I’ve tried to cover quite a bit so far on rifle and pistol accuracy, including techniques and methods for practicing.

To be sure, our readers are also great sources of knowledge and I’ve learned and enhanced my own techniques as a result of the discussions as much as writing the articles themselves. One of the points that bears discussion, I think, is the concept of combat accuracy and how we define it.

There’s no secret that many people get caught up in chasing the dragon when it comes to making small groups and bettering their abilities. Many gun makers and designs live and die by this very point: if a gun is perceived as inherently inaccurate, then regardless of how good the gun is in other ways, it’s not going to be the first choice of fickle gun buyers.

So, what defines accuracy as “Good enough”, and how accurate does a shooter really need to be?

Mechanical Accuracy

The foundation of accuracy, to many, is mechanical accuracy, or how accurate the gun itself is capable of being. In the world of 1911s, many manufacturers make much hay over their guarantees of maintaining inch-and-a-half groups at 25 or 50 yards, which, in a lot of discussions, comes up as a selling point for the firearm. With the advent of precision CNC machining and new methods of working parts together, along with the specializations of many whom spend a great deal of time hand-fitting parts in order to make weapons that operate on the level of a Swiss watch.

Mechanical Accuracy testing with a Ransom Rest

When you look at weapons made by master craftsmen for their singular ability to be accurate, the results are simply stunning. Semi-automatic handguns, which are already at a disadvantage over revolvers with fixed barrels, that can shoot groups smaller than an inch at 50 yards or greater. And these handguns are built with the type of artisan precision that goes beyond the realm of ordinary precision manufacturing.

Combat Accuracy

One thing the most infinitesimal precision can never account for; no precision text fixture can duplicate or articulate; what no amount of fitting can overcome, however, is the human element. This is really the elephant in the room that many shooters don’t like talking about: How accurate are you?

There is a constant battle against the body in order to improve accuracy simply because the body is inherently in motion, it does not lend well to constant vault-like stillness that one needs in order to reduce accuracy to simple mechanical factors.

Combat Pistol shooting

When it comes to the need to be accurate in combat, the ballgame changes quite a bit. No longer does the gun play a more significant role in accuracy than the shooter. The shooter no longer has the choice of positions, techniques, and how long to spend lining up the shot before taking it.

We all know that under stress in combat, fine motor skills are impaired; the ability and utility of focusing solely on the target and the last hit you made is dimmed and a potentially lethal threat to you; and we all know that this is where shooting fundamentals go from front and center stage to the backstage groundwork you spent all that time laying.

In this realm, group sizes aren’t important as much as fast and accurate hits to targets, and it is in this realm of shooting that a strange thing happens: all that mechanical accuracy inherent to that five thousand dollar masterwork isn’t so important anymore. Guns that can’t hold a candle to these pistols can suddenly make the necessary shots easily and accurately in the hands of a shooter who knows what he’s doing.

Defining What Matters and What Doesn’t

The most important part of shooting against a threat is simply hitting the target. A miss doesn’t help at all, but a hit, any hit, will at least help do damage. This is also where many people get caught up on focusing on their gear and stop worrying about the fundamentals. However, when you begin to make the requirements of the shooter more complex, the smart shooter focuses on the basics and learns his or her platform of choice, overcoming the shortcomings of their gun, and ultimately becoming better shooters.

So what do you readers thing? What matters, and what doesn’t? To what extent do you take training vs. gear, or vice versa?

Be Safe and Shoot Straight.

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