What You Need to Know About Plaxco’s Shooting Principles

I stumbled across an excellent book “Shooting from Within: A Guide to Maximum Performance” by J. Michael Plaxco a former USPSA national champion and gunsmith who was employed by Smith and Wesson for a shooting principlesnumber of years. This isn’t your normal shooting book of drills.

It has often been said that success in a gunfight is 90% mental and only 10% shooting skills. The way you get better in anything is to understand what happens both mentally and physically when the situation occurs.

I really suggest you get the book and study it.  In the meantime, here are his shooting principles:

  • *Accuracy takes precedence over speed. “The most important thing is to hit what you are shooting at. No matter what else happens, you must hit your target.”
  • *Learn to apply your skills on demand. “Consistent top performers in any sport have a thorough understanding of the basics and have learned to apply the principles at all times. Don’t be distracted from the shooting.”
  • *You must compete at your natural body speed. “Don’t attempt to speed up or slow down. You must learn to allow it to happen.”
  • *Speed is economy of motion. “Every move is directed toward gaining something. There is no wasted motion or effort.”
  • *Speed will increase through practice; it is a byproduct of proper training and technique. “You don’t have to try to be fast. As your skill increases and you are able to execute at the subconscious level, speed increases naturally.”
  • *Let the sights dictate your cadence of fire. “Sight alignment is your speedometer–it shows you how fast you can or cannot go. If the sights are acceptably aligned, fire the shot. If the sights are not acceptably aligned, don’t fire the shot until they are–whether it takes a quarter-second, half-second or two seconds.”
  • *Learn what is an acceptable sight picture, and trigger squeeze for the required shot. “Quality of sight alignment for a 15-yard shot is not as exact as for a 50-yard shot. You’d like to always see perfect sight alignment, but you must learn to accept less if it will still allow you to hit your target.”
  • *Shoot one shot at a time. The next shot you are about to fire is the most important one of your life. “Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of strings of fire. A match [or a fight] is won shooting one shot at a time.”
  • *When all else fails, align the sights and squeeze the prepped trigger. No matter what else happens, if you align the sights and squeeze the prepped trigger, you will hit the target.”
Let us know in the comments what you think about the Plaxco Shooting Principles.


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