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American Handgunner Sep/Oct 2010 - Page 38
BETTERSHOOTING Dave Anderson Tackling Timers F or handgunners, training without a timer is like training without a target. A target provides a way of measuring accuracy. A timer, of course, measures speed. There seems to be a belief timers are only for competitions and for training use by competitive shooters. The fact is any handgun owner who wants to do more with his handguns than just collect and look at them needs both target and timer to measure progress. Shot-activated timers were a dream come true for competitors when they first appeared back in the mid-1980s. They were so useful they justified their relatively high cost. I paid around $200 for a very simple, basic timer back when income levels were a lot less than they are now. Currently timers have become so inexpensive any shooter seriously interested in improving can easily afford one. The Pocket Pro II illustrated here costs (relative to increasing income levels) about a third what I paid 25 years ago, for about ten times the performance. My old timer would give a start beep, and record the time of the last shot fired. Pretty amazing for that time, considering we had been previously been using whistles and hand-held stopwatches. The Pocket Pro II gives instant or random delay starts, stores and plays back the times (and splits between shots) for up to 99 shots, gives par times (i.e, a start and stop beep for a preset time), shows rate of fire in rounds per minute, battery condition, and date/time. In the old days, we soon found timers didn’t always work well on indoor ranges, as echoes would give false readings. I recall shooters boasting of their incredible 0.06 splits between shots when shooting on indoor ranges. Somehow the best they could do on outdoor ranges was more like 0.15–0.20 splits. The Pocket Pro II has a sensitivity-setting feature to eliminate echo readings. The Pocket Pro II is made by Competition Electronics, one of the pioneers in the field of shot timers. PACT, another pioneer, also makes a fine compact timer called the Club Timer III. Another very capable timer from an industry leader is the CED7000 from Competitive Edge Dynamics. Foreground, an early competition timer. It had an instant or delay start and would give a start beep and, after a preset interval, a stop beep. That’s all it did. Behind it is an early Oehler chronograph. In the early 1980s this was advanced stuff. Left is a PACT Mk. IV timer/chronograph, which does both jobs, and does them far better. Electronic timers aren’t just for competitive shooters. To develop skill with your carry gun you need to monitor both speed and accuracy. Pocket Pro II, from Competition Electronics, is moderately priced, light, compact and packed with features. Carry gun is a Springfield Armory EMP 9mm in a Sparks Summer Special hoslter, knife by CRKT. he first thing we do with a timer is play around with it, measure our times for the draw, for reloads, for splits between shots. Mostly we find we’re not as fast as we thought. Back before timer terms like “quarter second draws” and “one-second reloads” were tossed around as casually as we once tossed away fired brass. Just as inexpensive chronographs made handloaders honest, timers have made handgunners honest. Once the novelty wears off, you can begin real training. The timer should be used along with a shooting log. Frankly if you aren’t keeping a record to chart and monitor performance you’re not getting much value for the time and ammunition cost invested. Establish some basic shooting drills. For example, using a USPSA target you might try 10 repetitions of these drills: from 7 yards draw and fire one shot. Draw and fire one, reload, fire one. Draw and fire two, reload, fire two. Draw and fire one, transfer pistol to weak hand, fire one. Repeat firing two shots with each hand. Repeat all drills at 15 and 25 yards. These are just a few examples, I am sure you can think of many others. In these drills you should be shooting all, or mostly all, A-zone hits. An occasional C-zone hit isn’t cause for despair, but I’d like to see at least 90 percent A-zones — no D-zones or misses. 38 timer Fun t Consistency Y our record book should log both each individual draw or reload, as well as the ten-shot average. Over time your logbook should show progress in both average times and consistency. I’m most impressed by consistency. To give an example, shooter A may show an average of 1.30 seconds for ten reloads. Look at individual times and you might see seven reloads down around one second flat, but three others around two seconds, when the reload is bobbled. Shooter B also has a 1.30 average but with a fastest time of 1.2 seconds and a slowest time of 1.4 seconds. In a match — or on the street — I’ll put my money on the consistent shooter, the one who can perform on demand. * WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2010