Shooting is one of the hardest skills to pick up and perfect due to the physical, mechanical, and technological variables. Your fitness, your mental state, your firearm(barrel length and construction), and your ammunition will all have an effect on your performance. Not to mention that the climate and environment will all play a role as well. There are alot of things that go into shooting, but the hardest thing for people to get right is being able to exercise great discipline and learn to control their mind and body in order to shoot consistently well. For almost all shooters, this is a lifelong struggle no matter how much better they get. A good shooter always strives to be better than they were yesterday rather than just trying to be better than the person next to them.
In my experience, there are very few things we have control over outside ourselves. You can stick to a high quality loading of ammunition with a pistol or rifle perfectly catered to fire that ammunition. But the one variable that will render it all ineffective and pointless is if you can not pull the trigger on the weapon without any sympathetic or intentional movements. This means you need to merely be able to pull the trigger on any firearm with a technique that is universal in nature. That is the quality of a good shooter. Having a method of pulling the trigger and operating a firearm that requires as little learning as possible when going from one gun to the next. Also, an experienced and seasoned shooter will know that FEELING for a reset is far from universal and actually more of a waste of time. There has never been a new shooter out there that has forgotten to reset a trigger, yet they do forget to consciously pin the trigger to the rear, delaying their ability to fire off the next shot. Effectively, new shooters are being taught to delay their follow through and readiness because someone at some point in time thought they found the reason for people not being able to pull a trigger without moving. Well I think they failed miserably in their theory. Other than that, I have no opinion.
Since I just talked about trigger pulling in a universal manner, I want to explain how that ties into you being a better shooter. See, when you are merely focused on PULLING the trigger in a smooth and continuous motion, despite the weight, you will almost inherently be capable of competently shooting any gun out there with good effect. Triggers move to the rear, all of them. The only thing your finger has to overcome is the weight and distance. If you try to gently pull the trigger and gradually stack on the weight until the trigger breaks, shooting anything but a hair trigger will be a chore. Not to mention, you will seem like a joke on the range because your concentration is on something so small that should be a passive thing anyways. An experienced shooter will understand that the main mission of the shooter is to deliver rounds on target and maneuver through their environment. Focusing on how your trigger feels when trying to shoot fast will require you to slow down your shooting. If you just focus on getting your sights on target and then go through the trigger pulling process, it is alot easier. You have one way of pulling any trigger which just involves pulling the trigger without any sympathetic movement. Under recoil, you should relax your trigger finger and be ready to shoot by the time your sights are back on target, if not sooner.
In my experience, training people to shoot on a heavier trigger until they can get good hits is one of the fastest teachers out there. This is one of the big reasons I like to train people on a double action. They get stronger fingers and they appreciate lighter triggers. Once you get good at pulling the trigger on a double action and making good hits, everything else is childs play. I personally think that the worse trigger is the best trigger to start out with. Master that and you will appreciate everything and it will all be easier in comparison.
Though not all shooters fancy themselves as combat shooters or competition shooters, I think a good sign of an experienced and well rounded shooter is one that can do proper manipulations of any weapon without looking. This includes reloading, unloading, malfunction correction, etc. Of course there are some weapons that will require you to look inside them to fish out a round, such as the FN FS2000, but generally this is not a common thing the run into. A brief glance to diagnose the problem is understandable and a good thing, but staring at a gun while clearing a stovepipe as a claimed expert is about as ridiculous as staring at a pistol while you pull it out of a holster. These are skills that take alot of time, practice, and unfortunately experience to get good at. In my experience, malfunctions and constantly needing to reload can cause some anxiety and frustration when shooting. After experiencing them across several platforms, whatever the reason, you may find yourself accepting the reality that guns are simple machines that can fail. Clearing malfunctions is just another part of shooting, so when I hear people say that having a gun that DOESN'T malfunction is an excuse not to practice, they have pretty much surrendered themselves to mediocrity in my opinion.
The last thing to talk about is your mental state. There is not too much you can do to train a lifelong wimp into being a hardcore warrior, but there are some character traits that most good shooters will have. First thing is that they do not like settling for mediocrity. No score they have is good enough. They always believe in their own ability to be better than yesterday. This is not a trait isolated to shooting, but in life. You should have a drive to be better than yesterday and know in your bones that you are capable and going to do better. This drive is very important because without it, you will not try to get better and try new things. You will settle for some old technique that "works" in your mind. You will merely think you are okay where you are at, which is a character trait of the weak in my mind. We all have the ability to be great, but the difference is in your drive to do better. I personally believe it should be a trait on and off the range. This is a great key to being better and always growing.
I don't want to spread a message that I think I know all the secrets to being a good shooter, because I sure don't. These are merely things I have had experience in myself and seen in many others. Don't be close-minded and think your one way works unless you have tried these other things. Be in control of yourself and your emotions. Accept your flaws and always strive to improve and do better. Don't just look for technology that will make you look more skilled than you really are. Look for a challenge for your skills and strive to smash through your personal barriers. Take pride in your failures and your ability to see what you are doing wrong. Being a good shooter requires alot of devotion, more than some other sports, but it is up to you how good you get. Just having the latest gun with a red dot sight on it doesn't make you good. Get out there and train, or join the vast ranks of people who are okay with being mediocre.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.