goal has now been achieved.   I’ve learned that concentration is extremely important.   I still have a day job, which quite often gets more hectic than this 61 year old can handle.  On those, days, I notice my grouping is not nearly as tight.  Possibly the blood pressure is higher and possibly my mind is wondering more than it should.  On the flip side, maybe days like those are good since shooting in a match would be anything but calm and relaxing.  I’ve also noticed that keeping properly hydrated seems to help me be steadier on target.  I’ve never been a big water drinker, but I’ve found that having 20 or so ounces of water before I shoot seems to reduce the shaking.

My free pistol shooting has been limited since my summer class since I wanted to concentrate mainly on the air pistol.  Lately, I have began to dry fire both the Toz and the Morini along with visiting the range once per week.  While free pistol is harder for me than air pistol, my groupings and consistency have greatly improved compared to before the class.  More practice and dry fire is obviously needed.

I’ve found 10 meter air pistol and 50 meter free pistol is extremely rewarding and challenging and I look forward to improved groupings over the next year.  The sport doesn’t seem to be very popular in my hometown of St. Louis, so I’m mostly in competition against myself.  But that’s OK.  I’ll keep practicing and continuously reviewing those six basic fundamentals along with the several pages of excellent notes from Ruslan’s class.