Todd Jarrett has won four world titles, nine national titles and is the only USPSA Triple Crown Winner in the world. He's a professional shooter and firearms instructor who's been teaching civilians and police for two decades and members of the military since 1993. So how did he get so good?
Jarrett says that between 1988 and 2001 he shot about 1.7 million rounds in practice. "I had a gun in my hand for two hours every day for 10 years to develop my skill level. Now it's not so much practice anymore, it's more of a maintenance thing. I wasted the first million rounds just learning how to shoot," he says with a laugh.
But Jarrett says you don't have to be rich or a sponsored shooter to learn the proper skills.
"If you're going to practice, dry firing is the key. If you can draw a gun and fire it in under a second, 99.99 percent of the time it has nothing to do with shooting; it has to do with weapon manipulation. Everything starts with the foundation: learning how to stand properly, learning how to balance yourself, draw the gun, load it. These are all things you can practice at home that can save you thousands of dollars in ammunition.
"But you still have to go pull the trigger on live ammunition because you have to know how you react. It's up to you to be able to align the gun properly and learn how to control it, control recoil."
Jarrett is also a big proponent of lasers. "If you're going to use anything that will give you a better presentation to the target, I would invest in a set of lasers. The lasers actually tell you what your gun muzzle is doing, not only for safety, but also it gets you driving your gun to the target, giving you a better presentation, which improves your first shot. It allows you to reload the gun and realize what your gun muzzle's doing during mag changes."
What about people who don't really care about competitive shooting and are more interested in self-defense? Jarrett believes competition--action shooting, in particular--has a lot to teach those handgunners in particular.
"I tell my students--law enforcement, military and civilians--that what you think you know about shooting from the range is nothing when you put it under stress," he says. "Competition shooting puts you under stress, puts you in a situation you've never been in before. If you think you're a good shot, and you think you're a good gun handler, action shooting will prove how wrong you truly are. All the things you see in a match are things that do happen or could happen on the street. I don't care if it's PPC, bullseye, silhouette--any type of competition will enhance your overall shooting skills under pressure."
Jarrett thinks the culture of IPSC might be a little friendlier to new shooters than some other disciplines, and he recommends it. "Most people who start out in IDPA end up drifting over to IPSC because of its excitement and more looseness in how we shoot a stage. Plus, you get to shoot more bullets."
Jarrett says one of the hardest things to do with a gun is one of the things he does best. "I've probably shot half a million rounds shooting on the move in the last 10 years. A lot of times it's the biggest part of my practice regimen because of the difficulty of it. Fifty percent of my practice anymore is shooting on the move."
Jarrett's enthusiastic about what he sees happening with shooting and firearms technology. "I see in the future, in fact it's already happening--red dots sights on law enforcement handguns, maybe a flip-up one. They'll have compensators, mag wells that are set up right, triggers that are easier to manipulate, and the accuracy of the firearms will exceed the current offerings. Night sights, fiber optics, lasers, red dot sights--these are all the things that enhance sight picture and increase speed and accuracy under pressure.
"And holsters are so much better than what was available 20 years ago," he says, singling out Kydex for praise. "It doesn't wear out, and I can do a .85-second draw out of my Blackhawk Serpa lock holster. And where did that technology come from? The IPSC world."