Paper targets, what can you learn?

Okay, we go to the range and put holes in a paper target. What did you learn? Paper will not stop bullets? NO, there is more. With every shot that is not on the X means there was an error. The purpose of the X is to aim small, miss small. Did you pull to the left? WHY? What happened? Are your shots all over the place? why? There are targets out there that will guide you to your errors as well as equipment like the Mantis X. These tools will explain the possible problems in your shooting and sometimes it might even be multiple culprits, bad finger position and pulling the wrist.
Learn to walk before you try to run. Get your basics down hard and get a tight pattern before you worry about how fast you can shoot. Missed shots are misses and account to no good. Learn to focus on the front sight and align to the target. Grip your gun like your hanging onto a rope and you do not want to fall. Pull back on the trigger without moving your wrist.
There is a lot you can learn from yourself from shooting at a target if you analyze each shot.


Agreed. I got out to the range today and shot nothing but paper for the first time in a while for that specific reason. It’s a great way to clean up fundamentals.


I do prezactly this with my long guns. I find when I need precision paper is the place to go as it allows you to record each shot individually and your dope book and notes will assist you in correlating the errors. I know pistols are less precise than the rifles I work with but the principle holds true just the same.

How many of you have a “log book” for your pistols.
How many document their observations from a shot (I would say draw but most ranges won’t let you do that)?
How many of you can “call” your shot before you can see the result?

Precise Practice Precludes Piss Poor Performance.

Double and triple taps are all well, cool and scooby with the gang but if you are only “close” your training is not effective. To that end you must realize the limits of your pistol and ammunition and what is acceptable. I you lock your pistol into a Ransom rest of similar and at 7 yards (21’) you get a 10 shot ragged 1" hole or a 4" group that is the maximum accuracy you pistol and ammo will give you EVER! Everything beyond that is you. My personal standard for pistols is 1.5X - 2X the Ransom group size at speed. I’m good but I am not a machine.

When I get really serious about accuracy checking a rifle or a pistol I will print targets that allow me to seriously evaluate each shot. Rows of 8, 6 , 4 or even 2 on a page and I shoot each ONE shot on that target and make notes after each shot and I always use the same aiming point and sight picture. Be careful with this on an indoor range at close ranges as you could be cross firing on other lanes if your target is close and you are shooting the edges.

I had my first “AhHa” moment by doing this on my first NM rifle, I was out shooting the gun. Got a new rifle and suddenly all the weird stuff went away and my scores went through the roof.




Paper is very important. So is practicing with a purpose. Every shot should have a purpose, a goal. No matter what I am going to be doing, I always start and end with paper. Why? For the reasons stated above. Paper tells you what you are doing. So, for instance, before I shoot steel, I shoot paper, that way if I am having issues with my fundamentals, I want to work and correct those issues before I reinforce it a couple hundred times. That is how bad habits are formed, and bad habits are hard to break!

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Craig, log book? I haven’t kept a log until you recommended the chrono results be logged. The other night when I shot poorly with my fellow instructor Brett, I logged my mishaps, mistakes, or what ever a person want to call them. Last night I shot a couple of mags with great improvement. I will continue to keep a diary of the reloads. Also a diary of training practice. The good, bad, and the ugly. I think logging is a great idea.

On the really brite side!!! Our moving target controller has been repaired, will be installed once again on our range. We use cardboard targets to track our tactical loads, and score accordingly. My mrs has a tendency to shoot a bit upper left corner, periodically, or randomly. We determined she cocks her head slightly from shooting shot guns. THEREFORE the need for paper.

There is a lot of discussion of hitting a mass during a lethal encounter, versus accuracy. Since we and I are are responsible for every round, we prefer a tighter group. We have taken training from both sides of this topic, and over the years both of us have developed more accuracy.

I quote Brian139…“bad habits are hard to break.”


We talked about documenting training a while back - thought it might be useful here:


I received an email from sig on their red dot revolution. Search it, and look at the training videos they did with Colion Noir…very interesting training drills!!! The training could be accomplished without red dot. I wasn’t sure if i should post the links or start another thread, as not to advertise sig.

My thanks to todd30 for starting this thread.

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