A Different Angle on Accuracy and Precision

The other night, I had a dream that insisited that I should go back and re-read a webpage I had encountered about a week ago. This article was the key to a new way to look at accuracy, my dream told me. (Even my subconscious tries to sell me on clickbait, it seems!)

Firing from a squat position

I am not sure this article actually does that, but it makes for interesting reading, the little that I think I understand. Since I do not read Cyrillic and some of the translation choices are unusual, I am missing certain parts.
AKM Golden Ratio
One part that was very clear was:

…monograph of the Central Research Institute of Information “The effectiveness of automatic firing weapons”:“ 3.5. The degree of combining the midpoint of hits with the center of the target ..determines the accuracy of shooting”

This reminds me that the effective range of a weapon system is a product of target size and weapon system accuracy and precision.
Accuracy and Precision Explained

How Accurate Do You Need?

For an example, let us consider a system of a shooter, firearm and ammunition.
Firing semi-automatically, this system manages groups of about two and three-quarter minutes of angle/arc (MOA). This will not impress many of you, but we are considering this system shooting in combat conditions rather than on the target range.
2.75 MOA may be treated as three inches at 100 metres. (It is actually 2.858 inches at 100 yards/91 metres, but we will treat it as the former for purposes of illustration)
A human head is about six inches wide. Providing our shooter can aim and shoot competently, we can expect our shooter to make most head shots within 200 metres. Not too shabby!
Most decisive rifle combat takes place at under 200 metres. Most likely targets will not expose an area much larger than a head. Our three MOA shooter’s accuracy and precision is quite adequate.
As an aside, would it not be more realistic to make all combat targets head-sized? Since targets would only need to be A4-size, this would save paper and money!
The vital area of a deer is also around six inches or more. And most hunters try to take deer at well under 200 metres.
Make things even simpler for yourself by zeroing your rifle to 200 metres. 72% of rifle engagements occur at 200 metres or less.
Learn the correct holdover/aiming point for the rare times you will need a longer shot. There is unlikely to be time to fiddle with your sights and dial up the range.
What about torso shots? A human is about 18 inches across the shoulders, about three times the width of the head. Our shooter should be able to put bullets within a torso out to about 600 metres. 
It is worth remembering, however, that a bullet takes around a second to reach 600 metres. Even if you are a trained sniper, you will have to make a shot like this as a surprise attack.
If the enemy is aware of you and dodging, ducking and dashing, hits are going to be more a product of luck than skill. Might be better to save ammo until it may be used more effectively?
Shots against active, distant targets are best left to the machine guns, mortars and artillery. A machine gun that was firing at 2.75 MOA would probably be well regarded. At 600 metres it would put most of its burst into an area less than man-sized.
Full frontal torso shots may actually be rare under certain combat conditions. Many targets will be in cover and not exposing much more than their heads. What torso shots can be made, will be against targets crossing your line of sight or moving obliquely.
If we consider the apparent average torso width here as about twelve inches, we can expect our shooter to make hits out to 400 metres, should targets be actually visible at this distance. 97% of rifle engagements do not exceed 400 metres.
Our shooter should keep his rifle at a 200 metre zero and aim somewhere between armpit- and chin-height. This will produce a hit somewhere on the torso from 200 metres+. A higher aim point may be needed as range approaches 400 metres and beyond. The bullet will hit about 30 cm low of the aim point at 300 metres, three-quarters of a metre low at 400 metres.
Time of flight to 300 or 400 metres will be about a third of a second, so he should lead his target a little, but not too much.
So far we have only considered semi-automatic fire. If our shooter fires on fully automatic and measures the diameter of the group produced, effective range for automatic fire against head and torso targets may be calculated.


The Russian article makes the point that there is little point in adopting a more accurate/precise rifle if the sights are flawed.
The small group the AN-94’s hyperburst produces just makes it more probable for both rounds to miss the intended target if the aim point is wrong.
Generally, it is the shooter rather than the weapon or ammo that is the limiting factor.
Many of you reading this are capable of shooting a rifle better than 2.75 MOA.
If so, you are have adequate precision for realistic combat/defensive scenarios, which are most likely at less than 200 metres.
The ideal iron sight for combat would probably be an L-flip sight with a 5mm aperture zeroed to 200m and a 1.75mm aperture zeroed to 400m.
But, for such an application, does even higher precision actually contribute to a real increase in functionality?
As long as the group we shoot is smaller than the area of the likely target, at likely engagement ranges, is a smaller group actually a practical advantage?
Is it even possible that a tighter group may decrease our chances of hitting the intended target if our aim is slightly off?
Something to ponder before you hand over your hard-earned cash for the latest customization or accessory to give your defensive or deer rifle even greater sub-MOA performance?

Crash Course in Rifle

A friend of mine was reading about the training of conscripts in Taiwan. He referenced some of the articles I have written about making training more relevant. These include my blog on the “Murray System” and the book that derived from it, my book “Crash Combat”.
Crash Combat is about unarmed and non-firearm combat. For a more generic training program, where would I start?
Probably, near the start, would be an introduction to practical use of the rifle, taught in several phases:

Introduction Phase

• Basic safety and orientation.
• Perceive, Recognize, Engage.
• Load, unload and clearing.
• Anatomy for shooters: The Lethal T, the belt-buckle aim and the armpit line.
No one goes past the introduction phase until the instructor is convinced all students are competent and mature in their handling of firearms and their behaviour on the range.

Phase One

This phase teaches shooting from behind cover, from various positions. It ingrains the habit of always using available cover, while teaching shooting posture fundamentals.
Firing from a squat position
Start with prone position and move on to other positions such as kneeling, sitting and squatting.
Key points:
• Fire around rather than over cover when possible.
• Keep low. Never be reluctant to get close to the dirt.
• Always use cover when possible.
• Use cover when reloading and clearing stoppages.
• What parts of a gun not to rest in contact with hard cover when firing.
• Includes section on correct techniques to use when firing from windows.
Phase one is conducted with half-silhouette targets of various sizes, engaged at relatively short ranges, such as 20 to 50 metres. Sights zeroed to 200 metres are used for all shooting.
Emphasis in this phase is on building the student’s confidence in their shooting while teaching good shooting postures and tactical positions.
There are no scores, shots being judged as either hits or misses. Reactive targets that make a noise, fall or flash a light when hit will prove useful.

Phase Two

Phases two is dry firing. It is effectively kata for guns, or tai chi with triggers.
As recommended by Elliot, students practice mounting their rifle to bring it smoothly up to firing position. This is practised in the various postures learnt in phase one.
Mounting is combined with tracking, breathing and trigger exercises:
• Tracking involves keeping a mounted weapon moving to pursue, swing through and lead a moving target.
• Breathing involves synchronizing the respiratory cycle with the moment of firing to minimize unintended movement of the weapon.
• Trigger exercise is developing a trigger “press” that causes minimum displacement of the barrel.

Phase Three

Phase three is Quick Kill training.
Airguns/airsoft guns with the sights removed are used to engage small thrown targets. This builds on the instinctive pointing and tracking skills developed in phase two. Phase three teaches effective engagement skills for situations when there is insufficient time to align sights or when sights are not visible.

Phase Four

Introduction to room-clearing techniques. The likelihood of operations in urban terrain means a familiarity with room clearing must become a fundamental skill-set of any firearm user.
• Shooting on the move and while sidestepping.
For safety, phase four may be practised with airsoft weapons.

Phase Five

Phase five is a repeat of phase one, but the engagement range is increased up to 250m.
Students may be required to crawl to a firing position, or use other appropriate modes of tactical movement.
Target shooting, long-range shooting, volley fire and other fields can be taught later. Soldiers with an aptitude for these disciplines can be encouraged accordingly.
The five phases are designed to quickly produce riflemen that can respond quickly and accurately against threats that occur within likely engagement ranges and terrain.

Hip-Shooting a Rifle or Shotgun

Yesterday I described a “sightless” shooting technique that can be combined with quick-draw.
Today I will briefly look at hip-shooting with a rifle or shotgun.
Truth told, I dislike both the terms “hip-shooting” and “snap-shooting”. Many of the shooting techniques that do not require seeing the sights are not from hip-level. The term snap-shot conjures images of a rapid shot from the shoulder. Snap-shots, to me at least, seem more akin to the firing techniques of Quick-Kill or the shotgun-inspired methods in “Shooting to Kill”. Such techniques are described on other pages I have written, and are also described in “Survival Weapons”. Also, I have become aware that in some previous eras the term “snap” was used for dry-firing an arm.


For the modern user of shotguns or rifles the low-ready position is often used. It has a number of virtues:
• If you are going through a door, it does not leave a weapon sticking out that can be grabbed and pointed heavenward. If someone does grab you or your weapon putting a round in his legs is still possible. Not something you can do from high-ready!
• The low-ready allows an arm to be rapidly shouldered, allowing a fast sightless or sight-aimed shot, as appropriate.

Low-Port Carry

Low-port carry in WW2

The widespread use of the low-ready is apparently a relatively new innovation.
I came across this interesting article, discussing how soldiers in the Second World War actually carried their rifles. If you have a Mauser, Garand or Lee Enfield, a low-ready carry will place the muzzle quite close to the ground. Add a 10 to 17 inch sword bayonet and you can see the low-ready is less useful than with a modern weapon.
The carrying methods most often seen in photos are the high-port, trail-arms and a position modern reenactors call “low-port”. Low-port had the rifle held approximately horizontal and often part of it was at hip-level.

Hip-Shooting from Low-Port


With this information in mind, it is clear that the “snap-shooting” method the marine advocates in this 1944 article is literally hip-shooting with a rifle.