Aim Small, Miss Small

by Sandy Keathley

Shooting a pistol accurately requires not only practice, but the right kind of practice. The fundamentals (stance, aiming, breathing, trigger work) still apply, but the type of target is also important. Any bullet that misses the exact bullseye is traveling at an angle to the desired plane; the further out the target, the greater the arc of that angle, and the greater the error. In basketball, a person might shoot better from the 3-point line than from the free-throw line, but that doesn’t work with
firearms. It is necessary, instead, to master the fundamentals at a short distance, and achieve consistently small shot groups, then move the target a little further out and repeat.

I often see shooters (sometimes new, sometimes not) at a range, shooting at a large zombie target at 5 yards. They put 20-30 holes in the target, and never have one closer than 3 inches to another hole. It looks like a shotgun pattern. They’re having fun, and that counts for something, but the only thing they’re getting better at is spending money.

If your goal is home or personal defense, then realize this: the odds of you ever having a crisis requiring a gun are slim, and if it does happen, it will only happen once. When and if that time comes, nerves, fear, and adrenalin will cause you to only perform at 70% of your ability,
perhaps less. If you doubt that, ask any musician about their first recital!  And that wasn’t a life-or-death situation (although it seems so).

Consequently, your training needs to lead you to be an over-achiever. Use a bullseye the size of a paper plate, and work to get a small, consistent 3-5 shot group at 3 yards. Start there every time, then move out to 5 yards, 7 yards, 10 yards.  That should be enough, but keep going anyway, to 15 yards.
Once there, move the goal again, to 25 yards.

Why? If the biggest room in your house is 21 feet across, why would you need to be able to hit a 9-inch zone at 45-75 feet? Because if you can do it at all, then even under pressure, 21 feet will be easy. It’s all about training.

I have said before, that many homeowners buy a gun (often without knowing what they need), shoot it twice at the range, then put it in a drawer and leave it for a year (or three). They think they are ready for an emergency. They’re not.

If that SHTF (look it up) moment ever arrives, you have to have the attitude, and some of the training, of a combat soldier. That means automatically taking the stance, aiming quickly, squeezing, and taking multiple shots, without thinking too much about it. If you follow this training plan, you will be there. It’s not a matter of days, but months, but you will be there.

How much is your life worth?

Author: Sandy Keathley

NRA-Certified Firearms Instructor