Shooting is a physical skill, and humans have measured their proficiency at it for a long time. Shooting contests have always been popular in America, even before the United States was the United States.
Modern shooting contests are rather involved, complicated, and in many cases require special firearms and gear. That, however, doesn’t mean you can’t evaluate your skill at arms in a practical and uncomplicated way.
Those dreary days at deer camp and redundant ranges sessions with friends can easily be turned into an informal competition. And, while its good to know you can outshoot your buddies, it’s even better to have an idea how you stack up against others.
The following two drills are a good measure of hunting rifle and defensive handgun skill. The first drill is for the hunting rifle, and the second for the defensive handgun. Both can be performed on just about any range, and how well you perform them is a good indicator of your talent with each firearm.
For this drill you’ll need your big-game rifle, an 8-inch steel plate, five rounds of ammunition, and a shot timer. Start standing, with the rifle at the ready – port arms – position. On signal, fire one round at the steel plate, which should be positioned at 100 yards, from any position you like. Record your time and the hit or miss. Do this five times and compare your results to the table below.
To work this drill you’ll need your defensive handgun, a holster, a cover garment, 25 rounds of ammunition, a torso-shaped target with a 5-inch circle in the kill zone, and a shot timer. Start standing 5 yards from the target. On signal, draw your handgun from concealment, then attempt to put five shots into the 5-inch circle, as fast as possible. Conduct this drill five times and then record the five shot times and number of hits. Consult the table below to see how you fared.
How do these classifications compare to other shooters? If you ranked as a master (M) you are in the top 1 percent. An expert (E) rating would put you in the top 10 percent, sharpshooter (SS) in the top 25 percent, and marksman (MM) in the top 35 percent. A novice (N) ranking means you are better than about half of all shooters, or with the slowest times, just plain bad.
Now you know. In the real world, this may not mean anything, but both shooting drills are fun and if you practice them you’ll only get better.