Chances are good that you’re wasting your time at the gun range when you do go. If you’re just going there and putting rounds on paper or steel, and that’s it, then you’re not making the best use of your time.
Don’t get me wrong, target practice is important. After all, what good is having a gun for self-defense if you can’t hit your target.
But, target practice, by itself, isn’t training. You have to add other things to your range time so you’re better able to defend yourself.
So what does proper training at the range look like?
You need to practice the most important aspects of self-defense with your gun. Things like drawing from the holster and presenting to target, and doing so with speed and accuracy, is one thing.
A few other important things you should practice while at the range is engaging multiple targets, shooting one handed and off handed, reloading, shooting from different positions, shooting from behind cover and concealment, etc.
Hopefully you see why these things are important. If not, let’s look at each one in turn:
Drawing from the holster
One of the most important things you could practice is drawing your gun from your holster. Part of the reason why, is because this is the most important step in the drawstroke when you are about to defend yourself.
If you don’t have a proper grip from the draw you could cause yourself all sorts of problems.
But if you have a proper grip from the draw you stand a better chance at defending yourself properly, hitting your target, and not causing yourself any malfunctions.
Sadly, not all ranges allow their members to do this, so sometimes you have to get creative with your training.
Engaging multiple targets
This is sadly another skill that many shooters don’t practice and are not capable of doing well.
This one is important because bad actors usually travel in packs and chances are good that if you have to defend yourself, you’ll have multiple people to defend yourself against.
Once you have basic shooting skills nailed, this is actually kind of easy. Still, it is something that you need to practice to ensure you’re doing it right and are capable of shooting at multiple targets.
You begin on your main target, and then shift your eyes to the next one. The natural thing to do after that is for your gun and sights to land right where your eyes are always pointed.
Shooting one handed and off hand
Another thing that is still catching on is shooting one handed and off handed. You just never know if you’d have to defend yourself one-handed because your other hand got injured.
I have seen more people shooting one handed with their strong hand as of late, but something that more people still need to do is shoot with their non-shooting hand.
Most people don’t do this because it is very uncomfortable and not easy to do. This is exactly why you need to do it. There is the chance that your strong hand gets damaged in the fight and you need to finish defending yourself
If you carry a reload on your person in addition to your gun, you should know how to reload your gun.
Otherwise, you’re just adding extra stuff to your belt without having the ability to actually use it.
Shooting from different positions
Most shooters make the assumption that if they ever have to engage a target who is attacking them that they’d just stand there like a stick in the ground.
In reality, a defensive encounter can be anything but static. Chances are good that you’ll have to move. You may even need to move while shooting. Or, you may find yourself on your back. Or, you may find yourself taking a knee.
Whatever you do, practice this beforehand because if you don’t you will be woefully unprepared for your defensive encounter.
Shooting from cover
There have been studies done that suggest you stand a better chance of surviving if you get to cover during an active shooter incident. And of course, learning how to shoot from cover will only help matters if you need to defend yourself from a position of cover.
Shooting from behind a barrier is not an instinctive thing and if you have never done it before you probably won’t be any good at it. The reason why, is because your point of view changes a bit when you have to peer around something — especially when you have to aim.
The first time I did this I couldn’t believe how difficult it was. This is strongly recommended, and so is taking a class to teach you how to do it right.
This class from concealedcarry.com is also recommended.
I put this last because all of the other points in this article can attribute to stress inoculation, along with doing things against time.
What I mean, is do the above and some other things like shooting drills, with the stress of time attached to it. And of course, the best way to do all of this is by using a shot timer.
I know, I know, you never see a a shot timer in a shootout. But what you do see, is time disappearing quickly. And in fact, time goes by so fast and nearly stops all at the same time when you’re in a critical incident.
Most shootings are over in mere seconds and practicing to get your gun out of your holster and on target quickly is the best gauge for this.
Plus, practicing under time helps to add a different level of stress to your shooting that most people don’t experience by choice. You, therefore, will be better prepared to defend yourself.
Most people don’t train correctly when they go to the range. They go, shoot some rounds downrange, and end up calling it a day after they feel they’ve done enough shooting.
Truth be told, that’s not good enough. If you have made the decision to have a gun on you for self-protection, then the only acceptable answer going forward, is that you make the effort to train appropriately.