Don’t Go the Distance

Posted on Posted in Training Notes

We all want to push the limits, to see what we can do. The trouble with shooting at a longer distance before establishing strong fundamentals is that even though you hit the target at 15, 20, 25 yards, you have no idea how you did it. Inconsistent results can frustrate new shooters and be discouraging. Mastering the seven fundamentals of marksmanship is more important than shooting at a distance, if you understand what you are doing and why, you will be able to shoot at a distance, consistently.

Visit a range and hang back, you will see it all. The weird grips, the distance shots that barely hit the target, and a ton of ammo being used. All new shooters should work within 3-7 yards because they should not be target centric at all. We want to be successful but the focus should be on aligning the sights, having the proper grip, and establishing a strong stance- then where the shots land. As an instructor, I am looking to see where your shots are landing and what you are doing while shooting, I am not concerned with how far you can shoot a large target.

Being focused on the target to see if you are shooting well when you don’t understand what it means to shoot well is a folly most new shooters make. Most are just happy to be hitting somewhere near where they were intending, while I would rather you be glad you were able to hit your intended mark at whatever distance you are shooting at. Also, most self-defense situations will occur between 3-10 yards, anything further could be construed that you are the aggressor in the situation.

Be wary of people who push you to shoot at far distances especially during your first few times shooting. If you decide to push that target further out, realize it is in vain and just for fun. You have not developed the skills yet to get consistent results. Shooting is a skill that is learned and practiced, new shooters do not have the proper skill set to be consistent. Instructors that push new shooters beyond 7 yards are doing it for vanity and to keep a new shooter excited, it is not because in the last hour the new shooter has mastered the fundamentals and is ready to shoot at the further distances.  If your instructor seems more concerned about distance than the fundamentals, find another instructor.

None of this matters if the shooter is not interested in learning how to shoot well, I think that is a rare finding. We all want to do well at what we attempt to do. I will tell brand new shooters that the focus of the first lesson is not the target but how they are doing with their stance, grip, and sight picture. The target will provide results on those three things and where improvements or adjustments need to be made.

If you are taking a new shooter to the range, here is an excellent article by Kathy Jackson.

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