Friday, July 4, 2008

Competition Shooting Book and DVD Reviews

Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals
The subject matter is similar to that of Thinking Practical Shooting. The way Enos writes in the first couple chapters, it’s a bit like Asian philosophy or something. There’s a lot of talk about focus, concentration, awareness, consciousness, meditation and all the subtle differences. I found it to be really obnoxious. It’s almost as bad as listening to a hippie explain what it’s like to be high. Fortunately, the rest of the book is a little easier to digest.

There are some good tips on how to refine your draw and presentation. There are some drills that should be helpful. It may be one of the best books on shooting technique, and has some interesting insights on which targets to engage in which order in a competition setting.

I appreciate what Enos has done for the sport, and I suppose the Thinking Practical Shooting, and Principles of Performance books that I prefer would not have existed without Beyond Fundamentals. After the second read, I have decided to recommend this book, if you think your shooting mechanics may need some improvement.

There is a lot of information in the book. Although the book is not very thick, it seemed like it took me weeks to get through it, whereas I got through the other books pretty quickly. I think that there may be more material per dollar than the others.

Burkett's Videos 1-3
I waited far too long to buy these. Seriously. I might have gotten more of my match entry fees back as prize money.

Setting up equipment. Although some of the holster information is found in the Bianchi book, Blued Steel and Gunleather (a book that's older than I am), I have not seen this much information elsewhere. He even suggests a couple models of football cleats for the USPSA/IPSC games.

There is some discussion of pistols for the games, although almost every pistol shown in the videos is of the 2011 type sold by Burkett’s sponsor SVI.

Although most of videos are devoted to USPSA/IPSC type matches, much of the information carries over to IDPA, and there is IDPA specific information.

Burkett dissects draws, movement between shooting boxes, stepping into the shooting boxes, shooting from barricades, shooting on the move (also covered in Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals, although slightly different technique), kneeling from standing-start and from moving, going prone, and target-to-target transitions to name a bunch. Applied to your game, these tips should cut fractions of a second off your time here and there, and improve your scores fairly dramatically.

One thing that kinda bugged me was that he made a crack about one of his students hopping into the shooting box, rather than stepping in. I swear that I’ve seen Leatham or Miculek teach exactly that on the Shooting USA TV series.

Video 3 is an interview with Brian Enos. It is about 45 minutes long, and is not broken up into chapters, which means you have to watch it all in one lump, or note the time where you left off and fast forward to it the next time.

Burkett's Video 4
The video starts out with a review of setting up gear, grip, stance, and draw, as shown in the first three videos.

Shooting from trigger reset is discussed. I wondered where that would come in.

There is more coverage of shooting multiple targets with drills on a couple plate racks.
Bonus video is of a national USPSA match. Damn! Those open class guys can really hose those targets! The stages are pretty wild too.

Burkett Practical Shooting Manual
This one’s a tough call. A lot of the same material is in the first three volumes of his video series, and it makes a little more sense in video form than in words. There are some practice drills recommended in the book that may be helpful, and some other tips and equipment information that isn’t covered in the video series. If money is really tight, and you’re good at reading textbooks, maybe skip the videos and buy the book. Otherwise, I would say skip the book and just buy the videos. If you feel like you get a lot out of the videos and want to get a little bit more of the same, then consider getting the book also.

Thinking Practical Shooting
Mostly, this book is on being mentally prepared to shoot a match, and win it. I'm having a hard time explaining what's in it without giving it all away.

Although the author says that he didn't want to make it a book about shooting technique, there is some technique discussed, and it was good enough that I highlighted a good bit of it.

I am glad I bought this book, because I can see how this information can definitely help cut down on the number of "brain freezes," mistakes, and garden variety match screw-ups. I started highlighting on my second time through the book, and by far it is my most highlighted shooting book. There is a lot of useful information here.

The book will help you to be prepared to shoot, thinking positive about your skills, and hitting
the spots you want to shoot as you go through the stage. I can see it also helping you to get jobs, women, and success in general. . . although I imagine a lot of you just rolled your eyes at that.

The book is specifically centered on IPSC, although almost all of it applies to USPSA, and a lot of it still applies to IDPA and other "practical shooting" matches.

If you are not shooting matches yet, get out there and do it, but definitely think about getting a copy of this book.

Refinement and Repetition
It’s an introduction, followed by 80 pages of dry-fire drills, with half of those pages dedicated to recording your times. I probably could have lived without this book; I could have come up with my own dry-fire drills and recorded them in a notebook or in a spreadsheet.

Principles of Performance
The first eighty-some pages are similar to Thinking Practical Shooting. Then there’s thirty-something pages of dry-fire drills (although half of the pages are for recording your times). Last are about twenty pages of live-fire exercises, again with space for recording your times.

The first eighty pages are what makes the book valuable to me. There may be some duplication from Saul’s book, but there’s a lot of other things that Saul didn’t hit on. There is an interview with Lanny Bassham, author of With Winning in Mind, that I think comes off like a sales pitch, but contains some helpful information, and I’ll probably end up picking up a copy of the book.

Perfect Practice
Like Refinement and Repetition, this is a dry-fire drill book. There’s about 120 pages of drills with maybe 1/8 of that dedicated to space for you to record your times. I could have lived without this one also. I guess that I was looking for some novel approaches to dry-fire practice, and I guess there just isn’t any.

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