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Help me improve my marksmanship

Discussion in 'General Firearms Forum' started by, May 21, 2012.

  1. Charles Wagoner

    May 15, 2012
    Norman, OK
    I hope I'm posting this to the right forum.

    Note: I made my main question below bold in case anyone gets tired of reading through all the secondary info in this post.

    Anyway, I need some advice about setting goals for improving my marksmanship. Since I got my Glock 19 about a month ago, I've shot about a thousand rounds through it. I usually shoot at about 15 yards, using reactive splatter targets with about 0.5 to 1 inch bullseyes. I'd say about 1 out of 10 shots hit bullseye, but all of them remain on the target, which vary from about 4 to 8 inches in diameter. Here's a photo:


    When I set the targets out to about 25 yards however, my groupings are not as tight and some of them off target. I'm not surprised by this, but I want to improve.

    My problem is that I'm getting so fixated on hitting bullseye every time that I'm forgetting the fact that I'm hitting a 5-8" target from 25 yards, which ain't bad at all. What's worse, I feel like I'm not having any fun because I'm getting so frustrated with trying to be perfect. So my plan is to stop using targets like the one in the picture and just take a posterboard and draw a circle right in the middle and focus on hitting that. The idea is that I would over time use smaller circles as my accuracy improves.

    So here's the thing: I want to be a great shot, maybe even start competing someday. What is a reasonably-sized, yet challenging, target to hit at 25 yards? Again, my focus right now is not to get it right in the middle every time, but rather to focus on keeping a nice grouping at 25 yards, while improving over time.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  2. Armchair Commando

    Armchair Commando Long Range Guru

    Jan 10, 2006
    Bunker in the Midwest
    Your shooting a combat handgun not a bullseye gun, So don't expect to ever be shooting 1 inch groups at 25 yards! My Glock 34 has Heinie Slant Pro sights and a totally reworked trigger and i can shoot 3-4 inch groups at 25 yards but thats about as good as its gonna get for me!

  3. Charles Wagoner

    May 15, 2012
    Norman, OK
    Thanks man! I really appreciate your input. And I'm glad you pointed out that my gun is not a bullseye gun. That's kind of the point of me posting this question. I know I won't be hitting many bullseyes with it, but I think it's still worthwhile for me to improve my accuracy as much as possible. So, if I may refer to my original question:

    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  4. Batesmotel


    Apr 5, 2007
    You are on the right track. A Glock is not a precision target gun. It has loose tolerances that adversely affect accuracy but that is exactly what makes it super reliable as a combat gun. If you are shooting at speed you should be able to keep a controlled pair within the with of a palm with a Glock.

    If you are tighter than that, increase your speed. As you increase speed the group will open up. Then work on tightening the group. Then speed, then tighten, then speed ETC...

    The best way to improve marksmanship is some one on one time with a GOOD instructor. Pay the money and take some good classes from a good teacher.

    When you are ready, buy a target gun. A good .22 is a great start. It is a totally different world from a Glock.


    Jul 14, 2011
    Your groups look pretty good to me. Try switching to 3D targets like bottles, bowling pins, diaper boxes, tin cans and other junk you have lying around your house. My friends and I started doing this a few years ago when we got bored with the paper targets. You can focus on the label of a 2 liter drink bottle and achieve the same results as with paper targets but, are more fun to shoot! We recycle after it's final use!They will be melted down for recycling anyway so, you might as well get your full moneys worth!LOL!:supergrin:

    Oh also, you will be shooting at less than 15 yards in your home anyway. I stepped mine off in all directions the furthermost distance would be 11 yards from inside the house. Outside I'm using the rifle or shotgun!
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  6. ron59

    ron59 Bustin Caps

    Jan 3, 2009
    Smyrna, GA
    I compete.
    I'm a 'B' level in USPSA, often hold my own with 'A' shooters. I have taken a few second places and multiple 3rds in GSSF (probably $500 worth). And I'm not sure I can shoot the 15 yard groups you can and I've been practicing for 3 years. At 25 yards my groups are definitely in the 8-10" range.

    Now, I don't spend lots of my time practicing tight groups. A small amount, but not the majority by far. Most targets aren't at 25 yards, in fact probably only 25% are past 15 yards. What is important is being able to hit *decent* groups quickly. Controlled doubles at speed.

    From the groups I'm seeing of yours, you're ready to compete already, and probably do well. BUT!! Have you been working on your draw and presentation for first shot? Reloads? Gun handling is a very important part of IDPA/USPSA, being able to reload on the move as well. Work on draws and reloads as dry fire (no ammo) in your home at night.

    Don't feel like you have to be some great marksman to compete and do well. I bet you would surprise yourself. Go to IDPA.COM and USPSA.COM, they both have "find a club near you" links. Read the rules, and go shoot some matches. They will point out some weakness to you.

    To answer your question... the IDPA and GSSF "zero down" target is both 8" in diameter I believe. USPSA uses a rectangular box. But yeah... 8" target is fine.

    BatesMotel also discusses a process I like to use. Work on slow speed groups, then try to improve how fast you can shoot that same group. Then narrow the group again.

    Dude, you're ready... go find a club and get involved!
  7. iDivideByZero

    iDivideByZero Padawan

    Mar 22, 2012
    Blacksburg, VA
    I would recommend checking out this website:

    There are a lot of drills that are good for improving accuracy (or precision as it should actually be called ...). I would start out with the following drills: Wall Drill; Ball & Dummy Drill; and 3x5 Card Drill.

    Additionally, this is an excellent book that addresses not only the physical side of shooting, but also the mental aspect necessary for success:

    "Practical Shooting, Beyond Fundamentals" - Brian Enos

    At least this is what I have been doing, and I have seen marked improvement in my consistency. When I have the time and $ I will attend a course to receive professional training.
  8. sciolist


    Nov 11, 2009
    Shooting sports like USPSA, Steel Challenge and IDPA balance accuracy with speed, movement and gun handling. Once you become proficient with the pistol in basic slow fire, which it appears you are, the dynamic skills become much more important to success.

    USPSA matches are comprised primarily of field courses, where the ability to move quickly and efficiently, and transition between movement and shooting is critical. The courses of fire USPSA uses to classify shooters (classifiers) are more static than the field courses, but still require fast/smooth/efficient gun handling.

    IDPA has only one classifier, which is much easier to score well on than the USPSA classifiers, but is a good introduction to basic pistol handling skills. IDPA field courses incorporate elements of cover and engagement sequence that are generally not present in USPSA, which is more of a “jump out and shoot” sport.

    Steel Challenge is based on a series of prescriptive, static stages, with lots of emphasis on transitions between plate targets.

    A Google search will turn up plenty of information on the different sports, and also stage diagrams for the classifiers. There are many videos on YouTube showing classifier and field stages from club up to international level.
  9. Armchair Commando

    Armchair Commando Long Range Guru

    Jan 10, 2006
    Bunker in the Midwest
    No need for the smart aleck remark, You asked a question and got a response, Now if you said you were shooting a les baer and doing the same groups then i would say its user error/bad shooting form! Comparing glocks to top notch accuracy is like comparing a Ar15 to a f-class bolt gun! Practice your shooting form and be happy with any good group inside 6 inches at 25 yards. And to answer your question, Don't worry about what other people think is good shooting at 25 yards, Be happy with what your able to accomplish and that's it. To me anything bigger than a 1-2 inch group at 25 yards is decent but i can never shoot that good!
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  10. Charles Wagoner

    May 15, 2012
    Norman, OK
    Dude. Calm down. I was being completely genuine. Not being a smart aleck at all. I'm the one here asking for the help of other people, so I appreciate the time you take out of your day to go out of your way and and give me advice, and I believe I stated that clearly. Don't be so quick to assume that everyone posting on the internet is just some pissy little jerk.

    Again, thanks for the very good info.
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  11. JCM1976


    Dec 31, 2011
    It's hard to judge tone sometimes, that's why I hate texting.
  12. bustedknee

    bustedknee Curmudgeon

    Aug 1, 2001
    Wythe County, VA

    Note: I made my main answer below in bold. ;)


    Cheap paper plates from Costco.

    If you can keep all shots in the plate at 25 yards, you are good to go.
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  13. I second the paper plates as targets idea. Been using paper plates for targets for a number of years - they work great.

    Some of the shooters I shoot with will stick some sort of 3-inch "stick on" "Shoot N See" or similar target in the middle of the plate for a better aiming point. But the basic bare plate sans stick on works great for me.
  14. Arc Angel

    Arc Angel Deus Vult!

    Sep 20, 2003
    Penn's Woods
    I'm another one of those pistol shooters who uses lots and lots of (not so cheap) plastic-coated, 9 inch, paper plates. (The plastic coating allows the bullet to cut a nice clean hole.) I got 'a tell you: If you can shoot those illustrated groups in rapid fire with a G-19 then you are already better with a pistol than anyone else in my rather large gun club; and that includes me.

    'Why' is it always you big guys with broad shoulders and strong arms who make the most accurate, and often the very best pistol shots?
  15. TTex

    TTex Cannon Fodder

    Jul 12, 2011
    Hmm being as you seem to shoot better than I do I'm not sure I should talk technique, but I did want to offer a couple of tips that may make your range trips more enjoyable. First as others have said the G19 is a compact self defense pistol. Its pretty hard to justify self defense at 25 yards, but I'll grant you practicing at 2 yards doesnt present enough challenge. My prefered yardage is about 7 yards. If you are obsessed with the bullseye then perhaps try some silhouette targets for a while. Keep both eyes open, and, if you arent already, start shooting from reset. As mentioned you might want to try some plinking as well if you have access to an outdoor shooting spot. Zombie targets are also a fun way to lighten things up and have some fun. Just shoot it like what it was designed for and I think you'll have a much better time at the range.
  16. RonS

    RonS Millennium Member

    May 27, 1999
    Oh, USA
    Join GSSF. Knowing you are going to be shooting in front of other people will motivate you to improve.

    Don't just plink, practice. Have a plan each trip to work on some part of the fundamentals.

    From what I have seen with my Glock I would replace the sights with a set of Heinie or other high quality sights. I don't know how your G19 sights are but on my G26 the front sight fills the rear notch completely making it hard to consistently align the sights.

    Pick up a couple of books or videos.
  17. Aquagear


    Aug 29, 2010
    Sparks Nv.
    You're groups do not look that bad, the Glock trigger takes a little time to get used to. Try a little more dry firing, concentrate on keeping the front sight on target. Basically it takes practice. I shoot IDPA matches and on a good day can get double taps about two inches apart on the thirty foot targets, but it takes some concentration. In other words ( practice practice practice):wavey:
  18. kensb2

    kensb2 pistol n00b

    Mar 19, 2012
    Apache, OK
    OP, do you go to H & H off of 240 to do your shooting by chance? It's the best range I know of in the OKC's actually really the only one that I know of. I live about an hour south of you, and am also fairly new to handguns. I have a Gen 4 G27 on order that should arrive this coming Sunday. Oh, and I'd say your groupings look pretty good for someone that's only been shooting for about a month!
  19. You want to be better? Time to double your distance and go to 50 yards :)


    If you stay at 25 yards, work on speed. How fast can you empty a mag and keep them all on a sheet of paper? And of course find some local club that does IDPA or bullseye or cowboy shooting or something :)
  20. Charles Wagoner

    May 15, 2012
    Norman, OK
    There are two ranges I go to in Norman. One is downtown and the other is between Norman and Moore, right off Indian Hills and I-35. I haven't been to H&H yet, but I work up in the City and have thought about going up there during my lunch break or something. The ones in Norman I guess are even closer to where you live. Should shave about 30 minutes off your drive at least. There's also an outdoor range just east of Slaughterville, but you have to have a hunting license since its on a wildlife preserve, which I do not.
    Last edited: May 21, 2012