Avoiding Splatter Target Training Scars…

A TON of people took advantage of our Cyber Monday sale on diagnostic splatter targets…enough that we’re doing a combo version of it today.  We have some that you can get most ricky tick as part of a training package that includes 21 Day Alpha Shooter and Dry Fire Training Cards that you can get >HERE<


Most shooters don’t know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to use splatter targets. As a result, most people use them incorrectly.

Do it wrong and it’s like riding the brakes on your car and it usually throws your shot off.

Do it right and it’s great training for your brain.

The truth is, this particular training scar doesn’t just happen with splatter targets. It happens with regular paper targets and especially with laser trainers.

It’s just REALLY easy to develop the scar with splatter targets.

What is it?

Think about shooting a splatter target.

You line up your sights, press the trigger, the gun goes off, and what do you do?

If you said, “look to see where you hit,” then you’ve just described a training scar called the “peekaboo.”

Lasers and reactive targets are like a magnet to your eyes.  They’re like a siren song, causing beautiful eyes everywhere to instinctively flock to the target like the salmon of Capistrano.  (Yes…I did just insert a Dumb and Dumber quote that had value for firearms training. 🙂

Let me describe the shooting sequences of 2 shooters using their sights to aim…

Shooter 1…the Peekaboo shooter
1. Sight picture
2. Trigger press
3. Gun goes bang!
4. Look downrange to see where the shot went
5. Sight picture
6. Trigger press

Shooter 2…the Alpha shooter
1. Sight picture
2. Trigger press
3. Gun goes bang! Know where your sights were pointed (and where your round hit) when the firing pin hit the primer.
4. Assess effect on target with peripheral vision without diverging focus or changing the focal length of the lens of the eye (focal accommodation)
5. Followup Sight picture
6. Trigger press OR shift focus downrange to verify where your round(s) hit.

The Alpha shooter took a moment to reacquire a sight picture before shifting focus to the target.

Here’s why this matters.

When you hit what you’re aiming at, you get a hit of dopamine.

The sooner you get this hit of dopamine after pressing the trigger, the more that gets released and the tighter the association is between the action and the reward, with the max being at about a 15-20ms delay.

The brain’s natural tendency is to want more dopamine, more often, with less delay between action and reward.

This tendency sucks us into looking at our target as quickly as possible between shots. It’s addictive. It’s human nature. And it WILL sabotage your performance unless you take control of the process.

Specifically, there’s 2 problems with the peekaboo.

FIRST: In an attempt to see the target sooner, it’s common to start raising your head and lowering your gun before the bullet leaves the muzzle. Perceived time distortion makes this hard to believe, but if you’re groups are stringing vertically, having someone recording you shoot a few rounds from the side with the camera on your phone can be eye opening.

Seeing as how it’s hunting season right now, it’s worth pointing out that this is an incredibly common phenomenon with both pistol and rifle shooting.

Taking a moment to get a followup sight picture before or instead of looking downrange takes care of this.

SECOND: When you go from a clear focus on your front sight to a clear focus downrange on your target and then back to your front sight, it’s a fairly involved mental process and it takes time—2 seconds or more is common if you haven’t done vision training.

Two seconds is an eternity when you’re shooting and, as a result, people usually half-ass it and throw a glance downrange, get impatient, and then get a blurry (flash) sight picture and send the next round without really knowing where it’s going to go.

You can get away with this if you’re close and shooting at big targets, but it takes a high level of unsighted shooting skill to do this with precision at any appreciable distance.

So, what should you do?

If you’re going to practice using your front sight (and you should…even if you do unsighted shooting), shoot like an Alpha shooter and get a followup sight picture before looking downrange, regardless of whether you’re hunting, punching holes in paper, shooting steel or reactive targets, practicing with a laser, or shooting a splatter target.

To the extent that you can, (it’s a discipline) keep your eyes focused on your front sight and assess your target with your peripheral vision when you’re practicing.

That’s one of the reasons why I like our new high contrast splatter targets so much. Bright yellow on black is bright enough and big enough that you can keep your focus on the front sight and still assess your target at diagnostic distances of 6-15 feet.

Why so close?

The truth is, very few shooters can shoot a one hole group at 6 feet. Basic errors in fundamentals can throw off your shots at 6 feet by 1, 3, 6, or more inches. And when you miss at 6 feet, It could be the sights, but you can’t blame the gun, the wind, or the ammo. If it’s not the sights, there’s a 99% chance that it’s something the shooter is doing. (If it is the sights, it should still be a 1 hole group…just not over the bullseye)

Even great shooters find opportunities for improvement when they shoot groups at close distances.

Shooting tight groups at close distances eliminates variables. It reduces the number of directions that you can point the blame finger.

Some shooters don’t like shooting tight groups at close distances for exactly that reason—they don’t want to be discouraged.

Of course it’s discouraging if you try something, can’t do as well as you would like, and don’t know how to fix it.

That’s one of the big reasons why I created the brain based diagnostic splatter target.

It’s a cheat sheet that will help you remember what you’ve learned in classes, books, and DVDs, but may not remember once the lead starts flying at the range.

It’ll help you assess your groups, identify and address the most common problems, and immediately shoot the way you know you should.

And, once you start driving nails from close range? Then you start stretching out the distance, speeding up, and adding movement, low light, stress, etc.

As I like to say…work the equation from both ends.  Keep pushing yourself to shoot your precision groups faster and further out and keep pushing yourself to shoot your fast groups tighter and tighter.

Questions?  Comments?  Sound off by commenting below.

And, if you’re interested in getting your hands on our new patent pending brain based diagnostic splatter targets, click >HERE< to order now or >HERE< for the details.

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1 Comment

  • Wayne Clark

    Reply Reply December 1, 2017

    This is actually a very good article about a “problem” that occurs in photography as well. I used to do photography (wedding…ugh!) & a problem that a lot…& I mean a lot of photographers do is something referred to as “chimping”, which is basically the same as the “peekaboo” effect. When photographers take a picture, most will point their camera down & look at their results, which could possibly lead to missing a money shot at whatever event they are shooting. This is comparable to what is mentioned here & it is a very, very hard habit to break…but it can be broken in both scenarios.
    Good article & great advice!

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