Target Accountability

3-Apr-15 – 03:22 by ToddG

typicaltargetThe photo on the left is something we’ve all seen countless times at the range: one target that has absorbed dozens, sometimes hundreds of rounds without any accountability. While it’s fine if you’re just out for a day of making noise and empty brass, from a training standpoint it’s not accomplishing much.

If you don’t know where your rounds are landing during live fire practice, there’s little point in live fire practice.

How do you determine if your last shot was good or bad if you don’t know where it landed? Sure, you can talk about calling your shots but the guy who only hits the bullseye once in a blue moon on pure luck isn’t calling shots. He’s just plain missing a whole lot. And he doesn’t know which shots are good and which are bad. He’s not getting any valuable feedback. And he’s not accountable shot for shot.

Paper and cardboard targets are inexpensive. Target pasters are inexpensive. There’s no reason to launch countless rounds downrange without knowing where they’re landing.

taped-targetPersonally, I typically use what is called “negative taping.” I don’t tape good hits in the scoring zone — because a good hit is a good hit — but I tape up all my misses. That way I’m always aware of a miss and my target is clean every time I start to shoot. The target on the right is an example of what I mean. At the end of an exercise, I can easily count up the misses and know how I did. For example, if I do 10 Bill Drills and six of my shots are outside the scoring zone, I know I got 54 hits and 6 misses, or 90% of my hits.

Leaving the good hits untaped saves me time and pasters; taping the misses means I am always accountable — and counting — my hits so I know when I’m hitting and when I’m not. I get simple quantitative feedback from the target that lets me know how I’m doing.

Some practice drills I want to get 100% of my hits. On others I may be pushing my speed and accept 90%. But if I cannot actually count hits and misses, it’s all just guesswork. And sometimes I want to know exactly where all my shots are landing, so I’ll paste every shot whether it was inside the “zone” or not. For example, if I’m shooting groups then I want to know (a) how big the group was and (b) how well I’m calling every shot.

I’ve been to far too many classes where targets never get replaced or taped. You just launch bullets downrange and get to tell yourself whether that last iteration of a drill was great or not. Worse, sometimes multiple students will share the same target and then it’s even harder to tell how you are doing because someone else’s bullet holes are all over your target. In either case, it’s all just chaos and fantasy. And the messier the target gets, the easier it is to accept lousy hits.

Take a moment between drills so your target actually tells you something about how you’re shooting.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 7 Responses to “Target Accountability”

  2. Good stuff Todd. What I do is tape a 3″ x 5″ card on to the target zone. Then tape any holes outside the cards. Any shots on the card are good hits which also allows me to write on the card any info. I might want to save from loads to yardage, weather, any notes I choose then peel it off and file it away for comparison later.
    Taping the misses really helps keeps track of how i’m doing. Thanks

    By Rupe on Apr 3, 2015

  3. Exactly the way I tape during practice sessions.
    I’ve been to courses where taping is not done and the target is not all white. It becomes impossible to tell where hits are even when point shooting fairly close up.

    By L. Fishler on Apr 3, 2015

  4. This is why I prefer to shoot steel. Instant feedback. And I am constantly re-painting the targets. I get a chuckle out of folks who shoot steel and never paint it up, especially a large silhouette target that’s been shot a zillion times and there’s no way to see where you actually hit it.

    By Ken on Apr 3, 2015

  5. Great topic and points. Whiling I’m handloading in the shop, my six y/o son shoots his Daisy Buck out the back at can targets. He has to report how many BBs it took him to knock down said number of aluminum cans before he resets them. He’s accountable with a burpee or pushup for each missed shot. It seems to help him focus and misses make him stronger for his Spartan training.

    Steel is also a great tool, especially given abbreviated range times. Multiple shooters can run thru a drill without taking time to score, reset, tape, etc. Down side is only having one array, means only one shooter at a time is shooting. On the other hand, this leaves time for others to observe, jam mags, break, etc.

    By Nate on Apr 3, 2015

  6. Yes! I love the little black stickies that come with the sticky targets everyone throws away once they put up the main sticky target. Trash cans are always full of them at ranges and I have no idea why…they are reactive! You can cover your old holes and still see from a distance if hit again!

    By tyler on Apr 5, 2015

  7. I’ve always taped up my targets for at least 10 years now. However, I never stuck to the “negative taping” method, I just happened to do it a few times but didn’t really think about it. For sure going to do it this way from now on.

    I have NOT done any of the drills that you gentlemen and ladies do, except for once in my basement 5 years ago.

    Todd, I just got my MN PTC ( CC Permit ) I am starting to implement your wonderful ideas and techniques. Have a baby in the house so time is very limited. But you have to take this stuff seriously, the training and more importantly the mindset.

    Thanks for everyone’s comments.

    By PC Geek Shooter ( Skunk Pilot ) on Apr 5, 2015

  8. Good on you, Skunk Pilot! Hope it becomes a life long endeavor and source of enjoyment. Train hard & stay safe…

    By ToddG on Apr 6, 2015

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