Generally, the defensive handgun crowd does not spend much time on training for real accuracy with the pistol. Due to the nature of most defensive gun uses, shorter-range engagement is the focus of defensive pistol training. And even action shooting sports such as USPSA and IDPA primarily involve engaging larger targets quickly at closer ranges. There is simply no emphasis placed on exceptional pistol accuracy in action shooting sports or defensive pistol craft.
This author readily submits that having a reasonably quick draw to a first-round hit to a target the size of a vital template in the chest area of a person within short distances is a more relevant and important skill than punching tight groups in bullseye targets at twenty-five or fifty yards. However, I also submit that the complete abandonment of such accuracy by most defensive pistol practitioners is to the detriment of the overall skillset.
The discipline of accurate bullseye shooting appears completely different than the craft of defensive pistol shooting. And there are, indeed, significant differences between these two crafts. However, the principles of marksmanship remain essential to defensive pistol craft even though the accuracy problem is usually not very demanding. Bullseye shooting at longer distances puts every aspect of marksmanship under the microscope. Unless every part of your fundamental shooting skills are dialed in, you cannot hit such demanding targets. Therefore, I suggest that spending some time on long-distance accuracy shooting with your carry gun is exceedingly beneficial. Even if you have no aspirations of being a bullseye shooter, spending some time doing that sort of marksmanship will greatly enhance your skills at close-range shooting as well.
Real-World Applicability of Fine Accuracy at Distance
Before analyzing the skills development involved in distance accuracy, which are beneficial in their own right, consider the real-world defensive application of such. With every year that passes, we see more examples of longer-range defensive gun use that contradict the long-held tradition that states civilian defensive gunfights only happen at close range. The most recent at the time of this writing was the incident at a mall in Indiana where an armed citizen shot and killed an active shooter from forty-three yards away with his pistol. This is certainly an example of a far longer distance than those usually observed in self-defense gun use.
Although such events are still very rare, the likelihood of finding oneself in such an event grows by the day. In the past two decades, even as violent crime drastically reduced (though it has sharply risen again in the past two years), active killer events have increased to some extent.
While prioritizing our preparation for such events over other, more common, forms of violence may be misguided, at least considering it is sound. Practicing accuracy at distance provides two important skills. First, the shooter develops the ability to make accurate shots at extended distances. Second, the shooter develops a good understanding of their abilities at different distances, which is exceedingly important.
Point of Impact at Distances
Do you know if you can make a headshot at twenty-five yards or a body shot at fifty yards? Do you even know where your point of impact for your defensive handgun and ammunition is at those distances? Even vetting your gear at these distances is, in itself, very worthwhile so that you know what kind of accuracy is obtainable. If you fire shots at a target fifty yards away, yet have never done so in practice to assess where your point of impact will even be, then you are flinging rounds out into space with no concept of where they will actually land.
Additional Training Benefits
An even greater benefit to spending time at distance accuracy is that it enhances your shooting skills even in close-range rapid fire. Making hits on small targets at extended distances demands a far greater command of shooting fundamentals than does hitting larger, closer targets. Every flaw in your grip, in your trigger press, and in your sight/dot alignment and picture will be made manifest when shooting at distance. Developing the ability to place the majority of your shots in the black of a B8 target at twenty-five yards will foster a command of the fundamentals of marksmanship that far exceeds that held by most concealed carriers. This advanced command of the fundamentals will absolutely enhance your ability to shoot with speed at close-range targets.
Defensive shooters get preoccupied with shooting at targets within the more likely confrontational distances, and this is understandable. If the vast majority of violence in the real world happens within the length of a car, why bother shooting at twenty-five-yard bullseye targets? Again, the strict requirement of perfect fundamentals when shooting at such distances will enhance what you are capable of when shooting at close range. Errors in the grip will be glaring when shooting at a twenty-five-yard bullseye target. Likewise, issues with your trigger press will be immediately evident. Such problems may not even be noticed when shooting at closer-range, larger targets. However, once shooting at greater speed, these deficiencies will become evident, and fixing such issues through distance accuracy training will, in turn, improve your close-range speed shooting.
Regardless of the direct relevance that bullseye shooting has to real-world violence, such training will make you a much better handgunner.