Accuracy vs. Precision


Accuracy vs. Precision

Accuracy and precision: these two facets of shooting are not the same.

So, what’s the difference? Consider these target range scenarios:

• The shooter makes five shots at a target and they hit all over the paper. These shots are neither accurate nor precise.
• The shooter puts a tight group of shots into the upper corner of the target. These shots are precise, but not accurate.
• Next the shooter puts five shots all around the bullseye. These shots are accurate, but not precise.
• Finally the shooter places all five shots into a tight group in the bullseye. These shots are both accurate and precise.

The whole idea behind shooting a gun at a range or while hunting is to have your bullet hit the target, but not just anywhere. You want accurate shots, which hit precisely in the X-ring or kill zone.

Okay, so we know you should be as accurate as possible. But do you really need precision as well? In the heat of a life-threatening confrontation, the answer is usually “no.” If your shots are accurate and well-placed, they generally don’t need to be precise.

When you practice shooting, practice for accuracy first, then increased speed, and later after many trials, work on precision. Other elements of shooting needs to be practiced as well, including magazine changes and drawing your carry weapon.

In rifle shooting work on the bench, then try shooting for accuracy while standing, sitting, and even moving. Trust me, if you run or even walk fast 50 yards then shoot, your accuracy will change considerably. It takes considerable practice to consistently be accurate with precision. But these are shooting skills to keep honing.

Avatar Author ID 67 - 629048665

Award winning outdoor writer/photographer since 1978. Over 3000 articles and columns published nationally. Field & Stream Hero of Conservation in 2007. Fields of writing includes hunting most game in American, Canada, and Europe, fishing fresh and saltwater, destination travel, product reviews, industry consulting, and conservation issues. Currently VP at largest community college in Mississippi in economic development and workforce training with 40 years of experience in Higher Education. BS-MS in wildlife sciences from MO. University, and then a PhD in Industrial Psychology. Married with two children and Molly the Schnoodle.

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