I am very fortunate as a competitive pistol shooter that my introduction to the shooting sports was in NRA Collegiate Pistol; aka bullseye shooting. In fact, the first sport I ever won anything in was 10m Air Pistol, which by the way is the most difficult shooting sport I’ve ever participated in. The reason why that’s fortunate is because as I’ve stated elsewhere, accuracy is the foundation of all pistol shooting. It’s not just me that believes that either – guys like Brian Enos, Todd Green, and Larry Vickers all push that accuracy is the most important fundamental of shooting.
Don’t get me wrong, speed is important. But it doesn’t matter how fast you can yank your gun out of the holster if you can’t put the round where it’s supposed to go. At Pistol-Training.Com, Todd recommends that a shooter should be able to hit a 3×5 index card on command before trying to move to the “speed” portion of their skill development. That’s an excellent baseline, but don’t stop at just that. Keep pushing your accuracy skills, because there’s no such thing as too accurate. Can you hit a 2 inch circle on command at 5 yards? What about an 8 inch plate at 25? I would go so far as to suggest that a USPSA or IDPA shooter who cannot hit a pepper popper on command at 20-25 yards needs to go practice their accuracy a bit more.
Accuracy is the rock. Practicing accuracy is boring and it’s often not as fun as shooting super fast. Once you can hit a 3×5 card at 7 yards, try 10. Then 15. Push it out to 25. As I mentioned in the post below this, I’m a big fan of walkback drills as a warmup. Here’s a drill (and the recent results) that I run pretty regularly.
Start with 12 shots at 5 yards at a 2 inch circle. At this distance, ideally you should get all the holes touching one another. I find that at the 5 yard start of this walkback drill is where I have the most trouble. A 2 inch target is still very small, and my front sight occludes the entire target meaning I must get a careful and deliberate trigger press on a DA revolver. Even the tiniest flinch will through a round out of the target area.
Next, the target goes out to 10 yards, although I’ve also tried it at 15. At 10 yards I’m firing 12 shots in a 3×5 index card, with the goal again to get all the hits in the card at 10 yards. Be harsh with yourself on the scoring – I have a hit that’s barely touching the black line.
While that would count in a match, your standards for your practice should be higher than the standards that a match would impose on you. You’re not looking for speed on this drill, or any other pure accuracy drill, but it’s also important to not create detrimental habits. I have a very bad habit from bullseye shooting of not recovering from recoil properly when I’m shooting slowfire. I’ll let the gun rock up, and then manually bring it back down on target instead of controlling recoil during the shot like I should. Bad habit, and one that’s very difficult for me to break.
The end of the walkback drill is at 25 yards usually, since that’s all I have access to at the indoor range where I do most of my practice. For this, I’m shooting 18 rounds at 25 yards. The goal here is an 8 inch circle, which is the size of the 10 ring on a Bianchi Cup target or the “-0” on an IDPA target. If you want to challenge yourself, shrink the target area. Try the 25 yard part on a 6 inch or 4 inch circle, or a 3×5 card.
Build your house on the rock of accuracy. Then start to incorporate speed in your training. If you can get the accurate hits on command at a given distance, all you need to do after that is get those same hits faster than the other guy, and you’re own your way towards IDPA (or USPSA) victory. A final note – if you find yourself practicing at distances where you can consistently get the hits you want, it’s time to push it out further. More and more I’m shooting at 20 and 25 yards.
If you live in the Seattle metro area and are interested in developing your pistol accuracy, you can sign up for my Accurate Pistol class. The next class is April 17th, and it’s an 8 hour, 750 round class that focuses on developing your accuracy as a pistol shooter. Cost is $250, and you can enroll by clicking this link.