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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Back to Marksmanship Basics-“Offhand” Shooting

If you’re bored with your shooting routine, here’s a little something that’ll make you stretch your legs a bit- classic, one-hand pistol shooting from the “bullseye stance”. The gun I used for this exercise is a mildly-accurized Auto Ordnance 1911-A1 “WWII Model” but you can do this with whatever you have.

Please understand that I am not a “bullseye ace” by any means; but offhand shooting has always intrigued me. I have shot with guys who could keep a 10-round string on a baseball at 25 yards- over and over again. The gun is held at arm’s length in the strong hand, and brought to slightly above eye level; it is then allowed to settle onto the target. This stance, while not perfect, conveys the basic idea:

A six o’clock sight picture is typically used. It should look like this:

Figure 2-4c. Proper. Control alignment is precise. Focus limited to front sight only, renders the sights distinct and target indistinct and sight relationship can be controlled constantly. Reference:
From "Chapter Two of the Army Marksmanship Training Guide"
This page is rich with information, and if you are interested in shooting well with a handgun, in any discipline, you really should have a look at it.

When the sight picture is right, the ‘press’ begins. Steady, increasing straight-back pressure is applied to the trigger until the gun surprises you by going off. This is the only way to trigger the shot without disturbing the gun and pulling the shot. Since you don’t know exactly when the gun is going to fire, it recoils a little higher than normal. This is of no consequence. You maintain pressure on the trigger after the shot, and release the trigger only after the gun starts back down. Note the trigger is still depressed in the following photo, and my eyes are still on the target. This is called "Follow-Through" and it is added insurance that you don't throw away a shot that started with a perfect sight picture. Dig that fired case in the air! (circled)

Now I know there is probably a 'serious' bullseye shooter out there somewhere, reading this. I don’t mind if you have a laugh at the following, as long as you’ll offer some pointers in exchange. *

Results at 25 yards, from 10 rounds slowfire, and 5 rapid. I should have quit with the slowfire- I had a decent group going with the first ten.

And now for the killer-50 yard shooting. I could live with the ones just outside the black, but that ‘stinker’ above the first red “W” was the one that hurt.

Anyhow I thought it would be interesting to try this with my fixed-sight carry gun, using the load I carry in it every day. It's just your basic GI-style 1911A1, zeroed for 230’s, and with a pretty stock 4.5 pound trigger that breaks clean. The trigger itself is GI surplus with no overtravel stop.

I can tell you one thing for sure- shooting offhand from the bullseye stance will really bring you back to the basics of marksmanship. And the next time you shoot falling plates from 15 yards, don’t be surprised if you hit them so easy that you don’t even have to hurry to smoke the guy on the other rack. The fact is that the essential marksmanship fundamentals learned in offhand shooting, are easily transferred into the other "two-handed" shooting disciplines like IDPA, and IPSC. They are also absolutely invaluable in the defensive application of the handun. The old adage is true: "You can't miss fast enough to win."

For more on bullseye and the basics of marksmanship, see the “Encyclopedia of Bullseye” at

Be safe, and have fun. This stuff can be downright addictive.

* And as it turns out, there WAS a 'bullseye ace' who read it- and you can benefit from his notes on this subject, at 'Tony's Bullseye Blog'.

Thanks, Tony!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Friday, July 14, 2006 7:49:00 PM  
Blogger Sarge-Test said...

Yours worked...let's see if mine does.

Friday, July 14, 2006 7:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another home-run, great read Sarge.


Friday, July 14, 2006 9:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I could blog as good as you, but what I can do is give you a nice Guitar Lesson!

Monday, July 24, 2006 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sarge!

I just stumbled across your blog, and I should mention, I’m one of those Bullseye Aces you referred to. Let me tell you that an 88 SF at 50 yards is not too shabby, especially with a partially reworked gun.

Write some more on the subject and I’ll make it a point to comeback. Well crafted posting.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006 3:14:00 PM  
Blogger Sarge said...

Tony- you have a kick-ass blog! I read most of it and it makes perfect sense, which only stands to reason because any dedicated student of an art will use those techniques that are PROVEN TO WORK.

You are also an exceptional shot. I am going to absorb as much as I can, and get back to work on this.

I carry the 1911 I used in my "offhand" excercise, and I am a big believer in carefully-regulated fixed sights. These sights are zeroed for my duty load, but I have a 200 LSWC load that shoots almost into the same group. We'll see how it goes.

Thank you again for contributing, and don't be a stranger.

Friday, October 13, 2006 8:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have a “kick-ass blog?” Thanks! That’s quite gracious of you to give me such an accolade.

Keep crafting those excellent posts yourself.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006 2:11:00 PM  

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