How Important is "Shot Placement"?
Article Posted: November 20, 2013
To some people it's all about caliber. They wouldn't be caught carrying anything smaller than a 45, still others claim shot placement is the Holy Grail. In this article we will look at the importance of shot placement.
Saying that shot placement is important is a huge understatement. When looking at emotionally charged topics like this however it's helpful to use analogies. So let's compare the great american sport of baseball to shooting.
In baseball there are bats of varying sizes and weights (the gun), the ball is moving at different speeds and you as the batter only have a number of pitches (3 to 6 ) to hit the ball (the target).
We all know that pulling your head out and swinging for the fences won't get you anywhere but out (dead). So what is the solution? A nice even level swing with eyes focused on the ball, and making contact. This is achieved through thousands of practice swings at real moving targets.
Difficult to Emulate
This is where it gets difficult. When we shoot we aim at paper targets, metal gongs, or soda cans. All of these objects and others are static non moving targets not like the baseball. The solution for military and law enforcement has been to use mechanical animated targets that pop out at random times. This helps with target recognition, and is about as realistic a scenario you can get. Other alternatives for improving shot placement on a moving targets include things like paintball or rabbit hunting with a pistol. If you can shoot a rabbit moving side to side with a handgun you are good to go in my book.
Now here is the bit where we will regurgitate the lore that you have all most likely heard, but we have to if we are going to cover the subject. If we don't someone else will simply post this in the comment section, and to them I say.. hahaa..beat you to it.
There are 2 ways to stop a man that is hell bent on killing you and those are as listed...
1.) Central Nervous System Damage (shot to the head, base of head, or spinal that shuts down the brains ability to make the body move. (relies heavily upon shot placement)
2.) Bleeding Out - this will be the most likely result and can take anywhere from minutes to hours or even days depending upon the wound location.
Central Nervous System Damage
We won't beat around the bush this is usually a headshot. We say this respectfully as life is a very very precious commodity, and we always advocate fleeing if ever possible, but that's what this is a headshot or shot that somehow passes through the front of the body and severs the spinal column at some level. If you are shooting for the spinal column from behind then you have obviously made the wrong decision as the person is fleeing from you, just think about that for a second. So yeah.. assuming you have made the proper decision central nervous damage is a headshot or a shot that passes through a persons body mass and somehow manages to hit their central nervous system. This relies roughly 75% on shot placement.
This relies much less on shot placement than the central nervous system stoppage... lets say 25% less. Loss of blood causes low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion,comma, stroke and if not treated death. It takes the fight out of the person or animal. Placement is 50% (or more respectively) because a proper shot will cause a person to bleed out faster, but so will the trauma caused by a larger more powerful round.
So What's the Verdict on Shot Placement?
Well if you've read through the article and accept everything i've said as true then all we need to do is the numbers.
When it comes to central nervous system damage shot placement is around 75%.
When it comes to bleeding out shot placement can conservatively be listed as 50%
Mathematically this is (.75 + .50) / 2 and if you copy that into any calculator you will get .625 also represented as 62.5%
So shot placement is 62.5% of the importance, while calibur is 37.5%
Large Caliber Fans Don't Be Mad
All you 1911 .45 carrying fellas don't be mad. Just because shot placement is slightly more important than caliber.. doesn't mean caliber isn't more effective than caliber. People want to argue too often, in the real world things are both X and Y at the same time. A .45, 357, or 10mm is more effective by far than a .380, 9 or 40, but only if you're shot placement has not been negated. In other words if you can accurately shoot a .45 as good or better than you can a 9 then you need to be carrying a .45 right? I'm sure someone will bring up capacity at this point, but we aren't arguing over this right now.
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