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How to improve my qualification scores


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  • How to improve my qualification scores

    I am currently a police officer on the east coast. My question is regarding our qualification course at 25 yards. We qualify at least twice a year. Our qualification consists of 60 shots, 18 of which are from the 25 yard line (6 from a barricade standing on strong side, 6 kneeling from the strong side and 6 from the barricade on the weak side). In my department it used to be you would get a few warm up rounds before qualifying OR qualify at the end of the day. After warming up I DID fine. For the past year our dept has decided that we will qualify cold turkey (and we start at the 25 yard line). My problem has always been at the twenty five yard line, from the standing position but ESPECIALLY from the kneeling position. It seems at least 6 or 7 shots are totally off the target (I am pretty most of them are from the kneeling position) and probably 6 or 7 more are on the paper but not on the actual silouette). I was informed that dry firing would help, but it hasn't helped at 25 yards. I started going to the range to practice, but if I have any bad habits I am just reinforcing them. From 15 yards I do just fine when I practice but at 25 yards is when the problems occurred (the shots at this distance peppered the target and a few were M.I.A.). I am qualifying again this month. If anyone has any pointers I would gladly appreciate it.
    Last edited by kinghaas; 07-01-2005, 11:06 PM.

  • #2
    Quit focusing on the target and focus on your sights. You also need to get to the range more often. Try to have fun with it, maybe go out in the country and shoot cans.
    "Respect for religion must be reestablished. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officials must be curtailed. Assistance to foreign lands must be stopped or we shall bankrupt ourselves. The people should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence." - Cicero, 60 B.C.

    For California police academy notes go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CABasicPolice/


    • #3
      aim small miss small. without being there and seeing you shoot, its hard to help you. Go to our website linked below and watch some of the videos. Find a local trainer that can help you also. You should have 60% grip weak hand and 40$ strong. Focus on the front sight and gently press the triger.


      • #4
        A couple of things to consider:
        Have you had your vision checked recently? If you are in need of glasses, the lack of them can make a significant difference.

        Remember your basics: Grip, Stance, Sight alignment/sight picture, trigger control and breathing.
        Of the five listed above, your Trigger control, Sight alignment/Sight picture, and your grip are the most important. If you have rounds off of the paper at 25 yards, chances are you are jerking the trigger or "making" the gun go off unstead of applying pressure to the trigger, while holding your sights aligned in the center of the target until the weapon fires.

        If you have done "fine" in the past after a warmup, chances are that you are not spending enough time at the range on your personal time. "Cold Barrel" qualification is how my department does it as well. It is a much better gauge of an officer's ability to perform "on demand" such as on the street, than permitting the officer to practice all day and then qual.
        My .02


        • #5
          Sounds like the Connecticut POST-mandated yearly qualification course. It bears no relation to reality but we do it anyway.

          Here is the secret practice method to hitting what you aim at: DRY FIRE!

          Take your pistol home, unload it, check to make sure it's unloaded, check it again, verify that it's unloaded, then start to dry fire. Dry fire thousands and thousands of times while concentrating on sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger control. If you do this on a consistent basis it's like waving a magic wand over your pistol when you get to the range - your scores WILL improve.
          Cogito ergo summopere periculosus.


          • #6
            I'd bet $100 that you're jerking the trigger. Try dry firing like everyone else said, but while you're doing it, stack dimes on top of your slide, by the front sight post. Dry fire with one dime, then two, then three, etc. If you dry fire and the dimes take a tumble, start over. If you can dry fire with 6 or 7 dimes consistently without them falling off, you'll be good to go.

            And of course you've got all the basics down (stance, sight picture/alignment, grip) while you're doing this.
            *Not a cop*


            • #7
              How to aim small and keep it small

              You said in your post your shots were all over the paper. Common mistakes in shooting will typically create common patterns of hits. For example if you were jerking the trigger most of your shot placements would be patterned below your aim point. A pattern of shots being all over the paper is often the result of not focusing on the front site. When you look down your site picture don't forget the target should look fuzzy and the rear site should look fuzzy with the front site being clear. Too often we focus on the target and this does not allow for the proper site picture to develop.

              Another problem that can contribute to shots going all over the board is gripping the weapon too hard. If you are already stressed when you step up to the shooting line don't forget to check to see if you are over gripping.

              The last thing I would want you to check is to see if you you are using a smooth trigger pull. Start off slow in practice pulling the trigger slow so you do not know when the round will discharge. Get use to the smooth pull and surprise break when the round is discharged. One way to check you trigger pull is to have someone else load you magazine with a few empty shell casings. As you squeeze off each round concentrate on the front site. When you get to the empty casing see if your site picture jumps. It should not move. Remember you should only squeeze as fast as you can control the weapon. Get the technique and then work on speed. After time the speed will develop.

              I have found that most shooters with shooting problems improve when I stand behind them and remind them to focus on the front site and to have a smooth trigger pull. When you are hitting the target up close look for patterns in relation to your aim point. Good luck on the next qualification and stay safe.


              • #8
                Originally posted by mobrien316
                Here is the secret practice method to hitting what you aim at: DRY FIRE!
                This may be THE most overlooked training method of all. But it's not only for trigger squeeze and aim. It's EXCELLENT for draw practice, magazine change drills, and stamina building as shooting is an un-natural series of arm positions.

                Oh, it's also great for weak hand / gun familiarization. Most of us don't shoot
                weak hand much.


                Last edited by gnappi; 07-17-2005, 12:05 AM.


                • #9
                  Excellent advice have been given already. Where on the East Coast (state) are you located? Your qualifications are similar to ours except we shoot 12 rounds from the 25 (4-4-4) and no weak hand from that distance. We used to, but ti was taken out. We do that at the 5 now..
                  Last edited by BlackKnight; 07-17-2005, 11:28 AM.
                  "The policeman is sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for he will will have you punished. He is sent by God for that very purpose" - Rom 13:4


                  • #10
                    If you are having problems....PRACTICE. The one thing I have learned about firearms training is that most cops dont practice anywhere near as much as they should. If you show up and do the department-qualification course twice a year you are WAY behind the curve. in our department we qualify twice a year, but we are generally at the range at LEAST one a month if not more... We practice shooting while moving, shooting from cover, shooting from cars, shooting from prone, shooting after running (that one sucks, but it is reality). Our firearms instructor makes us run an obstacle course, then do push-ups, then engage targets while moving...reloads on the move, you name it...we do it...but most of us dont just do the department shoots either. we all practice on our own, we do dry-fire at home when we can't shoot, etc.

                    One thing is sure..I will NEVER lose a gunfight because I didnt practice!
                    amateurs practice till they get it right...professionals practice until we cant get it wrong.


                    • #11
                      All good advice here... my 2cents follows:
                      1) Heart rate and breathing- It's range qualification not a gunfight, so control you breathing. Breathing control will help keep your heart rate down and this will help jumpiness, jitters, and shakes
                      2) No coffee or caffeine, candy, donuts, sweets or soda... all that crap will make you jumpy as well as fat, so eat a bannana and have a water!
                      3) SLOW IS SMOOTHE...and SMOOTHE IS FAST!
                      4) there is only one absolute way to improve on the range... only one way, and that is be on the range as much as you can... shoot till your hands are sore...
                      5) Find a good trainer... not just "a firearms instructor", a real shooter, somebody who really knows what they are doing and ask them to watch you shoot.

                      Have fun... shoot straight and shoot'em in the face!


                      • #12
                        Just keep telling your self front sight! Everything else should be a blurr!! Don't look at the target! Then smooth press straight to the rear! With Glock's we qual every month for the first year..then every other month after that. We also have special bonus qual courses every month that are faster. You medal with these and get paid a certain amount on your check depending on your skill. Also, keep practicing. You will only get better as long as you can ID your bad habits and/or have an instructor with you. Take care!
                        And yes thats the way I wanted to spell it!lol


                        • #13
                          Scary to think that these Depts send you out there like that..

                          I stop by my local ranges and watch the gangsters and weirdos shoot more OFTEN than most cops I know! We qualify in my Dept once to twice a month ,usually 30-45 rds @ 7 ,15,25 yds, then every 3 months 12 ga shotgun qualification for basic patrol personnel ( Urban Police Rifle or AR-15 certified personnel must qualify ever other month). and still it isn't enough. The best times are the tactical /barricade shooting and speed /stress shooting,then you have an idea of what you might do in an emergency.FBI stats say that under stress ,combat shooting most officers "hit" the target less than 30% of the time. If you are hitting your target "high and to the left', your rt handed flinching,low and to the rt, left handed flinching-dry firing helps with the flinching(make sure you have an old spent casing or a snap cap in the weapon to protect the firing pin).also what type of firearm and ammo are you using?-don't let people B.S. you on the stopping "power" fantasy.9mm ,properly placed is as effective as .40 cal or .45 cal.( and vice versa) its all about bullet placement, and NO BULLET is truly a ONE SHOT STOPPER ( had a 16 yr old 5'6",120lb punk walk up to me on a sidewalk once and tell me he'd been shot in Inglewood,CA-turned out he'd been "hit" (3)times in the upper torso with a .45 and still was walking around trying not to bleed to death-no drugs,just young dumb and scared!).if recoil is screwing you up,say with the .357 sig,.45 cal, or .40,see if the Dept allows 9mm(most still do).Also, are your hands large and the firearm frame small? or your hands small and the frame too large?

                          The idea that one type of firearm is good for all , is non sense!while certain Depts demand a certain make or makers, as well as certain safety criteria( like decocking levers or safeties),the decision to use certain types of weapons come from civilian mgm'ts impression on a less lethal type of weapon or ammo( saw a city commissioner once say that she liked the "smaller " bullet -9mm vs .45 -as she thought it wouldn't HURT THE SUSPECT as much! Good grief),personal likes/dislikes of the Depts command staff ,or basic issues of whats cheap and plentiful! I used to carry the beretta 92FS,then the beretta 8045,but now I'm firmly happy with my .40 cal Glock (mod#22,with m3 tactical light attachment)patrol load out is the standard 15+1 in the weapon plus (4) add'l mags totalling (76) rds - if I EVER have to go thru that then screw it(I'll use my .12 ga slug and "OO" rds!!) find the "gun"that fits you ,then get out to a range and practice or out in a rural area thats safe to fire a weapon in.Poor shooting,like poor decisions and poor report writing ,will do you in as a police officer every time........P.S-"squeeze slowly",don't jerk!.
                          Last edited by DOAcop38; 10-21-2005, 06:09 AM. Reason: mssing sentence
                          "we're americans ! We don't quit because we're wrong, we just keep doing it wrong UNTIL it turns out Right"...


                          • #14

                            It's sounds like the NJ HQC and if you're losing the rounds at the 25 then it's probably jerking the trigger or anticipating the recoil - you need more practice and maybe someone to run some ball and dummy exercises. What Weapon is being used? also consider how fast you're shooting....you get 1 min 25 sec to fire those 12 rounds from the 25....slow down! it's target shooting at that stage.
                            Last edited by jerseyshorecop; 10-21-2005, 03:59 PM.


                            • #15
                              As a few people have already said:

                              FRONT SIGHT - FRONT SIGHT - FRONT SIGHT!!!

                              Make sure your grip is tight, hold your weapon (the proper way) and squeeze your hands until they shake, then let off just to the point of the shaking stopping, and that is how you should always be gripped.

                              After every shot, at that distance, even if timed, you have time to re-align your front sight, don't worry about anything else. Hell the target isn't going anywhere, especially for a qualification.

                              If you think kneeling is the problem, try a different method of kneeling, I can think of three off the top of my head. I have one, that works for me, and the other two don't. Some people get so used to doing it one way the others won't work. I had my instructor tell me, that doesn't work for many people because your arms are supported on anything, well hell, for standing they aren't either, and it does work, FOR ME. Look at other methods if you need to.

                              I qual'd last night with a new gun, out of the box, NEVER shot before, and breezed by with a 290/300. I blew my second shot at 25yds, because the recoil on the Kimber .45 with a 4" barrel wasn't what I was conditioned to. I was ****ed at myself, but nailed everyone after that.

                              Good Luck!
                              When I'll be the girl that you love, you'll be the boy that I hate...


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