Leads on Moving Targets With Pistols

I know that I have readers who believe in liberty, tolerance, and free speech, as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus…If that’s you, I ask for a few moments of tolerance, open mindedness and I think you’ll appreciate what I’m about to say.

Today is Good Friday.  The day when a lot of the world celebrates the day that Jesus was crucified as a sacrifice to cover over or atone for sins.

I want to take you back before that…to the garden at Gethsemane…when a large crowd of Temple guards armed with swords and clubs came to arrest Jesus.  As they went to arrest Jesus, one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the Temple guards.

There’s a couple of things that are very interesting about this…

First, earlier, in Luke 22:36, Jesus told his disciples that if they didn’t own a sword, that they should sell their cloak and go buy one.  Not a knife for cutting cheese, bread, or rope…but a sword, which was one of the main law enforcement and battle weapons of the time.  Some might have even called it an “assault weapon.”

Second, Jesus’ response to Peter drawing his sword and attacking the Temple guard wasn’t shock, awe, or disbelief.

Jesus wasn’t angry that Peter was armed.

He wasn’t angry that Peter defended him.

He didn’t tell him to give his sword to the Temple guards.

He didn’t tell him to throw it on the ground.

He said, “Put your sword back in its place.  For all who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

And then he healed the guard’s ear and went with them, knowing what was to come.

A lot of warriors feel alienated by the “modern” Church…but in large part, that’s because a lot of “modern” churches don’t understand warriors.  Not modern warriors and not warriors whose stories are told throughout the Bible.

And they definitely don’t understand violence.

The warrior ethos is highlighted throughout the Bible…definitely more in the Old Testament, but Jesus surrounded himself with rough men who were ready and willing to fight the good fight…both physically and spiritually.

Peter was outnumbered and outgunned.

The Bible doesn’t tell us that any of the other disciples had his back.

But he took the fight to the bad guys anyhow.

Modern day “Peters” stopped flight 93 from being another guided missile on 9/11.

More recently, Coach Feis was a “Peter” when he put himself between his students and the shooter at Parkland.

“Peters” regularly stop killers before they get the label “active shooter” and make the headlines.

It was a “Peter” who stopped the mosque attacks last month in New Zealand.

Thank God for Peters.

One last point that needs to be made on this subject…the 10 Commandments don’t prohibit killing.

They prohibit murder.

One is selfish.

The other is not.

And every country that I know of recognizes that difference with their laws.

But churches still use mis-translations that say “thou shall not kill” which is assaulting to people in the military who have killed evil people for their country, law enforcement who have killed in the line of duty, and anyone who has killed in self defense.

The mis-translation of this Commandment is one of the factors that has alienated warriors from churches throughout time.

Fortunately, there are churches across the country that recognize that violence is a tool and that sometimes it’s what’s needed to stop evil.

With that in mind, here’s to all warriors finding the internal peace that passes understanding this Easter weekend.

The next thing I want to talk about is shooting moving targets with a pistol.

This one may be going a little too far down the rabbit hole for some people.  But if you shoot a lot with a pistol, one of the questions that you’ll run into eventually is how much to lead when you’re shooting a moving target.

And with both IDPA and USPSA adding pistol caliber carbine divisions, knowing the leads for slow moving bullets on moving targets (or reverse leads when you’re moving) is becoming a big deal to a lot of shooters.

It might be in a match, it might be hunting (or a varmint of opportunity), or, God forbid…your first time to think about it is in a life or death situation.

One of our goals is to help you develop skills BEFORE you need them…so that the first time that you think about a situation isn’t when you’re in a fight for your life.

One aspect of shooting that throws a LOT of shooters off is how to shoot moving targets.  It’s difficult with a rifle, but it’s even more difficult with a pistol bullet that’s moving at 1/3 the speed!  Especially when you don’t have a nice long barrel to help you shoot “instinctively” like you do with a rifle or shotgun.

So, I’m going to show you a chart and then I want you to immediately forget it…it’s too much to remember, but it’s good to see and understand at a surface level:


Pistol Lead Chart For Moving Targets But if you’re like me, I can’t remember charts—under stress or not—and I need a way to cheat.

So, here’s the cliff’s note version:

Walking target:  Hold even with the edge of the front sight.

Mover in a competitive match:  Aim over the middle of one side of your rear sight.

Running/sprinting target:  Hold even with the edge of the rear sight.

Running/sprinting animal:  Increase hold as necessary.

I’ve verified this with Bianchi movers, other movers of known speed, and coyotes moving at an angle or at a slow trot.  Your specific DOPE (data on past engagements) will be specific to you.

Your specific “cheat” will depend on the length of the slide on your gun, the width of your sights, length of your arms, stance, as well as your specific visual cortex.  But you can use my cheat of “outside of the front sight for walking and outside of the rear sight for running” or the charts as a starting point.

You see, when you see a target moving, that image gets focused on the back of your eyes and causes a chemical reaction.  That chemical reaction changes the visual signal to an electrical signal that gets split and then re-combined in the visual cortex.  The brain interprets it, and then sends a signal to the muscles in your arm to track the target and eventually to your trigger finger to press the trigger.

All of this takes time.  And the amount of time depends on how quickly you process visual images.  Some people may have to increase their lead by as much as 2-3 times and others may be right on the money, but a little time on the gun will tell you for sure.

And, for most targets and most distances that you’ll be shooting at, holding at the edge of the front sight for a walking target and at the outer edge of the rear sight for a running target will get you on target.

Is this extreme?  Is this unlikely?  I’d say yes, except for the fact that I’m constantly surprised at how often it’s been useful…from moving targets at matches to raccoons, coyotes and other chicken killers we run into on our property on a regular basis.  And I used it on the evil porcupine that did THIS to my baby girl (30+ quills & a very expensive vet bill)

And, in a defensive or active shooter situation, it’s nice to know that I won’t have to overthink my aim…I know the math, I know how it plays out in the real world, and as long as I do my part I can make effective hits on a moving target.

My hope is that this will inspire you to try this out…either by spending some time shooting moving targets or by moving while shooting still targets.

And, if you happen to be looking for the FASTEST and most cost effective way to improve as a defensive pistol shooter, I want to encourage you to sign up for “Upgraded Shooter” right now.  You’ll get access to rotating content from 21 Day Alpha Shooter, The See Quicker Shoot Quicker Tactical Vision Training Course as well as other courses.  You’ll also get access to live video coaching events and access to past sessions which include stress modulation, draw stoke training for when your shooting hand is injured, fighting to your gun, mobility drills to move quicker and smoother, and more!  Learn more now by clicking >HERE<

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  • Jackie

    Reply Reply March 30, 2018

    I’ve been working with a church which is in a “questionable” part of town. They’ve developed an “escort” team and a “response” team. One will assist unrecognized visitors to a seat, while the other helps escort those who are scoping the place out, off the premises. It’s usually easy to tell who’s who. We consistently reiterate in training the taking of human life as the last resort, but also the reality of the eventuality. Anyone who feels they cannot, or would hesitate under fire, can still do service on the escort teams. Not surprisingly, when initial training and team formation was over, and teams were presented to the congregation, they were met with a standing ovation.

  • Ron Leifeste

    Reply Reply March 30, 2018

    Back in the mid 80s I was elk hunting in the central Oregon Cascades with a new rifle in .35 Whelen Imp using 250 grain bullets. I had been hunting for YEARS with a 7 mag so I was used to it’s trajectory. An elk jumped up about 150 yards out running up hill. Needless to say my muscle memory was set up for the 7 and I was shooting a 35. Obviously, I missed.
    As to personal defense, the decision has to be made well before time as to whether you are willing to use your “sword” to take a life. God gives us the right to protect ourselves, our loved ones or any other innocent person. It’s something we have to be comfortable with ahead of time when confronted by temple guards or anyone else.
    Happy Easter and may God bless. Ron

  • Scott D. Mattson

    Reply Reply March 30, 2018

    In the interest of “accuracy,” Ox,as I understand it, those who arrested Jesus weren’t Romans. They were most probably Temple soldiers, kind of a Jewish Law enforcement cadre. The scriptures that describe the scene mention the Captains, but don’t really say soldiers, although it can be inferred. Godspeed!

    • Ox

      Reply Reply March 31, 2018

      Hey Scott…it’s hard to tell. Depending on the version, it’s pretty consistent that there were armed representatives from the temple. From there, different translations and books say guards, soldiers, and group of men.

      • Paul D. Guyon

        Reply Reply April 19, 2019

        For additional clarity, Scott and Ox,

        Malchus /ˈmælkəs/ was the servant of the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas who participated in the arrest of Jesus as written in the four gospels. According to the Bible, one of the disciples, Simon Peter, being armed with a sword, cut off the servant’s ear in an attempt to prevent the arrest of Jesus.

        Simon Peter cutting off Malchus’ ear is related in all four canonical gospels, in Matthew 26:51, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:50–51, and John 18:10–11, but Simon Peter and Malchus are named only in the Gospel of John. Also, Luke is the only gospel that says Jesus healed the servant. This was Jesus’ last recorded miracle prior to his resurrection.


  • headhunter

    Reply Reply April 23, 2017

    Outdoor Life’s Jack Conner said to hold under the nose for a running deer at 100 yards. It works if you’re using a .270 /06/ or 243. With a shotgun, the same lead will hit in the rear haunch, so doubling the lead will work pretty much. My .44 needs a tad more. The best practice (and most fun) is find a gun club that has “running deer” targets. It won’t take too long before you’re putting lead consistently into the heart lung area-what fun! .
    The last two elk were running, one at 260 yds and the last at 40 yds. Even up close YOU GOTTA remember to keep your gun moving like bird hunting- don’t stop your swing.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply April 24, 2017

      Good stuff, Headhunter. It’s important to remember that at short-mid range distances, it’s all trig/geometry and the biggest factors are the tangential target speed and muzzle velocity. Just like you pointed out, a hold that may work perfectly for rifles won’t work for shotguns with a 1,000 or more FPS slower muzzle velocity. Thanks again!

  • Ken Callaway

    Reply Reply April 17, 2017

    Interesting! Thank you!! Ken

  • Josh B

    Reply Reply April 16, 2017

    I am very impressed with your article, and moreover with your obvious reverence for our Lord Jesus and His sacrifice! Thank you for not being shy about writing this article!

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