Having shot over 100 competitions at every level during the last four years, I’ve seen a wide variety of shooting skills, but sadly I’ve also seen the same mistakes continue to be made over and over again. Here’s a list of the five biggest mistakes I see at matches which if eliminated, will likely provide you with the greatest improvement benefits. (Note: This guide is geared towards Steel Challenge competition, but the most of the principles presented here apply to all competitive shooting disciplines.)
1. Over-Aiming: This is by far the biggest speed killer I see. Taking way too much time to refine a sight picture that does not need to be refined wastes a tremendous amount of time on a run. Shooters who exhibit this behavior have never taken the time during training to determine what the minimum sight picture is necessary to hit a particular target. The result is that they try to acquire the same sight picture for every target—regardless of the target difficulty—before pulling the trigger. Does this method work for hitting the target? Sure it does, but it has no place as a competitive shooting technique. There is no need to have the same sight picture for a 12-inch plate at seven yards, as there is for a 10-inch 18-yard plate or even an 18×24-inch plate at 35 yards.
2. Trigger Control: During the firing cycle, which consists of acquiring the target, getting the proper sight picture, breaking the shot and confirming where your bullet went (shot calling), proper trigger control is essential. The goal of trigger control is quite simple—do not move the gun as you break the shot. Moving the gun before or after breaking the shot does not materially affect if you will hit the target. Many shooters think they are not moving the gun when they pull the trigger. However, these same shooters are usually quite surprised when you ask them to tell you where the bullet went and they say it was the center of the target because that is where they believe their sights were, only to go down range and see the bullet had hit somewhere else. This is usually due to the fact that while the sights may have been lined up on the target center prior to the trigger pull, and at the moment the shot breaks the shooter does something to move the gun. Since they have not yet learned to call shots properly, not only does the bullet go somewhere else, but they did not see that the sights had moved and the bullet went exactly were the sights were at the instant the shot broke and the bullet is not where they thought it was. [full article]