Safety and Training

Dividing your Practice

Caleb shoots the weak hand only string of fire on The Practical Event

Most of us are never going to get in a gunfight. The few of us that do have to draw our firearms in defense of our lives as civilians will probably not have to fire a shot. Those that do have to fire will probably only have to fire less than seven rounds. Now, we all agree that practice and training are important, because if you have accepted that the aforementioned scenario could happen, you want to make sure that you fire only the rounds you need to fire and that they all hit their intended target. So we’re going to assume that “training” is something that you want to do.

With that in mind, how do you divide your training? Obviously, it’s important to practice things that you’re not good at, such as weak hand only shooting, or long range shots, or reloads.

Whatever your weakness may be, don’t give in to the natural human temptation to neglect it and just practice the stuff you’re good at. That being said, it’s also important to practice the “high probability” stuff. For example, if you need to use your gun in a defensive situation, there is almost a 100% probability that you’ll have to draw it from a holster. That would mean that practicing the drawstroke is something very, very important to practice and master. On the flip side, there is a fairly low chance of you being wounded in your strong side arm and needing to reload your pistol one-handed, weak hand only. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know how to perform that skill, but mostly that it should be lower on your priority list than “drawing”.

I will usually spend 5 to 10 percent of my practice sessions on strong hand and weak hand shooting. I should probably spend more time on it, but at the same I see a better value in practicing my reloads from concealment. In any IDPA match, there will usually be a stage where I’ll have to shoot strong or weak hand only. One stage, maybe 6 rounds out of a 100 round match. The guy that’s an absolute ninja at shooting SHO will do well on that stage. However, if you’re shooting CDP (which I am) you’ll need to reload from concealment 1-2 times on every stage. That adds up to a huge amount of time if you’re good at reloading and a big advantage.

Practice is important, whether it’s for IDPA or self-defense. Practice your weaknesses…but not at the expense of high percentage gains.

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Comments (5)

  1. @Caleb and CTD Team: Where did you guys get the stats for “The few of us that do have to draw our firearms in defense of our lives as civilians will probably not have to fire a shot. Those that do have to fire will probably only have to fire less than seven rounds.” just to satisfy my curiosity. Thanks for reminding everyone that even pros need to change up practice habbits. Defensive Pistol Courses IMHO (in my humble opinion) are a good start if you carry a defensive pistol. I attend one every year or so just to see what changed (and an excuse to get away for a weekend).

  2. Here’s the acronym clarification: IDPA = International Defensive Pistol Association; CDP = Custom Defense Pistol; SHO = Strong Hand Only (according to Dave)

  3. Professional writer, perhaps, but bloggers who do it are so thoroughly immersed in the culture that they don’t even think of them as acronyms any more 🙂

  4. I see people all the time that carry a defensive weapon, but never practice. If they do practice, the load their weapon and fire empty at a fixed target. They never “mix it up” and practice with one hand, off hand, malfunctions, drawing from a holster or concealment. Also, they often carry a large caliber, but then practice only with a .22. I counsel people regularly, to practice, practice, practice. Thanks for the reminder and the article!!!

  5. Writes who use only initials and don’t explain what they stand for the first time they are used are only trying to show off.

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