March 25, 2021
Benjamin Franklin once said that by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail, and that concept is especially true in the midst of a violent attack. Because the aggressor chooses the time and location of an assault, victims are at a distinct disadvantage. Criminals stack the odds in their favor in the hopes that their victims will be unaware, unprepared, and unable to fight back.
The most effective way to defend yourself against a sudden violent attack is to create a tool chest of personal defense skills and strategies that allow you to turn the tables on an attacker and survive the encounter. Developing a winning mindset is one element of this defense strategy, and training is a critical component as well. Under extreme conditions, you’ll need to use your firearm to defend your life, so gun handling is another skill that’s extremely important for effective personal protection.
Reflex sights have become popular on concealed carry guns of late, and with good reason. Reflex sights (also known as red dot sights) like the Aimpoint Acro P-1 allow you to shoot quickly and accurately in any light conditions and are built to withstand even the harshest conditions. But these and other Aimpoint reflex sights also offer another distinct advantage: improved accuracy at extended ranges.
Many basic defense and CCW courses teach students to fire their carry guns at ranges of three to seven yards or so. As a result, many handgun shooters are only comfortable shooting within those defined ranges. This limited skill set can serve as a handicap in a real-world shooting situation, but adding a reflex sight can effectively extend the effective range of your carry gun.
Red Dots at Extended Ranges
Iron sights work at close range, but many iron sights are too coarse to offer good accuracy past about 25 feet. This is barely beyond the parameters of police trainer Dennis Tueller’s “21-Foot Rule” which is a measure of distance the average attacker can cover by the time a trained officer could assess the threat, draw their weapon, and fire. In other words, iron sights are one factor that limits our capabilities with a handgun. We’re failing to prepare.
Unlike traditional iron sights, Aimpoint reflex sights offer a small, precise aiming point. The Acro P-1’s 3.5 MOA red dot covers less than an inch of target space at 25 yards, which is much better than iron sights. That precision is part of the reason why so many competitive shooters and handgun hunters rely on Aimpoint red dot sights, and it’s why these optics make sense on a self-defense pistol.
Some may contend that a concealed carry handgun is a self-defense weapon and, as such, should not be expected to shoot beyond 25 feet, which is rather like saying your seatbelt should only be effective in a crash up to speeds up 50 miles an hour. The reality of armed self-defense is that you don’t know how far away your attacker will be, you don’t know how far you’ll have to go to reach cover, and you don’t know the circumstances under which you’ll have to shoot. That’s why it’s so important to break through the ten-yard barrier and learn to shoot from greater distances.
Improving Accuracy: Start on the Bench
Dry firing an unloaded, red dot-equipped firearm from a bench can help you understand and improve upon your firearm skills. To begin, place your red dot-equipped handgun on sandbags and slowly dry fire. Pay close attention to the relationship between the dot and the target. Does that relationship change? If so, which direction is the dot moving? Why is it moving?
What you’ll notice is that improper grip or trigger pull may be impacting your handgun accuracy. If you want to extend your range, you need to work on fundamentals, and you can use your Aimpoint sight to assist you in diagnosing issues. One common problem is wrapping too much of the finger around the trigger and rotating the gun to the left (for a right-handed shooter) when you fire. Any movement that causes accuracy to deteriorate will be exposed when you dry fire your red dot-equipped defensive handgun from the bench. You can then begin shooting live ammunition and try to keep group sizes as small as possible. Since the gun is supported on sandbags, you’ll have more time to work on fundamentals.
Offhand Shooting at Extended Ranges
The bench will help you fine-tune your shooting fundamentals, and once that occurs, it’s time to start applying those lessons when shooting offhand. Good accuracy begins with a good grip and stance, but consistency is also important. Most shooters believe that they naturally fall into the exact same position each time they fire a pistol, but the reality is that very few shooters ever take the time to verify. Each time you start to shoot offhand, notice the position of your feet, the angle of your shoulders, and how far forward you are leaning each time you shoot. Improving shooting confidence at extended ranges requires repetition. Practice is key, so make long-range shooting part of your regular range routine.
When you develop a consistent stance, grip, and trigger pull, you’ll begin to see significant accuracy improvements at extended ranges with your carry gun. Add to that the versatility of a crisp, precise Aimpoint red dot optic mounted on your personal defense handgun and you’ll be prepared to make long shots when required. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that all violent encounters occur at close range because that’s simply not true. You must be ready to stop a violent attacker at longer distances, too.
Ben Franklin has also been quoted as saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That’s true in many things, including defensive shooting. Take the time now to improve your skills and your equipment, so that you can better defend yourself before it’s too late.
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