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How Long / How Many Rounds to Shoot Well?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by rhubarb, May 3, 2007.

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  1. rhubarb

    rhubarb Member

    May 28, 2005
    South Texas
    Yeah, I know I need training. Someday. Save the bandwidth.

    For those of you who shoot well, how long was it before you were good? How many rounds? How often did you shoot? How well do you shoot? How do you define "shoot well"?
  2. pax

    pax Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Washington state
    "Save the bandwidth" by not pointing out that you'll learn to shoot better, sooner, if you start out by learning to do it right?? :scrutiny:

    You have two basic choices:

    Send thousands of rounds downrange teaching yourself to shoot by trial and (mostly) error. Then go take a class, and spend, on average, three times that number of rounds erasing your bad habits. After you've spent the original thousands plus the three-times as many to erase the bad habits, you can then begin to build new habits from ground zero.

    Or spend a little money on a class up front, then a couple thousand rounds practicing what you learned to get the basic techniques down into your muscles where they'll stay, and the rest of your life practicing good habits instead of working hard to erase bad ones.

    Your choice.


    "Never time or money to do it right. Always time and money to do it over." -- my dad, who was right
  3. DonP

    DonP Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Chicago area
    Good advice from Pax.

    Here's another bit from an officially designated "old fart".

    Never just go to the range with out an objective.

    Most folks just show up with a gun, buy some ammo and blast away.

    For example, you might be there to improve your groups with your .22 Buckmark, sight in your 10/22. Overcome the tendency to pull the shot because of anticipated recoil. Get a feel for the new .45 ACP compact at 5, 10 and 20 yards etc. Know why you're there and what you want to work on to improve your shooting.

    Spending even a few minutes thinking through what you're trying to accomplish will save you thousands of $ in range fees and ammo over the years.

    It also helps to keep a little notebook on what you are working on. It might be weeks before some folks get back to the range and it can be hard to remember what went wrong or right on a trip a month later. It will also remind you to bring the right tools to adjust your sights the next trip too.
  4. sierrabravo45

    sierrabravo45 Member

    Dec 12, 2005
    Between Idaho and Montana
    I started shooting competitively when I was 10. I started actually shooting when I was probably 4 or 5.

    It took me a few years to start winning indoor airgun matches.

    I switched to .22 Smallbore 3 Position in High School, I did pretty well in 4 years competing, placed 1st in a couple of disciplines but never took the overall. (I shot 400 rounds a week)
    (I also shot a bit of indoor pistol while in High School also)

    Switched to 1000yard benchrest in college, where it took me about 2 years to Win a RELAY, not the whole shubang.

    Switched to Trap where I had a 27 yard handicap, shot that for a few years, and did well but not great. (About 6 boxes of shells a week)

    During college I got into USPSA. I have been shooting that for 5 years now and started winning my Limited 10 Division or placing at least in the top 3 in most matches. (Lots of rounds)

    I guess I would call my self an OK shot. I can read wind pretty well, I can drop mags and put ones in pretty darn quick and I am a pretty good offhand, kneeling and prone shot.

    I really couldn't tell you how many rounds I shot a year. A couple of years in college when shooting USPSA, I probably went through 20,000+ rounds of .45 ACP a year. It was probably more, I was spending a crap load on reloading components though.

    You know what saved me the most money and let me become a better shot?

    A coach and DRY FIRING!!!

    I shoot small groups at LR, and animals always seem to fall over on my 1 shot. I get people annoyed with me when I shoot their gun better then them...LOL

    Could I use more practice, Yes I could. I will say I shoot OK.

    I know lots of people who shoot well, some of them shoot great and awesome when they describe themselves.

    Those are normally the same people who miss an elk every year at 150 yards though.............
  5. WinchesterAA

    WinchesterAA Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    I was just born good. My daddy fed me gunpowder and gave me a bottle of hoppes to wash it down with the first hour I was let out of mom's belly-cage.

    and +1 to sierra bravo's annoyance of other people by shooting their guns better than them. I have that problem as well, but I guess that's what I get for #1 having friends that can't aim, and #2 betting them that i can shoot theirs better than they can. Actually a pretty lucrative racket, but nevertheless it does make me somewhat of an anti-hero.
  6. CWL

    CWL Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    Like any martial art, it takes a lifetime to master, and there is always something more to learn. Training never stops.

    There is no magical formula.

    What if I said: 10 years and 500 rounds a month. What could this possibly mean to you?
  7. whited

    whited Member

    Jan 23, 2007

    There is no magical figure or length of time.

    In my opinion (and you will see lots of those here), this bit:

    is the best bit of advice you will find on this thread.
  8. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I think this fall under the heading of "If you don't want to hear the answer, don't ask the question". :)
  9. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Deep in the Ozarks
    Years ago an old sergeant told me how to be a world class marksman in two simple steps:
    1. Shoot a lot.
    2. Never miss.

    Seriously, he was right -- make every shot perfect, or as perfect as you can. Learn as you shoot -- different stances make major differences in accuracy and speed. Shoot regularly -- I'm of the opinion that more sessions is better than few sessions with lots of ammo burned up.

    As mentioned earlier, always have an objective -- to achieve a certain score, to master presentation from the holster, to work the bolt from the shoulder, to learn the trajectory and wind drift of your rifle at long range, and so on.
  10. Don Lu

    Don Lu Member

    Oct 15, 2006
    I started shooting less than a year ago and at first I really sucked, like to the point of sometimes even missing the target at 7 yrds !!!:what: .I shot around 400-500 rnds this way in 5-6 range trips. I then started reading different things on sight allignment, trigger control as well as watching sharpshooters on the history channel:rolleyes: . It was like a switch just went off in my head and after a couple days of dry firing, Ive been a much better shooter ever since . Short answer is, there is no set time line or # of rounds.....Just, when you get it....you get it.
  11. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Potomac, Maryland - Behind enemy lines!!
    Well, if you don't practice the right things, you'll never get good. You have to know how and what to practice first, and that takes instruction.

    Note that this instruction need not be long and arduous. Shooting is a science, not an art, and the techniques are fairly well understood. I can give a person (sans any previous shooting experience) the basics of safety, grip/stance, trigger control, drawstroke, weapon handling, and so on, in maybe 8 hours of on-range instruction. After that, you need to practice those basics to the point of unconscious familiarity, through dry practice and range time.

    If a new shooter gets some competent instruction, spends fifteen minutes a day in dry practice, and goes to the range for an hour of live-fire once a week, he'll be a very competent shooter before long.

    - Chris
  12. Plink

    Plink Member

    Apr 5, 2006
    You have received some very sound advice here. I know for a fact because I expended a great many rounds before I began doing the formal training part. Formal training was the turning point where my shooting began to truly improve.
  13. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 26, 2002
    I once worked for an SOT. There I got to see videos of IPSC shooters and one of the shooters talked about how many thousands of rounds he fired to get that good.

    When I finally got around to having a good job that would support it, I decided I would shoot 1,000 rounds of 9mm a month and get really good. After six months I had spent around $1,000 on ammo and range fees and thought I was pretty hot stuff. I then took some formal training - together with the ammo, it cost me $700 and did more to improve my shooting in three days than anything in the previous six months combined.

    Like pax said, shooting thousands of rounds a month doesn't help you much if you aren't reinforcing good habits to begin with.
  14. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Richmond, VA
    Shooting is like any other skill (hitting a golf ball, hitting a curve ball, shooting a basketball) -- everyone is born with a different level of natural ability. Practice can sharpen whatever level of skill you possess, it cannot give you a level that you don't possess.

    The major benefit of practice is so you'll be comfortable using your weapon if you ever need to use it in a high stress situation. As the stress level increases, trained instinct and muscle memory become very important. All the practice in the world isn't going to make you a marksman if you have shaky hands, but it may enable you to smoothly draw and fire if you're ever in a life threatening situation.
  15. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 28, 2005
    Lewisberry, PA
    As pax said, you need someone to teach you good technique. After a few thousand rounds, you'll have taught yourself some habits, whether they are good or not depends on the source.

    so . . . define "well'". It takes a given number of rounds to "know" what the gun feels like when its working well. After a given round count, you can feel a gun go into slidelock, not pick up a round and chamber it correctly, not eject correctly, etc, without looking at it.

    Shooting with a good technique, without you learning it from someone else that knows what good techniques and how to impart them, is rare. Get the training first, then go practice.
  16. SoCalShooter

    SoCalShooter Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    That's for me to know and not you!
    Hmm.. I am with PAx on this one. Or you can check out articles on the internet by Massad Ayoob. he has some articles on a website I can't find again. HOwever for myself I have put 1000's of rounds downrange. But it is a matter of practicing correctly. I also dry fire practice too.

    I can punch out the X at 50 yards now but not as regularily as I would like to. That has taken me about 1 year to 2 years of pistol training.
  17. Lurper

    Lurper Member

    Sep 24, 2006
    If you are not practicing proper technique, it doesn't matter how long you practice. It took a year of experimentation before I got on the right track. I got started on the right track by professional instruction first from J. Michael Plaxco, then John Shaw. I got real good in 3 months after that. Good enough to win the state championship and shoot for Team Springfield, Safariland, Dillon and other companies. I practiced daily, but the real improvement came from mental training. Later I trained with Leatham and Enos. Todd Jarrett and I practiced together. I had a range in my back yard. By "shoot well" I shot well enough to win many matches and I have even won stages at the USPSA Nationals but never the whole match. When I was competing regularly, I shot 500 rounds a day Mon. - Fri. on weekends we shot matches. None of that is possible without proper instruction.

    What's worse is learning then having to unlearn. If you want to become the best shooter you can, you will need to bite the bullet and get some training. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who teach not so good technique. Most don't talk about or even mention mental training. But don't let anyone fool you, shooting is 99% mental (once you have the basics down). You will also need to have drive, desire and determination. Having a skilled coach and mentor also helps.

    Of course a lot depends on what your overall purpose is. Most people don't really care to be real good. They just want to be able to say they are and outshoot their friends. But if you can quantify your purpose (e.g. consistently shoot sub 1 second "A" hits at 10 yds) then you can 1. get there more easily, 2. measure and see your progress which will create excitement and enthusiasm.

    There are many things you can do to improve, but frankly your house is only as good as its foundation. If you don't have a good foundation, your house will fall down.
  18. qbpc

    qbpc Member

    Apr 21, 2007
    Many thousands of rounds

    Find shooting events join them. You never know who will be there or will the next shooting star be next to you. I know this from shooting bowling pin events when I started shooting. I learned tips from a man named Jerry Miculek. He was almost a nobody then. After pin matches kinda died out in my area I went to USPSA and ISPC events and shot in them. Between events practice as much as you can afford to if you are serious about it, if not practice when it is fun. You don't need race guns. It is all classed in type of gun and mods. I use mostly stock guns with no mods with exception of trigger jobs. This is practical shooting, they give you a scenario and you shoot it out.
    There are other type of events this is what I like.
    The basic rule after all the safety rules is SHOOT SLOW ENOUGH TO HIT NOT FAST ENOUGH TO MISS.

    Go to this link to see if there are any events in your area.
    Last edited: May 3, 2007
  19. Guy B. Meredith

    Guy B. Meredith Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Salem, Oregon
    I had only safety training and learned by a series of epiphanies--one level of improvement at a time over 7 or 8 years and around 30,000 rounds. Still trying to put it together and would love to have some professional coaching.

    As mentioned above having a plan in mind is essential. Keeping focus is essential. I usually spend an entire session steering myself back to that state of mind.
  20. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Depends on what you plan on shooting, doesn't it? Competition, self defense, meat, paper, smallbore, centerfire, smoothbore, handguns, airgun...? Each one has somewhat different requirements, equipment and expectations.
    There is a load of great advice beginning with Pax's initial responding post, just as your questions are an indicator of some desire to ask the right questions on some quest towards better marksmanship.
    Today, you eschew anyone recommending training classes. Someday... you say.
    Good enough.
    I was brought up shooting by my Dad and Uncles. They all learned in the military.
    If you can decide WHAT you want to shoot, you'll have set your first goal. THEN you need to decide how to arrive at that goal.

    There's a world of difference between being a poor kid with only a .22 and 5 rounds of ammo to put food on the family table or else go hungry (you don't know how many times I heard my Dad and his brothers tell me this old story of being a depression era poor Missouri family) and being a World Class Rifleman at Camp Perry.

    So what's YOUR goal? I come back to your opening question I quoted above and ask you...
    My Dad taught me the following goals:

    For self defense, 5 rounds, 5 inches at 5 yards in 5 seconds.
    Hit the deer 1st time lungs/heart, be ready for instant follow shot.
    Shoot the 1st quail, not all of them.
    Take your time when punching paper.
    Have fun every time you shoot, but have a goal every time you shoot.

    After that, everything else just kinda falls into place for me. I would still like to be as good a shot as my old man was.

    Oh yeah... and take some classes. ;)
  21. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Nevada, escaped from the PDRK via Idaho.
    You have to decide in your head that it is possible to put all the rounds in the same hole. If you can't do that, you will never become 'good' and you will never shoot 'well'.

  22. VHinch

    VHinch Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I believe it was Jeff Cooper that said under the tutelage of a decent instructor, a man could be taught to shoot in 8 hours and 500 rounds. Whether he was right or wrong is debatable, but certainly trying to do it yourself most certainly multiplies those numbers exponentially.

    I have been fortunate in that my dad is a firearms instructor. After all these years, I still feel like I learn something everytime we get to shoot together.
  23. heron

    heron Member

    Apr 26, 2007
    NE Ohio
    Equipment does matter. I have two rifles, and one of them , I'm convinced, is capable of putting every bullet through the same hole (given proper ammunition). The other one won't, not even close. I was almost convinced I was a lousy shot until I got the better rifle and found out it was the gun and not me that was the problem. Even then, I found that the ammunition made a big difference as well. Point: that you cannot know how good you perform if your weapon/cartridge performs more poorly than you do.

    Beyond the weapon and ammunition, learn the basics, like stance, breathing, etc., practice as much as you can, and have an objective (say, all shots of the group within 1 inch).
    Then, understand that this is like any other skill. Developing it follows a learning curve, which sometimes has plateaus. Also, know that you will have good days and bad days -- dips on the learning curve (I did one percent worse today than my last session) -- but do the best you can each time anyway.
    Don't make yourself bored or stale doing the same thing all the time, change your setup, target type, distance or something else now and then. Keep things fun and challenging by asking, "I wonder if I could hit that from here?"
    How long? As long as it takes for you to reach an objective.
  24. ARGarrison

    ARGarrison Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Indiana, USA
    You know what you need to do, but I'll add to it. The old adage, "Pratice makes Perfect." is wrong. "Perfect Pratice makes Perfect!" Learn to do it the right way the first time, don't let bad habits develop.

    With that being said, when I started really getting into pistol shooting. I got on of those CO2 pellet guns that looks like a Colt Python. I shoot one cylinder of CO2 very day for a month. Worked on basics, stance, grip, sight alinment, and trigger control. I ended up wearing the pellet gun out, but I'm a much better pistol shot because of it.
    Last edited: May 4, 2007
  25. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    Deep in the valley
    Like any topic.
    1) Choose what your goal(s) are.
    2) Set reasonable yardposts towards that goal

    If I've learned one thing it's that there is no such thing as just one kind of "good" shooting because "good" self defense shooting is a totally different animal from "good" cowboy action shooting which has absolutely no resembalance to "good" bullseye style shooting.

    For example, Pilgrim earlier said...
    A great concept for target shooting, but to be honest in self-defense style shooting I DON'T want to put all the bullets in the same spot, rather my goal is a nice spiral pattern where the shots each creates yet another damaging hole that adjoins to the first one thus multiplying the trauma. It may sound grim but that really is my goal.

    On the other hand, I get to be pretty sloppy with cowboy action shooting where the only things that matter are speed and hearing the metal target go "clang".

    So once you've chosen the style you are trying to get "good" at, how long will it take? That really depends on the person. I've seen "naturals" start doing amazing stuff in as little as a week. I have a sister who (although awesome at trap and skeet) will NEVER be better than middling with pistols.

    And even more annoying, even if you do hit "good" or "great" there will still be those days where you just can't hit the wall of a barn from indoors.
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