A review of the Perfect Aim method (installment 1)
As some of you may know if you have followed this thread
, Gene, the author of the Perfect Aim method
sent me his DVD for review.
First of all, I want to thank Gene for taking the trouble of sending the DVD, especially since I live in ole Europe, and for letting me cast a critical eye on it. Gene has written many rather cryptic posts here, hinting at a hidden but powerful way of aiming, contained in his method. Therefore I was rather curious about it.
So, I am going to review the DVD itself, then the method it contains. To evaluate the method, I originally planned to play 10 frames of 6 pockets, view the DVD and try to apply the method, then when I'm comfortable with it, play 10 more frames of 6 pockets and see if there is any difference. Of course, I am rather doubtful of methods that claim to work instantly, so if I didn't see any difference, I'd give it more tries and try 10 frames of 6 pockets again when I really feel good with it.
The test plan has changed somewhat, but I tried to stick to it as much as possible. As for the review of the method itself, I will not go into details. Gene sells the DVD and accompanying lessons to teach his method, and I have no intention of short-cutting his income source. It makes it hard to say what I think of it of course, since I can't put forward arguments to explain what I like or dislike about it, but I will try.
Review of the DVD
It is a 15 part, 60 minute long video of Gene in his pool room (I suppose), either showing his method at the table, or showing Gene as a talking head. 7 minutes worth of video at the beginning and at the end are useless (intro scene, thanks, etc...), and 6 minutes are a review of the various things Gene shows in the video, which is nice. The 47 minutes remaining are the meat of the DVD.
The DVD was obviously shot with a camcorder and does have a few sound problems, but nothing terrible at all.
In the DVD, you will learn (in no particular order):
- Useful shooting tips,
- How to determine your dominant eye,
- The Perfect Aim method, applied to straight in shots, thin cuts and shots in between, jacked up shots, jump shots and shots with the cueball frozen to a rail,
- Two methods to determine how full you need to hit the object ball, the "fractional aiming" method and the "reflective measurement" method, neither of which I had heard before
The shooting tips are nothing earth shattering but they are useful. I didn't need them, but if you do (and you might not know you do), they alone might justify your buying the DVD.
Determining your dominant eye is a no-brainer. 5 seconds of Googling tells you how to do it. Still, it's good info.
The "fractional aiming" method is new to me. If you're a complete beginner, you may find it useful. Without going into details, it's a method to turn angle reckoning into distance reckoning. I'm not sure it's very useful, since I think judging angles directly is better than goofing with your cue to end up judging a distance, but to each his own. If it works for you, you'll be glad to have learnt it.
The "reflective measurement" method is the real surprise of the two: it's a rather clever optical trick to determine how full you need to hit the object ball without any calculation, that works mainly from half-ball to full cut shot. If the object ball isn't clean, you won't be able to use it though. Again, I felt no need for it, but more information from the table is better than less, so if I ever feel blind on a shot, I might use it.
And finally, the perfect aim method: that's what you want to know, right?
Okay, first of all, and this is the real bummer with this video, Gene's discourse to describe the method isn't scripted, and Gene is too verbose and doesn't focus on what he's trying to explain. What's more, he makes right/left mistakes when he explains what he does (such as "if you're left-eye dominant, you need to go to the left, but if you're right-eye dominant, you need to go to the left." huuh?). The information to describe the method is spread thin over the entire video, instead of being described rigorously once. As a result, my first impression when I watched the DVD was a big "what the f**k". To be honest, if I had purchased the DVD and if I was short on patience, I'd have been slightly miffed.
But, I promised a fair review, and since I have an analytical mind and enough patience for an army of ADD sufferers, I pressed on. I went back home and watched the DVD 4 or 5 times, hit the rewind button much, tried to watch was Gene was doing and tried to correlate it with what I thought he was trying to describe, and eventually managed to deconstruct the information in the video and piece the method back together.
In the end, the method does exist, and it makes sense. It is in fact a method intended to exploit the stereoscopic human vision instead of trying to work around it. It also does seem to run contrary to Gene's assertion, at the beginning of the video, that you need to know your dominant eye, since he then explains how to play right shot and left shots symmetrically. But in the method, the dominant eye information determines from which side you approach the zone in which you're supposed to see the shot properly.
Sorry I can't describe it anymore without giving the method away, which I won't do. But for other naysayers on the forum, no Gene isn't trying to scam you, and no, what he says isn't BS, it's just *how* he says it. If the DVD was professionally made and properly scripted, it would cut through the crap and get to the point, which isn't complicated or magical.
Using the Perfect Aim method
With my own style of playing, I originally ran 105 points over 10 racks of 6 pockets. After decoding the DVD at home and thinking over the method a bit, I went back to the poolhall, I tried a few shots trying to line up what Gene says should be lined up (again, no details, sorry...) and it felt awkward. I did that for a while, then tried 10 more racks of 6 pockets with the method. I ran 25 points. Oops...
Okay, so maybe I wasn't used to it. I did some basic 3/4 ball, half ball, 1/4 ball drills, marking the table with sticky dots to be sure the shots would be right, and I brought a construction site laser to line things up as described in Gene's DVD, but as hard as I tried, lining up the shots as Gene described, it felt wrong. VERY wrong. My cue wasn't in the "right place", I had to force the shots in to accomodate for different viewpoint. But no matter, after I could sort of get the balls in, I tried some ladder drills, and I didn't get very far. Finally I tried 10 more racks of 6 pockets and scored 32. Bummer.
I don't think I got the method wrong. I spent a lot of time trying to understand it, and I know I do now. To be fair, there is one thing that prevent me from using it correctly: the Perfect Aim method is designed primarily for players who play with their chin on the cue, but I usually play much higher than that. I only go down all the way when I play super-long straight shots, and that's not too often. My stance is more of a billiards player stance. Also, for short thin cuts, I move my cue back a foot a more, fold my bridge arm, and I watch the shot from above, so I don't need to know how full I will hit the object ball, I can see it perfectly like a bird would. As for jump shots, I haven't even tried the Perfect Aim method, as I shoot underhanded and my cue is always under my right eye by definition.
Also, I don't see how you can benefit from the Perfect Aim if your body mechanics are off. This is a purely visual method, so if it helps you see better, it can't possibly help you shoot straighter if your cue doesn't travel straight. Gene's fundamentals look correct, so he may have overlooked that aspect of the game. This then would be more a method to help someone with proper fundamentals get better.
I have tried the Perfect Aim method for 2 hours and it pretty much felt as if I was trying to solve a problem I didn't have. But maybe I haven't given it enough time, so I will again tonight. This review is only my first impression working with the DVD and the method.
I lent the DVD to one of my students. He's right-handed but left-eye dominant, like Gene, so maybe he'll benefit from it. Unlike Gene however, he plays crooked. I'll report what he thinks about it.
Finally, a word on value: is the DVD worth buying? I think it is, if only for some of the techniques and advises you will find in it. And remember, many people report to have benefitted from the Perfect Aim method, so you may too. I can't seem to make anything out of it myself so far, but it may work for you. It seems to compete against my baggage of 20 years of playing carom and pool, and what I know works for me, but it may complement your own experience instead of fighting it. Anyway, it's not snake oil, so if you want your game of pool to be complete, I reckon you shouldn't pass on the opportunity of learning what Gene has to say.
Stay tuned for more on this review as I try to use it again, and as my friend gives it a whirl. I'm not done with it yet, if only to show Gene that I appreciate his gesture.