Thursday, May 16, 2013

Shooter - Know Thyself and Improve Your Shooting

While reading a thread about buying a 1911 pistol, on the Long Island Firearms Forums, I came across a post in which a poster told about having seen two other shooters, shooting 2 brands of 1911 pistols, from a bench rest, getting group sizes up to 5" at 15 yards; then about how he shot a yet third brand of 1911 pistol from the bench rest, also at 15 yards, and got a much better group size of 2". He apparently believed that the difference in group size was due to the pistols or at least that is what was implied in what he wrote because he said " RO shot a tighter group, closer to the bulls eye that either of the other two 1911's that day, from a rest." (He as referring to his Springfield Armory Range officer model as opposed to 1911 pistols manufactured by Wilson Combat and  Ed Brown.) Note how he says his pistol shot better and not that he was, in that particular situation, the better shooter and thus probably failed to give credit where it was due. My guess would be that had he shot worse than the other two guys he would have blamed it on his gun or at least implied such.

I figured it would be good to explain why there was probably such a difference in group sizes, fired by different guns, that he witnessed. It may benefit folks to know that good quality 1911 type pistols,  in good working order, made by reputable manufacturers, in the same, or even somewhat different, price ranges as to MSRP, will be about as accurate as one another for general combat shooting.
When the post writer said that the shots were taken by all three guns from a bench rest, I am figuring he meant a hands on pistol type bench rest, something like the following two examples and not a Ransom Rest, the third photo below.




Note that the first two photos show the shooters are holding the pistols, with the Ransom Rest there is not a hand on he gun. That is because the Ransom Rest fires the gun once the mechanical rest is activated by a person. The human hand never holds or even touches the gun in that mechanical rest when it fires. The Ransom Rest is made from metal, is quite heavy and is secured to the bench with the gun secured in the rest. This is usually the type rest, if not the actual brand, used by gun manufacturers when they test their firearms for accuracy.

If the rest, from which he saw the shots taken, were ones which required the shooter to hold the firearm and activate the trigger with his trigger finger, then we can safely bet, that if nothing was mechanically or physically wrong with those other guns or the rests, it was the fault of the shooters for those larger groups and the prowess as a shooter of the person who wrote the post for his/her smaller group. If it was a from a Ransom Rest my bet would be either that: the rest was not set-up properly, the rest was faulty or the ammo was faulty. As for the poster shooting better in that instance as per his/her own claim he/she was not as good a shooter as the other guys, my bet is the poster simply did it better that time and both of the others merely did not do it as well as usual. If a shooter is holding the firearm, that shooter affects how it fires and how accurate are the shots. I strongly doubt it was due to the makes of the guns. It could have been, of course, also due to faulty or junk bench rests but my bet still is on the shooters because almost certainty, had the two who did not shoot as well known anything about bench rest, both shooters would have complained that something was wrong with it had there actually been something wrong and the other shooter did not seem to have a problem with the bench rest and shot a better group.

Let me show you an example of why, I think, it was probably the shooters and not the guns that mattered:

The above target was shot at 7 yards from a position of standing, strong hand supported (weak hand supporting the strong hand or two hand hold). There was no other support. There were 28 shots in total, on that target, all fired from a Remington R1 1911, same ammo. (All factory fresh JHP ammunition, think it was Remington, no reloads and not some super-duper man stopper ammo at crazy velocities.)

The second target was shot at 10 yards (yes further away than was the first target) from a position of standing, strong hand supported, just as was the first target and with the same exact Remington R1 1911 and the same ammo. So why the difference in group size, why did it get markedly better at 10 yards out than at 7 yards?

The difference was the shooter and nothing else. No, there were not two different shooters, it was the same guy shooting each time but it definitely was the shooter who made all of the difference. I know that for a fact because I shot both targets. The first one consists of the very first 28 shots I ever fired with my Remington R1 1911. I had not fired a pistol in .45 caliber for about at least 5 years more or less. I was anxious to shoot it and maybe subconsciously concerned about recoil and it shows. I took a little break after that, fired another pistol for several shots, a 9mm, and did much better with it. I thought about what I may have done differently with the .45 and about what I should do to correct for it and to get it right; in other words I realized it was me and not the pistol or the ammo at fault and decided to correct myself. I fired another 14 rounds out of it. The result was the second target and I note again it was even further away than had been the first target yet has a much better group.

In almost every instance of good versus poor shooting (or better versus worse shooting in instances where a shooter is consistently poor or good but can improve either way), with a current production good quality firearm, from a respectable manufacturer, in good working condition, it is the shooter who makes the difference. The human factor is, almost without any doubt in my mind, the variable in the shooting described by the guy who made that post in the firearms forum. The only doubt there could be would arise because I do not know anything about the specific firearms and ammo that he/she saw being shot.

How does that benefit anyone who shoots. Well, if they understand what I said and if they believe it, especially that they themselves are likely at fault when not getting great groups (knowing thyself, so to speak), and then work on their technique to improve it using the fundamentals of pistol shooting correctly, their shooting will almost certainly improve. That is unless they know they are already perfect and are always doing it right for each and every shot. If they think like that, there is no hope for them unless they actually are perfect shots. In all my years, I have not met one perfect shot, nor heard of one, except when shooters who are legends in their own minds are describing their own marksmanship abilities.

All the best,
Glenn B

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