Target Shooting Advice For Novices
I am new to handgun shooting. I am fairly skilled with long guns, both shotgun and rifle, but have never really shot a handgun, except in impromptu scenarios with my buddies.
Recently, I purchased a couple of S&W 22A’s for my wife and I and we joined a local shooting league. Mine has the 5 ½” barrel and hers has the 4” barrel. Both guns have open sights with adjustable rears. She’s a small women and the balance of the short barrel felt better to her. She has virtually no experience in shooting of any kind.
With that bit of background, I need some advice regarding technique and expected results. We shoot weekly at a distance of 50’ at an indoor range rented by the hour by the gun club. Targets have a 4” black circle, 8” outer ring on 12” square paper. We shoot 3 segments, 10 rounds per segment. They are Slow-Fire (10 rounds/10 min), Timed-Fire (5 rounds/20 seconds, reload, repeat) and Rapid-Fire (5 rounds/10 seconds, reload, repeat). A perfect score would be 30 rounds in the 10 circle for a total of 300. We are in our 3rd week of shooting. My cousin and his daughter routinely shoot scores from 210 to 250, and they are by no means the best.
To be honest, I am disappointed in my performance (shooting scores of 100 to 150). My wife has been shooting scores less than that. We are both in our 50’s. I seem to score better on the timed and rapid fire, while my wife seems to do better on the slow timed portion. I have bore sighted both guns at 50’ (the sight rail is part of the barrel and the barrel is removable).
I guess the questions I have are:
Should a different technique be used to sight in the pistols? (It is cold now, up in north and no outdoor open shoot ranges are open and if they were, methodical sighting in 20 degree weather would not be enjoyable)
Should we be sticking to open sights or go to some sort of optics, such as red dots or scopes?
If the guns are sighted properly, should a person stick with open sights and work on technique?
My original intent here was to get us more proficient with handguns and to eventually acquire our Carry Permits. Which is why, I thought, maybe learning to shoot accurately with open sights would be better. Sorry this is bit long, but I wanted to give pertinent background information.
Any thoughts, advice and ideas would be welcomed. I am a firm believer in taking advice from people who have ‘been there, done that’!
Thanks, in advance!
If youre doing this for concealed carry stick to open sights, Very difficult to conceal with any optic type sights.
If you want later you could probably add laser systems to your gun but work on the basics first.
In other word practice,practice,practice.
I shot the same style shoots for the last two winters (took this year off) we shoot two rounds for a total of 600, my average is in the 520s (260ish per round) I'm by no means an expert, but I do pretty well in the league for only really shooting bullsye for two years. When I go back next year I'll be practicing more and hopefully start getting my 275s taken care of.
50' Bullseye shoots are fun. But they have little if anything to do with concealed carry for a couple of reasons.
1: If you are 50' away from someone you should be running, not shooting. "Typical" self defense shootings are inside of 21', yes it's good be be able to shoot accurately at further distances, but the bulk of self defense shooting is done at closer ranges.
2: .22 Caliber target guns handle like .22 Cal Target guns and not any kind of gun that is suitable for concealed carry.
Now on to bullseye shooting.
If you want to continue shooting bullseye, do look into red dot sights. Bushnell and Ultra-dot are two good brands to look at.
For your irons, would you say that you're using a 6 o'clock hold where the black appears to be sitting on top of the front sight (think lolly-pop or "pumpkin on a post") or are you trying to bisect the black of the target with the front sight for a "point of aim = point of impact" sight picture.
Click to enlarge
Also, how are you and your wife's eyes? Do you guys wear glasses? If so when was the last time you had your RX checked?
Are you shooting one handed or two?
Check out this site: The Encyclopedia of Bullseye Pistol and start reading.
Also, can you take pictures of your targets and upload them to photobucket? Are you scattered all over the target or are you shooting nice groups, just not centered?
Where are you hitting the targets? If you're consistent but off target then the sights are off. If you are all over the place then it's not the sights.
Most likley it's technique, although bad ammo, dirty guns, loose parts can cause poor groups.
Are you shooting one or two handed? How are you gripping the guns? shooting one eyed or two?
If you go to shoot with no competition do you shoot better? Have you had someone else try your gun? Have you tried someone elses' gun?
You have to have the right sight picture- not all sights are the same (heine being one very different one).
You have to hold the gun steady. Not 100% possible at arms length of course. So you'll 'wander' around the target a bit and you'll have to learn when to pull the trigger - time it right so you hit the bullseye. This takes practice - 1000, 2000 rounds of it perhaps.
You have to squeeze the trigger - without changing the sight picture - most likely this is your issue. You can get snap caps and practice squeezing the trigger at home, get a BB pistol to play with ($40 at walmart, co2) or airsoft even that you can shoot in the back yard or even in your house (with proper backstop).
Being new to handguns, I would reccomend a slightly different practice routine. When you practice, try firing 3 shots in a string, rather than 10 in a string. There is a certain amount of fatigue involved here. As your 3 round groups get better, go to 5 round groups. When your 5 round groups get better, go to 10 round groups.
Basically, you're getting in shape here.
I've done this with students when they start off with a good score, but fall apart toward the end of the string. It works.
Since your intent is to become more proficient and get CCW's, I would stick with the iron sights. Train as you fight, see?
When the weather breaks, get outside and do some fast, varied range, moving stuff. It doesn't translate directly to bull's eye pistol, but it is more applicable to self defense. I would reccomend you get together with a good instructor for this, so you don't waste time learning a bunch of bad techniques.
Have you had any good training in pistol shooting fundamentals? If not, spend a little time with someone who IS good with a pistol, and apply those fundamentals when you practice. If you are practicing correctly, it will help your scores. Bad practice really doesn't do much for you.
Being 50 myself, I'll second what VAMarine said, get your eyes checked. It sneaks up on you...
Hope this helps.
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