Video and the many simple ways to capture it has changed the way all of us live, especially in the last 10 to 20 years.
From the rise and popularity of YouTube and the widespread ability to film quality footage from our smartphones to compact video cameras and digital SLRs capable of shooting HD footage, it seems if something happens in society these days, someone else is filming it. And while this is arguably not always a good thing, the improvements in technology have allowed for some great entertainment,
Too, it’s allowed for a good number of teachable moments, and has even allowed for many sportsmen to launch careers producing outdoor television programming where at one time they might have otherwise been shut out of those opportunities due to the high cost and complicated nature of capturing and editing footage.
One place that video can be of great help and is often overlooked by recreational shooters looking to improve their skills, particularly behind a handgun or shotgun, is when out practicing their shooting. Whether working to improve your accuracy, grip and/or stance when shooting a concealed carry gun or working the stations of a skeet range, to perfect either takes a lot of coordination between the hands, gun, body and eyes, all of which can be hard to commit to memory when focusing on hitting a paper target or flying clay pigeon.
Self-defense expert Rob Pincus even touched on this topic in an article for Winchester. “There’s nothing more valuable than a good coach who knows what you’re supposed to be doing and can pick up on mistakes you’re making. If you have a training partner that is invested in your success, you can make improvements much faster,” Pincus writes. “Not just anyone should be considered a training partner, however. I always recommend working with someone who has taken the same course(s) you have and understands your training goals. There are many opinions in the shooting world, and you don’t want just anyone from the next lane over giving you advice when you’re practicing.”
“If you don’t have a training partner, you should try to video…yourself while practicing. Try to move the camera around while you repeat your practice drills. If you are on private property and time is not an issue, you might stop periodically and review your video. If you’re paying for the range by the minute, it probably makes more sense to review the video at some other time and use what you see to set your priorities for your next range visit.”
When using a video camera or SLR with video capability, be sure you have a good tripod to set it up on rather than having to angle the camera on your range bag or other items sitting around. You don’t need an expensive one—many can be bought for less than $100—but be sure you can adjust it to capture angles from below your line of aim, even with your line of aim and even above. Shoot and move the camera to capture your form from different angles.
If shooting on a public range or even a private range where other shooters are present, you will not be able to set the camera out front of you. As a courtesy, you should let the range master and your fellow shooters know what you’re doing as some people get suspicious or nervous when someone breaks a camera out and starts filming. Be sure the camera is set to film you and only you unless you have another shooter’s permission to include them in your footage. On a skeet, sporting clays, or trap range, be careful not to set your camera where you will be swinging the shotgun or where it gets in the way of your fellow shooters.
If you are on your own land, shooting by yourself on a public range or even on some clays courses, try to set the camera in front of you to capture your grip, stance and sight alignment with the eyes. Much more can be learned from this angle than one that is over the shoulder from behind, though any footage can be helpful.
While a camera will never replace the companionship and guidance of a skilled shooting partner, it can be the next best thing when used properly to fast-track your shooting success.