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Police Miss Their Target Quite Often

Police Miss Their Target

Police officers are trained to shoot their target, but they often miss. In fact, police officers miss their target much more often than you would think. Stray bullets can have dire consequences, and many people rightly fear what can happen with stray bullets. 

It is true that in some cases, police may be shooting at a moving target, making it more difficult to hit the mark. They may also be under stress or facing dangerous situations that make it hard to focus on taking an accurate shot. Additionally, low lighting plays a big part in police shootings, as it does in all shooting incidents.

However, there is an errant belief that police have such great training and skill that nobody could match them. Or that their training amazing and civilians would almost never have that kind of training, which is false. 

Police miss their target a lot

NYPD was especially bad at hitting their target missing 80% of the time. Between 1994-2000, this is the percentage of hits at these respective ranges:

  • 0-2 yards: 69%
  • 3-7 yards: 19%
  • 8-15 yards: 6%
  • 16-25 yards: 2%
  • 25+ yards: 1%

That is some abysmal shooting on the part of the people that New Yorkers are relying upon for protecting them. This is due in part to their poor training, but also poor leadership. Police in New York have long been required to have 12 pound triggers. They have only just recently stopped requiring 12-pound triggers in their duty weapons. 

NYPD serves as an example of extremely poor marksmanship. Some large Metro Police Departments (such as Miami-Dade) have been even worse over the years.

However, the average for police departments around the country isn’t a whole lot better.

In fact, the truth is that police in the United States miss their target approximately 70% of the time. For every 10 rounds, seven stray bullets sail past the intended target while retaining most of it’s lethal energy. 

How accurate is the typical person?

We know that police miss their target more than any of us would be comfortable with. On the flip side, criminals and inexperienced shooters can have shockingly good accuracy when compared to police.

A study on hit probability by civilians showed the following:

  • Unskilled shooters are surprisingly accurate and instinctively tend to aim for the head. Approximately half of the “simulated criminals” aimed for the head and had a very high probability of hitting their target at 1-3 yards.
  • At 5-7 yards, they often aimed at the center mass. At that range, many shots hit in the upper chest or head as well. A significant amount of shots hit above the protection of a bullet proof vest.
  • Simulated “offenders” in this study were almost all able to fire 3 shots in under 1.5 seconds, and many did so in less than one second.
  • Only a small amount of shooting and training was required to attain some level of proficiency for most.
  • Stronger, more athletic types tended to do better.
  • Officers are often at a disadvantage because criminals use the element of surprise when attacking, forcing officers to react.

The studies took groups of people with various levels of shooting skill to determine risks to police by criminals. It included inexperienced shooters – many of them had never fired a handgun in their lives prior to the exercise. They also drew upon a common felon age group, primarily 20-somethings, with some 30 and 40 year old’s.

How does this apply to concealed carriers?

It is important to know that gunfights tend to last only a few seconds. The one who gets the first hit usually wins.

According to a study conducted by the FBI between 2016-2017, 4 (out of 50 incidents) active shooters were stopped by people with CCW’s, compared to 11 that were stopped by police.

Many people insist that civilians with guns do not stop mass shootings. We actually have no idea how many mass shootings have been stopped because of armed civilians. That is because many would-be mass shootings have been stopped by armed civilians before the attackers could kill enough people for it to be classified as a mass shooting.

While police often do not have the element of surprise on their side, most people with a concealed weapon do. That is an incredible advantage.

Additionally, an armed civilian might be more likely to witness the events as they unfold. This is another advantage for the armed civilian. They are not necessarily walking blindly into danger. A police officer responding to a shooting of any kind may not know exactly what he is up against – or who the assailant is.

What is the point I am trying to make? It is simply this:

  • It doesn’t take a whole lot of training for someone to be as proficient as the average police officer
  • Conceal carriers have multiple advantages over the average police officer if they witness a hostile attacker

Armed civilians are the answer to mass shootings.


My point in this article is not so much as to disparage police officers and law enforcement. In fact, I know some law enforcement who get a lot of training and are quite proficient with firearms. SWAT team members, for instance, tend to get extensive firearms training and can be extremely proficient. 

However, most police officers are not getting the same training as SWAT team members or others in the department who take time to practice on their own time.

Arming citizens or even teachers is not as crazy of an idea as the ignorant would have you believe. It makes a lot of sense if you understand the data. 

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