How much difference does ammo brand make when shooting for competition ?

How much difference does ammo brand make when shooting for competition ?

This is a discussion on How much difference does ammo brand make when shooting for competition ? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I am new to pistol shooting and have my first pistol and am trying to become accurate with it. I have difficulty being consistent with ...

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Thread: How much difference does ammo brand make when shooting for competition ?

  1. #1
    Member Array paulbb's Avatar
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    How much difference does ammo brand make when shooting for competition ?

    I am new to pistol shooting and have my first pistol and am trying to become accurate with it. I have difficulty being consistent with a bench rested 9mm pistol at 20 yards (S&W 9VE). I can get up to 2 or 3 rounds in a row to go into the 12 inch circle target at 20 yds, BUT, then 1 or 2 rounds seem to just fly way off the 18 x 24 inch paper. Again, I am resting the gun on a shooting bench holding it very still and slowly squeeze the trigger while aiming carefully. I am using Wal Mart bought Winchester 115 grain 9mm ammo. Would the occassional round flying way off target be becasue I bought the cheapest ammo I can find?? I hate to think I am that poor of a shot. I am beginning to think my poor target shooting is not so much my inexperience and may be in large part due to the ammo.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Array BlackPR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulbb View Post
    I am new to pistol shooting and have my first pistol and am trying to become accurate with it.
    Well... I know you probably don't want to hear this, but the above is a more likely culprit. Ammo can make a difference, but typically not the kind of difference you're seeing. It could be the gun, but again...

    The easy test is to have an experienced shooter try it. There are all kinds of problems that new shooters experience that they may not be aware that they're doing.

    Shoot closer (move it up 5 feet or so to 15 feet) until you're completely on the paper (or use bigger paper)... Where the bullets distribute can give a clue to what you might be doing... Check out this link for a quick reference graphic that can show you what you might be doing based on where your shots tend to go:

    If you're all over the place, it's likely flinch.

    And take a course or three. Even experienced folk benefit from taking courses to improve technique or pin down bad habits.
    The facts are indisputable. There is more data supporting the benefits of Conceal Carry than there is supporting global warming. If you choose ignorance, in light of all the evidence, in order to bolster your irrational fear of guns, you are a greater threat to society than any gun owner.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array aus71383's Avatar
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    I suggest starting closer and working your way out. I don't think Winchester White box is probably not the most accurate ammo around, but then again it might be your gun, or even you. Shoot a 5 shot group from 5 yards - see what happens. Breathing is important for accuracy too - if you hold your breath trying to be still and get the sights to line up, your vision will be effected after a few seconds, and then you'll start to shake. Just relax and take your time - focus on the fundamentals. Aiming, Breathing, and trigger Control. You should be able to shoot at worst a 2" group from 5 yards off a rest - no matter what ammo you're using. If you can't do it with White box, try something else if it makes you feel better, but chances are it would be the gun at that point. Just my $0.02


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  5. #4
    Member Array Rivers's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
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    Make a few changes to your process. I'll assume that the gun you've chosen is a good fit for your hands and you feel physically comfortable shooting it.

    First, start at a shorter distance. It's better to be able to consistently put all your rounds into a single tennis ball-sized hole at 10 feet, then think about moving the target away a bit.

    Second, take the gun off the bench rest and practice with a good two-handed grip. Look at this link for some examples of good two-handed gripping of a pistol.

    San Diego Grayguns Class Dec. 7, 8 and 9 - Topic Powered by eve community

    I caution you about looking at the YouTube examples of "expert" demonstrations on gripping your gun. Of course, to each his own, but I personally would feel far less comfortable (competent) using the "cup and saucer" grip than the wrap-around grip in the still photos.

    If you can find someone who is skilled and can capably teach proper fundamentals, you're better off at this stage to learn good techniques than in a couple of years to correct bad ones you've since acquired.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Array cmidkiff's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
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    First: Congrats on the new pistol, and on making an effort to become an accurate shooter! You have no idea how many gun owners spend more time at the gun counter than they do at the firing line. Keep shooting! You _will_ improve... I promise :)

    The trigger on most off the shelf Smith auto's is not known to be wonderful... I'd suspect trigger control is the basis of your flyers, but it's just a guess.

    New shooters, in my experience, tend to think of the 'one ragged hole' claims made by so many 'shooters' on that thar interweb thingie as average results... it's not. An off the shelf Smith semi with WWB ammo might result in a group as large as a 4" from a machine rest. Expecting a 'one holer' would be unrealistic. Keep your expectations in line with your abilities. I would tend to doubt that the ammo is so poor as to cause an 18" flyer at 20 yards. If it is, you could probably hear and feel the difference!

    I typically suggest that people start at about half that distance, but you have to deal with what you have. If your range will allow it, shorten that distance down to 10 yards for a while, and work back up to 20. If you're keeping 3 out of 5 in a 12" pattern, start from there, and work on consistency. Keep working that trigger until you can keep 5 of 5 in that 12" circle, and then move to a smaller circle.

    What's your front sight look like? If you can't close your eyes and describe it in minute detail, down to the last imperfection in the finish, you're not focusing on it hard enough. Took me years to figure out that all the old timers telling me to focus on the front sight actually knew what they were talking about :)
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  7. #6
    Senior Member Array rabywk's Avatar
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    I can say that ammo can make a huge difference in accuracy. Most people I know that shoot bullseye will reload their own ammo to ensure they are all the same.

    Rifle ammo (which is the majority of my competition shooting) you can expect groupings to very up to 5" depending on ammo and ammo lot #s.
    NRA Rifle Coach
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  8. #7
    VIP Member Array Supertac45's Avatar
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    Ammo can make a big difference.
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  9. #8
    Member Array paulbb's Avatar
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    renewed confidence

    Thanks for all the pointers. My confidence is renewed and I think I can get better. I will employ all the recommendations.

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array tns0038's Avatar
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    In the mid 90’s I purchased S&W 9mm pistols. One of the metal ones but I don’t recall the number.

    Took it to a buddy house to shoot a box of ammo through, and guess what. Had a hard time hitting an 81/2 by 11 page at 10 yards. Must less the target.

    Took it back, and they exchanged it for a Glock 19; never had a problem since.

  11. #10
    VIP Member (Retired Staff) Array P95Carry's Avatar
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    Most has been said - but it is important to differentiate between handgun ammo for defensive shooting competitions and ....... bullseye pistol and of course rifle.

    Those last two will be very ammo sensitive and the best is what works best, factory or reloads.

    Handgun tho, non bullseye ........ I really doubt ammo brand will affect things enough to be noticeable - when all the faults we tend to have and the speed of shooting are all contriving to expand groups!

    I will maybe pass on Amerc tho
    Chris - P95
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    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!." - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  12. #11
    Member Array 1911NM's Avatar
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    Of course you will get better. Practice practice practice. Dry fire for trigger control and grip. I shot lots of WWB in USPSA competition before breaking down and getting a progressive press. It's just a different world entering competition. Where 1-200 rds a week or a month may be fine and fun for a casual shooter, getting competitive may mean that many rounds a practice session, and just how many sessions can you fit in during a week. Relax, focus on fundamentals, take a class one is near, and in your budget, and keep shooting. Have fun, and be safe.
    NRA, USPSA SS & Lim-10
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  13. #12
    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    My advice to you is simple: Go to youtube and google Todd Jarrett; watch his video titled "pistol shooting", and practice what he teaches religiously. Try using good factory ammo (the stuff in the wal-mart bulk packs works just fine) and see if your shooting improves with some regular practice. Some things that helped me obtain the "M" card years ago:

    1) Have a plan to work on a particular aspect of your shooting (accuracy, movement, reloads, etc) before you hit the range. Focus on that plan and don't get frustrated; record all of the results of every performance, no matter how good or how bad. Keep the drills simple; You would be amazed at the some of the techniques the pros work on to hone thier performance. Some examples of answers I got from some of the best at IPSC matches over the years:

    * Fire six rounds freehand into an IPSC/IDPA target in less than 4 seconds from a cold draw. If you can keep your hits inside the top half of the "A" zone (IPSC), or the zero area on the IDPA target, consider yourself very close to a Master class shooter - Rob Leatham

    *Take the magazines you have with your gun and load 6 rounds into each. At the start signal, draw and engage each target you have with 6 rounds at a distance of 10 yards; reload each time from slide lock, then engage the next target with each successive magazine until you are out. Check the targets; all your hits should be in the kill zone; then check your reload times. they should be consistent and below 2 seconds for the average shooter. Masters can routinely get their reload times below 1.3 seconds - Jerry Barnhardt/Ted Bonnet

    *Every bullet that leaves your barrel should be a called shot; when you truly understand what you are doing wrong, you will always know exactly where the bullet is going to strike the target - J.Michael Plaxco

    I know this is a little winded, but if you follow this, you will get there.
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

  14. #13
    Member Array seedoubleyou's Avatar
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    Dude, I could've written this post myself. My first pistol 3years ago was the SW9VE. And I shoot the WWB. I had the same results as you, probably worse. After 2000 or so rounds, I have finally started to see a consistent improvement. The S&W has a long and heavy trigger pull. I think the trigger control was the hardest thing for me to learn with this pistol. Practice, practice, practice........ then practice some more. Start at a close range, and concentrate on the basics with every shot, trigger pull, strong grip, sight alignment, breathing, etc.... and trust me, you will improve. It only took me a couple thousand rounds.

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