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The Proof is in the Puddin'
(Reader's Note: This is an article from
As all longtime readers here at Alliance know, we
place a lot of value on family and friends. When people we care about
need our help there is no thought but to go and assist them. It was
with such selfless dedication that Mrs. Lily volunteered to help our
friends break in some green horses. It wasn't just so she could go
riding a few days a week, I'm sure.
Anyhow, being as I know squat about horses but won't miss out on a social visit, I decided to go along with her and try an experiment for the benefit of you, our dear friends and readers!
Now, in addition to horses, these folks have two great kids who I am blessed to be "Unca' Pete" to, and so I figured that since we were going to be guarding the ranch against outlaws and desperadoes anyhow while the ladies were out riding that we might as well do some shootin'. When I suggested it, the way their 10 year old son jumped around with a big smile on his face and scurried off to fetch his bb-gun, you'd have thought I had said it was his birthday and Christmas...
(That's a thing people miss with kids today - stuff don't mean shit, but spend some time with them and they appreciate it)
Now, being that their son had grown up in a household around firearms and hunting, I was not surprised when he quickly rattled off all the major (and some of the minor) rules of gun safety to me when I asked.
I was impressed.
Then he told me about the stupid shit the kid up the road would do with a bb-gun (like shoot his own dog!) and how he wouldn't hang out with that jerk anymore because of it. This spoke volumes to me about the values that were passed on to him about responsible gun ownership from his folks. He knew there was a big difference between shooting an animal so it could be on the table (like deer, rabbits or turkeys) and just ignorant cruelty! We score this, Animals: 1, Stupid Abusive Jerks: 0!
We walked out back and he set up a big cardboard box archery target that he normally used to shoot at. It was a big, conventional bulls-eye target probably 2 1/2 feet on each side. I told him to start shooting and watched what he did. Right away I could see that he at least knew the 3 basic positions (standing, kneeling, prone) that are taught in conventional sighted shooting, which was as I had expected, and he was *usually* hitting the box at 20 feet.
Then I took a deck of cards and a wood board out of my shooting bag and asked him if he'd like to try something a little different. The strip of wood was an old 1x4 piece of pine with a groove in it about 3/4" deep along both sides (left over from some project). The groove is just right to hold a playing card upright in it, and this 30" strip holds about 5 cards with some space between them.
I set up this target just in front of the box we'd been shooting at, and I could tell he didn't think he had a chance in hell of hitting those playing cards.
"I'll try, but I don't think I could ever hit them." he said. "Don't worry, just stare at the bottom of the card and shoot before you count to 3 in your head." I told him.
I could tell he wasn't yet convinced.
We fired through probably 200 rounds total at those cards, sometimes popping them out of the stand, other times just making them snap in place. "Shoot as fast as you can." I told him, "If you miss one then go to the next and don't repeat." After about an hour of this type of shooting, he was hitting the cards about 30% of the time with those quick unsighted shots.
This is the same kid who was sometimes missing a 5 square foot target earlier while using the sights...but now hitting a playing card just about 1 time in 3...without using the sights!
"How do you feel with that?" I said, knowing the answer already. "Pretty good!" came the reply.
"Ready for the next step?" I asked. "We're going to have a moving target."
Getting the affirmative, I took out the other target I had brought with me. This was simply a few grocery bags put inside each other and filled with some Styrofoam packing material, then tied shut and attached to a long piece of clothes line.
My sidekick thought he knew what this one was for, "You throw that rope over a tree branch so it hangs down, right?" he asked me.
"Nope," I replied, "We run the rope around the tree and back to us so when I pull it the target moves along the ground side-to-side in front of you. You can pull the rope slow or fast or a mix and see how many hits the other one can get before it reaches the end. In the days before video-games this is what we did for fun. If we had two ropes and two trees we could set it up so the target could move both ways."
We started into firing at the moving ground target, and after the cards this rabbit-sized plastic bag seemed huge. My sidekick hardly ever missed a shot on it, firing as fast as he could and without aiming. After a bit his sister came out to see what was going on. Though she didn't want to shoot, she thought controlling the target was a hoot, so we both fired away at the moving target for probably an hour total.
By this point it was getting dark and kind of chilly so we decided to call it quits, but at my sidekick's insistence we had to shoot a few more rounds at the playing cards.
Well let me tell you!
I had to reload so I saw this clear as day - his first 3 shots were all dead on those cards, and of the next 10 or so shots he took I'd say that probably 60% were hits. All fired in fading light, as fast as he could, at playing cards, without using the sights...by a 10 year old!
Now, there has been a lot of argument and many volumes written both pro and con on the topic of point shooting. The critics at worst say it does not work, and at best say it is "too hard to learn or teach". Some people can't even agree on what "point shooting" means! Let me just say that, to me, it is simply the ability to look at a target and instantly move to shoot it without consciously engagin' the sights or thinkin' too much. This is not hard! It is a natural outgrowth of your ability to point and judge distance with your eyes - that's it!
The same natural instincts that let you toss a paper ball into the trash can (instantly figuring the calculations for distance, weight, size of can, etc.) can easily be tuned to allow you to orient yourself on any target. A long, long time ago a Vietnam veteran said to me "Anything you can point at you can hit, just don't think about it, shoot quick." That is the essence of point shooting. If you can see the target, point, and fire the weapon in one action you will hit. If you consciously try to second-guess what your instincts tell you, you will miss. This is American Zen!
Before I left my friend's house tonight, I was convinced to leave that pine board and some more playing cards for their son to shoot at. The way he looked at that first bunch it was like they were magic or something, and I know he'll take them to school tomorrow though his friends will not believe what he tells them. I'll write an update as the summer goes on and his skills increase, and we'll see how it goes...but I think we're going to be eating a lot of rabbit.
In a few hours of screwing around, I was able to coach a 10-year-old to shoot like this! Why arn't more people using these technologies? The stuff works and the proof is in the puddin'!