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Education / Training 10-meter pistol shooting – Part 5

10-meter pistol shooting – Part 5

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

See – I didn’t forget about this. I just let a little time elapse. Today, I’m going to talk about taking your score up from the high 400s to the mid-500s. There are only two things you’ll need to do that. When you examine them closely, you’ll discover they’re two parts of the same thing.

How did I get here?
Let’s review your 10-meter progress to this point. When you started shooting 10-meter pistol, your score for 60 shots ranged between the high 300s and the low to mid-400s. You were all over the place, and often threw shots into the white. Go look at a target here if you forget what one looks like. Better yet, buy a couple hundred because you’re not getting into the 500s without them.

After a period of regular practice, your scores were always in the 400s, and sometimes above 450. By then you were getting critical of your trigger and you had the sights adjusted to a fair-thee-well – unless you’re like old Ed. Old Ed was a shooter who shot 10-meter with us every Monday night. He shot in the mid-400s, but he was consistently a little low and left. After watching him for a couple weeks, I asked him about it. Turns out, he’d put his pistol in a bench vice and sighted it in that way. He knew he was shooting low and left, but in the vise the gun was drilling the center.

Several months later, I convinced Ed to adjust his sights. Lo and behold, he shot a 520 that evening! I don’t know what that did to his bench vise’s score, but who cares? It never showed up to any of our matches, while Ed was a regular. Believe it or not, there comes a point in almost every shooter’s life when a simple sight adjustment will add points to his score. Maybe not 30-40 points, but take what you can get.

Breaking 500
Breaking 500 is usually a tough nut for most shooters. But, after adjusting your sights, the one thing that’ll add more points than any other is the front sight. By which I mean learning to concentrate on the front sight to the exclusion of almost everything else. At this point in the game, you’ve mastered the grip, mount (raising the gun before shooting) (Part 2 and Part 3) stance (Part 1)…and you’ve found the best pellet. From this point until you are averaging 550, the front sight will add all your points. Non-target shooters cannot understand this, and world champions talk about little else. Let’s see why.

A perfect diagnostic
When you concentrate on the front sight to the exclusion of almost everything else, you start to notice little things that were previously below the radar. Things like how the pistol pulls slightly to the left just before the second stage of the trigger breaks (yep – gotta get a gun with a better trigger). You notice when the front sight starts diving below the bull and nothing you do with your arm can hold it up (holding the gun on target too long). And you start getting real good at calling your shots – as in, “That was a nine at 9 o’clock.” You used to be happy about just knowing which way the pellet went; now you’re scoring the target that’s too far away to see clearly. “Oh my gosh, I just flipped at 8! What’s wrong with me?”

A month ago, you went down to the target like a gold panner – anxious to see what you had. Now you go down having scored your five or ten shots to within one point – all without being able to see them from the firing line.

Then, a day comes when you CAN see all your shots, because they all touch and they’re all inside the nine-ring. Now you start to put pressure on those around you who see the same thing. You’re averaging 525 points out of 600, and you finally grasp the importance of the front sight. Now you’ll have to practice daily to get the next 25 points.

Practice make nearly perfect
Daily practice consists of a routine of at least 100 dry-fire shots followed by a full 60-shot match. Your score floats upward five points at a time until it starts bumping into the number 550. As you practice, you realize that all you’re doing is becoming more intimately familiar with that all-important front sight. It now dawns on you that practice has revealed that the front sight may be the secret to shooting, which is what I meant by these two things being the same.

What I’m not saying, but what is happening just the same, is that your stance is now perfect. You can no longer stand any way but the right way, with the right amount of tension in both legs. Your grip and raising of the pistol are perfect, as well. You start shooting perfect scores of 50 with five shots – and believe me when I say that the first time you do it will be no less of a celebration than a golfer’s hole-in-one or a 300 game in bowling. As you approach an average of 550, you’ll shoot a lot of 50s – many more than any golfer ever shot holes-in-one.

Now, grasshopper, this is as far as I can take you from my own experience, because I never had a 550 average. My best score in practice was 545 and in a match 537. I got to the place I’m now describing, but I never went on. However, I do know how to go beyond 550, because several world champions and Olympians have written descriptions of the journey. Maybe I’ll tell you how to do it next time, though I must warn you, it does sound very strange and new-age.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

21 thoughts on “10-meter pistol shooting – Part 5”

  1. There are some times when I’m shooting, where I’m just in the zone and all I see is that front sight. All the other times my lazy brain is out to lunch. Man, when you’re there though, it’s cake. Thanks for the reminder BB, this series is very much appreciated.

    Al in CT

  2. Morning B.B.,
    Excellent series. I was wondering, if you were going to do a series within this series, about the different pistols like you did with rifles. You know the Budget rifles, the olympian rifles, and so on.

  3. Brody,

    Well, to be perfectly honest, the reason I did that with the rifles is because I’m not a 10-meter rifle shooter. I’m embarrassed that I really didn’t say much about shooting technique in that series.

    But to answer your question, yes. A report or two on the pistols themselves sounds like a good idea.



  4. B.B.’

    Again thank you for your blog. This series on 10 meter pistol has helped me tremendously.

    Perhaps you or some of my fellow blog readers can help me.
    In resarching for a way to make the grip of the Daisy 747 better, I found a low temperature moldable plastic compund (Shapelock). I plan to put this stuff on the grips and let it mold with my hands gripping the pistol.
    Has anyone have any tried this? Will this work? The present grips are a little too small for my hands and I have cut a mousepad and wrapped it with athletic bandage. This method crude as it is, has improved my grip.

    I woud appreciate any tips from anyone who has done it. Thanks.

  5. B.B.

    I read somewhere that with open sights, the eye will automatically center the front sight in the rear sights, so it sounds like there’s never a reason not to just concentrate on the front sight.

    Is a 540 an expert level ranking and a 570 distinguished? Are master and high master rankings the same as distinguished? I don’t expect to ever reach these levels or anywhere close but it’s fun to think about what people are capable of.

    Everything here sounds good and makes sense. There is just one thing in my experience that I haven’t really heard discussed. I’ve come to the conclusion–which you’ve mentioned elsewhere–that I’m never going to hold the gun absolutely steady. How then to maximize my chances of being on target? One way is just to minimize the deviations as much as I can. I’ve heard of one method that calls for slowly and steadily taking up the trigger. When the sights are on target, you squeeze, and when they drift off, you stop. This I don’t care for because, among other things, it takes too long. The other method, which I prefer, is to make change work for me (I heard Bill Clinton say this although that is not a reason to discount a good idea. I understand that man had thousands of M1 Garands destroyed!) by executing a controlled drift into the target from above or below. The idea is that since the sights are moving I can at least predict where they are going. My other source for this is the Elmer Keith character in one of Stephen Hunter’s books who is faced by a homicidal madman who takes a woman hostage. Keith works around to get an angle then lets “the blade of his front sight drift into the target…” So, I’m wondering if this method persists into the high levels or is it just a learning stage.

    Yes, bring on the strange and the new age. I’ve studied martial arts for about 20 years and shooting sounds more like it all the time.


  6. Wayne,

    I hate to tell you this, but I think match pistol shooting may be worth your while. I got a match pistol just to round out my shooting experience and had a very slow and unpropitious start. But now, with much less practice, my pistol groups are equalling my rifle groups. It could be that I’m actually better with a pistol than with a rifle. How B.B. diagnosed this without seeing my targets or seeing me shoot I have no idea, but the indications are all that way. It could be that you too may be a better with a pistol than a rifle (with all the fun that goes with it).

    Now, as to the expense, I have an answer for you. BARGAINS. Ha ha. More specifically, go for the Daisy 747 on the low-end of legitimate. The pistol doesn’t cost a fortune and it can perform.


  7. Matt61,

    Only the peep or aperture sight is supposed to work that way, but maybe the open sight does, as well.

    As for shooting as the sights drift past – don’t do it! That’s the path toward sloppiness. I know 10-meter shooters who do it, but none of them shoot above a 525.

    Keep practicing and the hold will settle down. I am 60 years old and wear bifocals, yet with a little practice, I can still hold a 10. You should have more good years in you than I do.


  8. Matt61 & B.B.,

    I’m going to get there…..I’m just over loaded….meant the pun……


    I just got the 3-12×44 scope mounted..no barrel droop…YEAH!!…

    Just lucky… within 3″ on the first shot from the box, at the 60′ indoor range on the new benchmaster rest…

    I just figured out that after the shot in the rest, I can adjust the scope to where the pellet hit, from where I had centered…..gets me very close on the next shot….

    I started out with H&N Silhouette and they were all over the place…I kept shooting, thinking the gun was breaking in, (although, no smoke, like the others I have tested) so after 15 shots, I switched to 10.6 baracuda match…

    and found very close to center of the 3/4″ orange dot…and stayed there, sometimes piling the pellets INTO THE 2X6, and just moving over a little so they wouldn’t bounce back into the pool…..(hard to get off the bottom, and my wife makes me get every one)…
    so now, I moved to new targets sooner….the pool is only 72 now…

    What other pellets are best….or better still…what pellets do you guys shoot at the field target contests?…



    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  9. B.B.

    Argh, I thought that drifting business was the answer. I’ll work on steadying the hold.

    Wayne, variety is surely the spice of the airgun range. There is an accurate machine gun called the Drozd….


  10. Matt61,

    I know, I know,….little by little, step by step,…..slowly I turn….

    I will get there, I am sure………

    For the moment…….I am, the “RIFLE MAN”………


  11. Wayne the Rifle Man,
    Quit playing around and put some JSBs through that gun. I have the same gun and JSB Jumbos are the best I have tried. CP Domes, and H&N FTS are also good but beyond 20yds JSBs rule. I’m curious to see if your gun is the same.
    I can’t make it too the class but I am rooting for you.

  12. I have been plinking around for a good time now in my basement at 25feet. I cannot seems to stop shooting! I really enjoy it. I own the Walther Compact 99, Beretta PX4, the Crosman T4 and the Daisy 008. I think I am ready to start on 10 meters pistol target shooting. Which pistol is a good one to start with?
    I was thinking about the Daisy 747?

    Thanks and very good blog.

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