Part 3: Fundamental Accuracy Applied
In parts 1 and 2, I shared my opinions on what constitutes good shooting in terms of accuracy and speed. Accurate-Good shooting is fundamentally sound 100% of the time and will likely be a 4” group at 7 yards. This standard is scalable and adaptable to the gun. When it comes to Speed-Good the faster the better, just as long as you don’t fail fundamental marksmanship and sling shots outside the Accurate-Good standard. In part 3 I will share my observations on how well these standards work when applied to sport or defensive shooting.
The ability and knowledge of how fast you can shoot 4” groups at 7 yards has direct and positive application to sport and defensive pistol use. Close to my heart is USPSA. The “A” zone of the USPSA Metric Target is 5.9” by 11”. Knowing what is required to hold 4” groups at 7 yards allows you to rapidly assess the application of fundamentals to the shooting challenge. If the target is 7 yards away and you desire a near certain A zone hit then shoot your 4″ at 7 yard pace (see the same sight picture, press the trigger the same). If you wish to shave a little time for a likely A zone hit, it’s ok to do so. But, only a little. If the target is 10 yards away then you should shoot no faster than what is required to get 4” hits at 7 yards. You might pull a C, but not likely. If the target is just 5 yards away you can sacrifice more accuracy for speed, but if the target is 21 yards then you ought to be shooting as if you were seeking a 2” circle at 7 yards. Much the same is true in IDPA.
The -0 zone in IDPA is an 8” circle. That which means your 4″ group at 7 yards is largely golden to 14 yards. At less than 14 yards you can incrementally “ramp it up” and sacrifice some accuracy for a faster time but still hold the -0. The head box on the USPSA/IDPA target is 6” by 6”, so just shoot it fundamentally at 7 yards. By knowing what is required to get a fundamentally accurate shot you know what is required to get an A zone or -0 zone hit, no matter the distance.
Kindly note that I did not discuss anything other than the A zone or -0 zone. That is because in all but the most extreme of circumstances accepting a shot outside those zones is planning to accept fundamentally flawed, inaccurate shooting. Planning for poor shooting is a poor plan. Whether in IDPA or USPSA the time required to shoot the -0 or the A zone almost never counters the penalty for inaccuracy. It may happen that we error, we are human after all. A shot may land in the C zone, the -1 zone, or miss the head box, but those shots should be viewed as the errant failures in fundamentals they are.
When it comes to combat shooting the 4” group is close to the heart of the person trying to kill you. A shot striking a 4” group centered over the heart is near certain to hit a very vital bit of anatomy and very quickly end the threat. It is a very tidy coincidence that the heart, major arteries, and spinal cord fill a 4” circle as does the brain/motor-cortex when a person threatens you face-on. The challenge will be to remain disciplined under a lethal threat and not panic firing.
Instead of panic firing you should attempt to shoot (see the sights, press the trigger) as you learned was needed for a 2” group. By striving to implement what gets you a 2” group (at whatever distance your at) you might still hold that 4” group. The stress of someone threatening your life will nearly certainly mess you up. You’ll be less accurate You won’t get that 2″ group. You’ll likely fire before you see an 2″ sight picture, you’ll likely press the trigger far from ideal. However, by trying to shoot a 2” group you will more likely produce the 4” group which is what you want and need. Don’t worry about being to slow. That speed thing will take care of itself. The clear sense of urgency naturally speeds you, and is what is messing with your accuracy. You work with it; attempt a 2″ group, get the fastest 4″ group you ever shot.
So, how does this USPSA Master Class shooter define, “good shooting?” Good shooting is fundamentally accurate shooting in the least amount of time required. It works well. Generally I shoot in excess of 90% of the match points (in minor) with few penalties. Because I have developed a quality level of efficiency it does not take me much time to do so. The result is generally an above average (dare I say well above average) match performance. This former military officer and former Deputy Sheriff defines good shooting as fundamentally accurate shooting in the least amount of time required. It gives me a high level of confidence that should I need to defend my life, or that of a loved one I can meet the challenge.