Sometimes shooting is just too much fun. We go to the range and repeat drills we are very good at. We avoid harder work and consider ourselves prepared. This is just making brass. This doesn’t fit my criteria for preparation for personal defense, and it should not fit yours.
Skill comes with disciplined repetition. This repetition is more important than an individual’s firearm choice — given a quality handgun of at least .38 or 9mm caliber. I am pretty certain I could train a chimpanzee to empty a magazine pretty fast. I can put all the shots in the same hole at most ranges to 15 yards, if I take my time and every advantage for accuracy.
If I go too fast, then the group is all over the target. Combat proficiency lies somewhere in between. The goal is to quickly present the firearm from concealed carry, locate and engage the target, and prevent your own death or injury.
The presentation may be practiced at home, dry fire, with a triple-checked, unloaded firearm. Later, if your range allows drawing from concealed carry, you may practice there as well. In fact, no matter what your program, you should begin practicing without an unloaded firearm.
Practice and Training
When I work out, I do X number of repetitions. I do X number of curls, X number of leg squats, and so on. I do the same in handgun practice. We need a total of 500 [quality] repetitions to achieve proficiency. Have you done 500 perfect trigger breaks, ten at a time, over the past few months?
If there is anything that ruins many folks practice, it is trying to go too fast, too soon. Take your time in a hurry. Work for smoothness. The draw should be smooth. Move the elbow to the rear come up from below the holster to scoop the pistol out. Do this smoothly, eliminating excess motion, and you will become faster as you work for smoothness.
Dry fire trigger control and practicing the draw at home are your education. Range work is the test. The work and progress should be documented. The repetitions and drills should be constant.
The goal isn’t to beat someone in competition, but to reach your personal best. As an example, I don’t always know exactly what I will run across when hiking. However, the preparation I have completed puts me in shape to handle the situation and allow me to enjoy my time.
By the same token, preparation makes your range work more profitable. Muscle memory is in place. In the modern world and the modern situation, ammunition is more expensive than ever — supplies are coming back. I think the cost of not giving practice everything you have, could be a hefty price with a tag that you do not wish to pay.
Practice your dry fire and, draw, and presentation. There is no one that cannot give this regimen 10 draws and 10 trigger compressions a day. Over the course of a few months, the majority of your practice time will be conducted using dry fire. As you practice, in time you will find that the draw has become second nature. This is called muscle memory.
Control Your Speed
You will be at a speed that doesn’t invite mistakes — slow and steady. Soon, you will be faster and smoother. This speed and smoothness will be exhibited on the range, as an exam, reflecting your skills.
Don’t always draw to a shot. In other words, the draw stroke should always involve moving into the firing position and addressing the threat, but not always firing. You can get ahead of yourself very quickly.
You should not fire until the threat is confirmed. Some threats retreat when the gun is drawn. They may drop the knife, ball bat, or simply turn to run away. This isn’t always true of course.
The draw stroke will bring the handgun into play. The sight picture will be confirmed. The trigger stroke will be a different movement. It is easy to get caught thinking of the next move before you are ready. The mind moves more quickly than the body is able. Make the necessary draw correction and then lock in the trigger press. Next, marksmanship will come.
Learn to call your shots. When the shot breaks while you are aiming at a B 8 target as an example, are the sights still properly lined up after the shot? Would you have missed? This is good information that is a bit more difficult to come by in rapid fire. Emptying the gun quickly into a target doesn’t teach us much. If you are practicing control, perhaps, but little else.
Grouping Your Shots
When at the range, you should not be concerned with groups on the target. I often fire a five-round group at 15 or 25 yards to test a handgun’s accuracy. I do so from a solid benchrest firing position.
This shows something about the pistol’s fitting, quality, sights, and trigger, but not as much about practical offhand combat accuracy. Firing at targets at known and unknown ranges — firing a single round on target is important. It is also important to learn to fire a quick follow-up shot, as this may be necessary.
Each shot is an individual event, not simply part of a string of shots. The follow-up shots are fired after recoil is controlled and the sights are back on target. Fire, control recoil as the trigger resets, and then fire only after the sights are realigned on the target. Don’t jerk the trigger. Fire the handgun smoothly.
As you train and become good and then very good. Perhaps, as the years go by, you should beware of something called the inverse law of the assumption of power and ability. There is always someone stronger and faster but also more often someone who is crazy. Crazy is a catch all term that isn’t the technical answer to the diagnosis of many modern maladies. It covers a great deal of depravity. If you do not use your muscles, they become slack.
Situational awareness may become lax. The truism “Use it or lose it” is true highlighting the consequences losing the things you have — including your life and family.