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American Handgunner May/June 2010 - Page 40
Mike “Duke” Venturino SHOOTINGIRON TM Photos: Yvonne Venturino THUMB BUSTIN’ MUSINGS FROM THE DUKE GROUPING After a handgun is made to shoot like this, meaning it is sighted in and shoots tight groups, then more group-shooting is superfluous. After that it’s time to build marksmanship skills. AmAzIng PrecIsIon? I GROUPIES roup shooting in and of itself is meaningless. It has taken me over three decades to fully realize that fact. The purpose of a handgun is not to shoot groups, and in fact nobody ever shot anything with a group. The sole purpose of a handgun is to direct a bullet to a specific point, whether it is a paper target, a tin can or flesh. Each shot is an individual act. So how did groups become the be-all and end-all in some people’s minds? It happened because groups are shot to determine the level and consistency of a handgun’s precision. But group shooting is fraught with the possibility for errors. Most all of us avid handgunners have a group or two taped to our gun room walls. But there is one indisputable fact. A single group is only a record of what that handgun did with those five, 10 or however many shots in that specific instance. Consider the following. A superb 5-shot group can be, and often is, a fluke. A superb 10-shot group is less of a fluke, and a superb 25- or 50-shot group actually begins to give an indication of what that specific load delivers from that specific handgun. Four or five groups of five shots are a better indication of a handgun’s precision, just as four or five 10-shot groups or four or five 25-shot groups are “more better.” But who in the world has the time or gumption to do that? So, most “gun tests” use the lazy man’s five shot groups. And then there is the shooter-factor to consider. By shooter-factor I mean how well the trigger was pulled and the sights aligned, with the understanding that muscle and eyesight fatigue are related factors. Obviously a shooter is going to be capable of firing a better group at the beginning of a session than he will after an hour or two of constant shooting. G recognized that fact early on in my career and began using machine rests. Those devices minimize shooter fatigue. The flip side of that coin is they give no indication of the “shootability” of a handgun. In other words, a handgun which delivers amazing precision from a machine rest may be completely incapable of hitting anything when put in a human’s hands. Again let me explain. Perhaps the two greatest drawbacks to shooting a handgun with precision — meaning we are attempting to direct a single bullet to a specific target — are the visibility of the sights and the quality of the trigger. There’s also the factor of where the handgun sends the bullets in relation to where its sights are pointed. A handgun with a 10- or 12-pound trigger pull will shoot groups from a machine rest just as tight as a similar model with a two- or three-pound trigger. Likewise, a revolver with modern high profile sights will be easier to hit with than one with the old fashioned half moon front and a small groove down the topstrap for a rear sight. However, both revolvers might shoot groups just as small when mounted in a machine rest. And since a handgun mounted in a machine rest is not only anchored to that heavy apparatus of table and rest, rounds fired give absolutely no indication of where they will impact when the same handgun and ammo are fired handheld. In other words, machine rest groups give no indication of a handgun’s “shootability.” They only indicate mechanical accuracy. While his 1917 revolver and 1911 both shoot great groups from a machine rest, Duke can only actually hit the target reliably with his 1911 due to ergonomics. For the best results in shooting groups, Duke has relied on pistol machine rests (like this Ransom) for over 30 years. N ow consider this. I own two Colt .45 ACP handguns from the World War I era. One is a 1911 and the other is a Model 1917 revolver. The former has a 5-pound trigger pull and the latter has a 7-pound trigger pull (single action). Both shoot respectable groups from machine rest with a variety of loads — say in the 2" range at 25 yards give or take a half-inch or so. Both handguns hit point of aim at 50' with my chosen loads. However, I can actually hit something with the 1911 pistol much more reliably than I can with the 1917 revolver. Why? Because of ergonomics. The pistol fits my hand and the revolver feels like it was designed for someone with gorilla length fingers. Its actual grip is small yet the distance my finger has to stretch to reach the trigger seems immense. I don’t shoot that particular revolver well despite its potential for good groups. Nowadays I don’t shoot groups near as often as in most of my previous years. Instead when a new handgun ends up here I shoot it at paper or steel from 30 to 75 feet. Its type and purpose dictate the range. Self defense/concealed carry handguns are fired close, others are shot farther. Then I see how well I can actually hit with that handgun shot to shot, when it’s held in my own two hands — because that’s the only thing that really counts. ERGONOMICS TOO * 40 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2010