Best Distance for Pistol Target Shooting
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Best Distance for Pistol Target Shooting

This is a discussion on Best Distance for Pistol Target Shooting within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Main Category category; What distance should I set my target at for target practice? I realize there can be a myriad of answers ...

  1. #1
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    Default Best Distance for Pistol Target Shooting

    What distance should I set my target at for target practice? I realize there can be a myriad of answers for this, but I am sure there are some standards for pistol shooting out there. The reason I ask is that I have a new .40 EMP that I conceal carry and I want to be realistic with how far my targets should be set for realistic settings.

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    What "realistic" setting do you project to have to use your firearm? That alone should answer your question.

    However, I'll let you know how I train. I train at these distances: 3 yds, 5 yds, 7 yds, 10 yds, 15 yds, and 25 yds. Note, these are in yards, not feet. The reason I train at these distances is because these are the distances I will be at when I do firearms qualifications.

    However, what are you training for? Is it self-defense? If so, anything past 7 yards is more than likely overkill, and the way I would train is to try to get off rounds quickly and in center of mass. Target shooting so you can hit a one inch by one inch square SLOWLY is not good training for self-defense. You want to be quick, accurate (on Center of Mass), and be able to get many rounds off quickly. There are many other drills that I would recommend if interested, but you only asked about distances.

    If you are trying to target shoot, then any distance would be an interesting challenge. If you have a competition you are going to join, find out from them where the targets will be and how large. This will give you the answer you are looking for.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote."
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    We use 8" dots on a 12"x12" steel plate at 7 yards and a full 12" by 12" plate at 25 yards to run all of our combat drills on at work. Only solid hits count, none of that touching the line stuff for this course of fire.

    For standard Navy pistol qualifications the targets are transtar II's and the distances are 3 yards, 7 yards and 15 yards. Standard Navy CoF allows for touching the line to be counted as next higher score.
    Steady gun, sight reference, trigger control.


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    the reaslitic range, for civilians, is from arm's length to 5 yds, max. If you want some training at harder/longer stuff, do head shots. dont shoot steel plates at less than 5 yds,, tho, the risk of lead splashback harming you is too great. What matters most is extreme speed of ccw draw, not necessarily firing, but getting the gun VISIBLE to the punk, from far enough away to make him SEE that he's going to get shot, probably repeatedly, to give him time and space to stop and flee. It will cost you an average of 50k plus if you hit somebody with a bullet, to stay out of prison and not be sued for everything you ever make. so if you CAN, it is very advisable to be fast enough to not HAVE to fire. Just ask G. Zimmerman if he wishes he'd had some hand to hand skill and had gotten his gun out sooner! He came within a fraction of a second of being shot with his own gun, then he came within a hair of having to serve 10 or more years in prison and he's STILL under threat of lawsuits, and will have to watch his back for another 10 years, at least.

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    I go with 3, 5, and 7 yds. It is good to be able to shoot farther out, and doesn't' hurt to shoot 10, 15, and 20 yds.
    Summer hobby is boating on the Bay and Lake Michigan.
    Winter hobby is driving that Jeep off the sides of mountains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dillner View Post
    What distance should I set my target at for target practice? I realize there can be a myriad of answers for this, but I am sure there are some standards for pistol shooting out there. The reason I ask is that I have a new .40 EMP that I conceal carry and I want to be realistic with how far my targets should be set for realistic settings.
    By the way you ask your question, I'm going to assume you mean for self defense. That being the case, 7yds (21ft) is the standard for max distance you can legally defend yourself with deadly force. Now don't quote me on this, but LEO's are trained to use deadly force when a suspect has a "bladed object" (knife, ax, hatchet, sword, etc.) and is advancing within 30 ft, so I would think the same would apply to civilians. They must be advancing though. That being said, I have a measured distance of 30 feet at my range, and I practice at all sorts of random distances when I'm there. I never measure. Why? What's the point? If you're attacked in a real life situation, are you going to break out a tape measure and measure it off? Learn what 30ft and 21ft look like and just go from there.

    Now just for useless knowledge, depending on what state you live in, those distances may not apply in your home. SC has the "castle doctrine" law that gives you a little more legal room for defending your home/property. For example (I had a cop tell me this and have had it confirmed by several others, all from different agencies within the state), if I'm in my house or yard or whatever and I see someone breaking into my car and stealing stuff out, and say I'm 50ft away (well being the usual self defense range), given I'm confident enough in doing so I can take a shot at him and be legally justified in doing so. Now pretty much all of them made it very clear that they did not recommend doing that at all, however legally there is nothing wrong with it. You have a legal right to use deadly force to protect your property in "your castle".

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    I practice draws at home, dry fire, etc. For at the range, I have downloaded a slew of drill scenarios at pistol-training.com Drills

    In general, for serious practice, 3-7+ yards. For fun though, go on..stretch it out - be silly. When I drill though, often I start on 3x5 cards at 3 yds.
    1) Draw,
    2) Assorted drillsdouble/triple tap, reload, clear jam, etc.

    when I am up to speed with accuracy at that range, I go out yard by yard until I am pushing it.

    Have fun. Remember: slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

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    Thank you all for this valuable input.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolf_fire View Post
    What "realistic" setting do you project to have to use your firearm? That alone should answer your question.

    However, I'll let you know how I train. I train at these distances: 3 yds, 5 yds, 7 yds, 10 yds, 15 yds, and 25 yds. Note, these are in yards, not feet. The reason I train at these distances is because these are the distances I will be at when I do firearms qualifications.

    However, what are you training for? Is it self-defense? If so, anything past 7 yards is more than likely overkill, and the way I would train is to try to get off rounds quickly and in center of mass. Target shooting so you can hit a one inch by one inch square SLOWLY is not good training for self-defense. You want to be quick, accurate (on Center of Mass), and be able to get many rounds off quickly. There are many other drills that I would recommend if interested, but you only asked about distances.

    If you are trying to target shoot, then any distance would be an interesting challenge. If you have a competition you are going to join, find out from them where the targets will be and how large. This will give you the answer you are looking for.
    The above quote is an answer that really answers. I am just a 72 year old who has a lethal firearm whose only intent is to permanently stop someone who invades my occupied home or car (instant imminent threat of death under Castle Doctrine) or I can presume, as a reasonable person, is an imminent threat to me away from my home during my comings and goings. This all takes place, IMO, at distances less than 20 or 30 feet. Anything further is for the Dirty Harry's as far as I am concerned--if they are say 10 or 20 yards away from me they are not an imminent threat to me (kindly leave out "what if"--it is not in my vocabulary at that distance--whether you agree or not). My friends stand there and aim and aim and take their time shooting the lights out of the center of the target. i may do same with my 22, but when I am using my FN5.7X28, it is all about point shoot at a pie plate that represents center mass. If all my shots are in the pie plate within say a 2 inch area, my presumed imminent threat will not be a presumed threat to me or anyone anymore. So, as the quoted reply says--what is your intention? Target shooting is sport when it is the target you are trying to hit in that little middle dot. Target shooting is defensive training when it is the "center mass" of the target that you are trying to shoot in some kind of quick manner ala point shoot. I fail to understand what the purpose is when I see a fellow shooter near me carefully aiming his big caliber pistol at a target that is 50 yards away. If he has a reason, that is his reason and I cannot fault it--I just find it to be a waste of time and expensive cartridges.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndeyHall View Post
    By the way you ask your question, I'm going to assume you mean for self defense. That being the case, 7yds (21ft) is the standard for max distance you can legally defend yourself with deadly force. Now don't quote me on this, but LEO's are trained to use deadly force when a suspect has a "bladed object" (knife, ax, hatchet, sword, etc.) and is advancing within 30 ft, so I would think the same would apply to civilians. They must be advancing though. That being said, I have a measured distance of 30 feet at my range, and I practice at all sorts of random distances when I'm there. I never measure. Why? What's the point? If you're attacked in a real life situation, are you going to break out a tape measure and measure it off? Learn what 30ft and 21ft look like and just go from there.

    Now just for useless knowledge, depending on what state you live in, those distances may not apply in your home. SC has the "castle doctrine" law that gives you a little more legal room for defending your home/property. For example (I had a cop tell me this and have had it confirmed by several others, all from different agencies within the state), if I'm in my house or yard or whatever and I see someone breaking into my car and stealing stuff out, and say I'm 50ft away (well being the usual self defense range), given I'm confident enough in doing so I can take a shot at him and be legally justified in doing so. Now pretty much all of them made it very clear that they did not recommend doing that at all, however legally there is nothing wrong with it. You have a legal right to use deadly force to protect your property in "your castle".
    Do you have a source for this? statutes or case law? I've never heard this before. (not disagreeing, just asking for information)
    Steady gun, sight reference, trigger control.


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