Natural Point of Aim

“The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities.”
-Shunryu Suzuki

A practical pistol shooter must develop the ability to aim the pistol without depending on vision. Experienced shooters can do this with uncanny accuracy and repeatability. This is the shooter’s Natural Point of Aim (NPA).

Assume your natural shooting position, unloaded, aimed at a spot on the wall. Close your eyes, and rotate your upper body to the left and right a couple times, and then try to stop on the target. Open your eyes to check alignment on the target. 

Repeat that exercise several times, and remember where the gun stops in relation to where it started each time, noticing the left/right relationship only. If you see a pattern, like the gun is consistently stopping to the left of where it started each time, make a corrective foot adjustment. Keep repeating this until you can return the pistol to its original position without depending on vision. Remember your NPA’s foot position.

A trick that will reveal your NPA’s foot position: Aim at target while seated in an office-type swivel chair.

Shunryu, apparently, wasn’t practicing his NPA to his wife’s satisfaction. 

Aim your pistol at a spot on the wall. Close your eyes and relax your grip, keeping just enough tension to keep your pistol pointed at the spot. Then open your eyes to see if the sights are still aligned. If your grip was not neutral, loosening your grip will misalign the sights.

Do the above drill in reverse. Aim at the spot with just enough tension in your  grip to maintain sight alignment. Close your eyes, then tighten your grip to its normal tension. Open your eyes and check sight alignment. Repeat that (forever, if necessary) until the sights stay aligned regardless of your grip pressure.

Another version of the last drill: keep your eyes open while tightening your grip. This helps to visually guide your grip to a neutral position. 

Monitor your NPA as part of your daily dry-fire training. Look at a spot on the wall, close your eyes, and see if you can draw to a perfect sight picture on the spot.

The goal of your NPA, especially under the pressure of competition, is to, wherever you look, produce a perfect sight alignment.

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I’ll post a new topic each Friday afternoon, in one of two categories. One will be on shooting, and the other will be on living. Or: how I learned to live from what I learned by competing.

Thanks for coming in.