Welcome back! For those of you who read Part I you may now realize that there is more to accuracy than just aiming at a target and shooting. The equipment you choose and the environment you shoot in can have a lot of say on how accurate you are. In Part II we’ll delve into accuracy a little more and talk about the difference between “Target” accuracy and “Combat” accuracy.
Not too long ago I saw a tweet where there was a target with 15 holes in a 7 inch circle fired from a distance of 20 feet and the writer said he wasn’t happy with that.Here in underlies a critical assumption many people make concerning accuracy. Between Hollywood and their magical “20 bullets in a 2 inch circle at, 100 yards offhand accuracy” to written literature where the shooter draws and engages 5 assailants shooting them all in the head it’s no wonder new shooters get discouraged. Draw a 7 inch circle and using that 15 shot grouping from earlier as an example place it on your body. Anywhere. Head, upper torso or lower torso. See how much space that takes up? At that distance, or any distance, if you have 15 bullets striking your target in that space your target is going to cease doing what they are doing.
When talking about “accuracy” we need to define what parameters we are using to define “accuracy”, for example: drawing from concealment, firing five shots into a seven inch circle from ten yards in dim light it is good combat type accuracy. On the other hand, if you take your time and fire those same five rounds into that same seven inch circle in good light, your accuracy would not be assumed to be as good. Why? Because in the first string you were firing from concealment, under pressure in less that ideal conditions and in the second string you were able to take your time and fire under ideal conditions.
Most people who carry a gun do so for self-defense or defense of others. When those violent situations happen statistics show that the majority of them happen within seven feet and are over in under five seconds. Let’s look at that. If the majority of engagements happen within seven feet then why practice at twice or three times that distance. Seven feet is the initial distance we should strive to be proficient at. If you’d like a little cushion then set the distance at 10 feet but no more. It is important to set goals but, they must be achievable goals. There is nothing worse in training than to not have a goal to work toward or having a goal that is to hard to attain. It will frustrate you and slow your progression down.
Repetition breeds memory retention. The more you do something the more your brain and muscles remember the action. At a certain point your muscles will be able to do the action without much constant thought, freeing your mind up to assess your surroundings. Getting to that state though requires practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice. Did I mention it takes lots of practice? Consider what your brain has to learn and then offload to your muscles when you are learning to shoot. Proper grip, draw stroke, arm extension, sight alignment, trigger pull, recoil management. All that is AFTER your brain recognizes a lethal force situation developing and decides to act. If your brain has to continually work through those five tasks it will have less processing power to be aware of what is happening around you like the possibility of friendlies/non-combatants in the area.
Targets don’t shoot back. Simple to understand right? Most people who talk accuracy are talking about being on a static indoor range or even an outdoor range. Even those who talk about combat accuracy are generally talking about shooting on some type of range. This is where target/range accuracy takes a dramatic departure from combat accuracy. We’ll define combat accuracy as “hits on target” because that is exactly what you want to produce – “hits on target”. Nothing else counts, nothing else matters. The poster below describes this:
We’d all like to have tight groups of combat accuracy but in reality, once you put on thirty pounds of body armor, helmet, night vision googles, ammo, knife, etc.. then run a few hundred yards and THEN try to engage a fleeting target that doesn’t want to get hit…accuracy takes on a whole different meaning. As a special operations trained medic I have treated and seen many enemy wounded and killed and it was the rare occasion that I saw neat little groups of bullet holes. It was usually when complete surprise was achieved and we got off the first shots. Anytime after the operation “goes kinetic” all bets for neat and tidy shot groups are off!! To make matters more complicated, those targets are usually trying to shoot you also!! So now you that you have to seek cover, while engaging the target why not throw another elephant into the room shall we!! Target fixation! In a combat or self defense scenario it can mean death from multiple high velocity projectiles if you fixate on one target and don’t pay attention to your surroundings. Bad guys, whether thugs or enemy soldiers, travel in packs. If you are engaging one of them, their friends might not appreciate that and attempt to do something about it.
As you can see, accuracy depends on more than just aiming and pulling the trigger. In Part 3 we’ll discuss a few ways to help improve your accuracy.
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