Part 1 of Shooting Moving Targets (swingers, sliders, bobbers)

  • SumoMe

This blog [material taken from Your Competition Handgun Training Program (book)] will be a three part blog covering:

  1. Principles of shooting moving targets, and specific techniques for swingers
  2. Shooting sliders and bobbers
  3. Shooting Clamshells and drop turners

Principles of all activator type targets

  • They are designed to distract the shooter, don’t let them.
  • There is rarely a performance advantage to trying something tricky at the C-D level.  Shoot them like any other target (front sight on brown, press the trigger).
  • They NEVER move as fast as they look (don’t let them intimidate you).
  • Other shooters may make engaging the targets look like things are happening a lot faster that you think, remember the golden rule that everything is slower when you are behind the gun, do not let another shooters pace on an activator intimidate you.
  • At the C-D level, if at all possible activate targets first then return when they have slowed or are stationary (this is the easy way, but rarely will stages allow this to be done).
  • Scout the stage.  The only way to really learn something about a stage and its movers is to watch them several times.  It is not possible to see what you need to see in a short five minute walk-through.  Take the time and make the effort of scouting all stages with moving targets.  Take notes!
  • Most importantly, when possible ALWAYS BE DOING SOMETHING!  This is where time is lost or gained.  Find something to do (reload, shoot, move) while moving through a stage.  This is very important when engaging a moving target because there is usually some activation time.
  • Reaction time: Know it!  Typically auditory reaction time is about .18 to .23.  Visual reaction time is usually slower if we have to decide on something (called the decision reaction time vs. straight reaction time).  This is why we see people shoot a miss or do something that they recognize immediately, but pause slightly because they haven’t primed their brain with reactive options.

Swingers

  • Speed
    • How fast does it appear after being activated, can anything else be done while waiting?

      A swinger appears and swings back and forth.  The speed of appearance, as well as the natural stopping point are both critical pieces of information you need to know.

      A swinger appears and swings back and forth. The speed of appearance, as well as the natural stopping point are both critical pieces of information you need to know.

    • How fast does it move? (if you miss the walk through, look at where the weight is placed on the swinger arm, the closer to the pivot point, the faster the swinger moves back and forth.
    • How fast does it return to the engagement point (the far path of the swing where the swinger pauses slightly, usually the best spot to shoot it)
    • Timing
      • How much time is there after the activator is hit to do something?
      • Stopwatch!
      • Find the sweet spot (the spot where the target stops and pauses) This spot is the place we will shoot the target.  If you don’t get to watch the swinger, find the position where other shooters have engaged it (look for the brass!) and then look for the impact area in the berm/ground.  This will tell you exactly where to index your gun to wait and ambush the target.
  • Techniques for shooting
    • Tracking
      • Only on very close or very slow targets
      • The gun moves with the swinger (slightly)
    • Ambush
      • This method is where we have to know the sweet spot of the target, where does it stop at full swing and pause…that is where we press the trigger (usually can get both shots, but sometimes we must wait for the target to return, if so is there anything
        In this stage from the nationals, you could see the ambush point by looking at the impacts on the berm.  Such an ambush point is exactly where you want to drive your gun, even before seeing the moving target (try to be ahead of it).

        In this stage from the nationals, you could see the ambush point by looking at the impacts on the berm. Such an ambush point is exactly where you want to drive your gun, even before seeing the moving target (try to be ahead of it).

        else we can be doing?).  Here is how is would be broken down:

        • Just prior to the target entering the ambush point we have prepped and begin to press the trigger.
        • Press the trigger with an keen awareness of the front sight recoiling off brown (if we don’t see that we may have missed!).
        • The second shot can go off as the target begins to exit the point again, but be careful to ensure that the front sight lifts from the target, not after it left (when in doubt shoot at the target when it returns…if the hit factor warrants it)
        • Remember that the shot may be hard to call, since bobbers disappear below the gun (out of the vision line).

In the end, swingers are simply another prop you must learn to shoot in order to become successful in USPSA style competitions.  Don’t let them intimidate you!  If you have the ability to set one up and practice shooting them at your club, you will be WAY ahead of the competition!

Until Then – Train Hard!

Mike S.

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