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Old October 8, 2017, 05:24 PM   #1
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Shot Placement

I have had a CWP for years and have been re-evaluating shot placement. I have a change of outlook on how I would treat an actual life threatening situation. My thoughts in the pass was to fire in the pelvic area to stop advancement with out actual killing the perpetrator. I now think I should make my first shots in the center mass upper chest area "Heart" then my second shots to the eye nose area. I have made some life size targets to use on my pistol range and was going to practice chest head shots only. I would like some thoughts on distance to target for practice for actual self defense scenario. Any input can possibly be useful to me so do not hesitate to speak your thoughts. I am a retired firefighter and ran rescue for 17 years so the outcome of a shoot out will not effect me I have seen the body inside outwards blood and guts do not bother me. I would like to thank everyone in advance for your participate in this thread.

Last edited by Cola308; October 8, 2017 at 06:26 PM.
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Old October 8, 2017, 06:16 PM   #2
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I'm far from an expert on this subject, with that said..... I would think a second shot to the head would be a bad idea. If the first shot hit center of mass and didn't put the target down, the head would be bobbing around, and make for a difficult target. A follow up to center of mass seems to make more sense to me.
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Old October 8, 2017, 06:24 PM   #3
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I am a very accurate shooter I practice on law enforcement type targets on a regular basis at 3 yards to 25 yards. I would probably put two in center mass before I switch to the eye nose area. But I want to practice as if it is a life threatening situation. And trying to determine a good distance to practice from.
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Old October 9, 2017, 12:47 AM   #4
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As much as I like this site and the folk on it, I think a much better plan would be to look around for some hands on training. Usually the ranges and gun stores have information on this.

And again, although I really like this forum info on the internet (including my own post) is pretty much worth what you pay for it.
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Old October 9, 2017, 01:29 AM   #5
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jmo but do most of your work at 10 to 30 yes.
If you can draw and fire fast at 10 or 15 yards you can do it easily under 10 yards.
At 3 yards youll have to have a fast draw and be shooting one handed likely from the hip to be able to even get your gun in play.
9 feet a person should be able to hit a human size torso without aiming.

The 3 sec 3 yrds 3 shot mantra pushed by so many came from FBI stats of le shootings where the officer lost.
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Old October 9, 2017, 02:21 AM   #6
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I usually practice at 25-50 feet.. depends on the range a lot of outdoor ones won't let you shoot short of the berm (fixed distance)

I would not go for a groin shot, If I can get a semi aim'ed shot off im going for CoM, it's the biggest part of the target, lot of organs.. although If you can land that groin shot Im sure it would bring even the biggest man to his knees, Heck they might even beg you to finish them.

Head shots are hard to get but If I wasn't making a dent on the chest then that's what I'd go for and then probably go to prison as the prosecutor paints me as a hitman/assassin.

The rule is suppose to be 21feet for defense range.. this was based on tests of a BG charging with a knife in hand.. I honestly think that distance is unreasonable for most civilian shootings.

I suspect If im ever involved in a shooting It'll be within spitting distance.. I fully expect I'll have to use at least 1 hand to fend of an attack, probably will not be using sights due to time & distance constraints.

In such a case I'll probably be firing with one hand into the attackers belly while holding them off with my supporting hand.

Im sure I'll now be told how a complete failure I am for situational awareness if the attacker is laying a hand on me but I've not yet mastered the art of keeping 21 feet distance from strangers in public.. I flunked outta ninja school.
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Old October 9, 2017, 02:01 PM   #7
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Regarding distance: I think it wise to practice at a variety of distances, using different sighting techniques, for the simple reason that a defender doesn't get to choose circumstances. Point shooting in close, at 10 or 15 feet, may someday be a very valuable skill; with a threat that close you may not have the time to use sights. I do most of my practice at 25 feet, with sights, and I run targets out to 25 yards (the max at the range I use most commonly) periodically with different pistols. With sighted fire, if you can hit it at 75 feet you can hit it closer. Point shooting is a somewhat different skill.
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Old October 9, 2017, 04:05 PM   #8
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I completely agree with TailGator, different distances and techniques are necessary. I add practice with a one hand grip, both weak and strong hand in close.

Edit: I routinely practice 3 shots center mass and one to the head. Done quickly, that is easier said than done. Add a moving target to the mix, and that head shot is tough, even in close
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Old October 9, 2017, 05:57 PM   #9
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I have one rule regarding shot placement during a lawful self defense action and that to HIT THE TARGET. To that end I will shoot the largest most accessible area offered to me. I don't give a flip about magic shot placement theories no matter how true they may be. I will shoot at the largest dang part of a target that I can see, period.

If you are talking about a terrorist or some other crazed active shooter wearing armor, I will certainly adjust my method accordingly.
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Old October 9, 2017, 06:11 PM   #10
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I use one of the two falling plate bays we have at the local range. I can move right and left of center and any distance from 7 to 25 yards while staying in the prescribed zone. There are two sizes of plates. One set is 8 inches and the other is 6 inches. I am training for head shot first. That is the only way I know of to deliver a shot that will immediately stop the threat.
How do you know if someone is heavy set or wearing body armor? It might be easy on a summer day but when the temps are down in the teens what is the magic give away? Shoot two in the chest and if he keeps coming you shoot for the head? You have already used up the second(s) of space between you and now he has plunged a ten inch blade through your eye and into your brain. your wife or kids are next...
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Old October 9, 2017, 07:28 PM   #11
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Shootist, do you understand that the head of an attacker(s) will not hold still like the steel plates at your local range? I wish I had your confidence in my ability to hit the 6" plate while it and I are moving, even at 7 yards. I know a couple of very well trained and highly skilled professionals who would say bad things to me and ask me if I had lost my mind if I told them I had decided to take only head shots because my attacker(s) might be wearing body armor.
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Old October 12, 2017, 01:07 AM   #12
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It can also be beneficial to practice shooting from "bad breath distances". As stated in previous posts, shooting from three yards up to 25 yards would be a good idea, but even closer could be prudent. It can be tricky to practice these techniques on some public ranges, but bad breath distance techniques generally include shooting your handgun with your wrist brace against your hip. An important part of this technique is holding the handgun so the slide is away from your body; otherwise if the slide doesn't cycle all the way you'll have to clear a malfunction. You can watch YouTube videos, but you would likely be better served with a real instructor.
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Old October 12, 2017, 03:29 AM   #13
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The closest in my training was , draw, fire two rounds , and hit at 6' , in ONE SECOND ! COM or a bit higher. Yes it can be done even with my less than super speed movement !!
And Watson , bring your revolver !
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Old October 12, 2017, 06:11 AM   #14
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In a few contexts, I've heard the advice to shoot at the high center chest area, and also lower to aim at the abdominal and pelvic region. The reason given was that low shots (especially those that can land in the pelvic area) are more likely to double someone over and prevent them from charging at you.

I don't know that that's true. But in this context, I'd think that both the chest and pelvic areas give you a lot more leeway to still make a hit that counts, whereas missing the head virtually guarantees hitting something else beyond the target.
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Old December 14, 2017, 01:33 AM   #15
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With the use of today's make shift body armour aim for the head, face area
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Old December 14, 2017, 02:41 AM   #16
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do not discount the 21 foot guideline. it can be covered quite quickly. I know as I made loads of cash with it. I used to race guys that ran 11 second quarter mile times. that was pretty quick in the 70's. I would talk for a while and get a feeling of how fast he thought his car was. then I would say I thought it was way slower and ask if he would race for cash. they normally asked what car I had. I would say no you don't understand. I will race your car! then Huh? I will race your car! on foot! 20 feet for $20 bucks. I have always been fat so they felt like that $20 was there's. and out to the parking lot we went to get my easy money. I never had to pay.
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Old December 14, 2017, 02:44 AM   #17
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shot placement and distances of engagement

Tom Givens had an article called: "When Citizens Fight Back, Are We Training Wrong?" in American Handgunner Magazine September/October 2014

The conclusion to the article was:

Training Implications

Based on this data, we believe the following are key skills the private citizen should concentrate on in their training:

Quick, safe, efficient presentation of the handgun from concealed carry.

Delivery of several well-placed shots at distances from 3 to 7 yards.

Keeping the gun running, including reloading and fixing malfunctions.

Two-handed firing. We train our students to use two hands if at all possible and most have done so in their fights. Bring the gun to eye level. This is the fastest way to achieve accurate gun alignment. All but two of our students (who were involved in an actual gunfight) brought the gun to eye level, and as a result got good hits. Two had to shoot from below eye level due to unusual circumstances.

Some effort expended on the contact distance problem, including empty hand skills and weapon retention skills. However, these are secondary skills for the private citizen.

Some effort dedicated to longer shots in the 15- to 25-yard range.
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Old December 14, 2017, 07:19 AM   #18
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In the real world just hitting your adversary "somewhere" may/will be the best you can hope for.
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Old December 14, 2017, 08:49 AM   #19
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I look at it simply.. its either a deadly force situation or its not. If it is, I will shoot at the largest more accessible area of the target and I will fire to stop the threat. All this talk about shooting here or there or this many times or that many times is all hubbub in my estimation. I will do what I must do to preserve innocent life and I will decide how best to do that from millisecond to millisencond. When I do act, I will act in the manner that affords me the greatest chance of success, period. Generally speaking that will be the traditional "center mass" area of the target. That does not mean that I would not shoot at a badguys foot if that is the only thing that is offered as a target, I would. I will act in a measured and controlled manner but I wont overintellectualize the process.

To these guys who plan to use force as if its a choreographed dance, I say good luck with all that but I think you are dreaming. There is no ready, set , go and the person you are fighting is not your cooperative dance partner.


As far as how to practice goes, I prefer force on force simulation which mimics situations and places you would normally encounter in real life. You learn a lot about yourself and about fighting when you actually have an opponent coming at you. You quickly realize what is worth while and what is crap.

When on a static range I typically practice at 9 feet, 25 feet, 15yards and 25yards. I will practice sighted fire, half hip, reload from slide stop, reload from a simulated jam. I will practice strong hand, weak hand, two handed, kneeling, supine and while on the move.

That's what I do
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Last edited by FireForged; December 14, 2017 at 09:11 AM.
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Old December 14, 2017, 09:02 AM   #20
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In regard to the distance at which one should practice, I look at it from a purely logical point. When I run possible threat possibilities from my point of view (I am a civilian with a concealed carry permit), logic dictates to me that if the "threat" is beyond 25 yards, it is not likely a "fire" situation inasmuch as I can take cover behind something (a car in the parking lot, close racks in stores, etc.), or rapidly retreating. In all the life-threatening scenarios I can construct in my mind's eye, in almost all the cases the threat is very close...ten feet or less. Therefore, from a purely defensive point of view, I would practice getting the gun out rapidly and shooting from that distance for the most part and with less focus (but still practice), out a little further. However, if you can envision realistic scenarios where the perp is not in your face, by all means, practice at longer distances.
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Old December 14, 2017, 11:54 AM   #21
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You might want to try shooting (if you haven't already) at a local Bowling Pin, USPS or IDPA match.

Under pressure, just making a hit on center of mass is hard enough. And that pressure is your friends giving you grief about a low C hit, not someone trying to jump you.
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Old December 14, 2017, 01:12 PM   #22
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I've never had to use my weapon on a human but if I do, it's gonna be center mass until the threat is down. I never practice a lot at beyond 10 yds either. First of all if the attack come's from a bit farther range, it's gonna take a moment just to get the weapon out. Then just another moment for most of us to fire. I suspect the range by that time would be under 10 yds. The only way I shoot my concealed weapons is point and shoot at close range. Biggest target you'll see is center mass. I uae a couple 9mm's for carry and at 10 yds I can put all my shots into about a 12" group. I think we've all seem a guy that could bring the gun into play and get off several shot's before the bad guy could get to them. Every one I've seen has been a competitive shooter, I'm not. I'd take what I can get, center mass is it for me.
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Old December 14, 2017, 02:08 PM   #23
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I would strongly recommend getting some additional training at a Basic Defensive Pistol course near you. There are also several nationally recognized trainers who travel around the country and teach at local ranges such as Tom Givens, Travis Haley, etc. That's almost always the best investment you can make, though it is the one people least often choose.

On shot placement, it is important to remember that the actual target you are trying to hit isn't visible to the naked eye. Bullets can deflect off path or fail to penetrate. That's why bullet construction is important.
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Old December 14, 2017, 02:56 PM   #24
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You might want to try shooting (if you haven't already) at a local Bowling Pin, USPS or IDPA match.
I think he is geared toward self defense training not game competition.
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Old December 14, 2017, 02:59 PM   #25
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Occurs to me that a head shot could easily be construed as a sign of vicious and callous intent-hard to prove that it was the 2nd or 3rd shot and only resorted to when the body shots failed.
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