Spot shooting (Part II)

Yesterday, I was re-reading The Complete Book of Modern Handgunning published in 1961. It’s interesting to see how much has changed in the world of handgun shooting and how much has not.

The following gem is found in Chapter 11. How to Shoot

practical spot shooting from handgunning

It brought to mind an unintentional laboratory experiment that happened while I was teaching a snub revolver class. In 2012,  I taught a short block of instruction on snub nose revolvers at the Northeast Shooters Summit, just as I did in 2011. The same block of instruction was given both Saturday and Sunday to two different groups of shooters totaling about 40. Many of these shooters had almost no experience using any revolver, much less a snub. They fired approximately 40 rounds in two hours of training, followed by a 10 round qualification course at 5 and 10 yards. The way the training was structured was shooting on dot targets until the qualification course. I emphasized the concept of spot shooting that I discussed in my previous blog post.

The target used for the qual was the TQ-21TC(C) target photo target. The value of this particular target is that it has a visible aiming point at the base of the V formed by the open throat of the jacket collar.


In both years the success rate on the qualification, using that target, was 100 percent. This mirrored my results when teaching other snub revolver classes. On Sunday of 2012, there was a target mixup and my targets were used for a class before mine. The target available for my class was the DST-1A, which has no visible aiming point on it. It is an almost solid black silhouette with a head.


The difference in the students’ success rate from previous classes was stark. Approximately 50 percent of the students failed the qualification course when it was fired on the DST-1A. Their shots were all over the targets with many complete misses. The change from defined point of aim to ‘center of mass’ aiming altered the outcome of the test radically. This occurred despite them being told to try to visualize a spot to shoot at.

As I mentioned in my previous post about Spot Shooting, using blank targets is a poor way to teach people how to shoot. Sadly, the blank target concept has become the norm. Conversely, it is interesting to note that since the Bianchi Cup (NRA Action Pistol)  switched to the AP-1 target, which has a defined aiming point, from the D-1, which doesn’t, records have been broken every year.

The ubiquitous original B-27 target at least has an X to aim at, even if it is anatomically misplaced. Something to think about in training, practice, and actual incidents is to pick an aiming point or “Mark your targets before you fire.” as Colour Sergeant Bourne put it.

sccy lapd marked

6 responses

  1. Thanks very much for sharing your accidental experiment. Impressively interesting data.

    Can you say about how many students were in each class?

    1. There were, I believe, 40 people registered for the Summit in each case. They were broken into two squads, that flip-flopped attending the blocks of instruction. So I had about 20 people each day. The first 3 groups passed 100%, 60 people approximately. Then 20 had the wrong target experience and only 10 passed. Those numbers might be a little off but they’re pretty close.

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  3. Since antagonists are going to be dressed in various and sundry clothing, what do you suggest as an ‘aiming point’. I agree with the idea in Cooper’s [U]The Complete Book of Modern Handgunning[/u], imagine a point. This is the missing skill, being able to place an imaginary point at which to aim, not having an instructor provide them with such – which may not exist in reality.

    1. Anything that’s recognizable above the diaphragm. Logos, V of a T shirt, etc.

  4. […] Spot Shooting (Tactical Professor) […]

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