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Old July 10, 2023, 09:18 PM   #1
TXAZ
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How perishable is staying proficient with a handgun?

Curious if anyone has any data on how long a proficient shooter can go before they aren’t as proficient as they were.

Military or civilian, how often do you have to shoot to maintain proficiency?
Does the military keep performance records on their shooters, or do they shoot every day / week / ?? when not deployed?
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Old July 10, 2023, 10:18 PM   #2
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I've not seen actual stats, but I would think it depends on *many* things including individual capabilities (some people are "gifted" musically, mathematically, mechanically, etc.), Individual dedication to developing a skill, (some simply work harder because they want it more than anything else), individual retention capabilities, a person's age when they start learning (children can lean many languages from an earlier age than adults).

Some skills are more easily ingrained than others for different people. I haven't picked up a banjo for 40 years but could probably whip out Foggy Mountain Breakdown in a heartbeat.

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Old July 10, 2023, 10:18 PM   #3
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Going to find out. What with aches and pains and surgery I will be out for at least two months before returning to competition.
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Old July 10, 2023, 10:50 PM   #4
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I shot every Friday and every Sunday, for a few years.
Stopped shooting on Fridays when I got married.
Then, swapped shooting every Sunday for every other Saturday.
The last three years, I've been down to one IDPA match a month, and maybe another couple of trips a month to the range for chronographing, or shooting groups at longish range.
The amount of shooting I do now doesn't begin to maintain the skill I had fifteen years ago.
When I was shooting USPSA regularly, I was classified high A, which is about 80%-85% of the ability of shooters competing for match wins.
Today, I'd be surprised if I could compete at the C level, which is about 50% of a top shooter's ability.
That said, a USPSA C-class shooter is more skilled, in dynamic shooting challenges, than 90% of the gun owners in the U.S.
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Old July 11, 2023, 12:07 AM   #5
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Weeks are noticeable.
Months require refreshing skills and familiarization.
Years require retraining and rebuilding muscle memory.
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Old July 11, 2023, 12:26 AM   #6
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Along with the individual, I'd say it depends on what level of skill you are trying to retain. Match winning proficiency requires nearly constant practice.

Being able to aim and hit your target slow fire is something I think few people would totally lose, even years without practice.
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Old July 11, 2023, 08:24 AM   #7
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And at some point it comes down to nearly hourly assessment.

At times the body just says "you want ME to do that?"
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Old July 11, 2023, 10:10 AM   #8
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Things like slow-fire accuracy, trigger technique, sight acquisition and drawing, even shooting while moving can be maintained pretty much 100% with dry-fire practice.

When it comes to rapid-fire performance, you can work on maintaining grip strength without shooting. That will help some, but you will need to do some shooting to stay at the top of your game in terms of recoil control.
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Old July 11, 2023, 11:58 AM   #9
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Dry fire is your friend.

It's like riding a bike, once you master it you can always do it. But just like riding a bike if you've not done it in a long time, you'll be a little wobbly at 1st. But it comes back pretty fast.
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Old July 11, 2023, 02:01 PM   #10
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Hard to say. I'm not much of a pistol shooter. I haven't shot in about six months.

I try to do the FBI qual once a year to see where I am at for general HD/ SD purposes and in case it is ever needed in court for such a shooting. Last week, after a brief warm up I shot a 100 which is no great feat. Most people should be able to shoot a 100 on that.

Real skill on OTOH I don't check much. I will say a lot of it these days is physical. As my eyesight fades and my muscle speed slows with age I'm not as good as I ever thought I was.
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Old July 11, 2023, 09:38 PM   #11
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Age would play a factor I find. Eyesight is perishable as well
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Old July 12, 2023, 11:25 AM   #12
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I try to do the FBI qual once a year to see where I am at for general HD/ SD purposes and in case it is ever needed in court for such a shooting.
Perhaps its just too early for me, or I haven't had enough coffee, but I cannot think of any SD defense in court where your skill on the target course would be of any use, and could possibly be something used against you.
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Old July 12, 2023, 01:52 PM   #13
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What is "proficient?"
Different folks have a different perception.
For some,its hitting a torso target at 7 yards. Consider most folks start out hitting the dirt in front of them . Check the "lost round" bullet holes at your local range. Hitting a 7 yd torso is some degree of proficiency.

The test has been abandoned, but when Colorado first allowed handgun big game hunting,you had to qualify. At least 4 of 6 shots on a 10 inch target at 50 yards. With practice,6 out of 6 got easy.

Is it shooting over 270 in a bullseye course?

Bouncing cans at 25 yds? Or hitting a 5 gallon bucket?

Running combat courses?
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Old July 12, 2023, 07:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
but I cannot think of any SD defense in court where your skill on the target course would be of any use, and could possibly be something used against you.
Not so much hits but catastrophic misses.
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Old July 18, 2023, 09:42 AM   #15
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It depends on alot of factors. A razor will lose its fine edge quickly without regular stropping but will remain fairly sharp for a long time.
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Old July 18, 2023, 10:37 AM   #16
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I've taken off long stretches for a while. Most recently, I took off about a year from regular practice due to the pinched spinal column. I still shot a match and may 50 rounds from a 1911 9mm in that time I was really in pain. Yes, I suffered a significant loss of proficiency. I actually took several months off from working armed security because I knew I had lost some skills. Went and shot a practice session with the team and I was 2nd, when normally I am first.

A few weeks ago, shot a long range match and posted my worst score ever. But I shot a 24 in Trap 3 weeks ago. The pistol is coming along, and I have increased my grip strength by about 15 pounds.

Age, injury, eyesight can cause significant declines.

When I teach CCW/Church/School security, I tell them they need to shoot once a quarter, 200 rounds at least 100 of that dynamic. Yes, I give them movement and dryfire drills too. At one class, an older man sheepishly admitted that he had not fired a round in 8 years. The Security Lead instituted minimum training requirements afterwards and their first session was pretty humbling.
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Old July 19, 2023, 10:38 AM   #17
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I had a 25 year gap-after two years I am up to about 80% of where I was then, although I am now 86, and physical shape
nowhere near what it was then. I shoot twice a week at least.
Plus about 3 15min sessions of dry fire a week
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Old July 19, 2023, 11:05 AM   #18
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For years I shot almost daily even if only 6 or a magazine. Week ends and summer time burnt lots of ammo. Age, eyes ect have caught up to me. Not a contender anymore but can still out shoot the once a week range crowd. Shooting handguns like shooting pool, you have to stay at it. Shooting rifle is like riding a bicycle, you may be a little rusty but is easier to get back in the groove.
Also, speaking from personal experience the beware of man with one gun is true. When teen and in early 20s when I didn’t have a bunch of pistols the one I carried daily was the one I shot best. Living in boonies gives you opportunity to shoot anytime which is a big advantage over range shooters.
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Old July 20, 2023, 05:19 AM   #19
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For years I shot almost daily even if only 6 or a magazine. Week ends and summer time burnt lots of ammo. Age, eyes ect have caught up to me. Not a contender anymore but can still out shoot the once a week range crowd. Shooting handguns like shooting pool, you have to stay at it. Shooting rifle is like riding a bicycle, you may be a little rusty but is easier to get back in the groove.
Also, speaking from personal experience the beware of man with one gun is true. When teen and in early 20s when I didn’t have a bunch of pistols the one I carried daily was the one I shot best. Living in boonies gives you opportunity to shoot anytime which is a big advantage over range shooters.
I think another advantage to living in a rural environment over just shooting in a range is the opportunity to do a lot of plinking. This teaches you a sort of natural range estimating ability and teaches you to focus on what you’re shooting at since it’s more difficult to judge how to adjust your aim without a reliable backdrop to see where you’re hitting vs where you’re aiming. I miss all of this after living in an urban environment for the last 22 years.
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Old July 22, 2023, 09:17 AM   #20
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As far as drawing to first shot on target - I've slowed way down. As far as handgun accuracy - no significant change. Since quick draw has little relevance to reality, I'm not concerned.

What is a pain is my offhand rifle shooting ability. I just don't have the steadiness to make 100+ yards shots with confidence.

If you have realistic expectations, growing old is not that big of a deal.
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Old July 22, 2023, 09:33 AM   #21
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What is a pain is my offhand rifle shooting ability. I just don't have the steadiness to make 100+ yards shots with confidence.
Have you tried the hold-off, move the sights on to the target, breaking the trigger as you stop the movement method?

It works really well. Even if a person has a "hold wobble" of say 5 MOA, they can effectively shoot down to 1 to 2 MOA with that method and a little practice.
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Old July 22, 2023, 10:33 AM   #22
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Have you tried the hold-off, move the sights on to the target, breaking the trigger as you stop the movement method?

It works really well. Even if a person has a "hold wobble" of say 5 MOA, they can effectively shoot down to 1 to 2 MOA with that method and a little practice.
Good suggestion. I'll give that a try.
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Old July 30, 2023, 03:40 PM   #23
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Good suggestion. I'll give that a try.
Worked pretty good with a 3x scoped AR at 80yds. Good enough that I'll give it a try at longer range when I get a chance.
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Old July 30, 2023, 11:01 PM   #24
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Worked pretty good with a 3x scoped AR at 80yds. Good enough that I'll give it a try at longer range when I get a chance.
I'll use it out to about 300 yards, but the target does have to be big enough.
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Old July 31, 2023, 04:49 AM   #25
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Have you tried the hold-off, move the sights on to the target, breaking the trigger as you stop the movement method?

It works really well. Even if a person has a "hold wobble" of say 5 MOA, they can effectively shoot down to 1 to 2 MOA with that method and a little practice.
I never knew there was another way to shoot. LOL
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