View Full Version : Grouping.

August 25, 2009, 06:57 PM
I was wondering what are some good ways to spread out the bullet group so you're not hitting all in a 1 inch circle. Note: this is concerning self defense shooting and if I had to shoot to defend my life. Should I fire faster? Should I intentionally try to aim at other points on center mass? I'm scared if I fire faster I won't hit beyond my 2nd or 3rd shot.

Any and all tips and pointers are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

August 25, 2009, 07:04 PM
Wow... Wish I had your problem!!:D

August 25, 2009, 07:17 PM
Move the target back out of contact with the muzzle? :p

Seriosuly, though... it would be interesting to know what distance and speed you're shooting at that you have this problem?

August 25, 2009, 07:17 PM
Heheh, I just used a 1 inch circle as an example. Really I'm probably around 2 or 3 inches at the ranges I'm talking about but remember...these are short ranges at 7 yards or less, sometimes at 5-10 feet. I'd just like to have more around a 5 or 6 inch spread I'm thinking.

August 25, 2009, 07:22 PM
This one's a serious head scratcher. Do you mind rephrasing the question? It sounds as if you want to be inaccurate.

August 25, 2009, 07:25 PM
Are you wanting to damage more organs? Hit one shot to each of both lungs, the heart, and spleen, the appendix, the kidney, the liver, and the gall bladder? Instead of all your shots to one area? Really, I'd try and put every shot on the CNS (spine, brain) because that's the only way to truly stop any animal. And to that end, shooting a tiny group right in the center of mass is about as good as it gets since that's where you find the spine.

Evan Thomas
August 25, 2009, 07:33 PM
If you ever have to shoot someone to defend your life, I don't think that being too accurate is among the things you'll need to be worrying about...

Have you done any training under more realistic conditions than standing and popping paper targets? Try it, and see what happens then...

August 25, 2009, 07:38 PM
My reasoning behind it is this. Yes, I want a CNS shot, but I also want to incapacitate them as soon as possible. I'm a medical professional and the way I think of it is that the same number of shots in a bigger area creates more opportunities to hit an aorta, spinal cord, left ventricle, etc. A person is more likely to bleed out faster if they have more holes through their heart.

The other way I think of it is that if all my shots are hitting the same area...say that person has scoliosis (i know, a big what if but i'm just using it as an example). Say I fire 5 shots into the same 2 inch group, dead center through the sternum straight back. This 2 inch group completely misses the spine due to their disease and now I'm left with say 5 holes in 2 inches that didn't hit anything major.

I guess to put it short and sweet. I'm thinking it as having more holes spread out slightly (5 inch group) has a higher chance of hitting more vitals causing faster incapacitation.

Thoughts, more comments? Once again thanks for the input so far!

August 25, 2009, 07:43 PM
I'm a medical professional ...A person is more likely to bleed out faster if they have more holes through their heart.

What kind of medical professional? I seriously doubt you'll be in Swiss cheese mode with a full dump of adrenalin in your system.

August 25, 2009, 07:44 PM
A person having scoliosis to the degree that you wouldn't hit the spine with a nice group at CM probably isn't going to be a big threat... :D

Plus, with a two inch group, if you're center mass, the likelihood of taking out the aorta or superior/inferior vena cava is pretty friggin high... Just keep squeezing the trigger until the threat is eliminated!

August 25, 2009, 08:03 PM
I was just concerned with hitting a greater area, that's all. Mentioned the medical profession because of my knowledge of how the heart works, blood pumping stuff like that.

I'll continue trying to hit the smallest groups as possible. I just wasn't sure if it was better to spread groups out a little bit to try to hit more vital organs but I guess not. Thanks for the information!

August 25, 2009, 08:04 PM
Was reading or watching one of the self defense sites (reading so much it is all a blur now), and the trainer mentioned the zipper method, first into the gut, second into the diaphragm, third into the chest central, 4th into the upper chest or neck, 5 and 6 into the head or something along those lines. I think if I was in a SD situation just going for center of mass would be all I could think about and there would be plenty of natural spread. But if you think your skills are good enough under pressure you might give a try. You can certainly practice it at the range. I'm not sure if the idea is to shoot faster by not bringing the gun all the way back down after each shot or to spread the damage.

August 25, 2009, 08:05 PM
It does raise another question...how do you train for the adrenaline rush? I've tried doing jumping jacks, and running before firing and while that gives some sort of feeling...it doesn't give that exact feeling of the adrenaline rush. Are there any other ways to train for it?

August 25, 2009, 08:10 PM
Go to a class. TacPro, Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, Tiger Valley, etc.

August 25, 2009, 08:22 PM
Defensive pistol shooting as taught by Jeff Cooper is a balance of power, speed and accuracy. With the handgun in your hand you have chosen your power; so you are left in a shooting situation to balance speed and accuracy.

Your concern over groups that are small is a real concern in respect to balancing speed and accuracy. If you are shooting groups that are two inches or less; shoot faster. Your groups will open up as you shoot faster. Keep shooting faster as long as you can group under 7 or 8 inches. This group size is valid for any distance on a human threat.

Of course your time between shots (your speed of shooting) will have to be adjusted for distance. Generally speaking, the greater the distance the greater the time to create the same group size.

A shot timer can be a useful tool.

August 25, 2009, 08:24 PM
It does raise another question...how do you train for the adrenaline rush?


August 25, 2009, 08:48 PM
Ok...first, if you hit someone with 5 shots of say .380/9mm/.38 you are looking at roughly a 2 in hole (assuming no or very little overlapping). If said hole is cm even if it doesn't hit a single vital organ or blood vessel that person still has a 2 in hole in their chest or abdomin. I'm not a medical professional(but I play one on tv...j/k) but I would think that would be a pretty serious amount of trauma and would probably drop most people pretty quickly.
That being said, I would say that if you are caught in a sd situation that the adrenaline dump that you get would be so intense that you would be all over the place and would not have to worry about your groups being too small but rather they would most likely be too big. Unless you have some seriously hard core military or police training. Remember the reason we train to aim for center mass is because that is the largest area, if it was easy to hit small groups under that kind of stress we would all train to aim for heads or kneecaps. I'm not trying to insult you...just being realistic.

August 25, 2009, 09:11 PM
Shoot faster. Out to about 7 yards you should be able to fire as fast as you can and stay in a 2-4" group. To shoot to that level your fundamentals (sight alignment, trigger control, follow through) must be excellent as well as your technique (grip). Fist sized groups as fast as you can shoot them are what your looking for. With a gun with a good trigger reset (glock / 1911) you should literally be able to fire 6 or 7 rounds a second into a fist sized group at 5 yards or so.

August 25, 2009, 09:19 PM
I don't think spreading out the group will be a problem on a moving target. The person hit will move in response to being hit each time. Your odds of putting all the shots into the same wound is just slightly behind the odds of God reaching down and b***h slapping the bad guy for you.

You can always practice the Mozambique drill which is double tap to center of mass and one to the head.

August 26, 2009, 08:39 AM
Close your eyes. ;)

Glenn E. Meyer
August 26, 2009, 09:25 AM
We did an IDPA where you had a bag on your head and a target about 5 yards ahead of you. You had to fire six shots, IIRC. You would be surprised how many folks missed the target completely. You started with the gun pointed at the target and then were bagged.

With no offense, has the OP had any training in tactical shooting - that might be the solution to this nonproblem.

Carne Frio
August 26, 2009, 09:28 AM
Drink a lot of coffee or Mt Dew or Red Bull: your "problem" solved!:D

August 26, 2009, 09:48 AM
You know - and before I say much, I'm a rank newbie - I think I've seen large rectangular sheets with six targets on them, arranged two wide and three down...

Not sure what you'd search for to find them on the interweb, but I'm pretty sure I've seen them.

August 26, 2009, 10:59 AM

First, thank you far making many of us feel inadequate:o (

Now seriously, if you are so good indeed at various ranges, then you shoud now take any type of target ( if for oe reason or another you object to using a human shaped target) and practice shooting at areas other than the center.

with enough practice, you can get to the point where you can put your shots wherever you want them to go. the next step will be to mask some of your target as a "nop shoot" area, which can simulate cover or a hostage, this will further improve your skills.

Once you can do this at various ranges ( I would say at least up to 10M for SD) then you will findthat you are able to hit anywhere you want.

and off course, if you are a medical practitioner, then you know that the top half ot he head is there the CNS is based...



Glenn E. Meyer
August 26, 2009, 11:14 AM
The ability to define one's shot group while moving and under extreme stress would a joy to behold.

But the square range isn't the real world. I would ask again if the OP has tried this in more dynamic situations? If not, the point is moot.

August 26, 2009, 11:19 AM
Multiple bullets in the same hole does not magnify wound effectiveness.

You want your bullets to all hit different organs.

3 rounds of 9/40/45/357/44 in the heart (and actually hitting it) is no more effective than 1 or 2 in the same place.

However... a single round each in the heart, lung and spine will disable an attacker more quickly.

August 26, 2009, 11:43 AM
The easiest answer is:
Switch from pistol to shotgun. 00 buckshot.

As a practical problem, if you are hitting but not stopping the threat, your problem is lack of penetration. Thick clothes, dense target, you got the unlucky box of ammo, whatever. Multiple shots to the heart that don't drop a guy = some type of body armor. Multiple head shots that don't drop a guy = stop aiming at his motorcycle helmet.

Brian Pfleuger
August 26, 2009, 01:49 PM
I'm curious as to what would make you think that your target is going to hold still so you could hit the same spot twice....

I'm no self defense expert but I do know one word that applies.... dynamic.

August 26, 2009, 06:06 PM
To answer the question asked of me, no I do not have any dynamic training (don't worry, I'll get some soon!) The point of the topic wasn't exactly just to learn of different ways to get bigger groups...but to also get information as to if shooting over more area of the body is recommended. I know the first post isn't worded in that way, but that's what I wished more to learn about.

The help so far has been greatly appreciated. I've tried speeding up my shots and that has spread out my groups somewhat. I wish I can find a moving target range near me...that would be really nice. Once again, thanks, and continue with more input!

Brian Pfleuger
August 26, 2009, 06:35 PM
The main reason that you don't have to worry about spreading out your shots is that all the things you want/need to hit are pretty well in one place:


as you can see, pretty well every major organ, vein and artery is in or passes through the center of the rib cage. Any bullet that hits a human being from (more or less) the bottom of the ribs on up is going to damage a major organ or artery. With the possible exception of "grazing" wounds.

Secondarily, your target is not going to be standing there getting shot, at least not after the first shot, so even if you are trying to hit the same exact spot you are unlikely to be successful.

August 26, 2009, 07:15 PM
If and when you do get in a life threatening shooting you won't have to worry about your group opening up. It will be difficult enough to get one on target.
There's several reasons for COM practice and training, not the least of which is at least getting a hit in an emergency even at 8-10 inches of error.

August 27, 2009, 12:25 PM

This is an example of real world results of a shooting. Note that 6 law enforcement offices were only able to get two center of mass hits out of 59 shots fired.

This shooting has its own thread, the link to it follows:

Glenn E. Meyer
August 27, 2009, 02:30 PM
You don't want to speed up your shooting to increase group size.

Like I said - training is need in this case to appreciate speed/accuracy trade off as compared to theories out of the blue.

August 27, 2009, 11:27 PM
Government training: quick draw from the strong side hip. Three rapid shots center mass. Practice this at varying distances from 5 feet out to 15 yards. This is where most fire fights are going to happen. Longer range stuff is good to practice for your ego but not realistic in a gun battle as intended target(s) will probably not be standing still.

August 28, 2009, 09:35 AM
Glenn is correct.

Spreading out your group size is NOT a desirable goal for self defense shooting.

Accurately placing the bullet exactly where you intend for it to go is a valuable and important goal.

So is being able to do so quickly enough to make a difference. The best accuracy in the world doesn't count if it doesn't arrive on target in time to save your life.


September 1, 2009, 08:04 PM
I will always fire at center mass but I wont be disappointed unless I miss the target all together.

September 1, 2009, 08:11 PM
Pose this question to a LEO or Combat Veteran......

September 1, 2009, 08:36 PM
Bad enough my wife rubs it in everytime we go to the range,about her tight groupings,, now here to:) OH boy...

September 3, 2009, 10:46 AM
Shoot faster until your groups spread out and you have a speed/accuracy combination that you're comfortable with. There's no reason to be scared of not hitting on the second or third shots.... that's irrational. If you don't know if you could hit on the second or third shots, go TRY it. Then you'll know.

serf 'rett
September 3, 2009, 11:17 AM
Sheeesh, if I could hold that kind of group, I'd at least run through a half of mag or more in case the thug had picked up some body armor on their last job. Once I felt I had punched through, then I’d scatter a few more around for effect… IF I could hold that kind of group :(.
And if frogs had wings...
Paint me green with envy. Interesting post though.

September 4, 2009, 02:03 PM
i think you should practice making that smily face like mel gibson in "lethal weapon." i always wanted to be able to do that.