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Old April 18, 2012, 09:34 PM   #1
RBid
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What is "good shooting", at 50 feet? (handgun)

First, let me say that I know that 50 feet is not a necessary distance to train at. When I shoot my ccw, I go to a pay-per-visit range, and shoot from 5 and 7 yard distances.

I haven't been shooting with any regularity for very long. Until recently, the farthest that I had shot a handgun from is 10 yards. A couple of weeks ago, I joined a gun club that allows me to bring my own ammo, and is substantially more cost effective, but extending targets to the backstop is mandatory. When I shoot there, I have to shoot from 50 feet away.

When I go to the gun club, I shoot at police/swat training silhouettes, because I like having a practical frame of reference (even from an impractical distance).

A typical run for me over the last couple of weeks is something like:
10s: 7
9s: 6
8s: 2
5s: 0
misses: 0

Oddly, the head on these is between the size of the 10 and 9, and I have yet to miss a head shot.

I have been making significant progress, but I get frustrated when I put one in the 8, or the 5. I have a tendency to make circular patterns, centered around the left side 9/10 margin.

This is odd to me, because at 10 yards, with the same gun, I generally make circular groups around center, and consistently put 15/15 in a head sized target.


Is it bad shooting to hit the 8 at 50 feet? What is 'good'?


Thanks for humoring me. I'm kind of a perfectionist, and progress doesn't always feel like "enough".
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Old April 19, 2012, 07:01 AM   #2
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Longer shots tend to exacerbate any underlying trigger issues. It sounds like you're pushing slightly, or possibly gripping to tightly - it could be an unconscious reaction to try to get a steadier sight picture a the longer range. After you get more used to the range you might find your groups improve on their own as your stress level goes down.
I'd say that you're shooting fine for any practical purpose - you're probably dong better than most at 50'.

As far as getting your groups tighter, I'd just try to focus on fundamentals, and see how it goes. From a tactical standpoint I'd say any improved accuracy from this point is icing on the cake.
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Old April 19, 2012, 07:22 AM   #3
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I would say that if you could a bullseye the size of a DVD at 50 ft,that you were in good shape.
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Old April 19, 2012, 07:29 AM   #4
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Groups

With my 22 Ruger single six I get very good groups at 50" but with my 9 mil and my 44 mag if I hit the 8x11 target with all rounds that's good.
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Old April 19, 2012, 08:01 AM   #5
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For defense purposes, 50 feet is more than fine. But it's not that too hard to pull off at all. Around 15 yards or so is where I start with my handguns. Then move up to 25 yards. I can hit a water bottle at 25 yards with an RG .22 that shoots about 2 feet high using bulk ammo and no rest. My 9mm, I'm only decent with it at around 15-20 yards so far. Those are the only handguns I shoot regularly. Before I take a handgun class so I can get my ccw permit, I'm gonna wait till I'm good with the 9mm at 40 yards. Yes, that's overkill and would more than likely never be needed to defend myself. But I want to be an excellent shot before I will trust my life on my skills. Shooting at 5 yards is just pointless I think unless you've never shot a gun before, and even then I'd try a little further out.
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Old April 20, 2012, 06:01 AM   #6
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One of the pre-course qualifications for the NRA Basic Pistol Instructor course is being able to shoot a 6" group (20 rounds total) on a 9" area (typically a plate) at 45ft, from an unsupported standing position using a two handed grip.

If you are able to consistently group at 4" at 45-50ft, I would consider that acceptable, even good target shooting.

There are many scenarios we can envision for self-defense shooting.
  • Shooting from concealment
  • Shooting on the move
  • Shooting at multiple targets
  • Shooting at moving targets
  • Alternative shooting positions (prone, supine, seated, kneeling)
  • One handed shooting

Thus, for a relatively new shooter it can be a challenge to "meter" proficiency. My goal is to build upon my most basic, fundamental shooting skills until I am solidly proficient at them, then expand into those things (and others) listed above.

I can consistently, reliably, repeatedly shoot a 2" group from 50ft with any of my factory stock handguns in calibers above .380, from an unsupported position using a two handed grip. Most instances I shoot a 1"-1.5" group.
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Old April 20, 2012, 07:14 AM   #7
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I tend to think of a "good shot" as someone who can keep 80% or so of his shots in the black of the appropriate NRA Bullseye target for the distance in question, shooting unsupported with one hand (as one of my shooting buddies likes to say: "They call them handguns, not handsguns"). If it's more like 100% in the black, that rises to "very good shot." At 50 ft, the standard target is either the B-2 or B-3, each of which has a black center about 3.1" in diameter. That's, of course, far better shooting than is necessary for effective self defense purposes.
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Old April 20, 2012, 08:39 AM   #8
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@50 foot, using a 3x5 index card and

aimed firing, should be within the card.

If reactive use a 4x6 card and keep within.

Concentrate on close-in shooting BUT do max range that you can keep rounds on a paper plate.

Couple of year ago, I help a new shooter with a 1911 type, .45, used the impact berm to confirm that with WWB 230gr FMJ's, the impact was 2 foot low.

The berm was @ 58yds.
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Old April 20, 2012, 09:13 AM   #9
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40 of the rounds pictured are at 25 yards 20 from each gun.
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Old April 20, 2012, 02:32 PM   #10
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The only way to tell if you're actually any good is in competition.

Shooting stationalry targets at known ranges without any time constraints gives you just about zero useful information. It's too easy to throw away the bad targets and forget them while taking the good targets home to show your friends.

Shoot some IDPA and Steel Challenge matches. That's how you find out the truth.
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Old April 22, 2012, 10:41 AM   #11
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If you can keep good groups consistently and accurately at longer distances then shorter distances are just that much easier.
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Old April 23, 2012, 06:25 PM   #12
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Accuracy Standards

At 50 feet on an NRA B-3 Timed & Rapid Fire Bullseye target, if you can keep all your shots in the scoring rings, you're off to a good start.

I do a lot of my practice at 50 feet on the NRA B34 or B24 target (1/2 scale) and sometimes on the B29, TQ16 or TQ20 targets (1/3rd scale)

If I can keep all my shots within the 8 ring I figure I'm doing pretty well.

Or, using an IDPA or IPSC cardboard silhouette target, if you can keep all or almost all of your shots in the A-zone.

An 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper is about the same size as the upper hydraulics on an adult male. An 8 inch paper plate also makes a good field expedient target.
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Old April 24, 2012, 10:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Japle
The only way to tell if you're actually any good is in competition.

Shooting stationalry targets at known ranges without any time constraints gives you just about zero useful information.
I agree there's a lot of value to competition, but I don't necessarily agree that informal target shooting on one's own is valueless. There are plenty of shooters, many that do compete, who can't shoot a good group with good gear and all the time in the world, and they'd do well to take time to work on their fundamentals. At some point, though, shooting 25 yard cloverleaves becomes a skill looking for an application, such as some form of competition.

As to what's "good shooting", it usually refers to target type shooting, to which FlyFish gave a good reply, IMO. My metric for good (but not outstanding) shooting is honest and consistent 3"@25 yards. Do the math for 15 yards. That's 5 rounds, unsupported, with a service-sized handgun. Revolver shooters should be able to do this in double action as well. "Honest" means everything counts (no "fliers"), and "consistent" means 3@25 is what you're typically able to do on demand, not just once in a great while when everything clicks.
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Old April 24, 2012, 02:39 PM   #14
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MrBorland is right. My comments didn’t reflect what I was trying to say.

A good handgun shooter should be able to shoot good groups on demand at stationary, known-distance targets. I’d say 3” groups at 25 yds is a reasonable standard, providing the gun is capable of 1 – 1 ½” groups. The shooter shouldn’t add more than an inch or so to what the gun can do.

Your true skill level, though, can only be measured against other shooters. Shooting in competition will tell you where you are compared to the rest of the crowd. It gives you incentive to get better and move up toward the #1 spot.
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Old April 24, 2012, 03:35 PM   #15
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One of the problems with defining "good shooting" is that "good" is relative, but the reference standard is vague; IOW, "good" compared to who? From those who shoot maybe once a year, to the local regulars at the range, to competitive shooters, there's quite a range of "good". Even among competitive shooters, there's quite a range, so it's safe to say you're a "good" shooter if you're a competent competitive shooter, say marksman/sharpshooter level.

And as Japle suggested, "good shooting" also involves more than 1 skill set done under very controlled & stress-free conditions. Competition makes you a better shooter by forcing you to broaden your skill set under match conditions (read: stress) and to be good at those as well.

Before competing, I was one of those who could shoot 25 yard cloverleaves (still can, btw ), but that's about all I could do. Fortunately, in the process, I developed a strong foundation in the fundamentals, so when I did start competing, I improved quickly, despite the steep learning curve.

Last edited by MrBorland; April 24, 2012 at 03:43 PM.
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Old April 27, 2012, 02:10 AM   #16
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Another factor is how long you take between shots. You could get all 10s every time, but if you are spending 3 seconds lining up each shot then you are going to be useless in a gunfight.

That being said, accuracy should come before speed. So practice for accuracy, and once satisfied with that try to be faster without losing any accuracy.

At 50 feet, if every shot is in the 8 with most in 9 and 10, you are accurate enough and should start working on speed. Once you are happy with your speed work on shooting while physically tired, breathing hard, under stress, and with distractions (you may need a friend to help with all this). If you can this you are about as ready as you can expect to be should the near-worst happen.
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Old April 27, 2012, 08:32 AM   #17
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Quote:
I’d say 3” groups at 25 yds is a reasonable standard
I think 3" groups (as in, keeping all of one's shots within a 3" circle) at 25 yards is a good bit more than "reasonable," if we're talking about one-handed, unsupported. The standard NRA slow fire bullseye target (B-16) 9-ring is only a little bit larger than that, so someone shooting at that level would likely be scoring 95 or better in Slow fire (and, typically, a good bit higher than that in the Timed and Rapid fire stages), which is Master bordering on High Master territory. I've shot in two bullseye leagues for years and have only known two current Masters, and two individuals who I assume were High Masters at one time (Don Hamilton and Babe Magnin). My hat is off to anyone here who can honestly shoot that well, especially with open sights. (Maybe I need to find a higher level of competition?).
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Old April 27, 2012, 08:48 AM   #18
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I'm not a pistol shooter by a long shot, If I can keep all my rounds in the 8,9,10 ring on the NRA 50 Bullseye Rapid/Time fire target I'm a happy camper.

(That's with one hand standing)

For my pocket revolver I use a HP 200 yard reduced to 100 yard target at 15 yards, I can keep all the shots out of my 642 in the black one handed. The black on that target is about 5.75 inchs.

I use the same target practicing for ICORE and Steel matches at 10 yards. All I need to do is keep them in the black. Most plates used in those type matches are 6 inches or better.

A dicent bullseye shooter will keep all his rounds in the 10-X ringe of the NRA 50 Ft Rapid/Timed fire target................I'm not one of them.
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Old April 27, 2012, 09:00 AM   #19
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"For defense purposes, 50 feet is more than fine. But it's not that too hard to pull off at all. Around 15 yards or so is where I start with my handguns. Then move up to 25 yards. I can hit a water bottle at 25 yards with an RG .22 that shoots about 2 feet high using bulk ammo and no rest. My 9mm, I'm only decent with it at around 15-20 yards so far. Those are the only handguns I shoot regularly. Before I take a handgun class so I can get my ccw permit, I'm gonna wait till I'm good with the 9mm at 40 yards. Yes, that's overkill and would more than likely never be needed to defend myself. But I want to be an excellent shot before I will trust my life on my skills. Shooting at 5 yards is just pointless I think unless you've never shot a gun before, and even then I'd try a little further out. "
@ WVgunner- it is only 7 yards for the test in W.V. i got mine at jerrys in hornner if i can pass it with out my glasses on you can pas it fine.
not to say that 40 yards isnt worth trying but that it might be better to go and get the permit then go for the 40 yards. why put off your safty?
its all you though so if you set a goal go for it.
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Old April 27, 2012, 09:13 AM   #20
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Warning order:

THEY'RE OUT.

For shooting 5-6 feet you need to be able to keep your hits about 1 inch.

Last night I was walking to from my shop to my 50 ft target and dern near tripped over a couple large bull snakes.

I don't shoot bull snakes but if they're out so are the rattlers.
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Old April 27, 2012, 09:30 AM   #21
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Quote:
I think 3" groups (as in, keeping all of one's shots within a 3" circle) at 25 yards is a good bit more than "reasonable," if we're talking about one-handed, unsupported. The standard NRA slow fire bullseye target (B-16) 9-ring is only a little bit larger than that, so someone shooting at that level would likely be scoring 95 or better in Slow fire (and, typically, a good bit higher than that in the Timed and Rapid fire stages), which is Master bordering on High Master territory. I've shot in two bullseye leagues for years and have only known two current Masters, and two individuals who I assume were High Masters at one time (Don Hamilton and Babe Magnin). My hat is off to anyone here who can honestly shoot that well, especially with open sights. (Maybe I need to find a higher level of competition?).
I agree 100% with this statement. If you are consistently shooting 3" groups at 25 yards no flyers you are better shooting better than 98% to 99% of handgun owners.

That is not "good shooting" that is "great shooting"......
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Old April 27, 2012, 09:37 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFish
I think 3" groups (as in, keeping all of one's shots within a 3" circle) at 25 yards is a good bit more than "reasonable," if we're talking about one-handed, unsupported.
I should clarify: My standard of 3"@25 unsupported assumed the shooter could shoot how they shoot best (1- or 2-handed), not be subject to time limits or any other pressure, and the group didn't have to group perfectly around the center of the bullseye. It's also my standard for "good, but not excellent", which, IMO, is a bit beyond "reasonable".

I do agree, though, that consistently shooting 3"@25 for score under match conditions & pressure is a 'nuther matter entirely.
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Old April 27, 2012, 09:56 AM   #23
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I find a fast moving snake to be a very difficult target.

Quote:
What is 'good'?
One of the best ways to determine this is to compete. Try bullseye if you want set distance at stationary targets, bowling pins for accuracy and transitions while under time pressure or IDPA for defensive pistol/revolver shooting, movement of shooter and targets, time pressure, tactical instruction, etc. When you compete, you will see what “good” looks like and find out what good is in that particular discipline.
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Old April 27, 2012, 01:41 PM   #24
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i am a proponent of Bulls eye shooting. It teaches fundamentals and shows problems. It allows the shooter to diagnose bad techniques and correct them.

For practical accuracy, If you hold all of your rounds on an 8 inch paper plate then that is effective shooting. The 8 inch circle is the kill zone for most large varmints.

When prepping for a hunt my practice is to determine the distance I can hold on the pie plate for each shooting position. I then deduct about 10% to determine the ranges at which I will shoot at a game animal.

This technique could be and effective method for determining your self defense accuracy.

When coaching a shooter, The first question I ask is what are you shooting at. Generally the shooter reply's the "the Target". I then get them to concentrate on hitting the intersection of the X. Once they start thinking in terms of the smallest point, their groups tighten and their accuracy improves.
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