Rapid Fire Pistol Basics / RFP 101

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The rapid fire pistol disciplines are lots of fun and very challenging: rapid fire with 5 targets, duel with 3 seconds to shoot and 7 between shots, standard with 5 shots in 10 seconds in the same target… I tried them out at first just to have a taste and now I’m getting knee deep. Precision air pistol is still my first and main love, but I have found that practicing and training different shooting disciplines end up helping each other out.

Thanks to rapid fire shooting I’ve improved my grip and trigger decisiveness. I’ve even managed to qualify for the national standard air pistol championship!

25m precision and rapid fire targets

My first lessons on rapid fire came from the air pistol director of my club, and from my friend and member of the national team Denis. From Denis session is where most of my knowledge comes from, expanded with a note from my former trainer, books, online reads, and my own experience.

  • Feet are a bit wider apart than in precision shooting. This helps with managing the recoil and also to raise the gun from 45 degrees.
  • Your grip has to be firmer than in precision shooting, this is a more dynamic discipline.
  • Train the movements first, without caring about time. Once you feel comfortable with them then you will start training within the allotted times.
  • Wrist lock and trigger release make all the difference. Make sure that you don’t unlock the wrist between shots and don’t jerk the trigger.
  • Your upper torso is locked, you move the whole of it not your arm. You have to pivot on your hip.
  • Stop on your target and shoot. Never shoot while moving.
  • After your last target keep the movement as if you where to shoot an extra imaginary target.
  • Use a chronometer in the competitions and training for the one minute set-up time. You will internalize it a bit, but it is important to have the reference and not be caught off guard. At 55 seconds point to the target and hold it until the light turns red or the referee shouts ‘Attention’, then slowly lower the gun to 45 degrees and check that my lock and grip are good, always with your eyes on the target.
  • Get help from somebody or use a mirror to learn where your 45 degree is. Memorize the sensations so you always know where you are. Some people prefer to have their arm lower, it is up to you, but always memorize the sensations of the position.
  • When you are at 45 degrees, reach the break wall of the second stage of your trigger (no slack to catch up to later).
  • Raise your weapon in a controlled manner as fast as you can always looking at the target. As the pistol comes into view slow down until you reach your firing area and change focus to the sights. Don’t lower your eyes to look at the gun, it will slow you down.
  • If the target is the same as in precision shooting, don’t change your aiming, keep it under 6 o’clock. In the other cases, like when using the rapid fire five targets, aim your gun to the center. You will need to keep track of the clicks needed and in which direction to make sure that this transition is easy and error less.
  • Your sights should be aligned when you reach your aiming area (with a little bit of practice they will be!). You will develop a very strong memory of the feeling of your whole arm and hand.
  • Get used to shooting smoothly every time. It is easier to do when you are practicing without time.
  • Develop a shooting rhythm.
  • In multiple shot rapid fire disciplines, the first shot is the hardest and most important one, so give it more time than the rest. It is important to keep the sensation and memory of a good shot for the rest. Give it about 3 seconds.

I have not yet figured out which breathing is best for me (hold breath before raising or breath while raising).

To internalize and train the timing I use two Android apps Pistol Timer and 25m Pistol Timer. I may just listen to them while commuting or use them instead of a target to dry fire. I’ve also found an old phone I don’t use anymore that I want to use on top of a real target, but I have not gotten to test it yet (we have electronic targets with green and red lights for 25m at the range, we are missing the lights in the air stand electronic targets).

Is there anything you recommend or do differently?

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