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Old 09-27-2020, 12:53 PM
hcaroselli

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Looking for advice/opinions re:handgun accuracy



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Hello All,

My question has to do with handgun accuarcy and I am hoping for some advice, opinions or examples.

I am 75 years old and started shooting about 5 years ago. When shooting .22 rifles I can shoot 1/2 inch groups at 50 yards. I cannot do this consistently but my targets have 16 bullseyes and I can maybe do it 2 - 4 times per card. I am shooting from a bench using a bag, front and rear. My plan is to continue practicing and hopefully improving.

The story at the pistol range is very different. The closest target at the club where I go is 12.5 yards and that is usually where I put my targets. The hanguns I am using are considered target guns, sort of. They have 5.5 and 6 inch barrells and open sights. I am shooting while standing but I have tried sitting and resting the gun on a bag.

The difference between my rifle and handgun shooting is dramatic, in my opinion. I am curious to know what kind of expectaions I should have. There are stories about people shooting 1 inch groups at 25 yards; no other information like scoped or not, rested or not etc. Right now my groups are all over the paper.

Knowing this an open ended question with many opinions, I am seeking general information about others' experiences. I am talking about .22 LR handguns at, let's say, 25 yards. Are you using a rest of any kind or shooting offhand? What kind of sights do you use? What is your group size, average and best?

Thanks for any advice or examples

The other Hector
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  #2  
Old 09-27-2020, 12:59 PM
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Shooting groups with a handgun is a completely different universe from shooting them with a rifle. My recommendation to you would be to use a real rifle bag as a barrel rest to test your pistols to make sure that they are capable of the accuracy that you are seeking before making the attempt offhand. Teaching many people including my kids to shoot over the last 30+ years, I have consistently told them that achieving precision accuracy with an offhand pistol takes about 4 to 5 times the amount of practice that it does with a rifle. Adding a small red dot sight such as a Burris FF3 might help you significantly.

I can shoot 1” groups at 25 with several of my pistols- but only from a rest.

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Old 09-27-2020, 01:05 PM
jaia
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Offhand, pistol of any sort with iron sights, my results aren't groups, they're patterns.
Put a red dot or EER scope on it, my results improve dramatically. If I can brace on something,
I can sometimes even hit the ten ring.

Put the scoped pistol on a rest or bipod, I can stay on paper out to 200 yards.

https://www.rimfirecentral.com/forum...postcount=1078

Last edited by jaia; 09-27-2020 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 09-27-2020, 01:30 PM
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To get very good, dry firing is the quickest way to achieve goodness. Back when I was really good out of 5 shots 4 would be dry fire. What would be good for me? Putting 6 into a 3" bull at 15 yards. The skill is definitely perishable as that is much better then my current ability.
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Old 09-27-2020, 02:14 PM
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welcome

long guns and hand guns are different faces of the same coin.

But you need to look at each as similar but different. The concepts the same on shooting well, but you need to realize the pros and cons of each platform.

What did Quigley say about a handgun?

Also consider Sight Radius. Its sort of obvious here.

What i would do....

> find a place where you can shoot at a closer distance or various distances

> look at using a "target" where you can see it and get a proper acquisition. If your targets are blotted out by your front sight, then not much you can do other than adapt/change. Ive changed my method of doing things since i started to use a scope on my rifles. The scope i used would cover up the "target" so much so that i could not see if i was on target or to any side of that "target". if you cant see it, you cant hit it. That goes for ANY platform.

> Know your guns too. I try to adjust my guns for the 6 o clock hold.

> get a feel or idea on what your platform can do. If its a shotgun, then why chase that rabbit? but more important is that if you dont know its a shotgun, you will just keep on chasing your tail. IM sure you know of others that shoot (better or worse than you?). so if you can, have them put your gun(s) through its paces and get an idea on what each can do in someone else's hands.

> Rests and stuff can be good or bad. You will need to figure out what works best for you and your platform. Sometimes its putting the barrel on the rest and sometimes its your wrist/arm on the rest. Dont be afraid to TRY and SEE what works best for you and your platform.

Some comments..

> for the most part, most if not all of my handgun shooting is from a standing position. The closer range only offers that for the most part.

> what i also do is to notate the targets i shoot with the info such as...

- platform & S/n
- date
- distance
- ammo/brand/type/weight/velocity?
- shooting stance...info
- any other info...

Here are some of my center fire targets i had digitized.... Note the info on them.

this is for the XD45 5" bbl. i didnt have any "targets" with me that i wanted to use, so i improvised. the black dots are about 1 inch diameter. But you can get an idea on what i was doing and how good or bad it worked out. it was also standing, slow fire.

[IMG][/IMG]


This target is for my Sphinx...the red sticky dot is 1 inch diameter. note the distance change. its also standing with slow fire.

[IMG][/IMG]


the last one is my CZ SPo1. If you note i actually used the printed targets on the paper. what i noticed on my shooting that , black target, on black and black sights are sort of hard to see and is why i switched to red/orange dots. Again, this standing and shooting slow. i think the black bullseye is about 4 or 5 inches across.

[IMG][/IMG]


And what i would do is to keep those targets so you can get an idea if you are improving or not. And then make any notes to yourself if there were any issues, like your eyes were "tired" or you were coming down with COVID and you were not feeling well...ect.

Last edited by bangbang; 09-27-2020 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 09-27-2020, 03:35 PM
wjritchie
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Pistol as others have said takes alot of discipline . Dry fire helps . Perhaps get some help from a master at your range even if you have to pay for the instruction . Find your natural point of aim and practice going into that stance every time you approach the firing line . Take caulk and mark your foot position to aid in coming back to that stance every time . Buy a set of velcro wrist weights that are close to the weight of your firearm and wear them daily to get used to the load for long periods . Focus drills on the sights help even with older eyes as well as a set of dedicated shooting glasses to focus on the front sight , your eye doc will help in that respect . I am no expert but it is surprising how much one can improve in a matter of weeks . Again get some instruction from someone who wins matches ,before you start so no bad form or techniques are practiced in before hand. Its alot easier to learn a good habit than to train out a bad one . Have fun with it , when you have a bad day don't press on , save the ammo for another day . Always write your thoughts on the target for later Critique . Gook luck you will get there WR

Last edited by wjritchie; 09-27-2020 at 04:12 PM. Reason: added info
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Old 09-27-2020, 03:40 PM
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Accurate handgun shooting takes a lot of practice and good eyesight. At 40 and even 50,IF I was shooting a lot, I could get 1”-1/2” groups at 25 yards with a 22 and do fairly well with a 38 and a 45. At 65 ,it’s a lost cause
Also, a good semiauto will almost always shoot smaller groups than a revolver.
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Old 09-27-2020, 04:18 PM
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Hi Hector, a couple comments. First, don't forget to have fun. It's very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of seeking tight groups and forget why we're shooters to start with. Because it's fun!

Lots of good info from others below but if it were me I'd start with cheapo 9" paper plates. Use a black marker to put a sighting mark in the middle. Set them up at 12.5 yards and work on keeping all your shots on the paper plate. Start off the bench rested if need be and then work up to offhand. It won't take long assuming you can see the sights. If not, reflex sights (red dots) are a God send!

If you take your time and only judge yourself on your own progress I bet you'll see improvement quickly.

Cheers,

Frank
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Old 09-27-2020, 05:10 PM
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Two things: the aiming system for me has a dramatic effect on my handgun accuracy. I hate to mess up the nice lines of a pistol with a bulky red dot. . . but the results speak for themselves. Like the OP, I started shooting recently, about seven years ago. My club has its pistol range set up 15 yards to mimic their indoor facility, which is used for informal indoor matches in the winter. The second is how you support the pistol. Both matter considerably in terms of my accuracy on target.

Here's a target from last Thursday. The pistol is a Ruger Mk IV with a six-inch tapered barrel -- I guess it is a six-inch Standard. I got the barreled action only from Wirthwein so I could swap out the lower that has a good trigger with several different barrels.



The lower right bull is a pretty typical off-hand target with iron sights for me at that distance. Looks like about two-and-a-half inches at 15 yards. If I am really on my game with iron sights, I can do what I did on the upper right bull. Just around two inches offhand. That's pretty good for me off-hand with iron sights.

The lower left target shows the effect of a Y-style Hyskore rest. Seven out of 10 shots in about 3/4 of an inch, with the whole group at just over an inch. Here's another target with a different gun: a S&W 617. Not too impressive. Ammo is Federal Automatch in both cases. Iron sights in both cases too.



Now let's look at the effect of a red dot sight on my shooting at the same distance.



Instantly, you see the groups have tightened up considerably. This is with a 2-MOA tube-style red dot (AT3).

Finally, I have had a go at 50 yards with a Mk II Government Target that is very, very accurate. I shot it with a scope off bags. Looks to me to be about a two-inch group. I am going to try that set up again and see whether I can't do better. My conclusion is that it is possible to do well with a pistol at those ranges. At longer distance, the lower muzzle velocity out of the shorter barrel and the enlargement of very small movements of the firearm at distance make shooting pistols into small groups very challenging as you move out.



And really finally, the best five shot group I ever shot was with an Anschutz Exemplar at 50 yards. It is technically a bolt action pistol, but shoots like a bolt action rifle in my experience. I should get it out more often. It is scoped and shot off a BR front rest just like a rifle.
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Last edited by flangster; 09-30-2020 at 06:28 AM.
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Old 09-27-2020, 05:28 PM
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I like the paper plate idea and sticking with the 12.5ft. A few questions for your off hand pistol shooting:

1) How clearly can you see your front sight?
2) What kind of sights are they? I suspect they're standard all black post and notch. These can be more difficult to obtain a clear sight picture with older eyes.
3) How steady can you hold your sight picture as you squeeze off your shot?

If any one of these three is wonky, you're going to have a tough time making tight groups let along hitting within a 3 inch circle at 12.5 yards. I also like a 6-o'clock hold with post and notch iron sights because it also makes it easier for me to acquire the target.

I take my Ruger Single Six, equipped with Fire Sights, hunting small game - groundhogs, rabbits and, the toughest head shot to hit, especially with a pistol, the grey squirrel. These revolvers aren't reputed to be "target accurate" with .22lr. Okay, sure kid, if you can shoot Olympic level I guess you'd notice. But, for most of us, the equipment is way more accurate than we're capable of getting out of them. Anyway, if I keep the range 20 yards or under I can hit 'em in the head. But, it takes all my concentration, following all the steps, to be sure I'll execute an accurate shot. It isn't easy to do with a pistol because the slightest variations with such a short sight radius means a big miss.

Last edited by Bradical; 09-28-2020 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 09-27-2020, 06:22 PM
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One other thing.....


Instead of using a Round Bullseye as a target; make your own targets using a Black square, that is about 1.5" by 1.5". use a magic marker to make the square, than use a scanner to make multiple copies. the nice square shape will make lining up your front and rear square sights easier, both left to right, as well as up and down.

One of the Gun writers years ago, (might have been Ross Seyfried, I can't remember), gave this tip, and it is logically better than trying to line up square edged sights, on a round target.
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:01 PM
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When you are learning, don't put a target up at all. Put up the frame with a large cardboard backing and from your 12.5 yard practice good form just aiming at the center of that large background.

It takes lots of practice with handgun or rifle. I used this technique with archery as well and it works.

After you feel comfortable with your weapon choose the largest target you can find and aim dead center. When you can hit it consistently it's time to make the target smaller or increase your distance to target.

Good Luck.

Make sure you are having fun.
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:10 PM
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Hector, no shortage of advice, so far, and I'm sure much more to come. Let me just comment that what you are experiencing is totally normal. Mastering a handgun takes a much longer time than mastering a rifle and when you get there, it takes regular practice to stay in top form. Yes, it can be very frustrating to start, especially when you're on your own. Taking a class on handgun basics and marksmanship, if there is one in your area, can be very worthwhile. If nothing else, it will help you to avoid developing some bad habits.
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:32 PM
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At 65, I stated with a Taurus TX22 and shot only that for three months. When I did get a 10/22 TD, it took me a while to get relatively better with the rifle than the pistol.

Then I started practicing 3-5 times a day with a Daisy 880 BB gun at a distance that the BB gun was accurate to (not that far 25 yards). My rifle shooting improved tremendously and is now much better than my 22 pistol. So I am ordering an inexpensive Daisy 426 CO2 pistol so I can also practice 3-5 times a day with that discipline.

It was remarkable how much more comfortable I felt shooting offhand with the rifle after so much practice with the BB rifle. Hopefully the BB pistol will be the same way.
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Old 09-27-2020, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hcaroselli View Post
Hello All,

My question has to do with handgun accuarcy and I am hoping for some advice, opinions or examples.

I am 75 years old and started shooting about 5 years ago. When shooting .22 rifles I can shoot 1/2 inch groups at 50 yards. I cannot do this consistently but my targets have 16 bullseyes and I can maybe do it 2 - 4 times per card. I am shooting from a bench using a bag, front and rear. My plan is to continue practicing and hopefully improving.

The story at the pistol range is very different. The closest target at the club where I go is 12.5 yards and that is usually where I put my targets. The hanguns I am using are considered target guns, sort of. They have 5.5 and 6 inch barrells and open sights. I am shooting while standing but I have tried sitting and resting the gun on a bag.

The difference between my rifle and handgun shooting is dramatic, in my opinion. I am curious to know what kind of expectaions I should have. There are stories about people shooting 1 inch groups at 25 yards; no other information like scoped or not, rested or not etc. Right now my groups are all over the paper.

Knowing this an open ended question with many opinions, I am seeking general information about others' experiences. I am talking about .22 LR handguns at, let's say, 25 yards. Are you using a rest of any kind or shooting offhand? What kind of sights do you use? What is your group size, average and best?

Thanks for any advice or examples

The other Hector
First off, glad to see you got in the shooting game. It can be a lot of fun.

Handguns are a different animal to rifles. Even on a bench, you can only get limited help from bags and such, and the shorter sight radius exaggerates things as compared to rifles. Triggers have greater impact as well, since that trigger finger is more likely to impact point of aim.

As for expectations.... you make them. Like most other things, some are naturals, some work very hard for any improvements.

With stock iron sights on my Mark II, 25 yard offhand shooting gets shaky. Groups are up greatly over 10 or 15 yard groups. Some of it is visions, some of it is me. With optics I could improve greatly I'm sure, as vision alone hurts me some as distances increase. It's not uncommon for groups to go up to 2- 2.5 times my short distance groups, but then again the distance went up my those factors as well.

Just keep at it. Find what works for you. Shorten distance or use larger targets, and as you improve, challenge yourself more. I tend to think that the "aim small, miss small" method works for me. I try to use targets that give me a good aiming point for the distance, and as someone mentioned above, good contrast with my sights.

Keep your targets, take notes, and more info is always better. Call your shots... if you know you let one fly when off target, it's better than being off target and not knowing. Data is your friend.


I'll see if I can dig up some 25 yard targets to find some groups. Nothing impressive from this same pistol as below. Mostly shooter probably.



These are 30 ft slowish and rapid fire. Differing targets, pistols, conditions, etc will change things quite a bit. If I could shoot like this at 25 yards with irons I'd be thrilled.... but I can't.
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