Marksmanship By Any Other Name

Accuracy is nothing more than being consistent

Marksmanship is pretty cut and dry, there are different degrees of marksmanship for different circumstances. At this last Mid-Range Marksmanship class we had to overcome some myths regarding marksmanship.

Defining Marksmanship

First off, marksmanship is the skill required to precisely place a projectile on a specific point on a target. It means you have willed the projectile or in this case the bullet to the target. It has impacted exactly where you wanted it to on the target. Sounds pretty simple enough and it is in theory, but not so much in practice. You have to recognize the marksmanship requirement may differ slightly due to range, but the principles of marksmanship will not change. Many new shooters and even veteran shooters assume because they can engage targets at close range; say 25 yards and closer they are marksman. I would agree to a certain extend, say if they were attempting to a difficult shot like standing versus a 2" target at 25 yards. A tough shot no doubt and then add to it being able to to do it on command and then doing it consistently.

Accuracy Relativity

My point is there is some relativity. If you are shooting versus an 8" target at close range we tend to get lazy with our technique. We may still generate a hit and therefore assume we are marksman. However, when extend the distance to the 50 yard line with the same criteria we may start to see depreciation in our hit ratio. Extend the distance to the 100 yard line and it can get down right awful. Many folks will comment how they would never take a shot like that in the real world. Ask yourself why not? Is it because you cannot find the justification for the shot leading to the need to train and therefor lack the skill or is it tactically unsound to take said shot. More than likely you lack the skill and therefore condemn even the discussion. It’s not about whether you can justify the shot, it will always be whether you can make the shot.

Lost in Translation

Then there is this notion marksmanship skills needed for intermediate distance don’t translate to close range. While the shot may be different, the core marksmanship skills required are the same. You still need to apply the same principles, the main differences being the precision required along within time allowed. Having true marksmanship skills will transfer regardless of the range. What we see is the over-emphasis on close range that distorts core marksmanship skills. The unintended consequences go unrecognized due to the proximity, you are so close you don’t see the errors. Then when the need arises for an intermediate range shot the shooter tries to take their close range skill and apply them at distance. They often struggle to meet the standards. The same is not true when we take the intermediate skills and apply them at close range. When consistent standards are present the ability to increase the speed without compromising accuracy is far more likely than the other way around.

There is no replacing solid technique at any distance. There is only true marksmanship applied consistently.

I’m a former Navy SEAL and preeminent Weapons and Tactics instructor, learn more about what I do at