Smooth out and speed up your drawstroke, transitions, and visual acuity

Yesterday, we talked about using a metronome in your dry fire practice to work on smoothing out your trigger control.  Today, we’re going to cover 3 more metronome drills that will smooth out and speed up your drawstroke, transitions, and ability to focus on the front sight to a level that you may not have thought was possible.

2.  Use the metronome for your drawstroke.  This is an incredibly high octane drill that will do more to speed up your drawstroke in less time than any other drill I know of.

Set the metronome to 120 (one beep every half second) and progress through each of the following steps each time you hear a beep:

  • hands to your side
  • grab the grip of your gun
  • Clear the holster
  • Rock the gun towards the target
  • Grab your gun with your support hand
  • Raise your gun so it’s 8-12″ from your face with the sights lined up on your target and your finger on the trigger
  • Extend the gun to full extension, keeping the sights aligned and press and release the trigger
  • Bring your gun back to 8-12″ in front of your face with your trigger finger straight, stiff, and rigid along the frame and your sights still aligned on the target
  • Hold in this position for a 5-10 count to scan and assess
  • Drop your gun down to belly level, still pointed at the target and put your support hand flat against your belly
  • Rock your gun back down over the holster
  • Reholster
  • Hands to your side

If you’ve gone through the Deadly Accuracy course, you’ll recognize the “straight, stiff, and rigid” verbiage and if you’re a Concealed Carry Masters Course student, you’ll also want to add in your outside 90 flinch response, multiple shots, clearing your cover garment, and your 360 degree scan.

Using the metronome for these drills will break them up into discrete parts so that your mind will be able to work on small discrete chunks of the drawstroke instead of the entire drawstroke at one time.

At first, it will make you choppy but it will be developing incredibly precise neural pathways.  Once you can do it perfectly at a given cadence EFFORTLESSLY 20 times in a row, speed it up.

As you speed up, you’ll be forced/encouraged to eliminate wasted movement.  When you use a metronome, efficiency is rewarded and waste is punished.

As you speed up a little more, the choppiness will go away and the entire drawstroke will become as smooth as silk.

As famed instructor, John Farnam says, “Round off the edges, and eliminate the seams.”

3.  Use the metronome to engage multiple targets.

This is a basic transition drill that I’ve seen help even more “advanced” shooters smooth out and speed up their transitions.

Set your metronome to 60 cycles per minute

If you’re doing dry fire, stand 10 feet away from a wall with 2 targets, 10 feet apart.  You can be between the targets, lined up on the left one, or lined up on the right one.  If your room is smaller than that, stand 8 feet away from a wall with the targets 8 feet apart.

With each cycle of the metronome go through the following steps

  • Look at the left target
  • Aim at the left target
  • press the trigger
  • “throw” your head to the right target, leaving your gun pointed at the left target
  • aim your gun at the right target
  • press the trigger
  • repeat

Again, this starts out mechanical and choppy, but as you develop neural pathways, you’ll eliminate wasted movement, smooth out the process, and your speed will increase.

What you’ll notice is that as you speed up, your head will begin the transition a mere instant before your gun starts the transition, but that instant head-start will translate into less overtravel and a significantly faster transition.

4.  Use the metronome to speed up your ability to diverge & converge your focus.

It takes the average shooter .25-1 seconds to converge their focus from their target to their front sight, depending on the person and the distance to the target.

If you have older eyes or if you stare at computer screens all day, this time is probably on the longer side.  Fortunately, it is something that you have control over, and this exercise can drop the length of time that it takes to transition from a hard focus on your target to a hard focus on your front sight by a significant amount.

Start by standing 5-20 (but no more than 20) feet from a poster, sign, cereal box, or something else that you can read clearly.

Hold a business card or book with small print at arms length that is as small as you can see clearly.

With a stopwatch at the ready, focus at arm’s length.

Hit the start button on the stopwatch and switch your focus to the distant object and back to the arm’s length object 10x.  Don’t cheat.  Make sure that you have crystal clear focus on both the near and far objects, regardless of whether or not you are wearing bi-focals or tri-focals.

Divide that time by 10…so if it took you 18 seconds, you’d have 1.8 seconds.

Divide that time by 2.  1.8 divided by 2 is .9 seconds.

Divide 60 (seconds) by that number (.9) = 66 cycles/beats per minute, subtract 10 from it, and set your metronome to that rate.  (in this case, 56 cycles/beats per minute)

Now, with the metronome and whatever platform you’re using for dry fire practice, practice diverging (focusing on your target) and converging (focusing on your front sight) your focus in time to the metronome in sets of 10.

Your focus (pun intended) with this drill shouldn’t be on speed.  Your focus should be on being honest with yourself and going at whatever pace/cadence you need to in order to achieve clear visual focus every time you shift where you’re looking.  Don’t be afraid to slow down.

PLEASE trust me here…it’s why I told you to subtract “10” from your initial cadence.  If your eyes are sore after 10 reps, STOP.  Wait until the next day, slow your pace down 10 cycles per minute, and try again.

This exercises the (small) muscles of the eyes and as you get smoother and more consistent, you will develop neural pathways for shifting focus to arm’s length (your front sight).  As you get smoother, more consistent, and develop these neural pathways, your ability to quickly transition your focus from your target to your front sight and release your first round will increase to a shocking degree.

If you own a set of Dry Fire Training Cards, you’ve been doing these drills for up to a year or more–just without the metronome.  Don’t have a set of Dry Fire Training Cards yet?  If you’re a serious shooter, that’s just silly.

National Tactical Officers Association Tested and Recommended

National Tactical Officers Association Tested and Recommended

 

They’ve been tested and recommended by the National Tactical Officers’ Association.

Tier I and Tier II units from multiple countries use them in their training…even with nearly unlimited budgets.  In fact, one senior 18B special forces instructor has made Dry Fire Training Cards almost mandatory for the guys on the teams he works with to use Dry Fire Training Cards on their own before he’ll work with them!

Law Enforcement agencies across the US are buying them in bulk to maintain and improve their officers’ and deputies’ shooting skills in a time of shrinking budgets.

And competitive and concealed carry shooters are buying them in mass because they know they need every training edge they can possibly get.

To get yours now, head on over to DryFireTrainingCards.com

Questions?  Comments?  Any experience with training with a metronome?  Please share by commenting below:

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Comments

  1. Albert Pacal says:

    Great stuff, and I could be wrong, but I think you should multiply 60 x 0.9 instead of dividing. My first trial time was 14 sec (faster than your example of 18). With the math presented 60 / 0.7 = 86. Adding 10 to that = 96 (tempo to set metronome). Shouldn’t I be at a tempo less than 76 (your example). I get the concept and appreciate the effort presenting it!

    Sincerely,
    Albert Pacal

    • Albert Pacal says:

      Ooooppps… I caught my error…

    • Ox did it right. You do want to divide. The confusion came in when I decided to edit it and slowed down the pace. There wasn’t any “subtracting” or “adding” initially and I edited it caused the confusion. You’re right and I fixed it.

      Your initial pace should be at 76 cycles per minute and the example is at 56 cycles per minute.

  2. Carol Pate says:

    I have been shooting Cowboy Action for several years. I have found that my eyes will not “fast focus” at all allowing speedy firing. Instead, I focus on the target only. Keeping the gun barrel parallel to my line of sight not using the gun sights at all except for long (more than 30 yards) shots. I keep the barrel about chin high for shots out to about 10 yards. For 10 to 30 yards, about an inch below my line of sight. I find that although not extremely accurate, I can hit well within 8 X 11 sized targets out to 30 plus yards. Beyond that, sights start to become necessary. This method allows these tired old eyes to acquire the next target much quicker and my gun follows my eyes almost instantly. Yes, I do miss once in a while from trying to be a little too speedy. Cowboy Action is two revolvers, five rounds each drawn and reholstered, a lever action rifle with ten rounds an an empty chamber, and a double barrel side by side shotgun with six round and initial loading on the fly. Point shooting can be learned fairly easy and is much quicker.

    • Thanks for your comments, Carol 🙂

      Ox’s drills are specifically designed to get your eyes to “fast focus”

      Your eyes are connected directly to the brain through the optic nerve and their position and dilation are controlled by muscles…muscles that you’ll fight against unless you’ve taken control of them by stretching and exercising them with drills like these. Most people find that when they start exercising their “tired old eyes” that they speed up and act younger. They’re only tired and old because they don’t get put through their entire range of motion or worked out often enough.

      Point shooting can be learned fairly easily, but it takes a high round count to create and lock in the neural pathways. Aimed shooting can be practiced for free with dry fire in your house.

      As to which is quicker, it depends on your criteria. If someone had a knife to the throat to a loved one at 15 feet, would you use aimed fire or point shooting?

      If you were in a crowded room with an active shooter, which method would take out the threat with the least risk to innocent life? Would you save more people by point shooting so that you gain a fraction of a second at the expense of possibly hitting innocents or would you take a fraction of a second longer to aim and let the shooter get off another shot or two?

      I’d argue that there is no 100% right answer, but you, a prosecutor, a civil attorney, and a jury will debate it ad nauseum after the fact.

Trackbacks

  1. […] And, if you didn’t see Ox’s speed shooting videos with a subcompact Glock or his training tips for integrating dry fire and live fire training, as well as smoothing out and speeding up your drawstroke, transitions, and learning how to train your eyes to focus on the front sight faster, check out his articles >HERE< and >HERE< […]

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