Question of the Day: What Do You Practice at the Gun Range?

I spent a warm Saturday morning at Best of the West Shooting Sports with the organizers of the 2015 Texas Firearms Festival (November 14 and 15). As usual, I practiced moving, drawing and shooting while moving. So no standing still stances for me. When I’m in a square range, I go all isosceles and practice r-e-a-l-l-y slow fire or maximum accuracy, then speed up to double taps (Red’s doesn’t allow rapid fire). I always finish by drawing numbers inside shapes on a target, and depend on the kindness of strangers to call out a number or shape to shoot. I start the target at five yards and then push it out to 25. What’s your go-to gun range practice routine?



  1. avatar random guy says:


  2. avatar O2HeN2 says:

    One thing I rarely see practiced is drawing and NOT shooting. If you’re programmed to ALWAYS draw and fire, rather than [if possible] taking an additional fraction of a second to make a decision NOT to fire, if the threat ceases to be a threat upon presentation of the firearm, you may have a “bad shoot” on your hands.

    Before the “if you’re drawing you’re shooting” crowd dumps on me, note the “if possible” statement.


    1. avatar An English Person says:

      You can add to that practicing shooting at areas other than the head and body.

      1. avatar Chrispy says:

        As has been discussed here before, if you’re shooting it’s because you need to stop a threat and you need to do it right now. Therefore I believe the majority of us would advocate strongly for center mass shots. Not many here would suggest (seriously suggest anyways) to even take a head shot, and definitely not a leg/foot/hand. The risk is too great of a miss when targeting those areas and the bullet becomes a liability, not to mention there is no guarantee of it being less lethal than a shot to the body.

      2. avatar O2HeN2 says:

        In a word, no. If a threat needs to be stopped it’s going to the center of mass and if that’s ineffective, the head.

        Did you enjoy your nutrition?


      3. avatar Joe R. says:

        “Center Mass” = of whatever’s ‘showing.’

    2. avatar Chris T from KY says:

      If your gun comes out of its holster you had better be shooting with precise accuracy because it is a life and death situation. Carrying a gun means you are prepared to kill another person because they are a deadly threat to you or a loved one. You do not flash a gun to make someone go away.

      If you do this you had better be ready to explain to a policeman why to are scaring people with a gun.

      1. avatar AdamTA1 says:

        Except that most POTG count the BG turning and leaving at the sight of the gun a successful DGU.

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    What Do You Practice at the Gun Range?


    1. avatar dh34 says:

      I tried law and medicine, but it’s so loud there.

      1. avatar HotandEmpty says:

        It is a bad day at the range when the shooting stops, and you are practicing law and medicine on a negligent shooter.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      …and trying to hit what I’m aiming at.

  4. avatar Removed_californian says:

    As of late I’ve just been trying to snap off accurate double taps in defensive ranges. I’m pretty inexperienced with pistol shooting so it’s really frustrating me that I can’t keep two successive shots within a kill zone. Guess that just means more practice for me.

    1. avatar Chrispy says:

      Grip, grip, grip, grip, grip!!!

      And have fun!

    2. avatar B says:

      Dry fire practice. Its the quickest way to improve your shooting, and its cheaper. Eyes on the sights and target, smooth press while keeping the gun still, click, slow reset to emphasize it, then repeat.

  5. avatar Matt in Idaho says:

    keeping my smile and giggling under control

  6. avatar Nick says:

    My local range doesn’t allow you to draw and shoot from the holster. I bring snap caps and mix them into the mag so I can practice tap, rack and move while fixing malfunctions and marksmanship.

  7. avatar bontai Joe says:

    Me being an old “bulls eye” shooter, I practice sight alignment and trigger control. My typical goal is to have a target at 25 yards with one ragged hole in the center. Every once in a while, I used to make one like that, not so much anymore, due to tremors in my hands, and other stuff from old age and crappy health. I don’t/can’t scamper around commando-like and be all tactical like the young puppies I see at the range.

  8. avatar ThomasR says:

    Fire and movement, movement and fire. Failure drills, strong hand and weak hand, within contact range out to 25 yards. Reloading, both tactical and retention. Firing from different positions, kneeling, from behind cover. I don’t necessarily go through all of these each shooting session, but I’ll mix it up over a couple or three sessions over a period of a month.

    Then I’ll mix it up with shot gun and rifle.

    I have a private membership shooting range with tactical shooting, bench rest out to two hundred yards, six hundred yard, shotgun, and full auto ranges.

    All within ten minutes of my home. Yeah, I know; New Mexico, gun owner desert paradise.

  9. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    I practice safety. Making sure others don’t shoot me while doing what I need to do.

  10. avatar Blake says:

    When I practice, I go the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton route.

    I figure if it’s good enough for Aaron Burr, it is good enough for me.

  11. avatar peirsonb says:

    Maximizing speed, minimizing drag while operating operationally.

  12. avatar Owen says:

    At my club we have a weekly activity called Action Pistol. The courses of fire have a lot of variety with drawing, moving and shooting from all sort of scenarios. It’s not so much tactical as practical. We even have a couple of old car doors to mock up “so you’re sitting in the car when…” type scenario. It’s a lot of fun!

  13. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

    Now that I have access to an outdoor range again, I do a lot of moving around. I also shoot from the kneeling and prone positions.

    You learn all sorts of things when you can shoot outdoors. For example I can stay on target when moving from left to right much better than right to left. An outdoor range allows you to learn more about your personal strengths and weaknesses.

    The one restriction I don’t like is target size. The target hanging rules leave you with about a half Q-bottle sized target so I have no idea if my misses are actually misses on a human sized target.

  14. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    What’s my go-to gun range practice routine? It begins with going to a “range” where I can move and shoot. Unfortunately, such ranges rarely exist in brick-and-mortars businesses. In other words you either set up a range on your own property or use a range on a friend’s property where you can move and shoot.

    On one of my last sessions, I put up four sheets of notebook paper. I practiced moving and shooting one specific sheet — similar to a “shoot, no shoot” drill. This is good practice for shooting an attacker who happens to be between bystanders or “friendlies”

    I also practiced moving and shooting where I fired two or three shots at one sheet, then fired two or three shots at a different sheet, and rotated until I ran out of ammunition. This helps with rapid target acquisition and engagement if facing multiple attackers.

  15. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    Movie lines and crazy eyes (Eddie Griffin style).

  16. avatar HotandEmpty says:

    I practice hitting what I am aiming at. Speed drawing and firing from the hip to hit mid and upper chest in the spine. I train to beat a drawn gun, which along with speed requires some cunning to get the draw window, which is one and a half seconds or less. I don’t practice re-holstering my firearm after shooting because that is just stupid. If I have to defensively use my gun, my gun will be in my hand ready for more threats, until I see the first set of cherries rolling up, at the point my gun will be laying on top the deceased savage.

    In the public ranges I also practice situational awareness, and not being oblivious to my surroundings, like the fatal mistake a reporter and camera man recently made.

    One gun is loaded for shooting paper, and one gun is open carried on my hip and loaded for self-defense.

  17. avatar pre stone says:

    i understand safety rules are a must at a public range but our is Nazi-ish. All shots must be at least one second apart, you can not draw and fire must be on bench then picked up and fired, etc etc.
    about the only thing you can practice is sight alignment and impact, where does the bullet hit with the sights aligned. not sure what else to call that. i only go to “gun ranges” to shoot rifle. pistol needs to be dynamic.

  18. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    I just started using snap cap mixed in my magazines. Practicing clearing a malfunction for the first time has been a sobering experience. My range allows rapid fire and drawing from a holster. At the open air state park range you can practice fire on the move. I love being in a free state.

  19. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Lately I’ve been going back to some of the drills we used back during my days of training with Range Athlete. For example, tire drag for 25 yards, draw and fire 2 shots at the 25 yard line at an IPSC target. Repeat for 20 minutes straight. No rests. The tire is always attached. Only hits within the A,B, and C areas count as hits. See how many hits you can get in the time available.
    The faster you run, the more opportunities you have to shoot. The faster you run, the harder it is to shoot accurately. Run it with a rifle and a pistol.
    Great at building skill and reducing your ego.

    1. avatar bontai Joe says:

      I am impressed with your training, but I got winded and started looking for my inhaler from just reading that. Getting old ain’t as fun as I thought it would be.

  20. avatar Grindstone says:

    Everything I can, depending on what I have with me and what type of range.

  21. avatar marty says:

    Does anybody use any kind of laser practice system, like the Laserlyte, fall over cans, the regular mini targets. or ????? other brand?

    Thoughts- good or bad….

    1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

      I may be one of the least skilled shooters here but I’ll share my experience anyway. I have a .22 LaserLyte for my Five Seven and draw and dry fire a couple hundred times a week. It seems to have really improved my pointing and trigger squeeze. The laser is on long enough to to see how much I move the gun with the trigger. I have done very little range shooting this summer but I have improved noticeably between those few sessions. I said pointing rather than aiming because I can’t see my iron sights very well and trying to get my sight picture right (in a useful amount of time) is very hard for me. I mostly just point and use the front site indexed to an awful blur of the rear. I am likely getting a Deltapoint when the new ones come out so I can aim for real.

      1. avatar actionphysicalman says:

        Oh, and I just use paper target with a human silhouette with the guts visible. I can see the dot motion easier that way.

    2. avatar Other Tony says:

      I have several Laserlyte training products. The laser ammo cartridge is good for trigger control single shot with your actual pistol. The laser targets are good too. The problem is repeated fire – the trigger tyme semiautomatic trainer is meh and the laser insert for it is bad, does not work reliably. I have pretty much entirely switched over to bb and airsoft replicas of my pistol for semiauto home practice. Cardboard targets for those.

  22. avatar Rick K says:

    I practice; drawing, strong hand and offhand shooting and quick change of target (emulating multiple threats). Always on 6 and 8 inch targets at torso or head heights and silhouettes. Distances are between say 7 and 30 feet. Primarily C of M and a lesser amount, head shots. This is my typical self defense routine and I do it with all of my carry and bedside pistols and revolvers.

    The primary thought would always be to retreat to live another day. If not…neutralize the primary threat, regroup and reassess. And practice, practice, practice.

  23. avatar JAQUE BAUER says:

    I punch paper targets at the Markham Park range in Broward County, Florida. This public range in South Florida limits any practical shooting, other than punching non human form paper targets . You may not fire more than one shot every 5 seconds, cannot draw from a holster, and cannot move and shoot. Being a member in a club or paying a professional trainer is the only way to get practical defense shooting experience. It really sucks, as 30 years ago all we needed to do was drive to an abandoned rock pit and blast away all day for free.

  24. avatar Wes Parker says:

    Breathing and heart rate.waiting for that perfect shot every time. Aim small, miss small.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email