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Old March 26, 2023, 08:49 PM   #1
Join Date: December 8, 2015
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Do I suck at shooting pistols? (from the thread below)

I have a couple pistols, mostly revolvers, just because I like guns. Mostly stick with lever action rifles though. Reading through the other thread with references to 1" groups @ 10 yards got me wondering how good I am with a pistol. I never shoot paper, just my 6" spinner targets. I can ring my 6" spinners every time from 10 yards at a pretty rapid fire.

So I tacked up a piece of paper and emptied the 8 round cylinder in my 5" .357 (shooting SA) from 10 yards. I made a 4" group. Only 2 shots in the center 2".

I tried again as hard as I could and got 8 in a solid 3" group, but only 3 were in the center 2".

Tried with my 7.5" 454 Casull with full house rounds and put 6 in a 3" circle. Only 2 were in the center 2" again.

Apparently I'm nothing if not consistent, but there is no way I could reliably put 3 rounds in a 1" group.

So two questions: Do I suck?

And I also noticed the groups tend to be elongated to the 1:00 position. Does this tell you anything that I can correct to do better?
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Old March 26, 2023, 09:14 PM   #2
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No, you don't suck. Higher degrees of marksmanship progress require a higher and higher investment of time and energy for a relatively smaller and smaller payoff.

Everyone eventually reaches that "good enough" point when the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

*I'd give right arm to be ambidextrous*
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Old March 26, 2023, 09:33 PM   #3
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1" at 10yards is about 10 MOA. Five shot groups of that size should be possible with a good gun, ammo it likes and if the shooter has no impairments.

As I said in an earlier post on the thread in question, a person who can shoot 25MOA (about 2.6" at 10 yards) is a good practical pistol shot. I'd say they're probably doing better than the vast majority of pistol shooters.

The difference between the two levels of accuracy (given the stated assumptions--no problem with the gun/ammo or shooter impairments) is almost always flinching/anticipation but could also be a trigger technique problem.

You can check your trigger technique by dryfiring while watching the sights. If they don't move, your trigger technique is fine and that leaves flinching/anticipating the shot as the culprit.

When I say it needs to be a good gun and ammo it likes, that doesn't mean it needs to be a match gun or match ammo.

For example, here's a group I shot offhand some years back with a stock Glock 17 and 6 different types of ammunition to show that practice ammo can actually be quite accurate and that even mixing different types of ammo on the same target can provide good results. This group was a 10 shot group shot at 15 yards and works out to about 13MOA. Best 9 of 10 were about 10 MOA.

Do you know about the TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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Old March 27, 2023, 06:11 AM   #4
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For me, it depends on the day. Some days, I'm getting 1" groups at 10 yards and other days, I'm lucky to hit an entire paper plate at all. I don't consider myself to be a great shooter by any stretch of the imagination but I do better if I'm staying focused on trigger control and even breath control. Much the same as if I'm on a rifle bench.

I practice slow, generally. Start off slow, do speed drills, then do a few slow repetitions again. The slow practice works wonders for me at every level.

As others said above, practice. But practice right. No good just blasting away without doing it right!

"Great genius will always encounter fierce opposition from mediocre minds." --Albert Einstein.
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Old March 27, 2023, 11:53 AM   #5
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An official NRA Precision Pistol distance is 50 feet. The target is:
X ring ......................0.90 in
10 ring ....................1.80 in
9 ring .......................3.06 in
8 ring .......................4.46 in
7 ring .......................6.14 in
6 ring .......................8.32 in
Everything else is zero points. If we assume you're limited to 45 feet (15 yards) the target points would be 45/50 as much.

Take your 10 best shots, take all the time you want. Shoot one handed.
The first ranking of competitor is "Sharpshooter"... its complicated but a Sharpshooter will score 85 or above. Anything below makes you a "Marksman" which is a nice way of saying "Noobie."

At my best, I was scoring at a spattering above and below 85 with .22 pistol and just below with .45acp. I was in the top 3 of my club's weekly competition league. But the guy that always won consistently scored in the high 90's.

Get some official NRA Practical Pistol targets and shoot them at 50 feet (or 50 yards outdoors) and start keeping track of your scores. Keep the targets, it's rewarding to watch your scores go up. If it's on the line you get the higher points!
I hunt, shoot bullseye, plink, reload, and tinker with firearms. I have hung out with the Cowboy Action fellas. I have no interest in carrying firearms in urban areas.
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Old March 27, 2023, 04:56 PM   #6
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We have a very active bullseye league at my local club and historically I think we have had some talented shooters. I know in the past we have hosted the CO state championships, and may still do so today. I'm friendly with a couple of the bullseye guys and they've encouraged me to come give it a try. They've even agreed I can start off shooting two handed (which I've been doing for 20+ years).

Right now all their shooting is indoors at 50' and I'll often see some of their old targets lying around. Honestly, it's pretty rare to see a target with all 10 shots i the black. And the dimensions are as Sneakypete describes - the black, which is the 9 and 10 ring looks to be about 3" (this is for the timed and rapid fire legs of bullseye). My understanding is that the scoring for slow fire is significantly tougher. Still, based on the targets I'm seeing, very few people are keeping everything in the 10 ring, which is what they'd need to do to shoot approx. 10 MOA. And I know some of these guys are pretty experienced bullseye shooters. Of course, it is timed and rapid fire and they are generally shooting one handed.

Am planning on trying my hand at this sometime this spring (I've got a S&W Model 41 with a red dot that would be perfect for this). Based on my ability to keep most of my shots inside a 3" circle at 50 feet I think I can probably shoot somewhere in the low 200's (out of a possible 300) - particularly if I can start out two handed But it will be fun to see how my shooting holds up in the heat of competition and how I stack up against some of the guys who shoot bullseye every week.
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Old March 27, 2023, 06:33 PM   #7
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Do I suck at shooting pistols? (from the thread below)

John put forward one accuracy standard. There are many standards out there, often coupled with par times. I didn’t get the impression that John was saying someone who couldn’t meet that standard sucked, just that it should be possible. Just because a person can’t meet an accuracy standard today doesn’t mean they won’t in the future (having a specific goal in mind for improvement can help motivate shooting), and at some level it’s up to the shooter to determine if a particular standard matters to him or her.
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Old March 27, 2023, 11:26 PM   #8
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I'm not even trying to say that everyone should strive for that standard and I certainly didn't mean to imply that people suck at shooting if they can't manage it. This all started with someone asking how they could improve their shooting in an intentionally somewhat humorous manner.
Originally Posted by Rothdel
So I kind of suck at shooting pistols... I am serious what resources do you all recommend?
It wasn't like I was trying to make people feel bad, I was trying to help someone who was asking for help.

The first step in improving is determining what needs to be changed. In my experience, flinching/anticipation is the biggest problem people have with pistol shooting. BUT, it can be difficult to convince people that they are flinching.

If a person can't see the sights clearly, they know it. If their trigger technique moves the gun around, they can see that when they dryfire. If a person's hands shake, they can see that. If they can't see the target, you don't have to try to convince them of the fact--they are aware of it already.

But a flinch is a problem. People have to be convinced, or they have to convince themselves that they are flinching.

In person, there are ways demonstrate to a person that they are flinching. Remotely, all you can do is tell them what they should be able to achieve if they are doing everything right and then suggest the most likely problems that might be causing them to fall short. So that's what I did.

People want to blame the gun or the ammo, but even a gun like a Glock 17 which isn't really a pistol touted as being extraordinarily accurate, even shot with a variety of different budget practice ammo (not match ammo, not even just ONE type of ammo in the mag) can meet the standard I stated. Knowing the gun and ammo are capable of the feat means that the only reason it's not happening is the shooter.

If you want to actually get better, you have to accept that improvement is both necessary AND possible. And you need to set a goal or have a standard to judge yourself by. Being able to clean an NRA precision pistol target at 50' would be a good goal to work towards. and one that we know is attainable. That works out to being able to shoot groups that are about 10MOA--but more than just 5 rounds in the group and they are shot one-handed, with a time limit and under the pressure of competition.

The standard I stated is about the same in terms of group size, but it is shot at closer range, with two hands, only 5 shots, no time limit and no competition pressure. I'm not claiming it's an easy standard to meet, just that it is a reasonable/attainable/possible standard.

A person with no physical handicaps that affect their shooting ability, using a decent quality pistol and decent quality ammo should be able to make 10MOA 5 shot groups at 10 yards with reasonable consistency, shooting with both hands and without any competition pressure or time constraints. If they aren't, and they verify their trigger technique is good, then they almost certainly have an issue with flinching/anticipation.
Do you know about the TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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Old March 28, 2023, 03:23 PM   #9
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At Gunsite, they suggested that at the 7-yard FBI average range for gunfights, if you were drilling little tiny groups, then you weren't shooting as fast as you could be for a fight. They had us speed up until shots were staying at least two inches apart, or almost 30 moa at that range, but with most just staying in the 8" kill zone on the school targets or more like 100 MOA at seven-yard-full-tilt-boogie (El Presidente drill and the like). At longer ranges, a little more time was allowed, compliant with Sheriff Jack Weaver's philosophy that "a pretty quick hit is better than a lightning-fast miss." But given several seconds per shot and a fit-up 1911, those of us with target shooting backgrounds could keep most holes touching at that range. But that takes more time than you have in a 7-yard practical situation, several seconds per shot versus a pair in under half a second from the guard position.

Now, if target shooting level accuracy is what you are after, here are a few standard analysis targets that may provide some direction or encouragement.

Attached Images
File Type: gif Diagnostic Plus Encouragement 2.gif (55.2 KB, 57 views)
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Old March 28, 2023, 11:29 PM   #10
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Right, the value of being able to meet the standard I provided is that it demonstrates that you are doing things right. That you have the basics down--sights, trigger, flinch are all under control.

Defensive shooting needs to focus on a lot more than precision accuracy, in fact, as noted, precision accuracy is generally not considered a plus in defensive shooting because it means you are shooting too slowly.

In the original thread, I suggested that while on the move and clock, shooting 60MOA (a bit more than 6x larger groups than the standard I mentioned above) is still doing quite well.

The targets above are most useful when applied to bullseye targets shot one-handed. They do have some applicability to two-handed shooting, but it's harder to look at a target shot two-handed and diagnose shooter issues.
Do you know about the TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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