How many rounds does it take to stay proficient?

Discussion in 'Concealed Carrying & Personal Protection' started by genesis, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. genesis

    genesis New Member

    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 <><
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  2. chazzy

    chazzy New Member

    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!!!!

  3. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

    I put 100-300 rounds downrange every two weeks or so.
  4. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

    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.
  5. Doc3402

    Doc3402 New Member

    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.
  6. partdeux

    partdeux Well-Known Member Supporter

    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.
  7. JohnJak

    JohnJak Member

    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.
  8. ryguy00

    ryguy00 New Member

    I can do... wait... are we still talking about guns here?:D
  9. masterPsmith

    masterPsmith Active Member

    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.

  10. gollygee

    gollygee New Member

    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.
  11. Eturnsdale

    Eturnsdale New Member

    I do not believe that it is quantity of rounds fired, but rather the frequency of it.

    We really don't go through too much ammo. Maybe a thousand rounds a year each. But instead of shooting a bunch of rounds once or twice a month, we shoot a handful six or seven times a month.
  12. Zombiegirl

    Zombiegirl New Member

    We met an NRA firearms instructor today at an event that we went to. We are going to spend a day shooting with him to help with proficiency. I can't wait to see what we can learn from him. :). Once we work with him, I'll pass along any good tips.
  13. Rich1028

    Rich1028 New Member

    I agree with the op on everything he said!
    me being a new handgun owner...user I need to get out there and train all I can.
    each time I go to the range I suck at the the first mag (well maybe not the whole mag)then I finally get the hang of it.

    and I agree with what gollygee said as well.

    seems for me I have a bad at first,then it gets better,than after ahile it seems to go back to bad again.

    I know that I have a lot to learn,and my body control is one of the reasons I mess up some shots.
    but thats why I like to get out to the range once a week and shoot.
    and I dry fire a lot at home to try and help my shots.
  14. masterPsmith

    masterPsmith Active Member

    The whole idea is the "first two shots on target in the vitals". If you use your handgun for self defense and/or concealed carry, it is the first shot or two under duress which will decide whether you are going to survive the encounter. Practice, practice and more practice will develop the mind set and muscle memory needed to survive.

    Situational awareness and quick reactions without having to think about it, is what will save your life in a situation that might require the use of deadly force. There are no alternatives for practice to develop the muscle memory and mindset required for it to become second nature.

    Fast and accurate shooting is a perishable skill and must be maintained through practice !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  15. BeyondTheBox

    BeyondTheBox New Member

    I don't care what anyone says, as far as I'm concerned you can't practice for a do or die situation, there is no comparison. The only thing one can do is to desensitize and detach theirself from the concept of living, or at least a fear of death. A cool head is the only thing that will prevail in every situation. From there, sure, target practice "can" help, but a lucid mind beats muscle memory hands down, every time!
  16. Eturnsdale

    Eturnsdale New Member

    A cool mind comes from experience. Going to the range and throwing a millions at the target while calm and collected does little to help you survive IMHO.

    Experience breeds confidence.

    Yes, its pretty hard to gain experience in regards to life and death situations without actually being in one. But the military has been training people for that for centuries. One of the keys is learning how to handle stress and preform while your body and mind are stressed.

    Is it as good as having been in one of those situations? No, but it is better than going to the range and casually drawing, pointing and pulling the trigger.
  17. masterPsmith

    masterPsmith Active Member

    Being retired LEO and having been involved in shooting situations, I do vary my practice situations. When I practice with someone else or when I train others, I add stress and distractions to the sessions which is also needed in training.

  18. JonM

    JonM Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    as much practice as one can reasonably afford. im more a proponent of aimed accurate fire being the most important focus. being able to get rounds on target is more important than speed drawing, gun manipulation or any fancy jon-woo mojo.

    once a person has the basics of marksmanship at hand then other areas can be focused on. many many many people with alarming regularity and little to no training or practice defend their own lives with first time recently purchased handguns, rifles and shotguns.

    just starting out does not equate with being inept. first rule of self defense is to have a firearm. extreme proficiency is not required, it just gives one a very strong edge
  19. Eturnsdale

    Eturnsdale New Member

    Im sorry Jon. I have to disagree with you to a point. Being able to keyhole a thousand rounds at fifty yards from a snubby means nothing if it takes you forty five minutes to get the gun out of the holster and pointed at the bad guy.

    Fundamentals do come first. But there are many more aspects that come into it, and many more than being able to keyhole. No I am not saying that being able to aim is not important. Not at all. Accuracy goes right out the window when you think you are about to die. So you do need to learn to be accurate in practice, because the more accurate you are in practice, the more accurate you will be when you think you're going to die. But it is far from the most important thing. Rather it is the balance between all things that is important.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  20. Davo45

    Davo45 New Member

    Speed and accuracy must be balanced. I went through the academy (reserve) with 4 guys on the pistol team who shot nice tight groups with their PPC revolvers (none of them carried revolvers on duty but semi-auto pistols). During the "Low Light/Night Fire" course, not a one of them even hit the target! Why? Simple, they couldn't see their sights and didn't have night sights.

    They all shot 100 with nearly all of their rounds in the "X" ring as long as they could see their sights and were shooting on a linear range. I shot in the 90s consistently (100 once) and was the only trainee in the academy's history to qualify with a revolver, as well as single and double action pistols.

    The vast majority (85%) of defensive shootings occur within 10 feet! That's true for police as well as civilians. Do some occur at longer distances? Yep. I do most of my pistol shooting at 5-10' and less at 25' to 100 yards. I also vary my training sessions up spending more time and ammo on 50-100 yard shooting on occasion. Are essentials important? Yep at longer distances, not so much at close quarters.

    In my opinion anyone carrying a defensive pistol should be able to draw it from concealment and place 3-4 rounds into the center-of-mass at 5 -10 feet without using the sights within 2 seconds, 4 seconds for beginners gaining speed as they gain confidence. To paraphrase General Nathan Bedford Forrest, "You've got to be first with the most" When you've mastered engaging one target start engaging two then three adding no more than 2 seconds per target. I find that Air Soft pistols help tremendously in developing/maintaining shooting skills especially since you can shoot in your own back yard.