Speed vs. Accuracy

Within the shooting world, this is one of the most sought after questions. Which is more important and the honest truth is they are of equal importance and the ultimate goal should be to bring both of these into balance at their highest level of performance.

What so many misunderstand about speed is they consider it to be raw speed. Rather you need to think of speed as the fastest you can move or accomplish a task without making a mistake. If you move so fast during your drawstroke that you fail to pick up the sights, or fail to drive the gun to the target or fail to achieve a powerful grip then it really doesn’t matter. Your accuracy will be severely degraded as a result.

When we talk about speed there is generally mention of efficiency and economy of motion. A great example of economy of motion is the elimination of all unnecessary movement or action. Get rid of the excess and you will be lean and by proxy faster. Your goal should be to move with absolute precision then at a speed that allows you to maintain that precision. Then the repetition of the lean movements which builds speed through efficiency. The more you do it, the smoother you get, which leads to the increase in overall speed

Accuracy is your ability to hit what you are aiming despite the circumstances. The components of accuracy are generally broken down into technical and mechanical. Mechanical accuracy largely pertains to adjustable sights. You can have accurate shooting skills, but if your sights are off how can you expect to accurately hit the target. Technical on the other hand is your ability to apply the fundamentals under any circumstance. When these two are in balance then your performing at optimal conditions for accuracy.

Your effort to achieve balance between these two factors is the ultimate goal. The relationship between shooter, weapon and environment are constantly being challenged, but kept in check through speed and accuracy. Most shooting scenarios have a limited amount of time to respond, so speed is often the primary goal. The mistake that happens is when we are compelled to act quickly, we can sometimes emphasize speed over accuracy and actually end up missing the goal of the task entirely. You have to resist the urge to go so fast that you compromise your accuracy, this is probably the hardest skill to develop.

Routinely in class we run timed drills that force the student to execute tasks

with dual objectives. They must be fast enough to meet par times, but they must be accurate to be successful. A failure on either objective constitutes an overall failure of the drill. The majority of failures is a result of the student performing at speeds they cannot guarantee precision of their movements or tasks.

At what point does the emphasis of speed override the requirements of accuracy? It’s really a trick question because you will need to be swiftly exact.

One thought on “Speed vs. Accuracy

  1. RamZar says:

    The balance of speed & accuracy is a constant struggle since it also brings in variables like distance, target ID, etc.

    As Jeff says speed is really all about efficiencies. A tenth of second here and another there but they all add up. The smoother you are the faster you become.

    Knowing when to speed up and when to slow down. For instance, quick to the pistol but slow to get a good grip; quick to the target but slow to acquire the sight and pressing the trigger.

    Another mistake is to speed up in subsequent steps due to a mistake like bad grip. It’ll just end up with a miss!

    Personally, I like erring on the side of accuracy, that is, if the shot is not there slowing down to make the hit.

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