The standard silhouette that is commonly used is not anatomically correct, generously large, and is not an efficient target to train on. No particular target will truly prepare a person for a deadly encounter, but It would behoove us to shoot on the smallest reasonable target to squeeze every ounce of accurate performance out of the shooter and firearm. This is because that under extreme stress, accuracy will greatly suffer, and a person may not have a full silhouette to aim at (this is just as true if you are training for your next match). This is why we train on challenging targets such as 3x5 index cards, 3-5” circles, partial targets, and other precise targets. These are often shot at extended ranges to increase difficulty. By increasing the range, we apply mental stress to the student and achieve a higher standard of focus and shooting ability.
Training for a high degree of accuracy is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. First is that shot groups will almost certainly enlarge during rapid firing regardless of distance, so the goal is to learn to mitigate that group from opening up. Second, it challenges the shooter mentally as well as physically, thereby improving focus. Third, if a shooter can hit a small target on demand at 25yds, then that shooter can do it at 5yds while doing it much faster. Shooting a 3x5 index card at 15 yards is a challenge for many shooters because the fundamentals must be stressed to successfully make the shot. Some front sights may even completely cover the index card at 15 yards, much less at 25yds! Extreme accuracy is mentally challenging because it forces the shooter to focus on every part of the fundamentals. Every movement is exaggerated with smaller targets, especially at distance. Whether in a life or death struggle, or if a championship is on the line; making every shot count is what every shooter should aspire to. Once again, a higher standard is never a bad thing.
The challenge of extreme accuracy is a rewarding one to overcome. This is by no means the “end all be all” of training, as there are countless things to work on with unlimited variables to challenge oneself. The important thing to realize is that a balance should be struck, but “good enough” should never be a part of the accuracy equation. Don’t let a 10” circle at ten yards be good enough for your “combat accuracy” standards. The vast majority of people are more than capable of higher standards. Continue to improve and always strive for a high standard with both your training and your practice. Don’t let the misunderstanding of a cliché word become your standard as often the case these days with training.