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25 yard accuracy with a pistol seems impossible...

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Macchina, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. Macchina

    Macchina Active Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    I have been shooting pistols for a few years now, and can keep small (1.5-2") freehand groups at 7 yards when shooting at a decent pace. I can shoot this with my Ruger MkIII as well my CZ and Sig in .40 (Taurus TCP doesn't count here) and I am plenty happy with my group size, I'm working on speeding it up now. The moment I move to the 15 yard range I am lucky to keep all of my carefully aimed shots in a 6" circle. I shoot at targets printed on 8.5x11 standard paper and can keep all shots on the paper, but the paper pretty much is my group. I can do a bit better with the MkIII, but 4-5" groups are the norm here. When I move out to 25 yards, I need a bigger target...

    I read gun mags when they review a gun I am interested in and always notice the groups are ridiculous numbers in the 1.5-2" range freehand at 25 yards :eek:. Now I know a gun writing has many tens of thousands more rounds downrange than me, but that kind of accuracy seems impossible. I cannot hold steady enough to even dream of that kind of accuracy, let alone lining up combat sights constantly. I understand the fundamentals of shooting (front sight focus, steady/consistent posture and grip, etc.), but I know I have a long way to go until I'm consistently on paper at 25 yards.

    Having said all this, I know it is possible. I grew up shooting shotguns and .22's and can instinctively shoot a flushed woodcock or partridge in the thick stuff almost every time. I've progressed to head shots only on squirrels and can get them running most of the time with a .22. I know what good shooting is, just not with a pistol. It seems long gun skills don't seem to transfer over to pistol skills very well.

    Let's keep this thread honest here. What kind of accuracy do you actually shoot, and what advice can you give me to tighten up my groups?

    Here are some of the problems I know I have:
    >Shaky hands (coffee is my enemy here)
    >Low groups due to pulling down the muzzle. I know my problem here is trigger pull. I have a hard time breaking the habit of a quick pull instead of a slow press or whatever.
    >Fatiguing after 1/2 hour of shooting. This is about my limit before I start to get shaky and my groups deteriorate.

    I would like advice on:
    >Accurate posture (feet, body angle)
    >What angle to hold my elbows at. I currently extend my arms about 75% with my elbow joints parallel with the ground.
    >Grip. How tight (I've heard both very and hardly), where to put my thumbs.
  2. Al LaVodka

    Al LaVodka member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Take a class w/a good coaching instructor. I am not boasting but have even picked up someone elses gun for the first time, in this case a long Ruger .41 Mag, and kept within 2" groups at 50 yards, standing.

    You, too, can do this.

  3. rikman

    rikman Active Member

    Jan 3, 2004
    People's Republic of IL
    I don't shot at that distance often. Especially offhand and rarely with my "stock" combat guns if you will? The few times I do, its with my very accurate 1911's which have a light trigger and are accurized from the shop. Wilson CQB,Kimber Super Match,Les Baer,Springfield Professional. Anyway , when I do, I'm happy with hitting the silouette .

    I guess offhand at that distance breathing comes into play?
  4. bluetopper

    bluetopper Senior Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    Northeast TX
    I can't stress enough to gently squeeze the trigger and let it going off be a surprise to you.

    I meet up with a couple of buddies nearly every weekend at the outdoor unsupervised range and we see who can shoot the tightest groups at 25yds. with our cast lead reloads. Shooters now days don't find much fun in this but we do.
    Of course the type of gun you use makes all the difference in the world. We use well made 1911's, S&W revolvers, and old High Standard 22's. Short barreled polymers need not apply.
    I'm a consistent 10-shot, 96-97 shooter and will drill a 99 occasionally.

    You ask about posture and stance? Well really whatever is most comfortable is my opinion. One friend who is as good a shooter as I ever saw keeps his elbow bent quite a bit to about a 45 degree angle, but I like to shoot with my arm straight out.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2010
  5. blitzen

    blitzen Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    If you are happy with your groups at 7 yds, next time shoot at eight yards. Do not move back to 9 yds until you are happy at 8 and so on. When I found out how bad I was I started at 3 yrds. For me when I could cover 10 shots with a Copenhagen can I moved back one yard. It took many, many stings of fire to get backed up but it worked. Excpect to spend a lot of time shooting to be as good as you suggest. Have fun.
  6. Wheeler44

    Wheeler44 Active Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    Try to limit coffee on range days (I know how hard it is)
    Dry fire ,dry fire, dry fire.then dry fire some more.watch carefully what is happening when you squeeze the trigger..work at keeping sights aligned through the pull and long enough to mentally say "follow through" before starting the next shot
    You don't mention age and physical condition but....It helps to take small breaks and rehydrate and add some calories (starchy foods not sugar or proteins).....

    The #1 thing that I learned from old pistol shooters....build up the muscles...My mentor ate her breakfast while holding a milk jug at arms length...after a few weeks the trembling subsides ...She also made us kids hold an old "sad iron" out at arms length for a minute at a time until we stopped shaking.

    Those old pistol shooters used a stance different than most use these days...in fact my kids get chided for their "odd" stance (Turned strong side towards target, one handed, off hand in back pocket) until the targets get checked and scored...
  7. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Senior Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    IN between
    Read the fine print

    From sandbags or ransom rest NOT off-hand...

    Can 1" groups at 25 yards be done off-hand with an off the shelf duty pistol? Sure. By most people? VERY Doubtful. With a 22LR - much better odds.

    I do 1" groups at 10 yards on a good day with off the shelf non-race guns. I typically do 2".

  8. armoredman

    armoredman Elder

    Nov 19, 2003
    proud to be in AZ
    I shoot at 25 occaisionally...some aren't too bad.
    P07 at 25, using range bag as a benchrest - doesn't work too well, BTW.


    Be great if it was a 3 shot group! Be OK if it was a 4 shot group. BUT, it was a 5 shot...no idea where number 5 went. :scrutiny:

    See, don't feel bad at all. I need to take more pics at 25, see if I can get some decent groups...
  9. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Elder

    Jun 5, 2006
    In a part of Utah that resembles Tattooine.
    I think onward illusion nailed it. Most of the time it's from a rest.

    First of all, when most gunfights take place at less than ten yards, I'm not really concerned with how accurate they are at 25. For poops and giggles, I did sandbag my Kimber and I managed a 2" group under circumstances.....that I will never see in the real world. If you're into bullseye shooting, long-range accuracy is important, combat accuracy is much more forgiving.
  10. kingmt

    kingmt Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2009
    I shoot about 30 yards & while I can't do 1" groups I do keep it to about 3". I can do this with most pistols & revolvers if they are working right. I have found that I shoot a heaver gun better then a light one (I am also a little shaky). I also stage the trigger because if I tried to hold on target as I slowly squeezed the trigger I would be all over the place & I would never take that much time if I needed it for self defense.

    I would like to agree with some of the other posters on there suggestions. The moving back one or two yards sounds like a good idea. Dry fire & short breaks help a great deal. Dry fire helps break flinching that you might not even know that you are doing. I can't support lowering coffee consumption even though it might help also.

    50 yards is about the max I could kill a notebook but if it is over 50 yards & coming after me the I will ether get my rifle or have to wait until it gets closer. I still want to become a better shot but not at giveing up the speed I need at self defense so I would practice both. Make sure that you stay proficient at fast 7 yard shots because this & closer is where you are likely using self defense shooting. 30 & under my be needed to defend someone else.

    My longest shot that I can scenario is 30 yards & that is to defend someone else. If a longer shot is needed to defend my home or country then I'm going for the rifle.

    ETA: I have never tried a hand gun or pistol from a rest. I just cant figure out how this could be comfort able or practical for self defence. Maybe bracing your weak shoulder to help take some of the shake out.

    Sorry. I am starting to run on a bit.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2010
  11. Mikhail Weiss

    Mikhail Weiss Member

    Jun 20, 2009
    At 15 yards my best groups out of a G19, standing, using two-hands, no rest, is two inches. My most common groups at that distance run right around 4.7 inches. That's whether I'm taking my time and trying hard or shooting apace. (In fact, I can usually shrink the group maybe another inch to an inch and a half if I don't try too hard and simply shoot in rhythm. I suspect this means I'm paying more attention to trigger pull, and I don't take so much time that I wobble off target, when I do that.)

    At 25 yards, my best stand-up, freehand group is six inches, but my average is likely eight to nine (though the last time I shot at that distance, the group measured 7 inches). Amazingly enough, my first shot at 15 or 25 yards is often a bullseye, everything after that worse. I'm almost always shooting 115 grain something-or-others (Blazer aluminum, Remington or Winchester bulk).

    At 15 or 25 yards, my biggest problem is simply pulling the trigger too hard, or yanking it when I think I have the bullseye.

    Of course I'm also using factory sights, so maybe I should blame those... :)

    I have no idea where these results, or the speed at which I achieve them, fall in the spectrum of good or bad shooting, but it's where I am right now. I'm working to improve. Here's how: relax on the long shots. That's the main difference between my first shots and the later ones. First ones good. Later ones bad.

    My advice is likely not worth a hill'o beans, but the things you cite above are less important than the basics of trigger pull and sight picture. Maintain an accurate sight picture while pulling the trigger, you'll hit your mark. That said, sometimes I stand very classically Chapman / Modified Weaver, and sometimes Modern Isosceles. But mostly I stand squarely facing the target, right arm straight, left one bent, elbow down, in a Chapman-like posture, thumbs locked in what's not quite a combat grip, and what's not quite a thumbs-forward one. Right hand grips pistol with thumb pointing forward alongside the frame. Left-hand thumb rides alongside and slightly over the top of the right-hand thumb. Kooky sounding as this is, it's comfortable for me, and I get better results with it at those ranges than I do with the MI techniques.

    Here's a pretty good article about grips (with pictures) and some of the thinking behind them, by the way.

    Good luck with your efforts. Have fun.
  12. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Participating Member

    May 25, 2009
    New Jersey
    My best is to hit the 3" dia. swinging metal target at 25 yards off hand with my S&W Model 36 Chief Special.....Great little accurate revolver in .38 Spcl.......Breath control, Press the trigger, Concentrate on your front sight.
  13. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Participating Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    Hayward, WI
    Two thoughts -

    1) I use paper plates as my targets. A 9" paper plate gives a good approximation of the kill zone on a human or a white-tail deer. If you can keep all rounds in that plate at what ever your given distance, you have sufficient functional accuracy.

    2) Every firearm likes some ammo better than other. I recently picked up a S&W Model 64 and was shooting 3" - 4" groups at 10 yards with 158 gr. LRN. I changed to +P 125 gr JHP (and changed nothing else) and shot a bit over an inch group with the first cylinder full. My Mauser 93 is that fussy about it's 7x57 diet too.

    Oh and a third thing too - a good solid two hand grip will help a whole lot as well. Unless you're shooting Bullseye or are injured, there is no reason to shoot one handed.


  14. ironvic

    ironvic Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    Best 25 yard groups I ever made were with a S&W Model 52 .38 Special semi-auto wadcutter gun. It was so accurate, it got boring for me, no challenge, so my brother has it now. Sweet li'l shooter, though. I always do much better when I concentrate on that front sight. These days I do just fine with various revolvers if I remember that all-important front sight.
  15. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Elder

    Jul 30, 2006
    Johnson City, TN
    By "freehand" I assume this is the classic one-handed target shooting stance. I seriously doubt if any gun scribbler is doing this, or is even capable of it. Nor are many guns, for that matter. It is more likely that these groups are being fired from a bench rest or even a machine rest. This is done to eliminate the human factor (as much as possible) and concentrate on the accuracy capability of the handgun itself.
  16. James T Thomas

    James T Thomas Participating Member

    Sep 15, 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA
    hitting the blurry


    You're experienced with shooting, so I hesitate to add such an obvious statement, however:

    Recheck your eye focus on that front sight blade.

    At the closer ranges, the eye focus is not so dectectable.
    At the further ranges, of course; the target becomes less and less in focus
    -as you focus on that arm length away front sight.
    It becomes a reflex almost, to fight the tendency not to focus on that terribly out of focus, and far away target. Especially if your target is pale or not distinct.

    Get a black one, orange, or some contrasting color.

    With the target ..way..out of focus, and the front sight crisp and clear,
    see how well you can place them.
  17. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    different things work for different people, that's why the best route to follow would be to get some proper instruction. i could tell you how i do it, but watching you shoot and making small corrections is the only way for you to discover what will work best for you.

    i recently went out shooting with a new local new shooter who wanted help with her stance when shooting her new Glock G19...her husband wisely declined to teach her on his Kimber 1911. we spent about an hour and a half and about 20 rounds for her to be able to print 3 rounds into 2" at 7 yards...bear in mind that i had to explain everything starting with correct sight alignment to her.

    i'll tell you what i teach for a client who is willing to practice to get better, as opposed to what i would teach someone who just needed a solid foundation in a limited time and might not practice again.

    1. face the target with your feet about shoulder width apart, bend you knees so that when you bring your gun up your hips are over your heels
    2. when would your elbow joints not be parallel with the ground? i advise you start with your arms just short of being locked out...so a little bend, don't over extend your joint
    3a. i teach handshake pressure...it allows better trigger control
    3b. the support thumb is parallel with the bore; the strong thumb should rest atop the support thumb's joint.

    your ability to put rounds on target is almost sole dependent on your being able to control the trigger...same student as above could hold/sight well enough to have all shots within 1/2" when i managed her trigger (they would have all been in one cluster but she lost focus)
  18. jakemccoy

    jakemccoy Senior Member

    May 26, 2007
    Northern California
    Hickock45 can hit where he's aiming at about 75 yards by using subcompact Glocks. At 20 yards, it seems like he could hit plate size targets in his sleep. He's standing up, no bench rest, and it's cold outside.


    Here's an analogy. I didn't realize how much work it took to become a pro basketball player until I started getting pretty good in college basketball. When you see pro basketball players make half court shots without a problem during practice, they're actually that good. They have worked their asses off. They make it look easy, but it's NOT luck.

    I think it's possible to become accurate at mid-range with a handgun. However, like being a pro athlete, having excellent shoot skill requires hard work and dedication.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2010
  19. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Mentor

    Sep 15, 2007
    S.E. Minnesota
    :what: Isn't that a good way to lose a thumb if you're shooting a revolver? Or am I just not visualizing it right?
  20. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    Dec 27, 2002
    northern california
    the OP wasn't asking about shooting a revolver
    and i wasn't when talking about my student either
    how did you make the leap to applying the exact same techniques to a wheelgun?

    i just took out my S&W M-696 to try it and i don't see how your thumb would be endangered...i assume you're talking about the support thumb's proximity to the front of the cylinder
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2010

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