Long-distance Shooting

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Most self-defense shooting incidents happen at close range. According to some statistics I’ve seen, some 70 percent happen withing 7 meters (21 feet) and nearly half happen within 5 feet. But there are a small number which happen at over 50 feet (5 percent). What do we do about them?

The pistol was never invented to be a long-range weapon, regardless of what we see in the movies. While Clint Eastwood or John Wayne might be able to shoot an acorn out of a squirrel’s mouth at 100 yards, I’ve never seen a real shooter do that. Group size tends to expand exponentially as range does.

Barrel length has a lot to do with this. One of the big reasons that a carbine is more accurate than a pistol, is longer barrel length. The same happens when we compare a pistol with a 5.5” barrel to one with a 2.5” barrel. While that snub nose might be easier to conceal, it’s a lot harder to shoot it accurately, especially at distance. If you can, you might want to consider switching to something with a longer barrel.

So, what do we do, so that we can shoot accurtely?

In part, this is why we talk about shooting for center of mass. Regardless of what distance we’re shooting at, we’re more likely to hit our target, if we shoot at the center. We might not hit it in the center; but hopefully we’ll hit it.

Our ability to hit that target at all is greatly increased with practice. I use about five percent of my practice time for long-distance shooting, working with my target 30 to 50 feet away. It takes a steady hand and you can forget about rapid-fire, but you’ve got to realize that whoever might be shooting at you from far enough away that you have to shoot back, is jut as handicapped as you are.

Sight picture is important, as always, but nowhere near as important as trigger control. If you’ve every struggled with jerking the trigger, you know just how far off that can throw your shots. Multiply that by the greater distance, and you will find that it can be enough to ensure that you are going to miss the target every time. If you do hit it, it will probably be in the leg.

I’ve found that lightening up the trigger tension is very useful for shooting at longer range. Not all pistols allow this, but there are a number out there, for which you can buy kits to reduce the spring tension. Even a half pound lighter trigger pull can improve your accuracy. File the sear and any other parts that rub against each other, to ensure there’s nothing that will cause your trigger to hang up, requiring extra pressure to pull.

The other big thing that makes a lot of difference is shooting with some sort of prop. Wherever you are, you should seek out something stable that you can either lean on or lean your gun arm on; the closer to the wrist the better. Some of the obvious things that you might be able to use as a prop for your gun arm are a vehicle hood or roof, a tree branch, a window sill, or a door frame. Keep in mind that when the time comes, you’re going to have to find something quickly and it probably won’t be ideal. So, practice with a variety of props, getting yourself used to the idea of putting your body in the right position to make use of the.

Our bodies tend to move, even when we’re trying to hold still. You’ve probably noticed this at the range, watching your sight picture move around, passing back and forth over the bulls-eye. Everyone deals with this to some extent or other. That’s why having something to support your shooting arm can be so important. It can reduce your group, by reducing that pattern.

This is actually not the time for a high-caliber pistol. I find that I can shoot more accurately at distance with a .22LR than I can with a 9mm and more accurately with a 9mm, than I can with a .45 ACP. That’s useful in practice, but when the real thing happens, I’ll have to use whatever gun I’m carrying; probably my .45.

Of course, the best thing is to have a rifle available for this longer-distance shooting. As the saying goes, “A pistol is only there so you have something to fight with, while working your way back to where you left your rifle.” The problem comes in when there’s no rifle to work your way back to.

It’s all about being prepared; just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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