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What the Video Doesn’t Show

The other day, Luke posted a link to a video of Jerry Miculek shooting a 9mm revolver at a target 1000 yards away.

The very sensationalist video (“WORLD RECORD!”) purports to show Jerry hitting a party balloon with an unmagnified red dot optic and a 6 inch barrel revolver. What Jerry is actually doing is shooting a steel plate (I’d approximate it at two feet by four feet) and popping the balloon with a splattering piece of jacket from the bullet.

This video reminded me of another one that went around the net recently, where a decked out operator complete with beard draws to a 25 yard headshot target in .84 seconds.

The problem I have with both is that they are not telling the whole story. They take relatively rare occurrences and make them seem remarkable. They make luck look like skill.

And I dislike this for a few reasons. One that I want to mention very early is that Jerry Miculek doesn’t need internet video gimmicks to look like an impressive shooter. Here he is winning a national-title shoot-off using a revolver against raced-out 2011s. Here he is holding his own, again with a revolver against semi-autos, at the World Speed Shooting Championships. If you want to see Jerry Miculek being a total beast with rifles, pistols, and shotguns, go watch Hot Shots and skip YouTube.

To harp on competition a bit longer, I think it’s worth noting that part of what I love about USPSA and IDPA is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a game about consistency. For example, take Blake Miguez’s victory in Limited Division at last weekend’s USPSA Area 3 match. Of the 14 stages of the match, he only won six, less than half. But by being consistent across the entire match, shooting every stage well, he took home the big prize. I didn’t have to look very far back in history for an example like this because it happens all the time. One fantastic draw on a 14 stage match won’t win you anything, but 14 pretty good draws will set you up for success.

But in a much broader sense, I dislike videos like these because they make good shooting look unapproachable. The 25 yard headshot was luck and not repeatable. If he could do it two times in a row, it’d only be because it was his thousandth try to get one after the other.

Long-range shooting is also an exercise in consistency. Sight the target the same way, hold your breath the same way, pull the trigger the same way, follow through the same way. Assess the result and adjust your point of aim and try again. I actually agree that a decent shooter could probably hit that shot as well.

So why, then, do we encourage people to think this is what good shooting really is? Well, because it’s easy to understand and it’s satisfying. But if we want to actually grow the gun community, we need to show people what shooting is really like, and convince them that they can do it.

Luke’s Edit: I posted a follow-up to this post here.

About Ben

Blog contributor. Active in IDPA and USPSA, and he won't flinch if you call him a rules lawyer. Ben is a beard wearing, bacon eating, whiskey drinking, motorcycle riding, coder.


  1. Ben’s a good example of something I’ve observed of most high quality shooters–and congrats on the recent Master bump, by the way!–and that is that the better they get the humbler they are about how much consistent hard work and discipline it takes to get there. Just like peaking a mountain–nobody knows better how hard it is to accomplish than the guy standing up there bathed in sweat.

    No fancy trigger mechanism, no magic recoil rod, no special lubricant is going to substantively change any shooter’s performance in a meaningful and sustainable way. What does? Hard work and disciplined focus on fundamentals–especially (but not exclusively) the trigger. Equipment can help on the margins–and, without question, genuinely bad equipment can hurt–but real success in shooting comes from within.

    Top-level shooting–it’s not complicated, it just isn’t easy. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

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