Start Drills

Craig Simpson

In a game where tenths of seconds can be the difference between a podium finish and a long ride home pondering what went wrong, wasted movement must be avoided. One arena where wasted motion is common is at the start of a stage. Your goal: Eliminate it and get each stage off on the right foot.

Here to help is Federal ambassador and professional shooter Josh Froelich. He’s a seasoned veteran who is renowned in the competition world for his flawless starts. Put his drills into practice and shave valuable time.

Speed Up Start Positions

In the world of long gun competition, there are a pair of common start positions shooters need to master. First is the port arms position—stock on belt and muzzle wherever it feels comfortable. Second is the low-ready position—stock under the arm with the muzzle pointed out front at belt level.

“From the port arms position, I can get on target fast and eliminate wasted movement by lining my muzzle up with the top of the first target,” Froelich said. “As for my body position, I want my body pointed at that first target. When the buzzer goes off, all I have to do is ride that target with the muzzle as the stock comes up and brings me into my optic. I see too many shooters not be in line with the target. They have to come up and then move at the hips to engage the target. You want the muzzle and the body lined up from the get-go.”

When it comes to the low-ready position, Froelich recommends addressing the target in much the same way as one would from port arms. But with the low-ready position, the shooter addresses the target as the barrel comes up onto the target.

“I point directly at the target I’m going to shoot, leaving my head in that exact position,” noted Froelich. “When the buzzer goes off, the gun comes up and the optic comes right into position. Now I can take my first shot. I don’t have to do any thinking or add any extra movement.”

Unloaded Table Start Drill

Just like anything else, the more we do something the more efficient we get at it. The process becomes muscle memory. Often, as we learn a task, we discover ways to become even more efficient. That was the case with Froelich and the unloaded table start.

“Picking the gun up and establishing a solid grip is critical to starting out the stage on the right foot,” says Froelich. “I used to just grab for the grip, and sometimes that would work out and sometimes it wouldn’t. Now I grab the stock, bring the stock up into my grip; onto my shoulder; grab the mag and load it into my gun.

“Magazine position is also critical. Make sure the magazine is positioned on the table where you can index it correctly and feed the magazine into the gun as quickly as possible.”

Long Gun Unloaded Start & Reloads

In an unloaded start scenario, you can’t start banging at targets until you feed the weapon with ammo. It’s also critical to get the gun reloaded when ammo is running low. Froelich sees lots of wasted movement during loads and reloads.

“To keep my movements as fast as possible, I make sure and bring the gun up to the shoulder on the start, load the magazine and already be acquiring the target,” said Froelich. “The same holds true for a reload. I don’t want to take the gun off the shoulder. I leave the gun on the shoulder, drop the mag, put a new mag in and resume. The gun never leaves the shoulder and my optics never leave the target.”

White Targets

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