Defensive shooting and group size

breamfisherbreamfisher Senior MemberPosts: 13,115 Senior Member
Something I've been seeing pop up lately both in print and in relayed information is the idea that for defensive shooting, you don't want a small group, but rather a larger group. Advocates of larger groups say that you should be going for a 6" to 8" group size on your target. The range for this is not specified, so I'm guessing it's at all ranges. For an example, see point #2 in the linked article...

http://www.handgunsmag.com/personal-defense/common-defensive-shooting-myths/

Read it? Good. Now while I agree with the basic premises of this (that you traumatize more flesh, you can speed things up by not concentrating on small groups, and that the center of mass has a 6" to 8" vital zone) I have a few quibbles. I disagree with the way the premise has often been presented, as in my experience it's usually used to justify larger groups on a square, static range. Neither the shooter nor the target or moving and there's only outgoing fire.

1. More than likely the shooter and the shootee will be moving. Anyone who's done shooting with movement can attest that it's difficult to get small groups when moving, whether the ground is smooth or not. This will tend to open up groups.

2. It's been said by those who have been-there, done-that that under stress your groups will open up by 50% or more. So that 8" group under range conditions can become 12" or more in real life.

3. You may only get one shot on target. They may fall, move, or whatever and render a second shot unattainable. Also, you may only be able to shoot for the head, which the author points out is a small target (smaller than 8".)

To my way of thinking, using the 6" to 8" group size as "acceptable" on a square range at normal distances (say up to 25 yds.) is not really the best thing to do, as the things that normally happen in a gunfight will serve to expand that group size beyond what is acceptable to giving hits that are wounding, at best, or could be clear misses.

Maybe it's a confusion with how the standards are presented, or what is actually being taught?
Overkill is underrated.
«1

Replies

  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 20,640 Senior Member
    In defense, I do not shoot for a group. Each round is a message unto itself and I want each message to be delivered to the exact location I intended. So, it is not about group size but the ability to send each round to its intended location on demand, under stress.

    If you're measuring group size, you're doing it wrong. If you're judging whether or not you place the rounds where you wanted them to go, you're doing it right.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 8,675 Senior Member
    WOW, I totally agree with you.

    If groups open up under stress or while moving, we should be striving for a smaller not larger group to begin with.

    In a self defense situation, unless one is a credited sniper, they will not be shooting at a specific area on a person, we want rounds to make contact with the bad guys body. While anywhere on his/her body is much larger than the small groups we desire at the range, that two inch group at the indoor range most likely would become a six to twelve inch group when yours or someone you love life is in jeopardy.

    Traumatize more flesh? I guess that must have been written by someone that has never been shot or saw it happen. A bullet anywhere on a persons body is going to hurt like hell, so while this from a glance goes along with the train of thought that a larger group is ok, in reality we will be lucky if that planned small group center of mass that we try for, turns into a hit anywhere on a human size body.
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,115 Senior Member
    Zee, that's why I have a problem with folks excusing poor range performance with the idea that the bullets will hit close enough to do damage. I understand that a square range is different than SD/HD. But if I have the fundamentals down and can put bullets where I want to under controlled conditions, I'll probably have a better chance of doing it under stress. To me, 6" at 21 feet is not "good enough." I'm not even happy with 3". I'd rather my shots hit where I want to.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,658 Senior Member
    A SD instructor benefits from students who finish his prescribed course believing that they are well qualified, by having taken it. There is little doubt but that it has benefited them in lots of ways, but lowering the marksmanship standard insures that more of his students 'succeed,' and is probably a natural progression in the way business is done, these days.

    ADDED: I always thought that I would enjoy SD training, but felt like I needed good marksmanship abilities and safety habits before investing in more advanced training. I have never reached the levels that I thought necessary, so I haven't done it. Also, in my area, the instructors target newbies, and have to spend half or more of their time trying to avoid being shot by them. :jester:
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    I agree SD is or should not be an alibi for bad marksmanship. I first noticed a lot of crappy shooting when Wonder Nines hit the market and the Spray n Pray mentality took over some shooters. Yes, most of them HICAP 9 sillymeters are not in the same class fer accuracy as a decent revolver, but some of the Buckshot groups (Patterns?) Ive seen on the ranges are just ridiculous even for the pistols they are firing. I'm talking any kind of shootin slow fire and fast...........piss poor.

    Medically/morbidly speaking if wounds are further apart is it better, hell I dunno. So long as they get into the boilermaker of the bad guy who is gonna take a caliper and measure group size besides the Coroner Pathologist.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • pjames777pjames777 Senior Member Posts: 1,078 Senior Member
    Minute of Torso....no more no less....
  • pjames777pjames777 Senior Member Posts: 1,078 Senior Member
    Actually biggest obstacle is shooting under pressure. IDPA is terrific for developing proper SD practices. Most ranges let you only fire once every two seconds which, IMHO, develops poor muscle memory for stress shooting. Putting multiple rounds down range rapidly is different then slow deliberate fire. Once again, want to get good practice in under stress....IDPA
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 6,536 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    In defense, I do not shoot for a group. Each round is a message unto itself and I want each message to be delivered to the exact location I intended. So, it is not about group size but the ability to send each round to its intended location on demand, under stress.

    If you're measuring group size, you're doing it wrong. If you're judging whether or not you place the rounds where you wanted them to go, you're doing it right.
    Two sides of the same coin. You will get a group IF you are "delivering the message to the exact location" on paper. If you dont get a group, then the holes are not where you intended.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 6,536 Senior Member
    My take is it is a excuse for the lowest common denominator. If the standard is set so low, everyone gets a trophy.

    Its the same thing I told my kids when they wanted to go hunting. The kill zone inside a whitetail is about 6 inches. Your target is under a inch on the outside pf the hide. The rest is just room for error. The more you practice to hit that one inch spot, the less you have to think about hitting it when you have three seconds to make the shot.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 20,640 Senior Member
    Two sides of the same coin. You will get a group IF you are "delivering the message to the exact location" on paper. If you dont get a group, then the holes are not where you intended.

    Not necessarily. I may change my POA with every shot. Pelvic, sternum, head for instance in a TQ-15 target. Or the same on an IPSC target.

    In that case, my "group" would suck.

    ;-)
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    Not necessarily. I may change my POA with every shot. Pelvic, sternum, head for instance in a TQ-15 target. Or the same on an IPSC target.

    In that case, my "group" would suck.

    ;-)

    Damn, you will just shoot all over the place to get someones attention won't you? :tooth:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • NCFUBARNCFUBAR Senior Member Posts: 4,324 Senior Member
    An SD situation can not be defined since it will vary greatly. You could even be firing from inside a vehicle to laying in your own bed. Throw in the fact you are likely going to have enough adrenaline to punch a mule and you are really screwed. Static target results really don't mean much. The A, B or even C hits on old IPSC targets would be damn good to me under stress. That is why I laugh at people saying ... just shoot them in the leg. A moving target with you most likely moving and adrenaline pumping is not going to produce a "grouping" I just would like to have ALL hits and allow the fluid to leak. Now if I have distance, cover and a little time it might be different but how many times will you have that in a true SD situation?
    “The further a society drifts from truth ... the more it will hate those who speak it."
    - George Orwell
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 15,078 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    If you're measuring group size, you're doing it wrong. If you're judging whether or not you place the rounds where you wanted them to go, you're doing it right.

    THIS!
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,968 Senior Member
    Much to do about nothing
    you wouldn't get a tight group anyway
    too much movement
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,658 Senior Member
    My take is it is a excuse for the lowest common denominator. If the standard is set so low, everyone gets a trophy.

    Its the same thing I told my kids when they wanted to go hunting. The kill zone inside a whitetail is about 6 inches. Your target is under a inch on the outside pf the hide. The rest is just room for error. The more you practice to hit that one inch spot, the less you have to think about hitting it when you have three seconds to make the shot.

    I teach my grandsons the same thing. :up:
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I never liked the term "combat accuracy" it always seemed to be an excuse for poor shooting, or guns with poor accuracy.

    Groups and the ability to accurately place bullets precisely where you want are fine goals.
    Learning to be kool under fire is also learned, one salient point we learned in medical training was to remain calm and collected, you do a very poor job if you become unstable due to an adrenaline rush, in your average big city hospital ER, you will not be able to function if you can't be kool and dispassionate, you will burn out fast.

    Personal defense is similar, you need to learn self control and discipline in order to remain calm and collected, if you learn to do this, you will have the upper hand in any personal defense encounter.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • MississippiBoyMississippiBoy Senior Member Posts: 819 Senior Member
    Aim small, miss small. If I'm deliberately trying to make a pie plate size pattern, under stress it's most likely going to turn into a barn door size pattern. I'd much prefer to aim for thimble sized and it turn into pie plate size.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    This is the famous self fulfilling prophecy, your groups do not have to open up if you learn self discipline and self control, remaining calm, deep breathing etc, you will not get fight or flight response, It is conditioning, also, they are using hypnosis to control eating disorders / weight loss, I figure hypnosis conditioning can be used to help maintain control under extremely stressful circumstances....
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    I agree with bream and others regarding shooting at the range vs a "real" situation, where the target may be moving, you may be moving, and the target may be shooting back! His post says that your accuracy might degrade 50% or more, and I'd bet on the "or more" part.

    Here's a standard silhouette target @20-25ft (I forget which), 15 total rounds, 3 magazines w. 5 rnds each, from my Springfield Operator .45 1911. 10 of the rounds (2 mags @ 5rnd ea) were 230gr FMJ practice ammo, Remington I think. This was followed by 1 5-rnd mag w. CorBon PowrBall +P. 3 of the "misses" are of that magazine, where I must have overcorrected a bit for the higher muzzle jump from the hotter ammo. All shots were "quick fire" which in my lexicon (I may be wrong) means that I aimed and fired as fast as I could acquire the bull, aiming across the front sights, and then fast as I could pull the trigger between rounds. Then I popped out the spent mag and reloaded, and did the same again, 3 times for 15 total shots.

    20ft15rdoperator.jpg

    This is of course pretty good shooting but that's not the point -- I've always been a good rapid-fire but close range pistol shot, since this is what I mostly practice. My point is, you take this and stretch it out at 30 or 40 feet, nighttime, me stressed and scared and dodging the attacker, he dodging my shooting, and you'd get a huge spread all across the target, and maybe a couple in the zero ring (no hit).

    I of course carry my pistols fully loaded, so with the 1911 I'd get 8 rounds, with my XD I'd get 14. Of course for most any "real world" self defense situation that happens at pretty close ranges (most SD shootings are, what? -- 6 to 8 feet?) -- but regardless, let's say you're needing to shoot at 40-50 feet. Those nice, pretty and tightly packed holes are going to scatter all over.

    So, the better you are at getting your shots on top of each other during practice, the better you'll do if you really need to shoot.

    And that hooha about spreading out the damage? I think this is some sort of blue sky concept, and as was said, the person who may espouse this hasn't really studied what a self defense round will do, 1 shot only. If you can get 3 center mass shots, well grouped, instead of only 1? So much the better. And even if the idea about spreading out the damage were to be technically valid, the actual shooting that came from a "spread shot" practice would be even more spread out, where lots of total misses might occur, endangering innocents.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    This is the famous self fulfilling prophecy, your groups do not have to open up if you learn self discipline and self control, remaining calm, deep breathing etc, you will not get fight or flight response, It is conditioning, also, they are using hypnosis to control eating disorders / weight loss, I figure hypnosis conditioning can be used to help maintain control under extremely stressful circumstances....

    I have no idea whatsoever regarding hypnosis but for other aspects, of course self discipline and self control and whatever else will LESSEN your spread on the target. I'm however of the opinion that under a genuine shooting scenario, anybody will shoot less accurately. The idea of course is to practice and think ahead and do whatever (maybe including hypnosis or maybe just meditation) that is needed to shoot more accurately under stress.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Years ago, a LE range I used had a light bar and strobes flashing and Walter the TO would jostle the shooter a bit and shout etc... it was good practice under stressful conditions, I learned to switch off in a sense, this also came into play in EMS people after a massive accident / trauma, you learn to turn off unnecessary emotions.
    Once you acquire these skills, shooting even under fire is easier when you remain calm.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Fat BillyFat Billy Senior Member Posts: 1,813 Senior Member
    Triple Tap in torso is my desired defense group. :guns: Later,
    Fat Billy

    Recoil is how you know primer ignition is complete.
  • DanChamberlainDanChamberlain Senior Member Posts: 3,375 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    Not necessarily. I may change my POA with every shot. Pelvic, sternum, head for instance in a TQ-15 target. Or the same on an IPSC target.

    In that case, my "group" would suck.

    ;-)

    Methinks you misunderstood what Varmintmist intended. My take on this is, if you deliver your shots precisely where you want them, then you will have no problem shooting a group if you were so inclined. Technically, they are one shot groups, if they impact where you intended them to impact. Should you decide to shoot another shot at the same point, the two impacts would be nicely grouped.

    The only time I shoot for group, is when I'm trying to determine what the intrinsic accuracy of a pistol/rifle is. After that, I'm shooting for effect. My combat accuracy test is, every shot should be able to be placed in a head sized target at 25 yards standing unsupported.
    It's a source of great pride for me, that when my name is googled, one finds book titles and not mug shots. Daniel C. Chamberlain
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 20,640 Senior Member
    Methinks you missed my sarcasm.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 10,945 Senior Member
    Shoot the parts you can see to shoot until the bad guy has had enough.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 20,640 Senior Member
    CHIRO1989 wrote: »
    Shoot the parts you can see to shoot until the bad guy has had enough.

    This brings up a good point. If people settle for the old "Minute of Torso" crap............what if all you have a shot at is the foot? Kinda screwed if the extent of your shooting capability is simply hitting a target backer. You'll likely wish you weren't such a piss poor shot.

    In case you are questioning the foot thing, that's all one officer had to shoot at in the Cali Bank Robbery a few years ago. When they pulled up to the robber in the truck and he got out, ran to the front of the truck, and started shooting at them. One officer ran to the rear of the patrol car, got down on the ground, shot under both the patrol car and truck, and shot the robbers legs/feet until he fell down. Good thing his "grouping" capability was better than MOT. No?

    Consequently, I've used the same technique in simunition training. Dropped to the ground, shot the "adversary" in the feet under a obstacle. When they fell to the ground, I shot them in the head.

    Seemed like a good idea at the time.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 10,945 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    This brings up a good point. If people settle for the old "Minute of Torso" crap............what if all you have a shot at is the foot? Kinda screwed if the extent of your shooting capability is simply hitting a target backer. You'll likely wish you weren't such a piss poor shot.

    In case you are questioning the foot thing, that's all one officer had to shoot at in the Cali Bank Robbery a few years ago. When they pulled up to the robber in the truck and he got out, ran to the front of the truck, and started shooting at them. One officer ran to the rear of the patrol car, got down on the ground, shot under both the patrol car and truck, and shot the robbers legs/feet until he fell down. Good thing his "grouping" capability was better than MOT. No?

    Consequently, I've used the same technique in simunition training. Dropped to the ground, shot the "adversary" in the feet under a obstacle. When they fell to the ground, I shot them in the head.

    Seemed like a me a good idea at the time.

    Prezactly.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,047 Senior Member
    Original language: "6 to 8-inch groups are ideal for combat shooting"

    English translation: "I can't shoot worth a damn and am trying to salvage my manhood with confident-sounding B.S."

    Zed's #2 post is pretty much in line with my reasoning - you are not trying to traumatize "stuff"; you are trying to fixate on an anatomical feature that will function as closely as possible to an instantaneous "off switch".

    Think of a 4" diamter flagpole run up your felon's keister, through the geometric center of his torso, and out the top of his head. If you can hit that pole, you've got spine, aorta, and vena cava at a minimum. Take the 4" vertical section of that 4" wide pole that is high-center chest, and you add heart, windpipe, and bits of lung to the mix. . .and can even get secondary sternum shrapnel on a full frontal shot. That 4" circle contains the solution to your immediate problem. Pulverizing the surrounding landscape will eventually work. . .if you think you have time for "eventually".
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 6,536 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    Methinks you missed my sarcasm.

    Thats because it was all over the place.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • DanChamberlainDanChamberlain Senior Member Posts: 3,375 Senior Member
    Thats because it was all over the place.

    Sarcasm is a talent that is difficult to master. Shooting tight groups is far easier.
    It's a source of great pride for me, that when my name is googled, one finds book titles and not mug shots. Daniel C. Chamberlain
Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.