Long-Distance Pistol Shooting

Ask someone what a long-distance pistol shot is and you’ll get a lot of different responses. Some will say twenty-five yards. Other people will say fifty yards. What may seem like a long shot for some is different for others. Regardless, it’s a good idea to practice long distance shooting with your handgun.

Pistols are more accurate than most people think. I remember the first time shooting my 1911 at two hundred yards during a class with Scott Reitz. That seemed like a long distance. I was amazed at the number of times I was able to hit the target at that distance, and how long it took the bullet to get there.

We know that most defensive work with pistols takes place at close range, but there are enough documented situations to show us that sometimes it’s necessary to make long distance hits with the handgun.

The key to shooting long distance is application of the fundamentals. Focus on the front sight, smoothly press the trigger,long distance and you’ll get good hits. Don’t be surprised if have to change your point of aim as the distance increases to hit the center of the target. In class today I had two good shooters. We were shooting at seventy-five yards and each of them had to hold at the bottom right corner of the target to hit the center. But, once we determined where they needed to hold they were wearing it out, scoring hit after hit, with most of them within six inches of center on the target.

If possible it’s good to brace or rest against something for stability. Can I hit the target at one hundred from standing? Yes, but if I can brace for stability it’s going to improve my accuracy. In a recent class I had a group of great pistol shooters, but they had never really worked on long distance shots. By resting the pistol and hands, bracing on the wall, they were able to score head shots at seventy-five yards. They were not perfect head shots – between the eyes and nose – but they would have put a hurtin’ on the bad guy for sure.

For really long distances you’ll have to start compensating for the bullet drop. For this you want to hold the front sight on target, then lower the rear sight to get the elevation necessary for the hit. You need the front sight on target; trying to aim high or above the target doesn’t work. If you can’t see the target – your hands and weapon are blocking your line of sight - you’ll have a hard time holding the sight picture. Keep the front sight on target and then lower the rear sight for elevation. For example, with my 1911 I know the rear sight should be half way down the front sight in order to hit at two hundred yards.

Even if you don’t ever have a need to fire at long distance it’s a great confidence builder; if you can hit at one hundred you can make hits at fifty. Hitting at fifty yards means twenty-five yard shots are easy. Now a ten-yard shot is a piece of cake.

Much of your training should be within realistic distances. But, sometimes “real” might be different from what you thought it would be. Start working on long distance shooting. Apply the fundamentals.  Learn where you need to hold in order to hit. You’ll be surprised at the results, and it will make getting hits at normal distances easier. ~ Tiger

Tiger McKee
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama.  He is the author of “The Book of Two Guns” - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html  McKee’s new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite’s website: http://shootrite.org/AR15SkillsBook/AR15SkillsBook.html