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Range Techniques for Distance

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by NewShooter78, Oct 12, 2003.

  1. NewShooter78

    NewShooter78 Well-Known Member

    So what are some good techniques to work up to better handgun distance shooting. My groups are good out to about 10 yrds, but past that they get really loose. Anyone have some specific methods they have used to get better at shooting longer distances. Looking for ideas to structure my own range regiment. I usually just start off close and work my way out. Should I keep doing this or just dedicate certain trips for longer distances only. I'm not trying to have 1" groups at 50 yrds, but good consitant shooting at 25 yrds (without a top of the line tricked out handgun).
  2. larryw

    larryw Well-Known Member

    Couple suggestions.

    First, lots of dry-firing works wonders. Concentrate on smoothness and keeping the sight locked onto the same spot before and after the hammer falls. Deep breath, let half the breath out (about to where you'd do so to talk) and hold, raise gun and aim, wait for wobble to minimize and desired sight picture to appear (wobble won't go away, but will go from wild to better and then back to bad), and squeeze the trigger before the wobble returns. If you don't get the shot off before the wobble gets bad again, don't force it; instead bring the gun down, take a couple breaths and start over. Work on accuracy, speed will come with practice (better to hit slow than miss fast). ;)

    Many target shooters use a "6:00 hold". That means you don't center the sights in the middle of the bullseye, but instead hold it so the front sight just touches the bottom of the black; these guys adjust the sights to hit high (middle of bullseye) at the given distance. This contrast helps maintain a consistent sight picture. Rememer, if you adjust the sights accordingly, the Point of Impact will not be the Point of Aim: OK for a target gun, not so hot for a SD weapon.

    After a couple warm-up shots I'd recommend starting out at the farthest distance and working your way in as you tire. Shooting from a bench rest at the desired distance (15 yds, for example), may help you learn the sight picture and how really-really (really!) difficult it is to shoot a pistol well at longer ranges.

    I don't recommend starting off at 25 and 50 yards. Find a distance you can shoot reasonably well and work on that until you're able to get consistently small groups. Then move back 5 yards and repeat the process. One key part of shooting is self confidence: if you think you can hit the target, you will; doing something that shakes that confidence is not helping.

    Finally: BA/UU/R (Buy Ammo/Use Up/Repeat).
  3. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    Proper sight picture througout trigger pull.

  4. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

    Agree with Sam, but to add .......

    ''Proper sight picture throughout smoothtrigger pull.''

    Much of my early days of handgun compo were 25 yds .... and whilst the sight picture MUST be held ..... (and a 6 o'clock hold is IMO the best) ...... the release is critical ... merest snatch will deviate front sight such that you get a flier - or miss.

    Most work was revo for me .. and D/A .... just HAD to be smooth ..... I will repeat what I have said many times .... when any shot goes .... it should feel to the shooter like ..... ''OH!! (surprise!) .. it just went''!!

    Oh and another point, with 25 yd precision in particular ...... whether off-hand or two handed ... the gun will NEVER be rock steady ..... expect there to be a motion but .. allow that to try and become a slightly circular motion around the black ..... still maintaining top concentration on sight picture .... and let the shot go sometime during that small ''circle of confusion''.

    It is surprising how accurate this can be .... but, let that sight picture deviate (and remember on a short sight base, the error is way more gross than on rifle) ..... or get rough with trigger release and .... not good!
  5. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Well-Known Member

    Gotta take exception to this one.

    It can be a hard mental concept, but one of the keys of good long-distance pistol shooting is to accept your wobble area. Trying to hold the sights rigidly in place is a surefire route to flinching. The problem is, it can't be done. Everyone has some 'wobble' in their hold, you, me, the world champion in free pistol. If you try to hold a perfect sight picture, one of two things will happen. You'll either snap off a shot just as the sights look perfect (flinching the bullet into East Fumdum) or your hold will get so unsteady that you'll throw the shot just to have it done with.

    Instead, keep the front and rear sights aligned, but let them wander over the target as they will. Once your hold feels right, shift your focus to a perfect, smooth, clean trigger pull. Watch the sights, but don't try to adjust them once you've started the trigger press.

    As you become more practiced, your wobble area will get smaller and smaller, until those 1" groups at fifty yards become a real possibility. :D

    I also don't care for the traditional 6:00 hold. A center hold makes it easier to accept your wobble, rather than trying to force the sights and target into perfect alignment.

    Follow through is also very important. When shooting at fifty yards, I like to hold the trigger back after firing until the sights come back on target.

    Dry-fire will hasten your improvement. Practice letting the sights wander, practice adjusting your point of aim by shifting your stance, especally practice that perfect trigger stroke.

    Above all, relax. Shooting very accurately takes relaxed focus.

    - Chris
  6. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    I've found it helps to work your way out to greater distances a yard or two at a time, and stop at a given distance for awhile until you've mastered it.
  7. Island Beretta

    Island Beretta Well-Known Member

    The 1st thing to do is 'benchrest calling' of the pistol at different distances to get a feel for how the pistol fires e.g. low, to the right, point of aim, 6 o'clock etc. It is amazing how much people never benchrest their pistol and are busy working on removing a glitch from their shooting and is being frustrated from it when it is the pistol that needs correction.

    Once you have established that you then move to 'off-hand calling' of your shot. Satisfied that your are now able to call your shot, practice shooting groups. As Chris said you have to learn to accept your hold and their inadvertently will be wobble in this hold. Practice will help you to reduce this wobble, not fighting the pistol.

    Start at about 7 yds. and move out to as far as you want depending on your learning curve. Pretty soon you can hit the steel whenever, where ever you like. This is critical and I repeat: If you are shooting a gun that has an inherent mechanical accuracy off a bench of say 3" at 25 yds. Then your inability to fire 2" groups at 25 yds. should not frustrate you. Benchrest your pistol!!! When we just started shooting and was 'de man' we used to cheat by firing one shot, looking at the hole on the target and trying to shoot at that hole, so as to get very small groups. Our groups were sometimes impressive because of this but they were not consistent from day to day and worst we developed extremely bad habits such as not following through because as we heard the 'bang' our eyes would shift to the target to find that hole, we lost our ability to call shots etc. etc. and you began to feel like we were riding with Lady Luck rather than applying fundamentals

  8. larryw

    larryw Well-Known Member

    Chirs, I don't understand why you'd disagree with my assertion that a proper sight picture for the brief moment that defines the shot and follow through are important. Is the pull smooth or is it a jerk? How else will one know unless they pay attention to this? Many use a dime balanced on the front sight to help with this portion of the training.

    If you can't maintain a good sight picture during the hammer drop and the moment after, you need to work on that until you do.
  9. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Well-Known Member

    larryw -

    What I said was that attempting to hold a perfect sight picture is impossible and counterproductive. Instead, my advice is to center your wobble area on the target, and then just let the wobble happen. Shift your focus to that perfect trigger release.

    Here are a couple articles on the topic:
    http://www.nygordprecision.com/note_0402.htm (info on center hold vs. 6:00 hold vs. sub-6.)

    I really recommend the Nygord's Notes, for everyone.

    - Chris
  10. redmule

    redmule Active Member

    I agree with Chris. Let the area of wobble take care of its self. I do all my slow fire distance work first, saving speed shooting for the end of the seccesion. I have found that it helps to do a lot of off-hand(one hand and weak hand). Shooting with one hand only, will strengthen your arms quicker. Did this with both my boys, amid a lot of complaining about how heavy the 45 got.
  11. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    New, do not worry. It will come. Relax and let it.

    Dry practice and shoot more at 50. Start close and move out. It will come with time.:)
  12. larryw

    larryw Well-Known Member

    Chris, interesting stuff, maybe now I'll be able to finally break 290. ;)
  13. NewShooter78

    NewShooter78 Well-Known Member

    Well, I'm doing really well, I think, out to about 15 yrd. At 20 I'm on target, but not grouping what most would call tightly. :D I think a lot of it has to do with the pistol. It just seems to work for me better. I'm working on keeping my trigger pull smoth. With the 1911 platform, it seems easier to do this than it was with my other hangun. I'm also trying to be consious of my breathing as well. I think the added wieght of the 1911 platform also helps my off-hand shooting as well. The gun never gets heavy for me, so its all about working the wobble.

    Island Beretta,
    I know there are lots I could do to mechanically enhance my gun, but I'm working on the fundamentals of becoming a really good shooter before I turn the pistol into a match gun. I need to know for myself, that I am a good shooter first. Plus I don't have the money or the desire at the time being to add a lot onto the gun. I also don't have the time to dedicate to such a built up weapon to make it worth having as I don't have the time to try and compete yet.

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