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View Full Version : Shot Placement and Practice: Am I likely to get any better?


psyfly
February 27, 2008, 11:31 AM
I recently had the opportunity to acquire both a Springfield Armory Ultra Compact V-10 and a Colt Defender.

They are both gorgeous!

I went to the range this weekend with my:

Star BKM 9mm (my most common carry before acquiring the new to me .45 compacts)
5" 1911 (1927 Argentine, or Sistema) Colt which I've had for 25+ years
Star PD (.45 compact)

And the two "new" .45s

With the following results (official 9" paper plate targets).

Star 9mm: fairly neat Point-of-aim patterns about 2 inches or so at 25 feet
1927 Argentine: fairly neat POA patterns, also 1 1/2 to 2 inches at 25 feet
Star .45: ragged POA patterns about 3 to 3 1/2 inches at 25 feet

Springfield and Defender both: I had to move up to about 15 feet to even get all the shots ON the 9 inch paper plate at all!

:eek: EEK!

I've gone back to carrying the 9mm (shot placement).

While I ponder.

My question is:

Am I likely to get any better with the 3 inch .45s with practice?

What does your experience say?

Thanks,

Will

dwatts47
February 27, 2008, 11:42 AM
dry fire... alot.

Skyguy
February 27, 2008, 12:14 PM
My question is:

Am I likely to get any better with the 3 inch .45s with practice?

A 3 inch barreled pistol is meant for self defense at close range. It is not a target pistol!

Learn to 'point shoot' with your SD carry-pistols and get a lasergrip for low light, sightless and awkward shooting situations.

Oh, and learn to move off the x as you shoot. That's your best bet for surviving a deadly encounter.....not standing and trying to deliver 2 inch groups on a stationary threat.

SD shootouts ain't like the range.
.

Hornett
February 27, 2008, 01:35 PM
IMHO Any new gun should be fired from a rest first.
You still don't know if it's the gun or you that is the problem.
If it shoots good from a rest, you just need more practice.
If not....:eek:

I had a Charles Daily ECS ( the 3 1/2" barrel) that was an absolute tack driver with ball ammo.
But, it would jam on hollow points every time.
I sold it and bought a Para LTC, but the point is, it IS possible to have an accurate short barreled 45.

psyfly
February 27, 2008, 01:50 PM
Thanks for the replies.

I've been shooting for a long time and (when I was just a lad) did pretty well in competitive shooting.

Never owned a compact until just now.

"A 3 inch barreled pistol is meant for self defense at close range. It is not a target pistol!"

Understood. Is there, then, no relationship between ability to hit a target and effective SD shooting?

"SD shootouts ain't like the range."

I fully expected as much. I, however, have never been in an actual SD shootout and appreciate the perspective of those of you who have. Thanks.

At my age and condition, I:

1.) Am no longer capable of intensive/extensive tactical training.

2.) Fully expect to live out the rest of my life without any actual SD practice.

I do, however, desire to protect myself and loved ones as best as possible and to be prepared to be wrong about #2 above. I will gratefully take any advice I can use to become better prepared to do so and, at the very least, will continue to carry the 9mm while I give myself a chance to be more accurate (in whatever situation) with the 3"s. Thanks again.

Will

PointOneSeven
February 27, 2008, 02:06 PM
With the shorter pistols, it's worth shooting the large 'people size' silhouette targets at shorter distances. Like the other guys said, you won't be shooting bullseye with it.


It really helped a friend of mine get his .380 to hit paper with a larger target. You can see where the bullets are going and either adjust the sights or mentally adjust to know where the gun is pointing.

David Blinder
February 27, 2008, 02:36 PM
The shorter sight radius (distance between the front and rear sight) of the 3" versus the 5" means that any deviation from perfect sight alignment is magnified at any distance and the further from the target you are, the more you will be off for a given imperfection. In other words, it's easier to shoot a longer barreled gun. That said, I totally disagree with the concepts of "it's for defense so it doesn't matter" or "get a bigger target." You are still responsible for getting hits and just because it would make it easier or convenient, you don't get to choose how difficult the target solution is. I suspect the issue is software, not hardware but get a solid shooter to give your compacts a test and then you'll know where a change is needed.

psyfly
February 27, 2008, 02:44 PM
Thanks, again.

Seeing where the bullets are going is, of course, why I moved up closer on the target in the first place.

"...software..." Is what I expected. That gives me hope that with a little practice, I can hope to get better.

In the meantime, I am not comfortable relying on being able to use the 3" solutions in real-time SD if I can't hit anything under ideal conditions.

I'm much more confident, FBOW, of my effectiveness with the 9mm and/or the 5" .45 (which is just a bigger PITA to CCW than the others).

w

David Blinder
February 27, 2008, 02:57 PM
psyfly,

Were your misses with the 3" guns oriented in any particular direction or just spread out?

Also, in terms of "hope to get better", if you do what you always have done, you'll have what you always had. If you are the broken part of the puzzle, get fixed. If it turns out to be the gun, fix it but either way, doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results is one definition of insanity.

ActivShootr
February 27, 2008, 03:27 PM
When shooting my snubbies, and I don't have a silhouette handy, I practice on paper plates at about 10 yds or so. It has helped me shoot the short guns better.

For even more of a challenge, try paper saucers at 15+yds.

Shadi Khalil
February 27, 2008, 07:06 PM
I shoot a pretty short barreled .9mm, sig 239. I practices mostly between 5 and 8 yards. At that distance my shoots are about an inch and a half off point of aim but still in a tight group. That because I have bad habits in my trigger pull. The best way I have found to work out those issues is to put the targer back to about ten to 12 yards and do some real slow, concentrated fire. That way i pay alot more attention to where Im shooting and how I pull the trigger. I then move the target back to my ususal distance and my shooting is pretty much on target. So yeah, practicing outside SD distances with a short barrel is a good idea, IMO.

JohnKSa
February 27, 2008, 08:05 PM
You'll get better with practice. Small guns are harder to shoot accurately, they're made because they're easy to carry, everything else is a tradeoff.

It is quite possible to be accurate with a small gun, assuming the gun/ammo combination is capable of good accuracy. I've seen an exhibition shooter (Bob Munden) make a hit on a man-sized target at 200 yards with a .38 snubbie.

I'm not that good, but with my Kahr CW9 I can keep 5 shots under 4.5 inches at 25 yards. ;)

TripIII
February 27, 2008, 10:46 PM
psyfly:

I use a 1" orange round sticker in the center of my paper plates. You can get them at office depot or some place like that. At 30 feet there is little difference between my 5" barrel (custom kimber) and 3.5" barrel (HK USPc) shot groups. I can hit with my Kahr K9 just as well. Of course this is all slow fire for accuracy. I do not do much rapid fire. I want the first shot to count.

Sounds like you have much experience, but my epiphany for getting great shot groups was when I started thinking "hammer release" instead of trigger pull or trigger squeeze and quit insisting when the hammer is to drop. I tease my buddy... He says; Well how do you know when the hammer is going to fall? I tell him "I don't... on any of my guns. Then I tell him he knows exactly when the hammer is going to fall...just as soon as he yanks on that trigger!

I just aim steady and apply increasing pressure to the front face of the trigger until the hammer decides to fall. I quit anticipating the shot and recoil. That all happens when the magic trigger pressure is reached. I get great shot groups with any gun and can feel trigger creep and overtravel really well. I don't mind a little trigger creep. I just keep steady aim and keep applying pressure till the hammer falls. With practice my hammer release gets faster and faster, but accuracy remains high.

Sounds like you may have new gun excitement too! A 3" 1911 is a great carry weapon. I would keep working with it. You should be able to keep them all on the plate at 25 yards.

Respectfully,
Trip

Lurper
February 28, 2008, 01:01 AM
Am I likely to get any better with the 3 inch .45s with practice?
Yes with proper practice and technique. I can shoot my officer's acp at 25 yards about as well as my 5". It's not the gun. You just have less margin for error with the short ones. I would venture a guess that you need to work on your trigger skills. Dry fire or better yet, get professional instruction.

As far as SD goes the single most important skill you can develop is the ability to hit the target quickly. Everything else is secondary. Work on hitting the target, then work on hitting it quickly and multiple times. There is a lot more to shooting quickly than most people think. Seek professional instruction.

evan1293
February 28, 2008, 01:49 AM
I've seen an exhibition shooter (Bob Munden) make a hit on a man-sized target at 200 yards with a .38 snubbie.

I saw him hit a water-balloon @ 200yrds with a .38! :eek:

psyfly
February 28, 2008, 10:46 AM
"I saw him hit a water-balloon @ 200yrds with a .38!"

Yeah, I'll shoot for that!

Seriously, thanks to everyone for their comments and assistance.

True, I've got a lot of experience (though much of it a long time ago) but not much in the way of useful training.

When young, I seemed to have had a natural talent for it and excellent eyesight, as well. Like a lot of youngsters who do pretty well, I probably thought I didn't have much use for training (I'm doing fine, y'all!).

I don't thing my "problem" is the fault of the tools. However, there must be some kind of interaction here; the PD is also a compact and I do significantly better with it (so it isn't only sight-radius, e.g.).

I think some training and some practice, practice, practice and I might just make it to the hall (with a ticket, anyway).

Thanks again, all.

Will

Skyguy
February 28, 2008, 01:51 PM
In the typical close deadly encounter, to aim, stand and deliver a 2" group at various distances is one step below suicide. You will get shot. That is target shooting....a recreation.
Even the most practiced target shooter will likely trade bullet wounds or death with a determined aggressor.

The single most important thing you can practice for a self defense encounter is to move off the X.
Don't freeze. You must move in order to make yourself harder to hit.

After that learn to draw and shoot as you move. Even slow movement is better than not at all.
Then try hitting a moving target and not only will you see how difficult that is, you will realize how difficult it will be for a threat to hit you as you move....lucky shot aside.
.

KimberDen
February 28, 2008, 02:05 PM
The only two things I could add (and that's something you probably already know):
1) put aside all the other guns while you train with the officers.
2) Assuming you reload, load up some mild 45ACP for practice. Less recoil lets you focus on sight acquisition better. when you like where you are with whimp loads, gradually crank up the powder back to service ammo levels.

psyfly
February 28, 2008, 11:39 PM
Thanks, again, all, for the tips and advice.

My intention (aside from recreation of target shooting, which is considerable) is to learn to hit with the two new pistols, at all). Once that's accomplished, I can worry about learning more about the tactics of the situation.

That in itself, is also somewhat limited. At my age and condition (60+ and let's don't get into it) if I find myself faced with a "determined aggressor", I will likely be toast if I don't react pretty fast in the first couple of seconds.

My intention in SD carry is not to be a target shooter...

And I will do my best not to be a(n) (easy) target...

I will carry the 9mm until I get better with the .45(s) because I believe I have a better chance of hitting with it at all in a defense situation.

While I realize that there may be some trained and determined aggressors out there, I also believe that they are statistically few and the most likely situation is with an opportunist looking for an easy score.


Thanks again,

Will

Lurper
February 29, 2008, 12:00 AM
The single most important thing you can practice for a self defense encounter is to move off the X.
Don't freeze. You must move in order to make yourself harder to hit.

Data and history doesn't support that statement. Hitting the target first is what is important. That doesn't mean you take time to shoot a tight group, but learn how to hit the target quickly. Additionally, you are better off shooting then moving or moving then shooting, not shooting while moving.

JohnKSa
February 29, 2008, 01:03 AM
I saw him hit a water-balloon @ 200yrds with a .38!That's the shot I was talking about. A hit anywhere on the steel backing plate will pop the balloon from bullet splatter. ;)

evan1293
February 29, 2008, 01:11 AM
A hit anywhere on the steel backing plate will pop the balloon from bullet splatter.

What'a Cheater! :D

Skyguy
February 29, 2008, 10:39 AM
Hitting the target first is what is important.

Handgun bullets rarely drop a threat instantaneously. It takes a few deadly seconds for an adrenaline charged aggressor to react to their wounds or to bleed out.

Times and self defense training have changed....remarkably.

For the average Joe, stand and deliver is rarely the wise thing to do in a deadly encounter because the odds of mutual death or injury are so high. That is classic old school training.

At close range and with ambush on the BG's side, the best tactic is to 'not' get shot....that means 'move' first!

So the drill is 'move' off the X as you draw your weapon and shoot. Miss or not, just shoot.

Anyone who has been in firefights or shootouts knows that the whole idea of surviving a deadly encounter is to 'survive'....not bullet placement or hitting the threat first.
In a real life encounter one has only seconds to react and those few seconds are best used to move first, draw then shoot.
.

Lurper
February 29, 2008, 11:14 AM
Anyone who has been in firefights or shootouts knows that the whole idea of surviving a deadly encounter is to 'survive'....not bullet placement or hitting the threat first.
In a real life encounter one has only seconds to react and those few seconds are best used to move first, draw then shoot.
.
Gee, that's funny because I have been in more than one, have several acquaintaces who have been, been an instructor for more than 20 years and just finished compiling data on several hundred civilian shootings in more than a dozen states going back to the mid 1990's and I can tell ya that it just aint so.
Moving or doing anything else when you should be shooting will get you killed. In spite of what the "tacticool" crowd says, the majority of time the person who hits the target first walks away in the best shape.

Times and self defense training have changed....remarkably.
Not all change is for the better and changes in training don't mean that reality has changed. The most remarkable thing is that these changes were brought about by certain individuals telling the public what is important (in Political Science, it's called "priming"). That created a perceived need that these same individuals stepped in to fill - go figure.

For the average Joe, stand and deliver is rarely the wise thing to do in a deadly encounter because the odds of mutual death or injury are so high.
Again not supported by reality. About 70% of the time it is who hits their target first that matters (even when the BG has his gun out first). There are very few incidents of mutual death. In fact there are not that many deaths period. About 85% of the time, handgun wounds are not fatal (that works both ways).

Handgun bullets rarely drop a threat instantaneously.
It's immaterial, the purpose is to stop the threat. Stopping the threat could consist of the BG dropping his gun and running away. Killing them is a secondary occurance.

Next time somone tells you the importance of those tactics, ask them to show you the evidence that supports their conclusion. It would be interesting to see what they offer.

Skyguy
February 29, 2008, 08:12 PM
Tell ya what:

You stand and deliver and I'll move off the X first as I draw and shoot.
.

Archie
March 3, 2008, 11:35 AM
To answer the basic question you asked: Yes, you will get better if you practise properly.

A three inch pistol is not normally a target grade gun. But the accuracy potential between a three inch gun and a five inch gun are not as great as commonly believed. Much of this is a matter of reasonable expectations. For the record, a three inch pistol that will not reliably hit a 9 inch disk at 25 yards and probably at 50 yards is defective (excluding shooter inability.)

If I may, a couple of comments and observations:

The essence and primary skill in delivering any shot on any target - bullseye, ground squirrel, moose or armed attacker - is sight picture and trigger control. Obviously, the margin of error is greater when the target is large and up close, but there are limits of error in all circumstances. As you so correctly said... I am not comfortable ... in real-time SD if I can't hit anything under ideal conditions.You got that right, pard. I've read too many reports of gunfights at less than powderburn range with less than a one-in-three hit ratio.

I've done all kinds of shooting in my life, pretty much everything from bullseye to IPSC to silouette. I've carried a gun for a living for many years now. I've never shot anyone, but I've taken several guns and knives away from people. Knowing you can make the hit under any circumstance is a big advantage. Bad guys pick up on that.

By the way, I'm now 58 years old. I'm a bit overweight and my knees, while still servicable, are going out on me. I like 'action shooting', but I can't do the running, jumping and sliding under limbo sticks so beloved of that 'sport'. So I do understand your position regarding violent excercise. I still shoot bullseye, and I shoot a monthly International Centerfire match; part of that match demands a fairly precise shot fired within three seconds (to obrain sight picture and shoot) - thirty times. It's good practise for this sort of thing.

And the idea of ...draw your weapon and shoot. Miss or not, just shoot.is great. Unless you have to explain where your missed rounds went. Like in a self-defense shooting.

Lord protect us all from 'supressive fire'.

foghornl
March 4, 2008, 11:36 AM
With proper practice, yes you WILL get better.

A while back (pre-9-11-01) I had not done much handgun shooting in SEVERAL years. Bought a Ruger KP-90 [4" .45ACP] and I was grossly surprised in how much my handgun skills had diminished.

After about 2,000 rounds over many range sessions, my targets began to resemble groups insted of shotgun patterns.