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Education / Training B.B.’s Pistol Comeback Attempt: Part Two

B.B.’s Pistol Comeback Attempt: Part Two

This report covers:

FWB P44.

Part 1

Today’s report covers:

  • Training since last time
  • Yogi’s gift
  • Rotating the arm
  • The pellets
  • The trigger pull
  • The test
  • First target
  • My final match
  • Second target
  • Stopped
  • Adjusted the trigger
  • Summary

Today we look at my attempt to shoot 10-meter pistol again. Yogi — this one’s for you.

I have a lot to say about this today, but there are only two targets to examine. I will explain as we go.

Training since last time

What I said at the end of the last report was, I plan to fire no less than 25 dry-fire shots each day. At least a week will pass before I shoot pellets again, so I should be slightly better, but we’ll see.”

My next distance to the target will be the full 10 meters, but I won’t go there until I know I can do it. I remember enough about this sport that I don’t need any intermediate steps. I just need to get the basics under my belt.”

What actually happened was I set up a training “range” in my living room. I stood 12 feet back from a black Shoot-N-C target paster. You may remember that target appears to be the same size at 12 feet as the 10-meter pistol target appears at 33 feet (10 meters). And I shot between 10 and 20 shots per session. Why not 25? Because this is hard! And I wobble — a LOT!

Yogi’s gift

I wobbled a lot in the shooting stance but I discovered late in my training what I could do to attenuate some of that. I wasn’t wobbling from side to side as much as up and down. And, only days ago, I remembered that I used to lean back just a few degrees to stop the wobble. I lean from the waist and the lean isn’t as much as 5 degrees. What it does is make my shoulders a structure and my shooting arm a cantilevered extension from that structure.

My legs and feet take up almost all of the side-to-side variation. By moving the feet a few inches in the needed direction and by rotating the toes on each foot inward or outward I move where I naturally point and, by extension, where the pistol points. I did find in the training that these days I need my feet planted a little wider than my shoulders, and that seems to be a result of getting older. So my advice to target pistol shooters is to either stop aging or to consider spreading your feet a few inches further apart.

Rotating the arm

Yogi, this one you asked for specifically. I was taught by LTC Bonsall to rotate my pistol as far to the right as possible when I raise it and then to relax the arm as I lower the pistol down to the target. What this does is rotate my elbow under my shooting arm instead of alongside of it. I have to do it every time I raise the pistol to shoot.

At first in this training session I thought this was just for shooting the 1911 and not a target pistol. But as the training progressed I started doing it more and discovered that it really does help steady that arm.

I am right-handed, so what I just described is for that hand. If I was a leftie, everything would be reversed.

The pellets

As I said in Part One I used Vogel pellets because in my testing back in 2016 when I purchased the pistol it showed a preference for Vogels with a 4.50mm head. But they were from a small package (100 pellets) I had purchased from Pilkguns. Based on what I saw in that test, I purchased 5,500 Vogel pellets in bulk. But these are not sorted by size. The price was good, but the head sizes can range from 4.48mm to 4.53mm, according to the information I was given at the time of purchase. I’m not a good enough shot for that to make much of a difference at this time, but back when I competed the pellet mattered quite a lot. I could gain or lose 3-4 points in a 600-point match, from just the pellet.

P44 shooting bench
Shooting 10-meter pistol is so simple! The glasses case houses my reading specs that I use to see the front sight blade. The Meopta binocs are my spotting scope. The big tub holds close to 5,000 unsorted Vogel pellets.

That means that before I shoot for score again, I need to sort some of the pellets by head size. Then I need to test each head size for consistency. Thank you, reader Jerry Cupples, for the Pelletgage! Testing the Vogels is going to be the next report in this series.

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The trigger pull

Remember that I adjusted the trigger heavier in Part One? I discovered during training for today that I had set the trigger pull too high. I had measured it after adjusting it in Part One at 539 grams, but now it measures 588 grams. That is simply too high for me. I discovered that how the trigger pull is measured has a huge influence on how much it measures. So I need to take off the grip and adjust the trigger pull lower again. That will help me somewhat.

The test

Today I shot from 10 meters at a 10-meter pistol target. I shot exactly the way I would in competition, except the heavy trigger caused me to set the pistol down several times without shooting. That photo above looks like my shooting table in competition except, in place of the reading glasses I would wear shooting glasses.

P44 woman
This woman is in the traditional 10-meter pistol stance. She wears earmuffs to keep from being disturbed by other competitors. They are probably electronic, so she can hear the range commands. Notice her upper body is bent backward at a slight angle. It looks sideways here. The targets are sound-scored with long black paper rolls that scroll slowly down, to present the shooter a black bullseye.

shooting glasses
My shooting glasses contain a prescription lens for the right eye and a white translucent blinder for the left eye. The frames are extremely adjustable.

I shot about 10 dry-fires before loading a pellet and starting live fire. At matches that was how I adjusted my feet and after I was settled in, I never moved my feet again.

I’m not going to measure groups in this series. Instead I’m going to score targets. We need to learn how that is done.

P44 target
A 10-meter pistol target.

The black bullseye is 2.345-inches (59.54mm) wide and the One ring is 155mm (6.11-inches) wide. The rings are numbered up to 8. The next smaller ring is the 9-ring and the 10-ring is inside that. There is one smaller ring inside the 10-ring. It counts as a 10 until the shootoffs for the top competitors, when it adds decimal points from 0.1 to 0.9 points to the score.

If the pellet breaks a score line, the higher score is awarded. If it touches the line without breaking it, the lower score is awarded. Since national class, world class and Olympic competitions all use sound-scored targets, the fractional scores are computed automatically.

First target

When I was competing I shot mostly 8s, 9s and 10s with an occasional 7. My average shot scored 8.9167 points. My match average was 535 out of 600 You’ll see what that looks like on my first target today. When I got really hot I could shoot 48/50 for 5 shots, but the concentration it took to do that gave me a headache and I couldn’t keep it up for all 60 shots. 

P44 first target
The five shots inside the bull score 43 points. There is one 10, two 9s, one 8 and one 7.

But the target above also has a shot that’s a little high and way out to the right in the 4-ring. I mistakenly shot 6 shots at this target. In competition the top score would be removed and the score of the lowest shot would be added, making a total score of 37 points. In competition we shoot one shot per target, so there is no error when scoring.

That stray shot was a called pull. I was shaking and the gun went off with the sights pointed high and right. I’m blaming the too-heavy trigger for that one.

My final match

I remember the last match in which I shot competitively. My CO2 Chameleon target pistol ran out of gas in the middle of the match and a perfect ten became a 6. It took the wind out of my sails and I scored about a 520 in that match — much lower than normal. On the drive home the transmission in my Chrysler Town and Country minivan gave out on the freeway and the car had to be taken to the repair shop. Those two things happening on the same day ended my competitive shooting life.

Second target

On the second target I started coming apart. I got three nines, then another shot went off and hit high right again. The final shot was a snipe (deliberately pulling the trigger, hoping the gun goes off when the sights are aligned), because I couldn’t wait for the heavy trigger to break. This target score is 31 points.

P44 second target
This is what it looks like when I blow up. I am finished for this session. Never before have I missed the scoring rings!


At this point I stopped shooting, because I was going to start becoming unsafe. I used to wonder how anyone could miss a ten-meter pistol target. Now I know!

Adjusted the trigger

After shooting I adjusted the trigger so the first stage is 50 grams lighter and stage two (the important one) now breaks at 522 grams. That feels SO much better! From now on I will be dry-firing with the trigger adjusted this way and the next time I shoot for score I should do better. I may also be able to shoot more targets because my shooting arm should be stronger.


A few weeks ago I spoke to an Olympic shooting coach who asked me how long I thought it would take me to come back to where I had been. I said a couple months, but after seeing today’s results I think it could be a lot longer.

I was also going to take a few shots with the Diana 35 at 10 meters, but I decided to just stick to one thing at a time. I do want to shoot that rifle, though.

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.

30 thoughts on “B.B.’s Pistol Comeback Attempt: Part Two”

  1. B.B.,
    You wrote: “A few weeks ago I spoke to an Olympic shooting coach who asked me how long I thought it would take me to come back to where I had been. I said a couple months, but after seeing today’s results I think it could be a lot longer.”

    Don’t let one session be a predictor of the future. You need at least five if not ten to see a trend develop. Even then there will likely be breakthrough sessions, crummy days, and probably plateaus to contend with.
    I’m certain you remember all of those from your experiences training for many things.
    Get a Rumble Roller: https://www.rumbleroller.com/
    To work the Facia in your shoulders, Hamstrings, Quads, Glutes, and Thorax especially after a shooting session. Get the blue Original it is plenty firm. I occasionally use a Black Extra Firm on my Gluteus, Hamstrings, and Quads for the myofacial release.
    Get your B12 levels checked and make certain to keep your facia and you HYDRATED; you loose a great deal of muscle performance with just a 2% reduction from optimal hydration.
    I have also shifted to a high protein intake about ten years ago when i turned 65; it is never too late to stop muscle mass loss.

    My hat is off to you Tom for having the fortitude to give it your all.
    I wish you the best in this fine endeavour.


    • shootski,

      Thanks for the encouragement. I am doing things to strengthen and lioghten the load. And with diabetes I already eat a lot of protein.

      On my first two practice sessions I discovered that the lighter trigger really helps. I think I need to work on stretching out my training sessions.


    • shootski,

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      I just now ordered an Original 31 inch Rumbleroller. From the photos and the literature on their website I am confident it will help me with a neuro-muscular issue I have on the right side of my sacrum, barely to the right of my spine and just below my hips. I have for years achieved some relief, using a croquet ball, from sciatica and a wild crawling sensation down my thigh when I try to sleep. I think this will help more and allow me to return the croquet ball to its set in the garage.

      Thanks again!


      • Michael,

        You are very welcome Michael.
        I hope the Rumble Roller works at least as well for your issues as it does for me from my twice a week HITT and three a week 6 Knot twelve NM paddle workouts.
        It is more convenient and works better than a Sports Massage ; costs far less too. If I don’t use it after a workout I don’t sleep as well!


    • BB: I agree with Shootski. While I don’t have expert knowledge of returning to competitive shooting, I’ve had a LOT of experience with people returning to cycling when they joined the Road Soldiers Cycling Club of the Ohio Veterans Home of which I was the staff rep. People who had not ridden a bike in decades, would, after some seriously wobbly starts be jumping curbs in a few hours on a bike saddle. I just had to convince them to NOT look down but out about 15-20 feet AHEAD of the front tire, and the old neuropathways began to fire.

      Well learned behaviors, particularly those especially practiced with large numbers of repetitions AND disciplined analysis leading to incremental improvements are not lost, but are stored files waiting to play again. Short of actual brain damage, they are part of long-term memory which is stored chemically in the neuron matrix. This is the mirror image of relapse behavior that the addict deals with (neurological files of drug-taking seek to play again even after long term sobriety). Here, however, you WANT the files to play, and they likely will.

      I suspect that as you recover the old long-term memory files, you will experience an accelerated improvement in shooting skills. After all, you are not a first-time shooter who has to learn EVERYTHING. As old files come back, the improvement should amaze you.

      The physical conditioning, of course, is an issue that will require physical work, and that, as we both know, is affected by that pesky thing called, “aging.” While shooting is not demanding like cycling or running, it is NOT without its physical demands – particularly in regaining small movement muscle control.

      When I was helping addicted vets overcome their dependency, I would have them log their experiences. I suspect you will do that, but in more than just total score; namely, what you tried to do and how that affected your performance. You mentioned foot positioning, and how you learned it affects the shot. Logging such small details and their effects is very helpful if one looks at one’s log once a week or every other week, for you see the real trend lines and can make appropriate adjustments. A single day doesn’t make a trend and if one bases change on a single-session, one will do what you once called “chasing the scope” – making constant adjustments without adjusting what matters because you never establish what the errant habit pattern actually is.

      Please keep a notation on how it is coming along as you go. It’s an interesting thing (to me anyway!) to see and learn how one “recovers” positive skills and habits.

  2. On point-of-aim: I found that a center-mass was better than 6 o’clock as I aged. Far less sensitive to lighting conditions and aging eyes. I now shoot Precision Pistol [née Bullseye], but even for rifle this approach helped.

    • I had a problem with shooting 6 o’clock with my “new” Diana 34 the other day using open sights at 10 yards. The bottom of the Bullseye kept “whiting out”. I had come to the conclusion it was these old, tired eyes. Thanks for the tip.

  3. BB,

    As for myself, I will be following this series very closely. Hopefully, I will pick up on a few things that will help me with my Izzy and my “new” Beeman 800/Diana 6G.

  4. This series is as good for beginning pistol shooters as it is for those returning to pistol shooting. I am reading with great interest, and I’m cheering you on, B.B.!

  5. BB,
    I also commend you for getting back in the saddle with regard to pistol target shooting. Best wishes in getting good at it again. I will also be following you on this subject, out of curiosity and for the potential that I may be able to shoot a pistol one day.

    I lucked into a beautiful FWB 80 recoilless pistol several years ago. The only trouble is that it shoots high. I replaced the crumbling seals and it seems to shoot at a proper velocity. But with the rear sights adjusted down all the way, I still have to aim below the target to make a hit with proper vertical placement.

    With such a fine air pistol, it’s a shame that it has this problem. Do you or any of the readers have an idea as to why the pistol shoots high?
    Might it have been dropped before I got it and the barrel might be out of alignment?
    Best regards,

      • Hi BB,
        I’m shooting one handed, in the regular target pistol form that I learned from your blog. I also test the accuracy using a rest to steady the gun, using two hands, wrapped together. Strangely enough, today, using three different pellets, the gun wasn’t shooting high. I don’t understand why it’s behaving itself now.
        Why don’t I shoot fifty more pellets and see where we are? I don’t mean to waste your time, this feels like taking an ailing car to the mechanic and problem is magically gone.
        I’ll be back.

        • Will,

          You’re not wasting my time. This is why I’m here.

          By the hold I was referring to your sight picture — where the top of the front sight is placed, relative to the bullseye, when you shoot. I know you shoot one-handed because anything else isn’t 10 meter.


  6. BB-

    Might I suggest lightening your trigger further? It’s free of charge and doesn’t require any mechanical skill or parts replacement. I use a couple isometric exercises to strengthen my shooting muscles.
    First- Spread fingers of both hands wide apart- as if you were trying to palm a basketball. Now, place opposing fingertips together. Thumb to thumb, index to index, etc. and push together. Your hands should be at breast height and close to the body. Pressure on fingertips should be at about 50% of your maximum capable. Hold for 30 seconds and then relax. Wiggle fingers, wrists, forearms to relieve tremors and tensions. Repeat 5 times. Now go ‘around the world’. With hands and fingertip pressures at the previous levels, begin subjecting finger pairs to maximum effort. I begin at index (trigger finger) and give a five count. Relax and move to next finger pair and so on. Do five repetitions.
    Hands, fingers, wrists, forearms, upper arms, etc. will appreciate the rest. Over time, move hands higher and forward until you are in the isosceles shooting stance. After advancement in this exercise, address strong side for one handed (Bullseye or 10 Meter) shooting. I use a door jamb, standing, facing 90 degrees to the door opening. This works upper body, back and legs.
    Second- I sit at a heavy table and ‘catch’ my fingertips on the edge of the table leg with my thumb on the opposite side of the leg. I then apply pressure to to thumb and fingertips as if I am trying to squeeze the table leg like an orange. Increasing pressure to near maximum, I then increase trigger finger to max and hold for a ten count. Relax and move to next fingers.
    I think you will find these help with both grip and trigger manipulation.

    • Thanks, pacoinohio!

      Will start this regime!

      Should be good for a giggle for my wife as well – she already thinks that “pretending to shoot” (dry firing) is funny LOL!


    • Paco,

      The reason I don’t lighten my trigger any farther is I don’t want it to fail the test that’s given before every match. The pistol’s trigger must pick up a 500-gram weight from a table without firing. I have seen triggers adjusted to 510 grams fail this test.


    • pacoinohio,

      Those are very similar to a bunch of Isometric exercises that I do and really find helpful at all the functional things in life as a 74 year old.
      Check out Power Putty: http://www.powerputty.com/
      I carry and use it anytime my hands aren’t busy ;^)
      I want to add to your Isometrics the best thing I have found for balance maintenance/improvement is simply standing (you can do it while watching TV!) on a BOSU Ball; even on both feet. Doing it on one leg is harder but really needs to be a goal for everyone that is physically able enough. There are an amazing number of exercises that the BOSU Ball enhances…like
      You can also do BOSU Ball Burpees if you want a full body workout; start with a few and work up to 10×3 sets every day.
      It will help your shooting more than you can imagine
      Folks it really is NEVER TOO late.

      Thanks for sharing your Isometric workout,


  7. Well, springtime here is carpenter bee time. Getting tired of spraying then plugging carpenter bee bore holes in the house fascia, I installed a few traps. Of course, one bee returns and goes to the plugged hole, which happens to be right above a trap! While the distance was more like 5M, i used my trustee IZH 46M with red dot sight. Splash one carpenter bee! Impressed the heck out of the wifey even if I did need 4 pellets to dispatch the hungry carpenter. More than one use for a 10M competition pistol!

    Fred formerly of the Demokratik Peeples Republik of NJ now happily defending the homestead against carpenter bees in GA

  8. Pellet Tray

    When shooting I don’t like groveling in the pellet tin or fat-finger fumbling around trying to pick up a pellet so I made a pellet tray to make single-shot loading or filling a magazine easier.

    The tray provides a soft dished surface that is easy to pick up a pellet from. All the pellets collect in the center of the tray so you don’t have to be chasing them around the table top or holding them in your hand. Just dump a dozen or two pellets into the tray and pick ‘em out one at a time.

    It takes about 5 minutes to make a pellet tray. I use a large pellet tin and add a fillet of duct-seal (modeling clay, putty, calking or even a bit of rope) around the perimeter of the tin so that when I install the foam disk it creates a “dish”.

    Works for me!


  9. B.B.

    I did some of my own standing, 1-handed, 10 meter shots today. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I now have new respect for Olympic air pistol competitors who have dedicated the time and effort to training.

    I posted a picture of my five targets below. I’m right handed, so naturally I used a right handed grip while standing back a 10 meters from the target. I did about 5 dry-fires before each set of 5 live pellet shots with my Sig Sauer ASP Super Target pistol. These are my scores in order shot.

    Top Left: 4, 5, 7,7, 9 = 32
    Top Middle: 3, 4, 6, 6, 7 = 26
    Top Right: 1, 1, 6, 6, 9 = 23
    Bottom Left: 2, 5, 7, 8, 8 = 30
    Bottom Right: 5, 6, 7, 9, 9 = 36

    I found your comment about the scoring of the smallest center ring interesting. Without knowing what the competition rules said about it, I thought the smallest center ring was scored as 11 points.

  10. B.B.

    Now I want to present some contrasting results to those above. I shot three more targets at 10 meters as shown in the picture below. These are the scores.

    Top Left: Standing 2-handed grip, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9 = 44
    Top Right: Bench rested right hand grip, 8, 9, 9, 9, 10 = 45
    Bottom: Bench rested 2-handed grip, 8, 8, 8, 9, 10 = 43

    I like shooting any one of these three ways more than standing right-handed shooting.

    • That’s really telling. But it’s probably wise to include some one-handed practice with each hand from time to time.

      Nice shooting. My plan is to shoot a few test targets and then compare progress at regular intervals. Hopefully scores go up.

  11. A pretty good local NRA 3 pistol Bullseye competitor offered this technique to minimize wobble. Rather than trying to maintain a steady hold with arm extended, he would purposely aim above the target and allow his extended arm/pistol to slowly drop, firing when the 6 o’clock, “pumpkin-on-a-post”, sight picture came into view. With much practice, he was able to synchronize the trigger break with the slow vertical movement through the centerline of bull, firing when passing the aim point and thereby eliminated or greatly lessened the wobbling. Comments on this technique?

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