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The Shooter or the Equipment? - Training and Tactics (permalink)

There are about as many excuses for missed targets as there are errant rounds that elicit them.

If you frequent firearms shooting/training ranges, you'll hear most of them. And just when you think you've heard them all, somebody adds to the Missology dictionary with yet one more gem to explain why his bullets didn't hit their intended mark. Ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, they invariably include everything but the shootist's personal inadequacies.

This having been said, sometimes you actually do run across the occasion when it's not the operator but the machinery that is at fault.

Prior to the advent of milestones like the rifling of firearms barrels, the competent marksman's inaccuracy could predominantly be laid at the feet of the equipment, but in the 21st century, that shouldn't be the case—operative words "shouldn't be." Unfortunately in recent years, though not common—but conversely not a rarity—this problem is once again rearing its ugly head on an all-too-frequent basis. And when this occurs, it can be blamed on these sources: arms and ammunition manufacturers and gunsmiths of questionable expertise, knowledge or business ethics.

Let's call a spade a spade: if a group of competent shootists can't hit their mark with your equipment, it's not the shootists—it’s your lousy equipment. And relative accuracy isn't the only problem—it unfortunately is all too often wed to unreliable, overpriced junk.

There are two types of people who need reliable, "accurate" weapons: gunfighters and top-of-the-order competition shooters. Without reliability and relative inherent accuracy, both are two-time losers—excepting the minor little problem that the gunfighter pays in blood when he loses his "competition."

What about everybody else? Therein lies the rub, because most people don't shoot their guns, or conversely, don't become adept at accurate shooting, because they attempt to fix marksmanship problems by shoveling quantity downrange in a vain attempt to achieve quality. All you achieve by doing this is gold-plating a turd.

If you don't live-fire the weapon, (a) you'll never attain proficiency, and (b) you'll never know if the gun is reliable. It's only after you've signed the ownership papers to your car that you find out it leaks oil, doesn't steer or brake worth a damn, and guzzles gas—but boy, did it look great on the showroom floor. And don't tell me: you actually believed all the gurus who wrote about the product in magazine articles without test-driving the vehicle yourself? You probably proposed to your ex-spouse five minutes into your first date as well.

So what's so bad about modern guns and ammo? First, if it doesn't work reliably, it ain't reliable. A three-year-old can figure that out. That means no malfunctions until it breaks from constant use. "One or two" malfunctions in 100 rounds is not "okay." On which round would you like the weapon to malfunction in battle?

Second, if you're that good a shooter, the firearm had better be as accurate as the maker claims. Even a cartridge offset in the chamber won't allow the projectile to fly true—that's all it takes in a $10,000 sniper rifle to miss your mark. If you're not competent, buy a Kalashnikov—it works and it's more accurate than most shooters.

Third, you don't want to have to treat the weapon like a herd of 95-year-old nuns crossing a street. It’s either a collector's item, in which case you buy a Lady Godiva, or it's a working tool, in which case you acquire Attila the Hen. A fighting gun should be built for go, not for show.

Fourth is aftermarket sights. Since everybody above the age of ten seems to have been smitten with blindness from computer googling, gaggling, texting, and cackling, you of course need aftermarket sights on your pistol. If you need red-dot optics, fine. If it's a laser, it had better work in battle—and so far it's unproven. If it's a tritium sights setup, it had better work in battle—so far unproven. If it's a three-dot pistol sight system, the top of the sights had better line up when the dots do, or one of your "zeroes" is guaranteed off on elevation. If you use fiber-optic light-gathering inserts, make sure you don't get into a dim-light gunfight.

Fifth in this short list of whining (there's plenty more): If you can't shoot a six-inch group at 100 yards with a bead-sight smoothbore slug-fed shotgun, either you can't shoot, or you're using a brand of low-recoil slugs that don't group worth a damn past 40 yards. You decide, because it's one or the other.

And on and on ad nauseam....

In summation: if you on occasion blame yourself for your poor marksmanship, the good news is that it may actually be your equipment that’s at fault. Check both the weapon and the ammo.

If you always blame your equipment, face facts—it's probably you.

Louis Awerbuck is Director of the internationally acclaimed Yavapai Firearms Academy. Course information and schedules are available at their website at http://www.yfainc.com

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