Originally Posted by SurlyOldManMN
There is zero driveline "shunt" on a good down shift. The principles are exactly the same as up shifting. The goal is to match appropriate revs to wheel speed for the desired gear before engaging the clutch. Youtube "rev matched downshift", there are a number of decent instructional videos to help you figure out the technique.
Heel toe is just a more efficient way to rev match. The goal is the same. It's a difference between which foot is responsible for doing what tasks.
After a while you'll get used to just the right "blip" for dropping from various gears. IE: 4th-3rd is hardly anything. 5th-3rd might be a full pedal stroke.
PS: Mrs. Surly recommends not attempting 3rd-1st.
This is a good post. Try to think of the clutch as much of an on/off switch as you can. If you rev match properly you should be able to smoothly press in the clutch and release without feathering it. That's the goal.
As far as clutch distance, drive without shoes and try to feel vibrations in the clutch pedal. This is the Throw Out Bearing. Press in the clutch and when you stop feeling the vibrations the clutch is disconnected, you may be surprised at how short it actually is! That said don't rely on short clutch pushes all the time, eventually you will release the clutch too quickly and grind as you are shifting.