Do’s and Don’ts of the “Correction Target”

20-Jun-08 – 18:55 by ToddG

Targets like the one pictured to the left, taken years ago from the now-defunct sportshooter.com website, are very popular among shooters. A few years ago I taught a class for a federal agency and they had a huge poster-size version up on the wall of their classroom. Supposedly, the target can diagnose why you aren’t hitting the center of your target

To an extent, it’s true. But it’s important to understand what the target is and isn’t intended to do.

To get value from the target, you must:

1. Shoot one handed
2. Use the appropriate target (right or left handed) 
3. Shoot slowly
4. Have a perfect sight picture for every shot 

Why? Because the target does not take into account anything you might do to upset your sight alignment with your support hand, nor does it account for any misalignment in your sights.

So is it useless?

Absolutely not. But you need to remember that it is just a sheet of paper. It isn’t watching you shoot. It’s not able to tell if you are blinking, or looking at the target instead of your sights, or anticipating recoil. It can’t see how you’re holding the gun, how you’re standing, or whether you’re paying attention.

There was a shooter at the range next to me today who was using one of these targets for all of his shooting, paying close attention to where his shots landed and trying to make corrections based on it. But his problem wasn’t one that was being identified by the target. Instead, he kept trying to correct subtle things when he clearly had a serious flinching issue. He also had what appeared from casual observation to be a habit of tightening the fingers of his support hand as he fired the gun. None of that is identified in the target. 

Which brings up another issue with the target: it doesn’t know if there is one problem, or multiple overlapping problems. Does shooting low left mean trigger jerk, or does it mean pushing forward and too little finger on the trigger simultaneously?

So while a diagnostic target like the one above can certainly help you figure out what you might be doing wrong, be sure to pay attention to everything you’re doing. If you hit a plateau and can’t get past it, find a qualified instructor who can watch you shoot and perform some real shooting diagnosis.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 9 Responses to “Do’s and Don’ts of the “Correction Target””

  2. geez i’m aware of so many things i’d doing wrong the last thing i need is this chart mocking me, though i guess that’s why you shoot it. i do better one handed, you’d think two hands would be steadier and that may very well be true once you perfect it but unperfected it just means an extra hand to add a jitter / flinch with.

    By David on Jun 21, 2008

  3. The target is like anything else, just another tool to help you improve. I’ve seen a lady improve greatly by the regular use of one as a target. Good aid to concentration on shooting technique.

    You can’t beat a watcher. A while back one of the range regulars asked me why I was tilting my head right. I had unconsciously drifted into a bad habit with my M&P.

    By greener on Jun 21, 2008

  4. In as much as these “wheels” were developed by and for bull’s-eye shooters decades ago, I’m surprised to learn that they are of any value for two-handed combat-style shooting.

    I must wonder whether the person who benefits from them does so because of the guidance of the wheel or because of greater concentration and self-diagnosis and desire to improve.

    A couple of years back someone attempted to develop a diagnostic wheel for two-handed shooting and posted it on another forum. His approach was to exaggerate handling and trigger control errors and observe what effect they had on bullet impact, and seemed to be a credible effort. Despite the amount of continuing interest there is in the old wheels, though, no one ever picked up on his.

    I interpreted that as another demonstration that if you’re not a well known name, or a member of some special “unit” or agency, few people will pay any attention to one’s ideas. Unfortunately.

    By JohnO on Jun 21, 2008

  5. I’ve used these sorts on and off with little or no improvement. I then spent a few days in a formal class with a couple of terrific coaches standing behind me. As Todd mentions, several overlapping issues cannot be identified by a paper target. My biggest problem was [is] looking past my sights, focusing on the target. Clearly there there isn’t a pie slice noting that problem on the target.

    Like anyone else, I don’t mind a tight group, but when I score a couple good head shots after some solid center of mass shots on a silhouette target, I feel like my training is paying off.

    By JoeB on Jun 25, 2008

  6. To follow up on my June post, I’ve been constantly plagued with shooting low and left (right-handed shooter). I dry fire. I concentrate on trigger control. Breathing. Etc.

    I paid a visit to the local gunsmith that installed my sites. I wanted to eliminate any possible chance of mechanical compromise. To my delight, he had set the front sight a little off; that explained the Left portion of my shooting.

    Then he performed a very simple but extremely effective test to detect a flinch. With a ‘red gun’ in hand, I assumed a normal shooting stance. At my count 1,2,3 he would slap my hands to simulate recoil. We did this a couple of times. About the fourth or fifth time, he stopped short of hitting me, and the front of barrel dropped. Flinch.

    My first exercise at the range was with my old .22 revolver. As I pressed the fist shot I could feel my entire body flinch. No recoil to hide it. Wow; what a liberating feeling.

    Since that day earlier this fall, I’ve shot a lot of .22 rounds and a minimal number of .40. The hits of the .40s are improving every time, and I have found myself calling shots; now that’s a liberating feeling!

    Overlapping problems are really tough to unravel. Once you can get them identified through the help of an experienced and knowledgeable individual, you can go about fixing them. Range time is good time.

    By JoeB on Dec 13, 2008

  7. JoeB — I’m a bit skeptical about that test. You may very well have a flinch, but I can see people developing a flinch for that test regardless of whether they have an actual flinch when shooting.

    The best way to test for a flinch, which has probably been around in one form or another for literally a hundred years, is the Ball & Dummy Drill.

    By ToddG on Dec 13, 2008

  8. ToddG: Good point on flinching for the test and 10-4 on the ball and dummy test. I’ve used it as well, but I never realized what the actual problem was.

    On another concurrent thread entitled ‘Diagnosing Shooters’, your mention of diagnosing ones self hits home; for me it was the “A-HAH!” moment with the limited recoil from the .22 revolver. If anything the hand-smack flinch test got me thinking in the right direction.

    The often difficult key is figuring out what the problem is. Making the proper adjustments to overcome it is the fun part.

    By JoeB on Dec 14, 2008

  9. “Then he performed a very simple but extremely effective test to detect a flinch. With a ‘red gun’ in hand, I assumed a normal shooting stance. At my count 1,2,3 he would slap my hands to simulate recoil. We did this a couple of times. About the fourth or fifth time, he stopped short of hitting me, and the front of barrel dropped. Flinch.”

    Incorrect diagnosis.
    That was NOT a flinch.
    You were “timing the gun”, timing is a natural reaction and is NOT a flinch.

    By Jody H on Jun 13, 2010

  10. These targets are great for helping students work on their fundamentals. Too many people rush into combat shooting without first developing their shooting fundamentals. As for a good diagnosis for a flinch (anticipating recoil) have a someone else load your gun with a random snap cap or dummy round. That is the best method I have ever used to show someone how they are shoving the gun forward. I don’t have students shoot at these targets all of the time, but they are a good way to let them know what their fundamental issue is so they can work on it better.

    By Dan Kidder on Feb 7, 2011

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