The following article is a compilation of questions and answers concerning the physical preparation for competitive shooting. Dr. Von Rice gave me permission to share our correspondence with fellow tactical athletes. The training insights are universal and can be applied to physical enhancement for any sport or profession.
Dr. Rice: “First let me say thanks for some of your out of the box ideas and training tips!!! I have the first 2 H2H videos and really enjoy them. Since you work with people whose life depends on the ability to move and shoot, I have a question that hopefully you can help me with. I am a competitive USPSA/IDPA shooter, (hopefully you are familiar with these sports) and while I have increased my strength and stabilization on the pistol with some of the H2H work, where I really take a beating is explosive movement from one shooting box or position to the other. Do you have any kettlebell or other recommendations to help initiate movement quicker?”
Jeff: ” I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the H2H videos and that it has helped increase your strength and stabilization with your competitive shooting.
Here are some suggestions for increasing your first step quickness.
- Increase strength with low rep never to failure grinding lifts (i.e. 1 legged squat, dead lifts)
- Heavy, low rep swings or snatches.
- Pick up a Buddy Lee’s Jump Rope Training DVD and his jump rope. His foot speed and agility is tremendous. You only need to practice jumping for 5 minutes daily or every other day.
- I would highly recommend that you stay away from plyometrics.”
Dr. Rice: “I really appreciate your input and will put them to work, although the rope jumping thing is going be tough for me, never was able to do that. Always ended up beating myself up in the process. But I will give it a go….
Now, why do you recommend that I stay away from plyometrics? I ask because I was thinking that might be what I needed.”
Jeff: “Here’s my two cents on plyometrics. I really think that the risks out weigh the benefits for most people because they do not have a proper foundation of strength to build upon. I think you would be better off trying to master weighted on legged squats and/or deadlifts. Stay tight, move slow, never go to muscle failure, and really concentrate on increasing the neural muscular connection. Get as strong as possible at the lightest body weight possible.
I believe this plus the ballistic lifts will safely enhance your explosiveness. Almost everyone I see practice plyometrics do so on the wrong type of surface (i.e. cement, asphalt, hard ground) and keep practicing even in a fatigued state. I know you don’t need me to tell you this but if you really have your heart set on plyometrics, I would strongly recommend for you to go to a gymnastics studio and practice barefoot on their spring loaded floors and tumbling tracks. You’re a doctor, my background pales in comparison. It’s your call…”
Dr. Rice: “Thanks so much for your reply. From what I know, I think you are spot on in your assessment. I haven’t looked that deeply into plyometrics, although before I found kettlebells and your training ideas, it was on my list. I do see people all the time doing things that they are either not strong enough for, or are extremely poor biomechanically, and terrible for their joints.
I have a long way to go to master one legged squats, and personally would rather go that way than jumping off a bench). Prior to this however, that was about all I had run across for explosiveness. And since the snatch is my favorite of all the kettlebell moves, I will be more likely to follow thru with the program.
Thanks again so much for your help, and I will be in communication more, I am sure. It is nice to have people like you out there.”
Competitive Shooting Q & A II
DS: “I have a question about one of my favorite sports-handgun shooting. One of your “bullets” on the TAPS DVD was about recoil management being improved with the workouts. I assumed that had more to do with shooting full auto weapons than handguns. Or, does the statement include handguns? Many of the shooting “gurus”, especially, Brian Enos, talk about letting the recoil help your shooting. Similar to letting the weapon drop back on target from the recoil of the previous shot. All the workouts help in more ways than shooting but I was just curious about that point. I used to shoot competitively but now there are not enough days in the week…”
Jeff: “TAPS is a good for developing GPP (general physical preparedness) for competitive shooting and everyday life. Increased grip and upper body strength does help with recoil management for both the rifle and handgun. For SPP (specific physical preparedness) I would recommend what I call the “shooters push up”. I learned it from Brad Johnson’s book Bodyweight Exercises for Extraordinary Strength. Brad refers to it as the “’Bottom’s-up Kettlebell Crush Push-up”. Details of the exercise are in the book review I wrote (go to books, under the store button on our website). This exercise will greatly reduce excessive muzzle flip when firing a handgun, resulting in more accurate shoots on target in less time. A solid “shooting platform” and a vise-like grip are the only ways I know for allowing recoil to help a shooter.
I agree with you, brother, there are definitely not enough days in the week…”