Why are people afraid to work at distance to improve their accuracy? If you want to be accurate at distance you have to shoot at distance, there is no substitute.
Sprinting to be a sprinter
It’s kind of like wanting to run fast, you have to sprint hard. You want to lift heavy weights then add plates to the bar. While there are methods to improve your accuracy at closer ranges they do not correlate for one simple reason; human error. Deep down we want to think we are intelligent, yet we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. If one generation could avoid making the same mistakes from the previous generation we would’ve colonized Mars by now. Here’s a good example, years ago when rifle zero’s were the rage the battle between the 50/200 and 100 yard zero was epic. Except there was one major problem, there is no such thing as a 50/200 yard zero other than on paper. Just because you zeroed at 50 does not mean you will be on target at 200 and the reason why is again simple; there is 150 yards difference between the two distances. Shocker I know, yet people would show up to our Mid-Range classes thinking they were good only to realize the reality was far from good.
Understand the why
Why? Powerful question there; the reasons fell into two categories; mechanical and technical. Mechanically their zero would be off because their equipment didn’t have the juice to perform well at the extended ranges. However, the real culprit was technique, students didn’t have the solid technique to be accurate at the extended ranges. They thought they did until you take them back then all of a sudden they find themselves faced with a crappy group. Not a misplaced shot here and there, but all over the target. You want to be accurate at extended ranges then here’s the secret, be consistent at extended ranges. Add some refinement to technique and you’ll be surprised by your steady improvements.
Through the various diagnostic drills we do we are able to determine the most likely cause of shooting errors. Overwhelmingly the most common is trigger management. Being able to control the trigger for the required level of accuracy will always plague students. Years ago and I mean years ago we released the TETP or Target Enhancement Training Program. The program was a series of targets that ranged in size between 1-6 inch circles and squares. Each target had a prescribed course of fire to be performed to a measurable standard. The goal was to encourage shooters to practice difficult drills “consistently” and track progress, this program was replaced with the MTP or Marksmanship Training Program because I could no longer provide feedback due to the popularity and finally to our current TACOST or Task, Conditions and Standards program. All of which have observable, measurable and repeatable standards.
Practice what you suck at…
What does this have to do with shooting at distance? The biggest complaint was the extended range drills. Folks didn’t like shooting them because they sucked as soon as they stepped back. No matter how much time they spent at the close range it did not help them to meet the standards at the extended ranges. My theory was they lacked supervision, but even in classes today there is a disproportionate number of drills at the closer ranges and we still have problems at the 25 yard line even with our corrective strategies in place. There is a direct correlation between improvement and rounds fired at specific distances. Another shocker I know, but some still believe shooting at close ranges prepares them for shooting at distance. Regrettably, you still suck only now you just blame it on the distance.
Shooting exclusively at close ranges has the negative outcome of concealing technique errors that go unnoticed at the closer ranges. In other words, it’s not the same.