Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Holy Grail: Shot Placement

I was at the range the other day. Several people were there with me and we had a great time. I had already done my “workout” we were just shooting recreationally. We got to talking about backgrounds and how we got into shooting. There were a few there that had some pretty good experience. When they heard I was an instructor one pretty young wife said “Teach us something for free!?” I think she was joking but that got us on what we thought was the most important thing in shooting. I finally said that it depends on what kind of shooting you are doing. If you are competing then speed and accuracy are king. When we got to defense I said most emphatically, “Shot placement!” They all looked at me. I finally said, “You want a free lesson then listen to this. In defense you can have all the theories you want about caliber and so-called “stopping power” but when it comes down to it, shot placement wins. I’ve done all the tests myself when it comes to caliber and load and bullet type. I’ve studied all the data and terminal ballistics and seen the penetration in ballistic gel. If I can hit an attacker in the brain, the heart, or the spine, I can stop them.” It mattereth not if the caliber is .22 or .45, if I can hit one of those body parts solidly, I can stop an attack. Now, I’m not saying start carrying a .22 or a .25, carry what you like and what you’re good with. I don’t think I’d carry anything smaller than 9mm. But if a .380 was all that there was, I’d carry it.
So how do you practice for shot placement? Get a target that may help.
There is a target HCT-1A Die Cut IPSC/IDPA Facer Training Target w/ Vital Anatomy. You can find these at Action Targets.com or Amazon. This was developed by Dave Spaulding of Handgun Combatives.
If you don’t want to get special targets try 3 X 5 cards vertically. This covers about the size of the heart. Also, if you shot the same size card horizontally placed on the head it would cover between the eyes, the nose, it would hit the brain. What I like about 3 X 5 cards over vital areas on a silhouette target is, you can just change out the card unless you’ve shot out everything behind it. But that would take some time and you could go through a whole session with one target but several cards. The total strike zone is a 6 X 10 vertical rectangle. Some instructors may not like the width of this target, but I think it’s pretty much real world like.

I like Dave Spaulding. I like his ideas and the way he teaches. He and I see eye to eye on many, many things. I’ve never met him but from what I’ve read written by him and the videos I’ve seen, I can see a little into his philosophy. He’s what I consider “One of the good ones.”

In my practice I use 3 x 5 cards and 11 inch paper plates as my targets. If you can hit these targets consistently and efficiently, the rest is movement, mindset, cover, and reality based training. I used to use force on force training. But I don’t feel that’s necessary for the average concealed carrier. Force on force training does give you a good idea what stress is that’s for sure! As a civilian I don’t think I’ll ever see combat again or be in a gun fight. It is possible, but not very probable. Even law enforcement engages at an average distance of 10 feet or less. Sometimes I think their uniform is like a target to some criminals.

As I’ve mentioned before, adrenalin has a major impact on cognition. For one thing, your perception of time slows down. You’re moving a lot faster than you think you are. If you slow down, take your time and focus on the front sight, you’ll still shoot quickly. But you’ll be far more accurate.
Given “stray” bullets’ potential for costly collateral damage, given the advantages of shooting the perp where it hurts, you can’t have enough accuracy, really. When push comes to shove, you want to worship at the altar of center mass. And here’s the kicker: you don’t need a lot of shots on target to win a gunfight. Because all you really need to do is slow the scumbags down.
Remember the rule: “When you’re in trouble, leave as soon as possible.” One well-placed hit on a person trying to kill or maim you and/or yours can be incredibly discouraging—for him (her, them). It may give you time to leave, when possible.

The strike zone can also include the head, if the shooter so chooses, as a headshot can be quite effective as previously discussed. I have opted to include the entire head for the same reasons as IDPA…I think a shot anywhere to the noggin can be a fight stopper, especially at close range. The eyes and nose are supplied to give the shooter an idea of where shots are best placed.

On Dave Spaulding’s targets, at the bottom of the target, is a series of 3X5 cards that can be used for various drills. You will note there is a dotted 3X5 card around the heart in the chest cavity portion of the target to help emphasize what these 3X5 cards represent.
At one time in my life I was into tight groups at considerable distances (30 yards or so.) That was a different time when I felt I had to hit that accurately. I don’t feel as strongly about tight groups and that long of distances. If my group is on my plate (11 inches) then I am happy. I prefer about a 3 to 4 inch groups on that plate but every shot in 11 inches is a hit to me. If I’m shooting wild it still is usually on the 11 inches. A 3X5 card is a pretty good measurement of whether I’m shooting decent. If I can do all of this from 15 feet then I’m right where I want to be. If I can do it at 21 feet then I’m golden. Those distances are not difficult to shoot at. Why are we so obsessed with shooting a handgun 40 feet away?
Shot placement is the Holy Grail of which I seek.

Semper Paratus
Check 6