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Speed vs. Accuracy for New and Young Shooters

Posted by Dwight Stearns on 12/19/2017 to Firearm Topics
Speed vs. Accuracy for New and Young Shooters

Team TANDEMKROSS competitive shooter and firearms instructor Dwight Stearns shares a simple, but effective tip for shooting faster and more accurately in his latest blog post.


Last year at a rimfire challenge match I was visiting with a young shooter I was squadded with. I had been watching him shooting the stages and could see he was extremely accurate when he shot at his pace. The problem was this young man, just like all competitors, wanted to go faster but when he did, his accuracy suffered. Of course this was highly frustrating for him. 

In talking with him and his father, I posed this question to him:"Do you ever set up a series of targets and attempt to shoot them faster than his current abilities allow?" His response (and his father's) was he only practiced at a pace he could hit without missing. My immediate question was "did you miss today?" Of course the answer was yes. 

I attempted to explain to him and his father that the competitor in this young man wanted to win (of course) and that drive to win pushed him to attempt to shoot faster than he was allowed to shoot in practice. It wasn't that he couldn't shoot at that speed. It was that he couldn't "see" at that speed because his mind couldn't keep up, therefore he couldn't hit. 

I explained to them that if they set up a series of targets that this young shooter could shoot clean every time in say 3 seconds (for example) and he practices all day at that speed, at the end of the day he will be able to shoot those targets in, guess what, 3 seconds. If he speeds up to let's say 2.5 seconds, his mind won't be able to process what his eyes are seeing.

The solution is to force the mind to work faster by shooting that series of targets faster than you can consistently hit or even see at that time. What the shooter will find is that initially they may only hit two or three of the targets in a 5 target series. Don't worry. Just keep that pace. As the mind begins to process what the eyes see, instead of two or three targets hit, soon it will be four and then all five. So what happens when the young shooter starts consistently hitting at 2.5 seconds? Drop the time to 2.2 seconds and start the process again.

In the youth rimfire challenge classes I teach, I almost never tell a shooter to slow down. Instead I will tell them to "see it". See the sights or dot move from target to target without slowing down.

Because of stress and adrenaline a shooter in competition will not rise to the occasion but rather fall to his level of training. Attempting to shoot faster than what is done in practice always results in disaster.

One can't learn to shoot fast by shooting slow.

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