Benchrest shooters are obsessed with it. Firearm and ammunition testers rely on it. Even the fastest shooters in the world add this to their list of drills. I’m talking about shooting groups.
On one side of the spectrum, for precisions shooters, a tight group means success. Jamie Lynn Gray drilled the 10-ring seven times out of 10 in her 10-shot final at the 2012 Olympic Games in Women’s 50-meter Three-Position Rifle. With a group size smaller than 1.5 inches for the entire event, she set an Olympic Record and won the coveted gold medal.
Where being able to shoot a tight group is the name of the game in precision based shooting sports, it isn’t just a skill for the tack drivers. Being able to shoot a group is also valuable for those who compete in the fast-paced shooting sports like IPSC, USPSA and IDPA. It can also help every day gun owners hone their skills to become better shots as well.
Shooting groups tests the entire system of shooter, gun, sighting system and ammunition. Shooting rounds at a single spot on a target can tell you a number of things and by evaluating your hits on your target, you can determine if there is an issue with any part of your individual shooting system.
Starting with the shooter, the ability to shoot a group indicates whether you have a firm grasp of shooting fundamentals. Analyzing your groups can help pinpoint problem areas with your technique.
Group shooting can also help determine if there are issues with a firearm and its sights. Take a firearm that has historically grouped consistently and well. Suddenly this same gun produces poor groups. This can point to different problems, thing like an internal barrel issue or lock-up. It could also mean there is a concern with the sights. Screws on both iron sights and optic mounts can become loose resulting in erratic groups. A small group located outside the aiming area can indicate that the gun is not zeroed properly for that distance.
Ever wonder what the best ammunition is for your firearm? Take note from those who test guns and ammo with groups to determine accuracy. By shooting a series of groups with your firearm with different loads, you may find that there is a specific bullet weight and profile that produces the best accuracy for your gun.
Taking the time to shoot groups out of your gun can give you an idea of how you and your firearm are performing. Focusing on sight alignment and trigger control while shooting groups is a great way to improve your basic shooting skills. Being able to shoot consistent groups also is a confidence booster for later, when you need to make a precise shot.
Group shooting isn’t limited to shooting from a bench or prone with sandbags or a rest, although these are the best methods for testing for accuracy and eliminating human error. You can shoot groups from any position: standing, kneeling or prone. For handgun shooting, you can shoot with both hands or use just your strong hand or your weak hand. Keep in mind that your groups are likely to open up at further distances and more challenging positions.
Here are 3 easy ways to incorporate group shooting into your next practice session:
Want to become a serious groupie? Keep a log by saving your targets or by taking a photo of your group size. Record date, time, firearm details, ammunition used, how many shots fired, shooting position, distance and group size measurement. Not only is this a good way to track your shooting progress, but also it also gives you a snapshot of your firearm’s capability and can help you determine if and when you may need to have your firearm tuned for accuracy.
Wanna Win WON? Enter the #GotGroup Contest!
We want to see your best group! Submit a photo of you with your best group in 1 of 4 ways. The contest will run today (Monday, August 26) through Saturday, August 31 for your chance to win a signed copy of SHOOT: Your Guide to Shooting and Competition.
- Use #GotGroup and tag @TeamWON on Twitter
- Upload a photo to the WomensOutdoorNews.com Facebook Page
- Use #GotGroup on Instagram
- Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your photo.
We’ll share the best submissions at womensoutdoornews.com and our social media sites until the end of the contest and 1 winner will be chosen randomly. So what do you say? Do you #GotGroup?
Julie Golob is one of the most accomplished professional shooters in the world and captain of Team Smith & Wesson. She has won more than 120 championship titles in international, national and regional marksmanship competitions in seven different shooting disciplines. Learn more about the champion, author, veteran, hunter and outdoor television personality at JulieGolob.com. View all posts by Julie Golob