Raising the Pistol in Sustained Fire Events

The vertical raise in timed and rapid fire events is a critical skill to learn. First, you must establish consistency in your stance and grip, such that even with your eyes closed, you would raise on target with the sights aligned. Second, you need to know where to look to gain the benefits of Quiet Eye training.

With the raise for slow or single fire shots, you usually raise above the target and slowly lower into your point of aim (centre, 6 o’clock, sub-6). This optimizes your hold using the strength of your shoulder muscles. Unfortunately, lowering takes time which is in short supply in rapidfire shooting. Consequently, you raise directly to (and never over) your point of aim. This is where Quiet Eye comes in.

Quiet Eye, as established by Canadian Professor Joan Vickers, is a technique used to enhance attentional focus and improve motor learning and performance. It can help hockey and basketball players become better at delivering their shots and it can do the same for pistol shooters. The outcomes of this training is that directional activities are quicker, more efficient and smoother, requiring less corrections by the performer. For pistol shooters, this should result in smoother, quicker raises and more accurate and consistent points of aim.

After establishing your position and grip, focus on your area of aim, where you want your sights to land. Staring at that point of aim (with the target crisp and in focus), raise your pistol. Hold your vision on the target. Do not allow your vision to ride the sights during the raise (as this leads to slower raises and many directional corrections). Again, hold your focus on the target’s point of aim, until your sights enter your plane of vision. At that stage, quickly transition your vision to your front sight. Make the final adjustments to align your sights.

Repeat: lower the pistol without taking your eye off your point of aim. Don’t change your posture or grip; but, raise the pistol to your point of aim again, transitioning your focus to the sights as they enter your plane of vision. Repeat again and again. With practice, your raise will become smoother and more accurate.

To use this in match conditions:

  1. Establish your position and natural point of aim prior to the LOAD command.
  2. Perform a few practice raises while maintaining your Quiet Eye focus on your target’s area of aim.
  3. On the LOAD command, load the pistol, confirm your grip and start your breathing routine. Using Quiet Eye, raise and hold a few times. Maintain a quality tear film and blink to avoid your eyes drying out.
  4. On ATTENTION, lower to the Ready position and fixate your Quiet Eye focus on the target. Set your breathing such that you complete your inhalation as the START command is given.
  5. On the START command, initiate your raise. Transition your focus to your sights, make final adjustments, and engage the trigger to deliver your shot(s).

With practice, the process becomes pretty easy (yeah, right, like trigger control and concentration *s*) Don’t worry: you’ll get it. Just remember to build a proper stance and don’t move your head. After that, its just a matter of dedicated training and practice.