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Old April 1, 2011, 01:21 PM   #1
BarryLee
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Target Distance

I have noticed that a lot of shooters at the range place their targets only about 15 yards down range. They then proceed to shoot very tight consistent groups, but then again I feel like I could touch the target. I generally run my targets between 25 to 45 yards. While my rounds are consistently in the center of the target my groups are by no means as tight as those shot at shorter distance.

To be honest I just assumed these folks were doing this to hit a lot of bull’s-eyes and pump up their egos. However, after seeing so many folks doing this I began to wonder if I am missing something. So, is there a legitimate training purpose for shooting so close? Wouldn’t it be better to shoot at greater distance for self defense purposes? Just curious what distance you guys recommend for general self defense practice?
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Old April 1, 2011, 03:32 PM   #2
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I usually practice my "Zero" at the distant that I plan to shoot at. Of course, I'm not a hunter...
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Old April 1, 2011, 03:47 PM   #3
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There's a world of difference between "target" shooting and "self defense" shooting.

In one you are trying for those nice tight groups (and high scores) in the other the only thing you care about is "minute of bad guy".

Personally I work pretty hard to have decent groups at 25, 50, and sometimes (if I'm feeling really "in the zone") 100 yards, with a pistol because I figure that's training with the important basics of breathing, trigger control, etc. and if you can hit at those distances you most certainly can hit closer.

However, doing "moving" drills or any of several other types of close-quarters stuff I tend to use a pie-plate sized or manform target at distances where self-defense might actually take place (contact distance to 15 yards) since I generally believe that if someone is more than 15 yards away it's probably not a "shooting" scenario it's probably a "run-away" scenario.

The other thing I love is to post the "hardcore balloon challenge" target. You shoot that one close (30ft) but it requires very subtle control and it's a LOT harder than most people think because you have to make these tiny little adjustments after EVERY shot to line up the next one.
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Old April 1, 2011, 05:57 PM   #4
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ZeSpectre, your balloon challenge link is dead, are you going to post your challenge matches here. If you do I will play. Snowed last night, rained all day, must be Spring in Wisconsin, I am ready to play.

As for targets set ups it depends on the purpose. 25 and 50 yards is my usual, 100 when I am serious, and 200 when I feel like chuckles and giggles.

7-15 yards is for serious SD drill where I use one and both hands, weak and strongside, in the open and from behind a barricade. I practice drawing strong side, cross draw and weak side. I shoot both single and multiple targets. A 30 minute drill and I am done for the day because I am wiped out. Getting old is a pain in the keester and most of my other joints too. Not fun so I don't do it as often as I should, twice a month if I think of it once a month summer and winter is average.

Last time I shot was 25 yards off hand with 41 mag, 44 mag, 357 mag and then finished up with 45 cap and ball, all revolvers. In retrospect I should have fired the 45 first and the 44 last but sometimes the old dinosaur isn't very bright. Funny thing is my two best groups were with the 44 and the 45, usually my best is with the 41 magnum. It was just one of those days.
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Old April 17, 2011, 06:36 PM   #5
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Distance and marksmanship...

So, some things folks don't consider for self defense shooting...

Speed and accuracy is king. You can be the best shot in the world but if you are too slow then you may lose. You can be the fastest shot in the world and conversely if you can't hit what you are aiming at then you may lose. For self defense you have to be quick and accurate.


For marksmanship - it always better to be able to shoot further... well.

Back to your question - So you obviously have the marksmanship down if you are able to keep your groups under 5" at 25-50 yards. Now, consider this... how long does it take you to put those shots on target? Meaning are you taking 30-45 seconds or longer per shot? Are you doing this in 5 seconds?

Another thing to consider is that shooting anyone beyond the acceptable benchmarked 21 feet (7 yards) not to mention over 25 yards is really not a defensible standpoint. Unless you are taking direct fire - for self defense a robber or someone with a bat is really not a threat (over at these distances)... as you can run or take other choices other than lethal force.

So why at closer distances? Most folks can't shoot that well. At greater distances shot groups exponentially increase.

If you want to improve your ability for self defense. Shoot well. Practice drawing and shooting and then moving for cover. These are basic skills most folks never do for many reasons but are vital for self defense.
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Old April 17, 2011, 06:49 PM   #6
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Sometimes it is as simple to start close then move out as aim gets better.
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Old April 24, 2011, 08:24 PM   #7
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SD practice

Old Grump's got it. I do that too,'cause I bet I'm older than he is and I ain't got time to get perfick. Various moving and shooting scenarios, trying to stay on target all the while. It ain't easy being creaky.
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Old April 24, 2011, 08:47 PM   #8
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I started load testing at 10 yards standing because I felt like it, seemed like a good benchmark. I do shoot at 25 yards, and I will sometimes use the Phantom at 50 yards, a few times at 100 yards, but not with stellar results - I am not the worlds greatest shot by any means, nor am I likely to become one. Let me show by example;

10 yards, load development, showed a lot of promise,


50 yards, the wider group is standing, the smaller group is off a rest,



And 100 yards, only a few hits, only 1 good hit, also two hand hold standing, though I was kinda rushed.



All targets fired by same gun/same load. I don't lie about my shooting, and I don't care how many crack shots out there are laughing at my groups, either. In fact, this "weekend" I'll be back out with that sidearm getting better with it. Maybe someday I'll be as good as everyone else here.
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Old April 24, 2011, 09:15 PM   #9
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Depends on what I shoot. Bullseye I practice at 25 & 50 yards because thats the distance you shoot the matches. Steel and ICORE I practice between 7 & 15 yards, why, because thats the normal distance the targets are set up. Those two later events are geared for speed more then accuracy.

I could go on but you get the point.
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Old May 5, 2011, 08:52 PM   #10
walkamile07
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Bullseye I practice at the range the matches take place at usually 25 to 50 yards. Self defense or anything that supposed to train you for thatshould be closer in my opinion. Simply put try explaining to a judge you shot someone in self defense when he was 25-50 yards from you.. good luck.
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Old May 5, 2011, 09:27 PM   #11
BarryLee
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Quote:
Another thing to consider is that shooting anyone beyond the acceptable benchmarked 21 feet (7 yards) not to mention over 25 yards is really not a defensible standpoint. Unless you are taking direct fire - for self defense a robber or someone with a bat is really not a threat (over at these distances)... as you can run or take other choices other than lethal force.
Yes, I can see how this makes a lot of sense. I suppose I kind of assumed if I could shoot well at 25 yards than I would probably do OK at 21 feet.
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Old May 6, 2011, 12:10 AM   #12
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25yds is my default distance.
If I'm shooting a handgun that's new to me I start the first target at 10yds. My eyes have good days and bad. On bad days I start at 15yds and work out.
Occasionally I shoot out to 50yds.
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Old May 6, 2011, 06:10 AM   #13
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'Quote"
Another thing to consider is that shooting anyone beyond the acceptable benchmarked 21 feet (7 yards) not to mention over 25 yards is really not a defensible standpoint. Unless you are taking direct fire - for self defense a robber or someone with a bat is really not a threat (over at these distances)... as you can run or take other choices other than lethal force.

In a SD situation,this is the correct answer IMO.
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Old May 6, 2011, 07:27 AM   #14
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This "acceptable self defense range of 7 yards" business is coming from some misinformed instructors.

The idea of "7 yards" comes from the Tueller drill, where it was found that in the time it took the average officer to draw and put a round on target, a BG could close a 21ft gap.

In other words, even a guy with a knife is a threat at 7 yards, to most people who have a holstered gun.

Consider that pistol duels used to be fought at 20 paces...

If somebody is threatening me in a manner that makes me worry about life and limb, and has a weapon that is inside its apparent range, I could not care less about "7 yards."

And if a guy has an edged or impact weapon at or inside 7 yards, I should have gun in hand.
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Old May 6, 2011, 03:08 PM   #15
oldkim
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Clarification on 7 yards (21 feet)

So correct.(above) Someone within 7 yards (21 feet) is a threat to you. I think we can all agree on that. As someone is closing in on you from greater than 7 yards... around 7 yards they will be on you in less than 2 seconds.

Now we also can accept that shooting someone at 25-50 yards (75-150 feet)is also not a good idea... but again unless they are shooting at you... But just standing there and threatening you with a bat or something... you should be on alert...

Now you have to look at the circumstances. Every shooting is dynamic and moving... If that same person with the bat or knife is closing in on you (running at you). You should be ready for them... hand on firearm, or unholstered or getting there. Before they reach the "magical 7 yards" you need to decide as they will be on you in less than 2 seconds.

So, 7 yards (21 feet) is a bubble you should ear mark as your do or die. Anyone within that is an obvious RED threat. 7-10 yards Yellow and greater than 10 yards you need to be very aware.

There is a video on youtube... about 7 yards... it was made in the 70's that demonstrate how fast someone that you or they are within the 7 yards can do harm to you faster than you can respond and draw/fire. (sorry I can't look up youtube while at work).

So it clearly shows that you may be talking to someone within 7 yards and as soon as you react - the perp has stabbed or slashed you...

As for the comment that "I practice at 25 yards"


I find that marksmanship doesn't always translate to self defense. You need several other skills to build upon the "marksmanship" of hitting targets at 25 yards - Speed, shoot and move and use of cover... Shooting on the move is like relearning how to shoot all over again. Drawing from the holster is another skill many folks do not get a chance to practice and lastly speed will detrimentally decrease your marksmanship.

So, I will leave you with this thought. You have to take under consideration what is happening and apply these "skills" to your experience and circumstances. Just looking at 7 yards... you are missing the point. 7 Yards is just a benchmark and a dangerous distance one should be very proficient at and for good reason.

Ultimately, speed to recognize and speed to action and then putting rounds on target are the key. Distance is your friend as it give you more time to take everything in and decide what needs to be done. Once you fire... well, that's a different story.
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Old May 7, 2011, 12:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
As for the comment that "I practice at 25 yards"

I find that marksmanship doesn't always translate to self defense. You need several other skills to build upon the "marksmanship" of hitting targets at 25 yards - Speed, shoot and move and use of cover... Shooting on the move is like relearning how to shoot all over again. Drawing from the holster is another skill many folks do not get a chance to practice and lastly speed will detrimentally decrease your marksmanship.
Why can't you practice, shooting on the move, drawing from the holster, shooting for speed, etc etc at 25 yards targets.

I guarantee you if you practice right you combat or action style shooting at a 25 yard RF target, you're abilities at 7 yards are going to improve.

If you can shoot long range, you can shoot short range, the reverse is no necessarily true.
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Old May 7, 2011, 01:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
However, after seeing so many folks doing this I began to wonder if I am missing something. So, is there a legitimate training purpose for shooting so close? Wouldn’t it be better to shoot at greater distance for self defense purposes? Just curious what distance you guys recommend for general self defense practice?
As pointed out, you need both speed and accuracy for effective self-defense.

Past a point, shrinking your groups isn't particularly productive if self-defense is your only goal. If your groups get too small then you should take that as a cue that you need to increase your speed a bit.

Find a good "practical" target (examples below) and train to keep all your shots in the center zone of the target (9 or better on the target with marked scoring rings). As you get better you can increase your speed and also gradually move the target farther away.

Ideally you want to learn what you need to do to achieve consistent center hits while shooting at speed and at various ranges. Up close you can use the entire gun as a "sight" and get acceptable hits while shooting very rapidly. As the range moves farther out you may need to slow down a bit and pay more attention to the sights to keep making good hits.

Clearly you don't want to slow down TOO much as range increases because speed is still important, but you don't want to try to go too fast either or you'll stop making hits.



Obviously, if you're involved in some sort of organized competition, you may want to train for specific skills involved in that competition. But for self-defense, small groups at long distances probably aren't the ideal training standard because speed needs to be part of the equation.
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