Not every gun owner practices as much as they ought to.
I understand why: our lives are full and guns don’t nag as loudly as spouses do; dragging our gear to the nearest range (which might not be so near) is a hassle; range-time and ammo cost money; and cleaning guns can be a chore.
But we all need to practice, and I am glad to see people taking the time and bearing the expense to do it.
Except when they aren’t “practicing” to get better, and they’re just wasting ammo & making noise.
There is a time and a place to do that and it is fun. I have done it, so have most shooters. It’s cathartic, it’s more fun than manually unloading a magazine. But you don’t become a better shooter by setting the bar absurdly low and then failing to meet even that low standard.
I have seen a similar situation at the gym; people loitering at the gym to be able to claim that they went to the gym, listlessly using some machines with low weight resistance, some tentative time on a bike or elliptical until they run the risk of breaking a sweat. In other words: people who (intentionally or through ignorance) substitute time merely spent at the gym with time used effectively at the gym. You don’t get strong by lifting small weights that don’t stress your muscles. You don’t develop endurance by stopping your workout as soon as you feel a little tired. But to those people, having the magic talisman of being able to claim that they went to the gym gives them free reign to complain that they don’t understand why they aren’t seeing results.
So when I see some dimbulb set a target 10 feet out (often having to use a free-standing target frame to be at that distance because the frame slots for the standard frames are in neat rows at 25′ and 50′) and blast away, and fail to achieve a decent grouping even at that short distance, I have mixed emotions. Part of me feels sorry for them, but not sorry enough to stop shooting tight groups to save them some embarrassment. Part of me wonders what idiot taught them how to shoot, so that I can avoid that person.
I am not talking about draw & shoot drills, where the shooter is practicing their ability to draw from a holster and fire at a target within the short distance that most altercations occur. The point of those exercises is less about accuracy and more about learning how to safely draw, and until someone gets a lot of practice they won’t show much accuracy. A person who deliberately practices those exercises is building their skills. And hopefully they already mastered the basics.
No, I am talking about people who never make any serious effort to achieve basic competence with their handgun or to improve upon their skills. And this blind spot about practice encompasses every type of shooter, not just handgunners. I have seen hunters who only practice right before the season opens, and only enough to verify that their gun is still sighted in. Hunters like that think that minute-of-deer is fine, and often lose wounded animals or have to chase them down. Bad shot placement is just cruel, in my opinion.
A subset of this type of hunter is the guy who uses a ridiculously overpowered gun to compensate for their crappy marksmanship. I was at Hoffman’s gun store years ago and some guy came up to the counter and asked the clerk if he had any hotter .45-70 ammo than what was on the shelf. The clerk said no, and asked what he was hunting, and the guy said “whitetail deer”. Facepalm. (In this part of the country, whitetail bucks average 150 pounds and a doe about 110, and the densely wooded terrain means that long-range shots don’t present themselves. The old .30-30 is plenty of gun for deer in the northeast.) When the guy went back to scowling at the ammo selection and shaking his head in disappointment, I told the clerk “maybe his father was killed by a whitetail?“ I know a guy (not in CT) who hunts whitetails with a .222 Rem (non-magnum), and has never had to chase one down, because he is a good shot. I wonder if the bozo with the .45-70 has since upgraded to a Barrett.
Most modern handguns can easily achieve 3″ – 4″ (or smaller) groupings at 50′ with ammo that they like. And shooting to at least that level of competence (initially with slow fire and progressing to rapid-fire) is something that every handgunner ought to concentrate on before branching out into the many high-speed/low-drag GunGamez that attract so much attention. If you don’t master the basics, you can’t get your money’s worth out of advanced training.
Walk before you run, in other words.
But, hey, that’s just my opinion. If people want to waste their time and money, it’s their business.