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Old June 3, 2006, 11:09 AM   #1
Half-Price Assassin
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Shot Placement, in the real world

I have been reading alot of these "shot placement", threads, and how alot of people here use this as their main reason for choosing something smaller then a .45 or higher for their personal defense pistol. But this term (shot placement), got me thinking, while playing my new video game i bought two days ago. Now stay with me, i know this may sound alittle crazy at first, but here goes. As i was playing this new game (Hitman 4), a game where your guy, has to kill targets, and avoid being killed by security guards, police, and gangsters, "shot placement", does exist in this game. A head shot takes someone down in one shot, an upperbody shot takes them down in two, maybe one, a body shot takes maybe two, or three, and limb shots take maybe five or more shots to stop your target. Now in this game, as your guy is moving around the stage, when he pulls his weapon, little crosshairs appear on screen (which you use to target your enemy, and use to target certain points to "stop" them). Now during the gun battles of this game i find my guy being attacked by one, or most of the time multiple bad guys, where i have to "stop" them before they kill me, or weaken my guy up. And as they are shooting at me or chasing me i try to target their vital spots (head or upperbody), to "stop" them as quickly as possable. but this is alot harder then you would think, and here i am using a video game controller, and am in no fear of really getting killed, or being snunned by the loud gun blasts. When the bad guy do attact me, and are running around and taking cover, getting a head shot, or heart shot, or spinal cord shot is very very difficult, and when i do return fire (while trying to target their vitals, i usually end up hitting limbs, and lower body area). So I started to apply this to real life, and i starting to think if i have a very very difficult time using "shot placement" in a video game, in the comfort, and safety of my own home, then what would it really be like in real life, where things are much faster, and way more unperdictiable. Do many of you guys really think you could calmly put your sights or use point shooting, and target your enemies vitals, in a dark alley, if he is moving around, hard to see, or waving a gun at you? I think alot of us if put in that situation, where our lives (or loved ones lives) are in danger, would just point and squeeze, and not have the time or mental state or world class pistol skills to just get a head shot or heart shot in under a second from drawing our pistol. Now i know this can be done and shot placement is the best stratagy for winning a gun battle, but many of us need to realize its probably the most difficult, to actually master. even if your a legend on the IDPA field, doing that on the streets is a whole different story. Even if you can hit the red x or head of a paper target at the range at 15yards, slow fire, this means very little in the real world. The new Hitman game got me thinking, if cant hit the vitals most of the time, in a video game, what makes me think i can do it 100% of the time where my life or families life is in danger? Shot placement is ALOT harder and difficult then many of us (who probably never been in a real gun battle) think. I think alot of .45acp and up, shooters know this and want a gun and round that will have a higher percentage in stopping a threat when hitting a non vital area. Not that they would aim at a non vital area, but sometimes in those half second moments of life, or death, its the best you can do.

what are your thoughts on this?
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Old June 3, 2006, 11:34 AM   #2
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Quote:
I have been reading alot of these "shot placement", threads, and how alot of people here use this as their main reason for choosing something smaller then a .45 or higher for their personal defense pistol.
It's an issue with .45 or larger rounds as well. First, missing real fast does not usually win gun fights (might scare someone off, I suppose), and second, bullets consistently and reliably fail to drop guys.

Best bet is

a) Hit what you aim at
b) Aim center of mass
c) Hit COM a bunch of times
d) Carry a steel framed pistol so you can pistol whip the bad guy to death after however many shots you do hit with don't work.

'D' might never come up in a defensive shooting . . . or it might.
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Old June 3, 2006, 11:54 AM   #3
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I don't know that I'd take a computer game as reflecting reality-- but it got you thinking, and thinking is always good.

I've never had to shoot anyone, thank Goodness. I have had a gun in reach when I went to see what was up with the drunk at the front door at 3:00 AM, and man, was I glad to have it! Sometimes having a weapon is just the extra courage you need to do what you would have had to do anyway.

If you want to KNOW about shot placement in the real world, you have to ask someone who really had to do it. Or you have to rely on statistics. Neither is definitive, since you can't ever know how your situation is going to compare to the averages, or to somebody else's situation.

I've read reams of stuff on real world gunfights, on theoretical gunfights, on shot placement vs. stopping power, and most of what I've read seems to be designed to prove what the writer wanted to believe before starting. Based on all that, the only rule I've been able to derive personally is to pick the most power that I can EASILY carry. That's going to vary depending on how much weight you can deal with and how large a piece you can conceal. Are you willing to wear a sports jacket in 90 degree weather so you can carry a full-sized automatic beneath it? That sort of thing.

Problem being that if you go with something smaller and less powerful, hoping to make up for it with shot placement, you often get something that's harder to shoot accurately too. Take my Kahr PM-9. It's a little DAO automatic in 9mm, pocket-sized. Theoretically, I should be able to shoot better with a 9mm than a .45 because of lesser recoil. But as a practical matter, the Kahr has a very short barrel and a DAO trigger, which make it incapible of target accuracy.

It is, however, small enough and easy enough to carry that it can be there when you need it. Limited as it is, it makes it easy to obey the first rule of gunfighting; "Bring a gun."
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Old June 3, 2006, 12:03 PM   #4
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I feel confident regardless of which of my guns I have on me. shot placement is important, that's why I always stress commitment & quality practice....that understood, I can shoot my USPc 45 LEM as well & as quickly as any of my other handguns.
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Old June 3, 2006, 12:14 PM   #5
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Old June 3, 2006, 02:57 PM   #6
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real world

Sounds like your gane has tried to incorporate some real world variables. As you have surmised, real world situations are considerably more difficult. Many writers have written about this, some pushing their own pet theories, and some not. Massad Ayoob has written several books and many articles discussing what happens in shooting incidents. Many people disagree with his conclusions, many do not.

Today, in recognition of the difficulty, people train to shoot for center of mass. Because it is the biggest target, and aiming at the COM increases your chances of a hit.

I know of one case where a police officer, who was an expert shot, and had won matches was involved in a shootout at about 15 FEET. Both men emptied their guns, neither one hit the other. The stress involved in a situation like this does strange things to your "normal" skills and perceptions.

Right or wrong, you will do what you trained to do. If you haven't trained, likely you will do nothing.
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Old June 3, 2006, 04:15 PM   #7
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I've been in real life situations on duty and while I wasn't "calm", which Merriam-Webster defines as "a state of tranquillity", I have never went into panic or been overcome with fear. I've been shot at, luckily only once, and even luckier they missed. I've been in many other high stress situations during building clearance arrests and felony take downs. I can honestly say that in even the scariest situations I've experienced loss of fine motor skills control and auditory exclusion but I have always reverted to my training and mental mindset and never went into panic. And oddly enough it's funny how many times I've remembered a razor sharp sight picture after a shoot/don't shoot situation, especially in close quarters type situations.

Here's my take on things... I don't wish to hurt anyone. In fact I pray that I never have to take a human life. In my opinion, that would be one of the hardest things in the world to live with. (I'll outline the few things that would be harder for me to live with later in this post.) At the same time I've put a lot of thought into it and I've decided that as long as I'm alive, breathing, armed and able... NOBODY on this earth will harm me or especially my loved ones in my presence. I make the same commitment to those I'm sworn to protect as well.

In making that commitment I take on the responsibility to do all I can to prepare myself mentally to destroy without regard to my own personal risk anyone who places me or "mine" in jeopardy. And that is where I think a lot of armed citizens and even some cops drop the ball. Practicing and getting proficient with your weapon of choice is obviously important. That's what all the range time and dry firing is for. If you can't use it properly while not under stress you should NEVER carry it with intentions of using it under stress.

What should be at least equally as important as being proficient with your weapon is mentally preparing yourself to fight for your life, or the lives of others. Part of that preparation, and maybe the biggest part, is deciding whether or not you think you are actually mentally capable of taking another human's life. If not, don't carry a gun... period. Personally, I never considered this aspect of it until I had been in LE for a while and talked to some of the "real" veteran officers who had been there and done that. I had no reservations about doing what I had to do but I had put ZERO thought into the psychological aftermath or the psychological/mental aspects of gunfighting *DURING* the use of deadly force. After talking with both cops and war vets who had been there, done that, and had to live with it I had to do a LOT of soul searching to decide whether I really wanted to risk having to live with it.

I ultimately decided that it would be easier for me to live with being forced to take a life than it would be to live as a victim at the mercy of predators, or to have my loved ones do the same. I also ultimately made the decision that protecting those I'm sworn to protect was worth the risk of the consequences. The soul searching made me realize that in fact my whole nature goes against seeing anyone helplessly terrorized or harmed/killed by a piece of **** predator type.

With my decision made I eventually developed the following mindset. If you put me, my family, or any of my "charges" in harm's way in my presence, you are nothing more than a "target" to me as long as you pose a threat. My focus will be to stop you by any means necessary. My training and mindset is to counter offensively until there is no longer a threat. When it comes to defending my loved ones my pre-incident mental decision is to do exactly that even if it ultimately means disregarding my own safety to a great extent. I'd die to save my family if it came down to it. By constituting a threat to me or my charges you will have effectively and willingly become a target that I will engage at all costs and expenses and ultimately destroy if required to do so to eliminate the threat that you pose.

Being overcome with fear is NOT an option for me. My greatest fear will be in failing to protect myself or my charges. Panic isn't an option either. Again, the fear of my charges coming to harm because I panic would presumably be a far greater nightmare for me than me having to use deadly force to defend them. The ONLY option for me is to focus on the source of the threat and end it as quickly as possible.

I believe that most who go into spray and pray mode have either failed to prepare mentally for "battle", or they have mistakenly thought they were mentally prepared to do battle only to find out at the worst possible time that they in fact weren't. There are exceptions no doubt and even with clear "rules of engagement" and mental preparation there is no guarantee you'll hit center mass as you train to. Even so, I contend that true mental preparation and pre-incident decision making on certain things goes a LONG way toward avoiding panic and spray and pray reaction to a threat.

I also think that it is the responsibility and duty of anyone who carries for the defense of self and others, and especially for cops to truly educate themselves on "killing". They should also do some real soul searching and truly decide whether they can do it if required to do so. If not, again I say DO NOT CARRY A GUN. If the decision is made that a life can be taken under the right circumstances then every bit as much effort should be put into developing mental preparedness as is put into being proficient with the weapon of choice.

Sorry for the long rant, but I think it truly applies to the "spray and pray" part of your topic, and your question.
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Old June 3, 2006, 05:02 PM   #8
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I have been reading alot of these "shot placement", threads, and how alot of people here use this as their main reason for choosing something smaller then a .45 or higher for their personal defense pistol.
And to address this part separately, I'm a firm believer that past a certain point (.38/9mm or larger, modern ammo, etc...) caliber is of little or no consequence in self defense type shootings. I also believe that shot placement and penetration is of infinitely greater importance than projectile size. I don't even say that a 9mm is a superior choice. I simply claim that it's just as adequate (or inadequate) as any other standard defensive caliber as far as I'm concerned.

I base my equal confidence in a 9mm and a .45 on the fact that I believe shot placement and penetration are infinitely more reliable for stopping a threat than a fractional difference in projectile diameter in all but the most extreme made up scenarios.

I can place my shots just as well with my P220 (although maybe a bit slower on follow-up with hotter defensive loads) as I can my P226 9mm so shot placement really isn't a factor in my choice. My decision to carry a 9mm most of the time when I'm off duty and have a choice is based largely on ammo costs. I favor the higher capacity of most nines to some extent but not to the point of it being a crutch or a must have. Overall, practice ammo costs probably drives my personal handgun choices more than anything else.
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Old June 3, 2006, 07:15 PM   #9
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I often try to simulate stress when at the range to see how my shot placement fairs, but it's hard to simulate the kind of stress you would feel while in fear for your life. Even during BCT we didn't really have an extremely stressful situation simulated for us to fire under. A friend of mine (who is a pretty good shot) has one thing going for him, he does not like loud noises at all so the sounds at the range unsettle him quite a bit and he develops a pretty good shake, but can still manage to hit the X ring quite a few times out of a clip. I wonder what kind of situations we as concealed carry folks could use to simulate stress? Any ideas or suggestions? I'd say paintball to a degree, but still no fear of loss of life and accuracy with a apintball gun is shaky at best.
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Old June 3, 2006, 08:06 PM   #10
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Nothing I've done in training has truly duplicated the body's stress reaction to real life crazy stuff... The closest thing is force on force with simunitions but even then you know you won't be killed if you're hit. It just hurts like hell. I've never really had training "real" enough to incude auditory exclusion, loss of sense of time (like slow motion in your head). Doing sprints prior to firing a string can sort of simulate the loss of fine motor skills control and incude some shake, but it's not exactly like a real life situation.

I'm not discounting the "realistic" training methods. Just sayin' that none that I've tried have been that "real".
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Old June 3, 2006, 09:25 PM   #11
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heat stress is pretty good stress simulation. go to an outdoor range, feel the sweat in your eyes, sweaty palms, etc. at around 120 heat index. That is the closest I have been.

Some things to remember:

Always aim, whether by sights, front sight press or body index method.
MOVE TO COVER IMMEDIATELY, NOT concealment
Shoot to stop, don't stop shooting until the threat is eliminated.
Don't stop moving!!! Running laterally away from the threat is always a good tactic. It has worked for warriors for thousands of years.
Carry a trunk gun if legally allowed as more and more folk are wearing body armor.

Shot placement, huh? Yup, it is gonna be tough if you ever have to do it, but remember most people shot with a handgun live.
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Old June 4, 2006, 08:33 AM   #12
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Do many of you guys really think you could calmly put your sights or use point shooting, and target your enemies vitals, in a dark alley, if he is moving around, hard to see, or waving a gun at you?

Four important words: Crimson Trace Laser Grips
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Old June 4, 2006, 11:13 AM   #13
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Do many of you guys really think you could calmly put your sights or use point shooting, and target your enemies vitals, in a dark alley, if he is moving around, hard to see, or waving a gun at you?

Quote:
Four important words: Crimson Trace Laser Grips
------------------------------------------------

Lotsa people point shoot. Me too. But past 10 ft most folks' shot placement is all over the place.
Without unending practice, there's no consistent accuracy.

Lasergrips superimpose the POI on the threat.
They are extremely accurate! Just place the dot and you'll hit that spot.

They are superior to point shooting in dusk, darkness, over/under/around cover and awkward positions.
They excel at moving targets, bobbers, shoot/no shoot, bladed targets, etc where the accuracy of point shooting is relegated to luck.

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Old June 4, 2006, 01:47 PM   #14
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Vast majority of SD shootings happen at 25' or less. Hitting a bullseye at 15 yards (45') is a long, long shot..(for SD) Along with your bullseye training practice point shooting to CM 0-7 or 8 yards. Cheap white paper plates make great targets for doing this. (aprox. 8-9" in dia.) Under stress you'll be lucky to be able to see your sights much less be able to use them.
Great read on the subject is, Basic Gunfighting 101, by Michael T. Rayburn
He teaches PS to LEO's and civies.
www.pointshooting.org
I have NO affiliation with the site, man or organization. Check it out..

Be safe! CraigJS
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Old June 4, 2006, 01:56 PM   #15
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Another difference between "games" and reality, in the game you don't get shaking hands, tunnel vision and auditory exclusion. Oh ,and if you screw up in the game you can hit restart. Regards 18DAI.
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Old June 4, 2006, 05:43 PM   #16
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Another difference between "games" and reality, in the game you don't get shaking hands, tunnel vision and auditory exclusion. Oh ,and if you screw up in the game you can hit restart. Regards 18DAI.
You haven't played some of these games then. Well, maybe not auditory exclusion, but tunnel vision and a degree of shaking hands can come into play on some of the better games. I've had the shid scared out of me playing some of today's first person shooter games! You find yourself ducking for cover, actually positioning your body to peek around a corner, etc... It can get VERY real sometimes.
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Old June 4, 2006, 07:46 PM   #17
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Rainbow Six - Sounds interesting. Can you recommend a PC compatible one thats that realistic? My 11 year old controls the TV, so that format is out. Thanks! Regards 18DAI.
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Old June 4, 2006, 08:21 PM   #18
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Four important words: Crimson Trace Laser Grips
My son received a Baretta 92 from his grandfather complete with laser grips. He proceeded to the range and promptly proceeded to "teach" himself. When I could get to the range with him his technique was beyond miserable. He couldn't even hit with the laser. I removed the batteries, proceeded to correct his technique and practiced until he could shoot adequately without the laser. THEN and only then did we put the batteries back in the laser grips. Now he rarely uses them. Point being buying laser grips doesn't make you an accurate shooter. You still have to learn the basics, and then if you are going to use the laser, you need to practice with it just like anything else. I personally am not a big advocate of them. While they do mark POI, they also do an excellent job of marking the BGT (Bad Guy's Target). That being YOU.
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Old June 4, 2006, 09:42 PM   #19
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Rainbow Six - Sounds interesting. Can you recommend a PC compatible one thats that realistic? My 11 year old controls the TV, so that format is out. Thanks! Regards 18DAI.
I play on X-Box and PS2 but any of the later Tom Clancey shooter PC games should be pretty realistic. I play with the room lighting low or off and I've absolutely lost myself in the game to the point of sweating and actually moving, ducking, and such as if I were really "there". It is LOADS of fun.

I started out in the shooter games with Rainbow Six (hence my user name here...), Rogue Spear, and the likes on PC. The latest Clancey game I've played was Ghost Recon for X-Box. I think it's available for PC. Awesome shooter game. Been a while since I had a machine decent enough to play the good games on so I'm not exactly up to date on what's best on PC.

You have to be pretty darn tactical to get through some of the stages in Clancey's games. They are definitely not just "run and gun" type games. I prefer the one man missions, or the ones where I have a team with me rather than messing with setting up and trying to control several teams at once.
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Old June 4, 2006, 09:56 PM   #20
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Rainbow Six - Thanks for the tip, I'll give em a try. Regards 18DAI.
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Old June 4, 2006, 10:08 PM   #21
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While they do mark POI, they also do an excellent job of marking the BGT (Bad Guy's Target). That being YOU.
So does muzzle flash, flashlight, reflection, YOU, etc.

Some quick tips, Roscoe:

No need to pull the batteries. The Lasergrips have a 'master' on-off switch. :)

Practice is necessary to shoot accurately. 90% of practice should be with sights/point shooting, 10% with Lasergrips. They're that easy to use.

Learn proper use.....use them intermittently. Use the laser only when needed. That's the tactic. And that's what the pressure switch is for.

Since your son is a novice, uneducated in the immediate tactical advantages of Lasergrips, he deserves a qualified trainer. Another good option is to just sell them.

Hope that helps.
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Old June 14, 2006, 11:40 AM   #22
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I can honestly say that in even the scariest situations I've experienced loss of fine motor skills control and auditory exclusion but I have always reverted to my training and mental mindset and never went into panic.
The mind and body can be taught to overcome the effects of a fight or flight stress response. You will need to raise your heart rate to aerobic levels then shoot, or do some other thing that requires fine motor skills.
As it turns out, my range is in the country so I go there to jog. So I jog two miles then I sprint the 100yrds up the hill to my vehicle, throw on my gun belt, sprint the 175yrds to the firing line, draw, load and fire as fast as I can at targets I set up before I went running. I run barricades, kneeling, squatting and sprinting, firing about 30rnds. I've gotten pretty good at it.
Why do you think a marine drill sergeant wakes his recruits up the way he does, mental training.
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Old June 15, 2006, 07:21 AM   #23
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I would think aiming with a game controller and aiming with a pistol are two different skill sets. Can't make assumptions about one from the other.

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Old June 15, 2006, 12:10 PM   #24
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Shot placement -

I've never been a big fan of dime-sized group on a man-sized target. Just doesn't make sense to try to keyhole a round into a hole that's already been created. Seems to me that you'd want as many individual separate holes as you can get.

As for the "caliber wars" - I just don't think I can argue against the physics of a bigger hole. For me, I want as big a hole as I can make and I want the round to get as close to the protected center of the body as it can get - and that means high weight, low velocity. After all, isn't that where all the important stuff is - buried deep inside the body?
However, I believe it is more about the type of bullet and shot placement than it is about the caliber of the round.

Shot placement - 99% of people out there are not going to place their rounds where they think they will under life-threatening stress. The more you are exposed to that stress then the easier it is to work through and overcome. Most people are not exposed to that level of stress consistently enough to be able to realistically expect to "work through it".
The people who can are the people who will draw a weapon, shoot, and reholster without even thinking about it and only marginally acknowledging the threat itself, because by the time they have identified a target and before the weapon has been fired they are already seeking another target. Unless you are this person I would submit that you should probably leave some room for the possibility of fight/flight or instictive response.
If you think that your groupings are poor at 8-10 inches - place a 10-inch circle COM on a man-sized target. That should work out nicely if it had to.

Also - while lasers help, I've seen trained professionals drop the first couple of shots VERY low when reacting to a real threat. Additionally, after discussion many either don't remember pulling that trigger more than once or don't remember it at all. A laser isn't going to help much when your brain is screaming PULL THE TRIGGER!!!. These are all things that training can overcome - but someone already said it:

I have yet to come across ANY training format that will accurately simulate what's going to happen to you when it really goes down.

Ok - just my .02
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Old June 15, 2006, 12:40 PM   #25
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@ pickpocket

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