negligent unintentional discharge training range
Courtesy Jeff Gonzales
Previous Post
Next Post


I see so many folks go to ranges, only to practice the same drills over and over again. Many of these drills are basic “tests” that various schools use to determine basic competency. Some even have clever names and titles. I enjoy shooting some of these drills, but the amount of time, energy, and resources devoted to them are irrelevant to my overall training goals.

My goal is to create generalists. People who are well-rounded and capable of adapting their abilities and strategies to many different types of personal defense situations. Can you improve your general performance by practicing a specific skill set over and over again? Or does it do more harm than good for your general preparedness?

No prizes for guessing my answer.

The issue I have centers around the amount of time people spend on the firing line practicing rather than training. Practicing is performing a known skill or activity regularly to improve or sustain performance. Training is the action of learning a new skill.

The hard part for many: resisting the desire to get really good at one thing. Most shooters consider mastery of a single skill — such as quickly shooting a tight group at combat distance — a good thing. And it is…until you do it at the cost of the rest of your skills and capabilities. 

Developing your overall range of self-defense skills requires you to acknowledge, accept, and improve both your strengths and your weaknesses. In short, to train to improve overall.

There’s a cost, of course, to addressing your weaknesses rather than working on and honing your strengths. To me, effective practice requires about ten two-hour range trips a year, firing approximately 100 rounds per trip (that’s not inexpensive these days). If all you have is 1,000 rounds per year to shoot, how many rounds do you want to invest in practicing things that are difficult rather than things that are easy?

If you’re spending 70 to 80 percent of your range time and ammunition budget practicing repetitively rather than training, you need to think about how you’re using your resources. It’s better to spend 20 to 30 percent of your time practicing your existing competencies and the rest training to do something that really challenges you (e.g., shooting one-handed).

That said, I still want folks to have fun shooting. For many of us, challenging ourselves by working on things we’re not good at — even when failure and frustration are more common than success and gains — is fun. If that’s not you, maybe it should be. Maybe your life will depend on it some day.


Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned to the world at large. He is the president of Trident Concepts in Austin, Texas.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. In a similar vein, I ran across this.

    The Texas-based YouTube ‘Armed Attorneys’ recommend *not* carrying a trauma kit, for two reasons – The prosecution might use it against you, and the lawyers representing the one you were forced to shoot may use it against you.

    Food for thought :

    • Who said anything about wasting my expensive trauma supplies on the scumbag that just attacked me or my loved ones.

      • You obviously didn’t watch the video.

        The subject was the possible *legal* ramifications of simply being in the possession of one during the DGU.

        The ramifications that may put your ass in prison… 🙁

        • Really scary that you can carry a gun to protect yourself and family and value life to the point that you carry emergency supplies and some low life fucking DA will go after you for it.

        • Scary is right, why I thought posting it was worthwhile for the POTG.

          Towards the end they agree in a range bag at the range is fine, and in your vehicle if out and about is probably legally safest…

        • Fortunately I live in a state that protects Legal Firearms owners from overzealous prosecutors and civil suits. When they find themselves having to use said firearm, to protect themselves and others from violent criminals.

        • Yeah, now go to all the firearms trainer videos where almost all of them recommend carrying a trauma kit. The Armed Attorneys are good in a lot of areas but they missed the mark with this subject. And John at Active Self Protection explained why.

    • What “duty of care” does a victim have to an assailant. In most states – none. You are not required to render aid to an assailant in a self-defense scenario. If you are forced to defend yourself, retreat to a safe location and then call the police. Only report that you were attacked, you defended yourself, and the assailant requires medical aid.

      Then shut up and lawyer up.

      I’m not a lawyer, but I have a life-long friend who is.

      • “What “duty of care” does a victim have to an assailant.”

        *rolling eyes*.

        That wasn’t the subject of the video. You just assumed that… 🙁

    • Yeah, I’m not going to bleed out because I might get prosecuted for it. Funk dat.

  2. Looking at that pic and I’ve got to say seeing all of those bullet holes in the ceiling is pretty scary.

    • Yeah, that’s over an order of magnitude more than the ranges I shoot at…

      • well, the author did say that shooting two boxes of ammo less than once a month is all you need for practice, so maybe there’s a correlation there.

    • Oh yeah. That’s not good. I was just going to post that the woman on the left could carry concealed if her jeans weren’t 2 sizes too small.

  3. Very good article. Master the fundamentals. Choose you training wisely. Keep what you can use. Throw away the rest. None of it is chiseled in stone. And Indiana Jones is not looking for it.

  4. Just MHO, but very few of us will ever be in a position to use these skills and still fewer will ever need to rely on them to save their lives. Even in most self defense shootings the skills of the defender rarely have much to do with the results. I look at that church shooting in TX that was live streamed a couple years ago. The first guy had no chance no matter how much he trained. He didn’t know there was a threat until 1/4 second before he was shot. The third guy who took the perp out didn’t need any skills other than stretching out the range a little once in a while when you practice. That and not freezing out of fear. It’s the second guy who struggled to get his weapon drawn who paid the price. But this was and is a very rare occurrence and still training had little to do with 2 out of the 3 outcomes.

    Again, just MHO, but if you enjoy the training have at it, but realize this is really just a hobby that’s highly unlikely to prove necessary. And if you just like going to the range and plinking once in a while, that’s perfectly fine too. Maybe practice your draw just a bit, maybe shoot a few rounds one handed (right and left) and if you’re not carrying a revolver maybe run a malfunction drill once in a while. Personally I’d rather spend my time worrying about being struck by lightning myself.

    • Most DGUs don’t involve any shots fired.

      Mass shootings are a small minority within violent crimes.

      And there are other benefits to being of a freedom-loving and well-armed society that extend beyond the possibility of winning a firefight that hopefully never comes to pass. Would governments be as quick to attempt inflicting Canada/NZ/etc.-style tyranny upon a well-armed, well-supplied society that reveres the full panoply of its freedoms?

Comments are closed.