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Education / Training 10-meter pistol shooting – Part 3

10-meter pistol shooting – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Let’s talk about aligning the pistol prior to sighting, breathing and how long before you abandon the shot and start over. In a formal match, you have 1.5 minutes for each shot. That’s plenty of time, yet it keeps a match rolling right along. I keep a stopwatch going so I always know where I am, time-wise, and I use a pellet counter to track which shot I’m on. I’ll cover the pellet counter next time.

Breathing and aligning are part of the same procedure
Breathing during a match is part of a rhythm or cadence the shooter gets into. Every shot is performed in exactly the same way, with exactly the same steps between the shots. I’ll describe how to breathe and how to raise the gun and align the sights. I didn’t make this up. I learned it from an excellent video RWS published about 15 years ago, where a world-class German shooter describes every step of how he shoots. After memorizing that procedure, I now see that all world-class shooters follow it. Only at regional matches do I ever see departures from this procedure.

The shooting table
Every 10-meter shooter has a table in front of him. It holds his pellets, and he rests his pistol there (but doesn’t let go of the grip) when not shooting. The table also keeps the shooter behind the 10-meter line.

Get ready
Rotate the pistol up on its muzzle in preparation to raise it. Take two or three deep breaths and let them out. Take one more deep breath as you simultaneously raise the pistol slightly higher than the target. Let out half of your breath as you rotate your wrist into the locked position and lower the sights just below the bullseye. Next, refine the sight picture and begin your trigger squeeze. This entire procedure take less than two seconds.


The pistol is rested but ready to raise. From this position take a deep breath and raise it straight up as you breathe in.


The pistol is up above the bullseye and the wrist is held naturally. Let half of that breath out and rotate the wrist down to the locked position. Lower the pistol, if necessary, to get on target.

The sights are now at a perfect 6 o’clock hold on the bull, and you’re squeezing the trigger. The shot should break within five seconds. If it doesn’t, relax your trigger finger and then lower the pistol. Five seconds is more than enough time to take the shot. Any longer, and your heartbeat starts moving your shooting arm. Don’t tell me how long you can hold your breath. I can hold mine for three minutes, twenty seconds, and it still makes no difference. Five seconds for the shot or you stop and start the procedure all over again.


You have 5 seconds in this position, holding your breath. If the shot doesn’t break, release the trigger and lower the pistol to the ready position. Start the procedure again.

If you did exactly as I said, there would be no reason to continue this report; of course, you won’t in the beginning. Even I have a hard time, sometimes. I think, just another second – my sight picture looks SO good. That’s where the trouble begins. If you do that, you’ll soon be sniping at the target. Sniping (pulling the trigger in the hopes of hitting the target) will cost you big points in a match. Discipline is the lesson to be learned, and it’s a hard one.

The willingness to abandon a shot and start over will add oodles of points to your score once you can combine it with perfect concentration on just the front sight…but there’s a conflict. Perfect concentration means not thinking about anything else, while the willingness to give up means always thinking of the time. Each of us finds his own way to deal with this, and the ones who deal with it the best go on to become champions.

What’s a deep breath?
Your aren’t hyperventilating for a deepwater dive. You’re just breathing deeper than usual. The next competitor who stands 4-5 feet from you shouldn’t hear you breathe.

The imperfect body
The 10-meter stance is where you learn all about your physiology. As in, it’s time to give up caffeine. It wouldn’t hurt to run a mile or two every day. You may need to start weight training to strengthen your arm and shoulder muscles.

This is also where that less-than-perfect trigger makes itself known. The trigger on my pistol feels wonderful to a new shooter, but get used to it and every flaw pops out while you’re squeezing off the shots.

Next time I’ll talk about awareness during a match, which involves pellet count, keeping track of targets, watching the time and managing your air pistol.

23 thoughts on “10-meter pistol shooting – Part 3”

  1. Hi,B.B. As soon as you and Pyramid Air resolve the scope mount problem with the RWS Diana rifles Id like to buy one in .22Cal. I was considering the 34 Panther,but have read your reviews on the Mod.48/52 also. Which Mod.isless sensitive to hold and takes less technique.Thanks

  2. Good-morning, B.B.;

    I had a long list of questions, but by the time I had read this entire Blog, all had been well answered except one!

    This may not be a good one, but here goes: What pcp air rifle has the greatest potential for accuracy from a bench with a good shooter at the helm at 50 yards? Irrespective of caliber, and assuming proper pellet selection.

    Thanks for your time; Gary

  3. BB and all,

    A long over due response to BB’s asking me to repoort on a novice installing a GRT trigger in my Gamo Shadow.

    One word, no two – EASY, Great!

    It took me about 10 minutes including going back to my computer to look at the instructional pictures once more.

    After another 10 minutes of adjusting the trigger. It has made my Shadow into a real airgun. So much easier to keep on target, follow through, etc.

    If you shoot a Gamo without a Charlie trigger you are missing out. Do it now!

    Al Pellet

    PS. Love the 10 meter stuff. I’m just about ready to start carving on my izzy grip.

  4. Gary,

    The reason you didn’t find an answer to that question is that one doesn’t exist. Be suspect of anyone who claims to know the answer.

    Instead, there are several guns that will shoot accurately at 50 yards. My USFT from Mac-1 is a candidate. It will shoot 25 shots into 0.75-inches at 51 yards. But a lower-priced rifle from Daystate, Falcon, Logun or FX will also shoot that well with fewer shots.

    That isn’t the question to ask. The question is how well can YOU shoot a quality PCP at 50 yards?


  5. Dear Sir,
    this is Zafar from India
    I need a suggetion for a book on airgun which discribes working mechanism of PCP, Co2 and spring piston guns. It should also give working of transfer ports, triggers, valves etc. i hope you understand what i need.
    also my previous question about scope mounts remains unanswered, its here again :
    which is the best mounts for a heavy recoil airgun for about 30$, it should atleast work on a Diana 34 without a need for a scope stop

    please find time to answer that, will be very much appreciative and thankful for it


  6. Zafar,

    No one book has all the information you seek, and some of it is not in any book. My book on the Beeman R1 has the info on air transfer ports for spring guns, but it is out of print. Used copies sell for $100 on Ebay.

    Use the internet to find what you need. The pages are out there.

    As for the mount for your Diana 34, I have just completed development of a mount base for that rifle that solves both the scope stop problem and the problem of the barrel pointing down. Leapers will be manufacturing the base and it goes on the market in June. RWS will sell it as theirt brand, too.

    It is a base, only, so you will still need two Weaver rings to hold the scope.


  7. Zafar,

    The new scope base is strictly for all Diana spring guns – no others. The Benjamin Discovery needs no base. Just attach a scope ring to the rails on the gun.

    I have the Cardew book. It is dated, but still true for what it covers. I don’t know the other title.


  8. B.B. Don’t take this the wrong way, but $100 for your book on the R-1? That is probably better appreciation than my 401k at this point. Considering I finally sold my R-1 of twenty plus years a little while ago, it looks like if I can figure out how to sell on e-bay it will go too. Unfortunately, I have read it so many times it is not quite in pristine shape but this also means I have committed it to memory. Any thoughts on a new book? This time I would buy a few dozen of them! I’m off to e-bay……….

  9. B.B.

    Thanks. This answers one of my big questions about the preparatory motions for shooting. I recalled you saying that you raise the pistol above the target then drop it down. However, I found that if you were firing on the way down, then the pistol would block the target. The only way out seemed to be to drop the pistol back below the target, then raise it up into firing position which seemed a little redundant. But it did work, and I’m glad to see the validation. It is interesting how this procedure is almost a dead ringer for the methods of traditional Korean archery which are: (1) Hold the bow down in the ready position (2) Inhale as you raise it above your head (3) Hold the breath as you level the bow and draw (4) Exhale as you release (5) Return the bow to the start position.

    What is your take on shooting between heartbeats? I’ve heard bits and pieces of this theory and that it is quite important for biathletes whose hearts are hammering away. It also features in a great book called Inside Delta Force by ex-member Lee Haney who also describes biofeedback techniques used by their snipers. (Some of the shooting feats of these guys are pretty incredible, and according to Wikipedia, Haney is now something of a pariah in the Delta Force community for revealing so many of their secrets.) Anyway, I thought that responding to your heartbeat sounds profoundly difficult and a complicating factor that doesn’t sound worth it, but I guess the world-class shots would use it if it were really useful.

    On part 2, I had a question about how the stance and the wrist rotation use the arm and back muscles to hold you steady. I don’t see how an arm held out horizontally can be supported by the back. Does it have something to do with the way the feet are turned and the shooting wrist rotated? Or is it just there? And is this the mysterious cantilevered hold or is that yet to come?


  10. Since business practices are one of our themes, I thought I would report on my progress with my Savage police rifle. The procedure as I understood it was that a local dealer would send his FFL to an online retailer who would send him the gun for me to pick up. What could be simpler. So I sent the order information to the retailer and the dealer and spent last week blissfully imagining my rifle moving through the mail….

    Then last Friday, I called the retailer after not hearing anything and was told that he had no record of my order. Further probing produced a bizarre story about how the retailer had called the dealer who would not send his FFL because he had some conflict of interest with the delivery service used by the retailer (even though he had collected $157 in transfer fees). When I finally got through to the dealer, it turns out that he hadn’t even sent the FFL, but he didn’t have any conversation with the retailer and had no objection to any delivery service.

    I began wondering if I should start all over with a different team and found these smooth-talking professional sounding people who wanted to charge me 50% more for the gun!

    Groan. Surely, this can’t be representative of gun dealing. Maybe PA should get into this business and replace the niche of the completely clueless.


  11. Matt61,

    This IS the mysterious cantilevered hold I have been talking about. The muscles in your back and shoulder will hold your arm level and steady if your feet and legs are properly positioned. Locking the wrist is the final brace.

    Try it.

    As for shooting between heartbeats, you’re a better man than me, Gunga Din!


  12. B.B.

    Thanks. I’m working on the cantilevered hold as far as the 747 permits. I’m also glad to let go of the heartbeat technique. I like shooting and cross-country skiing, but combining them in the biathlon has always seemed unhealthy. Besides, an amateur meditator once told me that if you can hear your own heartbeat, you can do anything, and then I guess you wouldn’t need any more technique.

    Holding your breath for three minutes sounds excessive. Big wave surfers in Hawaii where I originated only train for 90 seconds. Did you train for this or is this some kind of natural ability?


  13. Hi BB,

    Thanks for the specifics on the stance, timing and breathing. Gives me something to work on with my 46M. Never could shoot worth a darn with one hand. Always sniping. I’m already seeing some improvment, though it’ll be a long while before I’m ready for even a minor competition. I’m gratefull to you for nudging me into this purchase too. Even though it seemed like it took forever and a day to get here… Saved me $65 and got a great pistol in return. Where my Izh MP 513M is “utilitarian” (ugly) appearance, this is a work of art!


  14. Hello BB,

    Just wanted to say how much I appreciate all these wonderful instructions. I have practiced the technique of 10-meter pistol shooting, and I have to say that I was a little doubtful as to how much ability would translate over into rifle shooting. But I am very pleased to say that yes indeed practicing those techniques has notciably improved my shooting skills in rifle shooting for squirrel control.

    I guess I would say the discipline of target acquisition in the 5 second time frame has been the most helpful that I am aware of, and not blinking eyes shut when shooting.

    All very wonderful

    Been reading your comments regularly. Got a chuckle about RC helicopters. I am aware of how intense and complicated it can be.

    It is great to learn something new. Really enjoying learning about shooting

    Thanks for being there for us.

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