Most of us grew up watching westerns on television or at the movies, and playing cowboy was a common way for kids to entertain themselves. Without getting political, I thought this old Mattel ad was really interesting when you compare the times of old to today. The concept of acceptable fun sure has changed a lot (and I wish I had one of these growing up).
Since we are not shooting long distances, many times we take long gun practice lightly. We need to spend as much time training with the rifle and shotgun as we do with our pistols. Once again, a good practice session does not take a lot of ammunition. One shot drills will do more for you than blowing through a bunch of ammunition practicing sweeps. One of the best things that you can do is to practice one shot drills. What I mean is, practice acquiring the weapon and getting on target quickly with the front sight. Most of your time with the long guns is probably lost getting on the first target, not in going through the sweeps. This allows you to have a very productive practice session without using a lot of ammunition.
Also, when you have a miss on the shotgun if you shoot the double barrel, go ahead and load both chambers for the makeup shot. Your muscle memory is used to loading two, plus it takes no more time to have an extra round if you miss again. Also, there is no danger of hitting the wrong trigger.
Check out this video for some effective training tips from a top shooter
One of the best practice tools that you can invest in is a timer. Any practice run can “feel” good, but unless you know how fast you were able to perform, this really tells you nothing about how that will translate into a match. Personally, I have had practice runs that felt really smooth and good, only to look at the timer to find out it was one of my slower runs. These speed drills also do not take a lot of ammo. You are trying to minimize gun handling mistakes, so single shot runs are fine.
By watching this video, you will gain some insight and tips for good drills to run and how to incorporate them into your training regimen.
Many times at a match, you may come across a situation where your shotgun targets are split, meaning either you have to move with the shotgun to a second location, or the stage writer may mix things up and have you shoot another gun in between. This requires us to pay a little extra attention when moving, as we must always be conscious of the 170 rule, and always remember that we must move with the shotguns open and empty.
Once you get used to it, this is not that hard of a skill to master, but there are some tips that will help you minimize wasted time and movements. Many times, a match can be won or lost with the shotgun, so time spent practicing these skills will help you more than you realize. Watch the following video for some great tips of ways to shave some time and gain efficiency.
How you stage your shotguns is very important, especially since we stage them open and empty. The last thing that we want is for some stray brass to drop into the loading port. Also, the way the shotguns are staged can make a big difference in our speed in both loading and shooting. There is an additional consideration when staging them after shooting, because we do not want them closing on us. This would force us to stop and open them, costing us unnecessary time.
This video will give you some good things to practice and get more efficient with.
Many shooters, especially new shooters, come to the sport with a double barrel shotgun. These are good guns that in the right hands can be made to run very fast, and they have very few parts to break when compared to a Model 97. There are some modifications that you will want to make in order to get the gun speed ready, but when you are starting out, this is a fine shotgun to start with.
In training, one of the things that you will want to practice is how you load the shotgun. There are two areas that cause you to lose time with a double, loading and getting rid of the shells. If you can minimize the wasted time in these areas, you can make big strides in where you end up in the standings.
The following video will help you prepare for how to use this gun effectively.
One of the shotgun choices that you have in cowboy action shooting is a Model 97 pump. Some of the fastest shooters find great success running these guns, but there is a unique skill set that you will need to develop in order for you to reach your potential with this model. One important tip is to not run this gun soft. In other words, when you drop the round in and run the pump forward, do it hard or this shotgun can lock up. Not a good thing to happen on the clock.
Another thing to practice is the way that you load the shotgun. The fastest way once you have these skills down is to load one shell at a time, but grab multiple shells off your belt at once. The following video will help you develop these techniques, and will give you some ideas for things to use in your next practice session.
Occasionally, especially in a bigger match, you may come across a stage where a rifle reload is required on the clock. Because we do not see this a lot, this is something that can really trip us up, or at the very least, cost us a lot of time. Nothing is more frustrating than being fumble fingered when you are on the clock.
We reload the shotgun on the clock, so why should we be any less proficient with our rifle? It is a good idea to incorporate this into your training regimen, so when it does come up, it becomes simply something else to complete on the stage, instead of a reason to panic. The following video will give you some good tips for how to effectively perform a reload on the clock without sacrificing your stage times.
One of the areas where a lot of us lose time is on our rifle. Even if you can cycle the lever quickly, how you pick up and mount the rifle can cost you a lot of time over the course of a match. Wasted movement and extra distances are our enemies. Another important tip is to remain squared up to the targets as much as possible, as a sideways stance encourages the rifle to walk out to the edge of the shoulder and bounce. This can lead to misses and extra time. You also need to watch how you discard the rifle, as this is another area where you can lose unnecessary time.
The following video will give you some good tips and ideas to make your rifle practice more effective so you can be faster in matches
Although the distances that we shoot rifles are not all that far, you would be surprised at the number of misses that some shooters have, especially when they are pushing their personal speed limit. Often, this is caused more by our technique and the way that we are handling the rifle instead of the speed that we are operating the rifle at.
One of the things that your should practice and strive for is to avoid muzzle movement. Often this is the result of how we are holding the rifle, how we are mounting the rifle, or side pressure (or some combination of all three).
Take a look at the following video for some things to practice and ways to avoid these mistakes.