Understanding Shooting Pace to Improve Accuracy Under Stress
Major Pandemic 10.10.16
In all but the rarest circumstances, untrained shooters abandon proper shooting fundamentals during such rapid fire drills. In this mindset, you are always firing as quickly as possible regardless of the distance from the threat. If most shooters slowed down just a bit, almost every shot would end up on a standard silhouette target at 7 yards. Extend that test to 25 yards, and it’s unlikely more than one round would end up on target.
The fact is that it’s nearly impossible for most humans to maintain the same rate of fire and accuracy on both close and far targets. What to do?
It is key that your pace (rate of fire) slows to match to your ability to make those rounds connect with the threat as the distance increases or vise versa. Hits on target are the only thing that will stop an attacker, so let’s understand how we can get better at that.
For this training exercise, I used my Glock 26 and Barnes Precision BPM-15. I suggest that you repeat each of these drills with your pistol and AR rifle.
15 Rounds at Low Speed for Accuracy (5 Rounds Each At 1 foot, 15 feet, and 15 Yards)
In this exercise you should place paper targets at 1 foot (yes, less than arm’s length), 15 feet, and then way out at 15 or 25 yards. Load five rounds into your gun, take a defensive shooting stance, and then take all the time you need to shoot five rounds as accurately as possible on each target.
Concentrate on aiming, breathing, focusing on the target, and squeezing the trigger. Record the number of hits on target and measure your groups. Likely, these will be some of the best groups of this test and should realistically show what you and your gun are capable of.
These first 15 rounds should be looked at as a benchmark of what to strive for when things speed up. You are a good shooter if your groups are smaller than 2 inches at 15 yards, smaller than 1 inch at 15 feet, and near single hole at 1 foot.
If needed, adjust your sights to reflect the hit placement on the 15-25 yards target. Note that a 25-yard zero is typical for all combat/defensive/hunting pistols. Now that you know the best you can do when speed and stress are not an issue, it’s time to move on.
15 Rounds at High Speed (5 Rounds Each At 1 foot, 15 feet, and 15 Yards)
In this next exercise we want to have a little fun and repeat the exercise above with as high a rate of fire as you can with fresh targets at all those same distances. Jack yourself up with excitement and then blast away. Measure and record the hit results.
Now compare how you did between the two exercises. Most people will be surprised by the huge difference in group size and the number of hits actually made on the 15-foot and 15-yard targets.
According to the trainers I have worked with, the high speed shooting performance in this test is a good indication of how you would perform under a stressful situation with a carefully aimed shot.
70 Rounds of Self-Paced Target Shooting
Yes, good old-fashioned target shooting is the only way to improve your precision accuracy. I have talked with some of the best 3-gunners in the world, and they all still work on bullseye shooting. They also work hard at increasing speed while maintaining accuracy.
This third part of this training is to work on single shot accuracy transitioning from the close to near to far targets while being as accurate as possible. Take one shot at each of the 1’, 15’, 15-yard targets, and repeat five times. Then repeat the same shooting drill with double taps on each target, and then repeat again with triple taps on each target. Use the remaining ammo to find the pace at which you can maintain accuracy at each target distance. Once you work through this exercise a few times, you should be able to adjust your shooting speed on each target distance.
This training can even be applied to event long-range targets. I did a similar drill when testing the Cooper Scout Rifle concept and have maintained a version of this exercise when I test and train with defensive rifles.
Defensively, it is unlikely you are going to be engaging targets beyond 50 yards, but a fun version of this drill is to transition from 7-yard targets all the way out to 500-yard targets.