Competitive Shooting

Drills for Older Shooters

man shooting drills for older shooters

It has been paraphrased many times: speed is good, accuracy is final.

When shooters become older, their reaction time and speed is affected.

While many older shooters are better shots than a young duffer, they have to work harder for speed.

Distance is your ally when you are the better shot. You must be able to fire accurately at ranges from three to 20 yards.

The closer distances are personal-defense range. The longer range is the distance at which you may be called on to stop an active shooter.

Have you noticed it is mostly the older shooters that put an end to such things? Another concern is what is called training scars.

This is when you have been doing things the wrong way and you are having a difficult time getting rid of bad habits.

Only practice and determination can turn your training around.

man shooting semi-auto handgun
A proper grip and straight-to-the-rear trigger compression must be learned.

The Importance of Training

Don’t think the fight will be easy. All criminals are not morons.

Some may not be what we call a “good shot” in the classic sense, but they are strong and have good reflexes.

They will point the gun at you and fire. Sometimes they get lucky.

In my training classes, I have stressed that good enough is never enough.

You may be pretty good at a few feet, but you will miss completely at 20 yards if you have not practiced and your handgun isn’t properly sighted for the carry load.

When I practice I don’t use range guns, I use the firearm I will be carrying concealed.

I choose a firearm with good sights, a good trigger action, and grips that are designed to fit my hand and aid in recoil control.

There is no room for a hard-kicking inaccurate handgun of any type, make or brand, and most older shooters do not enjoy them.

Neither need the handgun be overly expensive, it simply must be suitable for personal defense.

semi-auto handgun on blue target
Accurate fire begins at modest range.

Drills to Practice

The first drill is simply to take your time and aim and fire accurately at a man-sized target. 10 yards is a good median distance.

Take a centered aiming point, line the sights up and press the trigger to the rear. Be certain your stance offers a solid firing platform.

Never let strain or stress prevent moving the trigger straight to the rear with a clean, smooth action without excess movement.

There is no time pressure, no adrenaline rush and no stress. Take your time and hit the target. This is the foundation.

Master the fundamentals of trigger press, sight picture, sight alignment and stance. Get good at what you do.

At the 10-yard distance, firing off-hand, the shooter should be able to place five shots into five inches on demand.

This is a beginning standard with average ammunition and the average pistol.

A shooter with a superior handgun and years of practice behind them should make exhibiting a three to four-inch group in leisurely slow fire at the same distance a standard drill.

A decent shot with a service-size handgun— a CZ 75, GLOCK 17 or Beretta 92 9mm — should be able to get a four-inch group off-hand at 25 yards after a few months of practice.

man shooting drills for older shooters
Recoil control is important and can become difficult for older shooters. This is a commander-size .357 SIG.

Keep It Up!

Once these drills are being executed with good consistency, we need to move up in speed. How much speed?

The novice that fires too quickly will find his rounds spread about the target or miss the target completely.

We have to calculate how much time we may have. How fast is my draw speed? How sure am I in getting into a firing position?

Drawing from a standing start and getting a center hit at 10 yards in 1.5 seconds is a good standard.

As one example, I am able to get a center hit at 50 yards with the Les Baer 1911 — with five to 10 seconds per shot.

That isn’t practical for firing at an active shooter. We need more speed, and more speed means less accuracy, save for the most experienced shooter.

In general, I like to perform drills that use the full capacity of the handgun, at a certain distance, in training.

For most older shooters, the draw may be practiced at home with a triple-checked unloaded firearm. Safety first!

Some ranges do not allow drawing from concealed carry. You may practice the draw at home.

If you have a revolver, you may draw, fire and get a center hit at five yards.

Then fire two rounds after the draw. Then fire three rounds after the draw.

This builds skill, stressing accuracy first and then moving to control in firing controlled pairs.

The cadence of fire is never set by how fast you are able to press the trigger again.

The second shot comes after you have drawn the front sight back into the rear sight and begin to fire.

revolver on blue target
A quality double-action revolver is a viable choice for all-around personal defense.

A tip: it is very difficult to hold a revolver sight on the target as you execute a trigger press.

Press the trigger as the front sight wavers, but get it on the target as the shot breaks.

Final Considerations

As you begin to progress, you will be able to do the same thing more quickly.

The skills learned in slow fire will translate to speed shooting.

  • Are you fumbling the draw? Are you getting a good grasp on the grip as you draw?
  • Is the support hand grip affirmed on the draw or are you slowing down as you adjust the grip as you fire?
  • Are you jerking the trigger at close range and then pressing the trigger at longer range? This won’t work.

Press the trigger smoothly to the rear with every shot. Compression is simply faster at close range and incrementally slower at longer distances.

Conclusion: Drills for Older Shooters

Remember, the primary objective is accuracy, followed by recoil control with speed last — speed comes with control.

This intersection of skill will make for a formidable shooter.

What are some of your favorite drills to build up or maintain skills as you age? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

1 Comment;

  1. I have been in the habit of doing all of my shooting at 25 yards thinking that if I can hit accurately at 25 anything in between should be no problem . I practice with my carry gun which is a LC9 and my defensive load . Does anyone agree or disagree or have a suggestions ?

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