Shot Group Assessment (Analyzing Targets)

  • SumoMe

Taken from Your Defensive Handgun Training Program  Sometimes having the ability to analyze and correct an error during training is a critical part of the improvement process.  This section (taken from my book) will give you a few tips on what might be causing your shots to go somewhere other than center.

Pay attention to your overall shot grouping on the target when you are done training.  The pasters and holes can be viewed from several steps back and assessed for technique mistakes.   Its very difficult to teach target assessment in this material (book) because there are so many variables that may lead to a missed shot on the target.  Try to assess where the majority of non-combat effective hits are, and do your best to figure out why you are hitting that area.  Here are some common mistakes I see on student targets (these are for a right handed shooter, simply reverse the pattern I am describing for a left handed shooter):

This picture shows both hits and pasted hits.  I can look at the overall group and assess what might be causing an other than centered shot.

This picture shows both hits and pasted hits. I can look at the overall group and assess what might be causing an other than centered shot.

  • Shots low left– this is often caused by a timing and anticipation error where the gun gets moved before the bullet actually leaves the barrel.  Remember the importance of watching the sight picture as the gun actually goes off, versus seeing a good sight picture and trying to make the gun to off.  Correction of this mistake is to be visual on the sights and watch for movement of the gun prior to the shot going off.  Strive to keep everything motionless except the trigger.
  • Shots left – this is often caused by gripping the gun as the trigger is being pulled.  The correct trigger manipulation is to move the trigger and only the trigger while pulling it, but as humans we are designed so that our fingers move together.  We call this mistake “pulling the trigger with all four fingers.”  Correction of this mistake is to focus on isolating the trigger finger as much as possible, as well as using the support hand to minimize any movement the strong hand may cause in the gun.
  • Shots high – this mistake is caused by allowing the front sight to ride too high in the rear sight notch.  Often times it is caused by looking over the top of the gun, rather than through the rear sight window.  To test if you are doing this, have someone place his or her finger on top of the rear sight, leaving only a small hole to look through.  You should be able to see your front sight through that hole, and the top edge of the front sight should just touch the finger.  When you allow your head to come off the gun and look over it, this mistake becomes common because the gun normally gets canted high when doing so.  Correction of this mistake can be done by ensuring that you are looking through the front rear sight window and that the front sight is equal in height to the rear when the gun goes off.  Pay attention to the top corners of the front sight and their relationship to the corners of the rear sight.
  • Shots high left – this mistake is caused by a combination of the previous two mistakes, and/or “palming” the gun.  Palming happens when you press the palm of the right hand into the backstrap of the gun as the trigger is pressed, while unlocking the wrist and allowing the gun to move high and left.  Correction of this mistake is to be aware of this unlocking of the wrist and movement and to keep the grip and wrist locked like a vise when manipulating the trigger.
  • Shots right – this mistake is often caused by thumbing the gun with the support hand thumb, which pushes the gun to the right as it goes off.  The support hand thumb should simply float and be pointed to the front (see page XX in my book) and if it is placed on the frame of the gun ensure that there is no increase of pressure on it while shooting.  Correction of this mistake is awareness of this and attention placed on the pressure the thumb is putting on the gun.

Until Then – Train Hard

Mike S.

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One Response to Shot Group Assessment (Analyzing Targets)

  1. Jesse says:

    Great post! Valuable info for those looking to improve their handgun accuracy. Here are some targets that were developed based on these principles.

    http://www.thompsontarget.com/group-shooter-19×25-handgun-diagnostic-targets/

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