Earlier we spoke about the how and why of accuracy standards. I usually use a small quarter-inch dot on a white piece of paper for my home practice. I use this dot because it allows for a precise calibration of my hand/eye coordination. If you just use an open space for a target you sometimes will place the front sight in the exact center and sometimes an inch one way or the other. I believe using the dot as a target allows me to recalibrate myself often and reduce that natural variation.
For live fire training I usually use the Wal-Mart target with a 6 and 3 inch circles. This is just craft paper bought cheaply at Wal-Mart and taped to cardboard. Using this target you can not only measure your accuracy but instead of placing your front sight on a dot (sometimes leave the dot out of the center) you are placing it in the center space between two edges, much as you will do when placing the sight on a human form.
Another cheap and effective way to train to place the sight in the empty center is to use 8 1/2 by 11 blank copy paper. If you want to get fancy you can buy printed circles and 8 x 12 coke bottle type target with blank space and blurred lines to help you focus. People don’t walk around with dots or small circles on them so it is a valuable skill to place the small front sight into the middle of a slightly larger target. This is not done all the time but some times. Mixing it up keeps you from getting used to any one target without breaking the training budget by buying expensive targets. Be cheap, save your money and buy more bullets with it.
As you progress as a student you will need to start testing yourself as a measure of how you are doing compared to others. If you’re a new student you should concentrate on improving accuracy and speed as a guide until you start to hit a plateau (i.e. make the easy improvements first). At some point testing yourself is not only a good indicator of your progress but is a great deal of motivating fun. Testing yourself before you have a grasp of the fundamentals could push you to perform at a level that is unsafe. Be careful with this. Using a formal test later in your progression to get past plateaus in my opinion is better than earlier.
When the time is proper and depending on the test you select, you may want a particular printed target. An example of this is the F.A.S.T. target from Pistol-Training.com (see blog roll to the right). I hope to do a minimalist project this coming winter/spring using this test as a gauge of my improvement from a de-trained state (Family tragedy and a bucket list check off will have kept me from shooting consistently for a year and a half.) Wow, it’s painful just to say that number. It will be exciting and humbling to say the least.