Counting Bulletholes

Sandy Keathley

Fire 10 rounds at any type of target at 10 yards or less. Can you easily count all the holes? If you can, you may be focusing on the wrong thing. Your goal should not be to just hit the target, but to hit the previous hole. Well, if it was a good shot. For marksmanship training, groups are important. Every shot that misses the Point-of-Aim (center of the target) traveled at an angle to an imaginary straight line. The further out it goes, the larger that angle, and the further off the mark.  That’s why people trying to improve shoot at bullseye targets instead of zombie outlines, and try to get small groups. If you put as many as 10 shots on a target, and have not shot out a ragged hole, you will be able to count all the holes. That’s not a good thing.

As a Concealed Handgun instructor, I can look at a row of targets from 5 yards out and tell who has passed easily, and those who scored on the low end. I score every target manually, but I am seldom surprised. When there is a ragged hole in the middle, they will have scored 220+. If I can see all the holes, like a shotgun pattern, they will be below 220, and sometimes below 190.

That is still passing, but there is still a potential problem. It is estimated that a defensive shooter, even with training, will only perform at 50% of their ability in a crisis. Considering that many typical carry guns only hold 6 rounds, this person may well miss 3 shots entirely, and only wound with the other 3, whereas even an 8 inch, 3 shot group would likely kill or incapacitate the attacker.

That is why one needs to be an over-achiever with a handgun. Don’t just hit the target; put all the bullets in a tight group.

Author: Sandy Keathley

NRA-Certified Firearms Instructor