Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Champion Shooting

I've been looking forward to the release of Champion Shooting: A Proven Process for Success at Any Level by Ben Stoeger and Jay Hirshberg since I first heard about it on an online forum. The authors are USPSA Grand Master and Master ranked shooters, respectively. Ben Stoeger is a two-time, and the current, USPSA Production National Champion. His experiences made the book especially interesting to me. In addition to shooting Production, Ben's gun of choice is the Beretta 92 series. DA/SA action guns are in the minority at most matches, and Berettas are even more rare than my choice of Sig Sauer! Yet, that oft maligned, double action first shot doesn't seem to hinder Ben.

This book is not a "how to" book on shooting. The authors assume you are familiar with the basics of sight alignment, trigger pull, reloading, etc. This is essentially a "how to practice" book. The goal is to help the reader put together a structured training plan, learn how to measure progress, and to translate those new or improved skills into improved match performance. The authors state unequivocally that accuracy is the key to doing well in matches, even in USPSA where speed is often looked upon as the holy grail. 

Dry fire is very important in the training program laid out by Stoeger and Hirshberg and they devote time to helping the reader understand how to make the most of dry fire practice in combination with live fire practice.

A large part of the book is devoted to 10 drills the authors feel all shooters should master. These drills are used to develop a well-rounded range of skills, that when put together should translate to improved performances in the wide and varied range of stages found in USPSA matches. Interestingly, none of the drills involve movement. As stated in the book, "one cannot move and shoot well until one stands and shoots well." 

The write up on each drill includes information on the specific training goals. Benchmark times are included, though the actual times achieved are less important than the techniques learned. The authors include copious notes on common pitfalls and mistakes that shooters may encounter. I found these detailed training hints to be very instructive and enlightening.

Also included are write-ups of a "typical" training week for both Ben and Jay. These journals provide some interesting insight into how the authors adapt their favorite drills to create interesting and fun training scenarios. The final pages are devoted to the mental and self-awareness aspects of practical shooting.

Champion Shooting: A Proven Process for Success at Any Level is a short book. I read it on my Kindle in one sitting initially, but will definitely go back and read it again, several times I'm sure, as well as use it as a reference. Initially released for the Kindle, the authors later were able to make a print edition available. If you are interested in improving your practical shooting performance I am sure you will find the book an invaluable aid. I know I look forward to putting the tips and advice I learned to use in my own practice sessions.


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