Holding drills have been around as long as there’s been competitive shooting. All forms of shooting such as Biathlon, Small-bore, High Power, International and just about any other form of competitive shooting demand the use of these type of drills. Masters highly suggest holding drills be a part of everyone’s training routine regardless of the gun being used or event pursued.
It comes down to two potential benefits such as stamina and precision. And by happenstance the benefit of reducing your minimum arc of movement is enhanced as well.
Regardless of the type of shooting one may do be it gallery, outdoor 2700s or service matches, you’ll need to finish the course the same way you started it. That means a shooter needs a hold pretty much the same at the end of the day, just like when he or she started. Without some degree of physical stamina scores can take a nosedive as the day progresses.
For obvious reasons, the precision benefits simply seem to follow those who actually train for it. This type of training, in of itself, may possibly be a related form of dry firing but with an emphasis applied on building up the shooter’s physical foundation or platform for the pistol.
After a typical dry firing session try holding the gun on a blank wall, and after settling in, try to obtain a motionless dot or sights for twelve seconds. Take up the weight of the trigger to help settle the sights but don’t drop the hammer. For those who have never tried this, it ain’t easy, twelve seconds is a very long time. Then take a break—and repeat the process a total of three times. Your goal is to get an almost motionless sight picture for three out of the twelve seconds during three different attempts, within a fifteen minute window.
For those of you who have never done holding drills, my guess is the typical shooter who dry fires every other day and adds this to his or her routine might expect to see positive results after several weeks. Some shooters might actually get better benefits by alternating their dry fire drills on one day, then use holding drills on a subsequent day.Assuming you’ve accomplished the above drill and wanted to progress, a shooter would extend their reps to four, and later on to five, and so on. It’s fairly important that you don’t actually extend the holding time but increase the number of reps.
During the process you’ll be developing the deltoid and triceps muscles in your shoulder and strong arm. This is the source of most shooter’s steadiness and fine motor abilities to center a shot. More reps develop these muscles and eventually the process becomes easier.
A slightly different drill is to take the pistol in your strong hand, level the gun and dry fire a shot as soon as the gun becomes steady. Drop the gun to your side and repeat the process.
Make a commitment initially to do this ten times. As you become more proficient with this drill extend the number of reps to fifteen or seventeen times. What’s occurring here is twofold: You’re developing those same arm and shoulder muscles to manage the weight of the gun; and you’re also developing a quick release much like one does during an initial sustained fire shot.The first drill develops your muscles for stamina and weight, while the latter helps with fine motor skills.
While using either drill, what you’re looking for are typical breakdown failures. Avoid developing or ingraining any new physical crutches or bad habits.
Let’s be real, if you’ve never completed any holding drills you’ll be amazed at the number of times your wrist will try to compensate for a poor alignment. Don’t be surprised that you find yourself looking down the sights that have come out of vertical alignment. Or during extended reps you may start to lean backwards in an attempt to overcome a fatigued arm and shoulder. All of these items are clearly bad for any shooter but they are the problems that must be overcome during a prolonged match; they elicit poor shot performance in the later part of the day.
I’ve had more than one coach caution me about the use of free weights. The gun that you shoot in matches should be the only weight used.
Apparently when people start to use much heavier weights it’s been observed their fine motor skills start to center on the new much heavier weight. Yes, it’ll be easier to lift the gun but your fine motor skills could be ruined; during a match your body will be expecting a heavier weight and your new finesse abilities will be centered there. That’s why doing more repetitive drills (not additional weight or time) are so important.