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How many rounds does it take to stay proficient?

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Old 09-21-2012, 03:15 AM   #1
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Default How many rounds does it take to stay proficient?

For defensive shooting, this is kind of a subjective question as everyone is different. Ball park figure, to retain good muscle memory, I say at least a box (50 rounds) of practice a week to retain good defensive shooting skills. (And that's probably on the light side.) That's 2600 rounds a year. For a 9MM (at $10 a box), that's $520 a year, plus range time. And that practice needs to include much more than just target practice. If you're not practicing defensive drills (including quickly diagnosing and clearing all manner of malfunctions, and reloading quickly) you won't be ready, God forbid, should the need ever arise. I shoot 100 to 200 rounds on most nice days on my home shooting range. But I just enjoy bullet casting, reloading, and shooting. And now that I'm retired I've got the time to really enjoy what I've always enjoyed. The sport of shooting.

How many of you have friends with guns who couldn't hit a pie plate 3 times in 5 seconds at 21 feet, or even 10 feet. Yet they feel safe just because they own a gun. At my coaxing and prodding, a good friend of mine, who never practices, finally came over the other day to shoot with me (which prompted me to make this post). He has a nice 45 auto, and feels safe and secure with it. He talks big, and thinks his 45 will stop anybody, just because, "it's a 45". (People with shot guns mistakenly feel the same way.) He missed the plate with all 3 shots on his first attempt! Got 1 out of 3 on his second attempt. (Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.) Missed all 3 again on his third attempt. He, like 98% of people who own guns, is living under a false sense of security, and would fail miserable (be dead) in a defensive pistol match, which is no where near the pressure and fear one would experience in a real life confrontation.

If you own a gun for defensive purposes, you need to acquire/practice good gun skills (practical, tactical, and marksmanship), and sound presence of mind. Lacking this, merely "having" that gun could get you killed. (i.e. You start shooting and miss which causes the bad guy to start shooting, and he/they get you.) Learn how to end the confrontation, and not start a gun fight. If you think merely "having" that gun or pulling that trigger will do it, your head is up a very smelly part of your anatomy. And I say that with love. If you can quickly and consistently hit what you're shooting at, none of this applies to you (but be honest with yourself - test yourself).

I have the time, place, ammo, and inclination to practice a lot. Many gun owners don't. Suggestions? What say you all?

Don <><
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Last edited by genesis; 09-26-2012 at 04:57 AM.
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Old 09-23-2012, 02:16 AM   #2
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I by no means practice nearly as much as you do....but I do try to get to the range at least 2 times a month. It does take me about 10 rounds to zero in my muscle memory (I'll admit)....but I'm very confident at 21 yrds....I can hit the target at least 3-4 times in the 5 second time frame you suggested. I'm very happy with my skills, but like anything there's always room for improvement. Great thread btw!!!!
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Old 09-23-2012, 02:52 AM   #3
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I put 100-300 rounds downrange every two weeks or so.
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”Samuel Adams
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Old 09-23-2012, 06:29 AM   #4
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To feel confident is 1/2 of the way there.

A carry piece should be practiced with on a regular basis.

To put a number on such a thing is useless. I've seen people go through boxes of rounds and still not hit the target. I've also seen people who have not shot in over a year come out and hit bull's-eyes (or near it) on the first five rounds.

Regular practice and training is a must if you accept the responsibility to carry.
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Old 09-23-2012, 10:35 AM   #5
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While I strongly agree with parts of your post there is something missing. Having a gun that fits your hand, that doesn't cause fear on the part of the shooter, and that is easy to operate at the strength level of the shooter is equally as important as practice.

In my life I have had two guns that fit all of the requirements above. As a result I could go 6 months without practice and not miss a beat on my next trip to the range. All other guns take time to adjust to before I regain my consistency. Little things like adjusting my grip a little, placing my finger just so on the trigger, or grabbing the holstered gun just a little bit higher.

The two guns I had my success with didn't need any of these fine adjustments. So what are they? A doctored S&W Mod 19-2 with Mustang grips and serrated target trigger and hammer, and a Glock 27 straight out of the box. They both fit so naturally it was like an extension of my own arm. It was almost as if I could just think about where I wanted the hole and it magically appeared there.

The 1911 is a great gun and once I find my grip I find it very comfortable in the 4" steel versions. Although the alloy guns are easier to carry, they require much more grip shifting for me to shoot them accurately. The J frame guns are what I call belly guns for me. If I can't touch you with it I probably won't hit my point of aim without adjusting my grip constantly.

Anyway, this is something to watch for on the range. If you are helping someone and you see them shifting their grip after every shot, the gun doesn't fit and they will never be more than average. If the fit is bad enough, they will have to work hard to achieve mediocre. All the technique tips and practice time in the world won't help these people. They need a different gun.
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Old 09-23-2012, 12:44 PM   #6
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More then we have recently.

SWMBO went almost three months without any range time, and it showed. Even better she was carrying my LCP never having shot it. She was excited when she finally hit the frame holding the target. It's no longer her primary carry!

We're going to make a concentrated effort to get out more frequently.
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Old 09-23-2012, 01:13 PM   #7
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If you can whip it out in an instant and put all the projectiles inside of a paper plate, I would say you are good to go.
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Old 09-23-2012, 01:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by JohnJak View Post
If you can whip it out in an instant and put all the projectiles inside of a paper plate, I would say you are good to go.
I can do... wait... are we still talking about guns here?
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Old 09-23-2012, 03:46 PM   #9
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I don't get out as often as I used to, but my normal routine was at least two practice sessions a month with my carry 1911. Those sessions would typically be 500 rounds each, using various IDPA type scenarios. I also shoot other action pistol and steel range set-ups. Yes, I do load and usually load at least 1000 rounds in a sitting for serious practice. If you are going to carry, it is your responsibility to stay proficient. If you cant, or wont take the time to practice, then don't carry.

Dosn't matter what day of the week it is, the best day is the day with your finger on the trigger--jra

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Old 09-23-2012, 06:55 PM   #10
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In my case I have discovered that anything over about 50 rounds is just putting lead down range for fun. I lose concentration after a while & depending on the pistol & caliber, my grip & wrist start suffering. My practice usually includes one handed point & shoot, both strong hand & weak hand, at close range of 3 yards. Moving out to 7 yards, I shoot two handed, then one handed with both hands. I won't always shoot at the 15 yard range, but when I do, it's usually just one mag load & two handed. With my 1911s, that'll use up a box of 50 or so. Then to finish out the trip & just for fun, I'll switch to my 1911-22.

P.S., This is weekly, weather permiting, but not necessarily with the same pistol.
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