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Over at, Richard Mann offers some excellent advice for a self-defense handgun training regimen. He recommends four drills. Specifically, the Dot Drill (two circles at five to seven yards, one shot from concealment 24 times X 4); the Failure Drill (silhouette target at five to seven yards, two shots center mass and one head shot 24 times); the 45 Drill (five shots at a 5-inch circle at 5 yards in five seconds 24 times); and the El-Prez Modified (” . . . silhouette target at 3 yards, one at 5 yards, and one at 7 yards. Space them 5 feet apart laterally. Start by standing in front of the right or left target, and at the signal engage each target with two shots working from the closest to the farthest. Then, move laterally about 10 feet to cover, reload and repeat the drill from behind cover”). Hmmm. There are a few things missing here . . .

For example, moving. Moving and shooting is the key to living and breathing. [Shooting at an indoor range is inherently limiting so . . . shoot outdoors at a range where you can move as often as possible.]

For another, one-handed shooting. The odds of ending-up shooting at a bad guy with one-hand are more than high enough to justify regular practice with BOTH hands single-handed.

A third: shooting at various distances. Five to seven yards is the commonly accepted “combat distance,” but shooting at targets closer in gives you a better idea of your accuracy. As does shooting at targets farther away, which also forces you to slow down and aim.

A fourth: slow fire. I always start my range sessions with exaggerated slow fire, to steady my hand and get comfortable with the trigger: slack, break AND reset.

A fifth: NOT shooting. It’s important to practice draw your weapon and not shooting, so that you don’t train yourself to draw and shoot seamlessly and instinctively.

And most importantly, force-on-force training.

IMHO, there are three main aspects to armed self-defense: gun handling (running the gun, not shooting anyone by accident), marksmanship (hitting what you’re aiming at) and strategy (knowing who, what, when, where and why to shoot).

You can and should study shoot/don’t shoot situations, including the legal aspects. But nothing beats RL force-on-force training for getting you prepared for a life-or-death emergency.

Anyway, what do you do down at the range?

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  1. I stand in the little box and slowly (no more than 1 round per second) fire at a target. After the gun locks back I then slowly (so as not to frighten anyone) remove the empty magazine.
    Then I am permitted to return my target (If no one is actively shooting in the booths directly next to me) and examine it.
    I may then replace my target with a fresh (or patched) one. If no one is currently firing in the adjacent booths I may then run the target back out.
    I am then permitted to load a full magazine and rack the slide.
    Assuming that neither of the adjacent booths is running their target in or out I may then, while standing still, fire at the target…
    Rinse, lather, repeat.

    Shooting at an out door range? I would love to. Wish I could find one within an hours drive that didn’t require 2 members to nominate me and a huge initiation fee.

  2. My range drill depends on which range I go to. At the outdoor range, I generally engage a steel target that is offline and about 25 yards away. I then come back to some hanging vertical cylinders and try to hit each one in succession. There are some smaller targets 15 yards out (small animal silhouettes) that I shoot at.

    The indoor range allows me to practice drawing from my IWB holster. I regularly practice drawing from a concealed holster, retention, firing a couple of shots, low ready and reholstering.

    No, I’m not allowed to play quick draw McGraw, nor do I care to do so. I’m more concerned with trying to develop muscle memory, should the occasion arise that I need to get my 1911 out of the holster.

  3. RF said, “A fourth: slow fire. I always start my range sessions with exaggerated slow fire, to steady my hand and get comfortable with the trigger: slack, break AND reset.”

    You should consider adding a cold shoot to your routine. When/if you are attached you must draw and shoot right then, no warm-up. Set the targets up, walk away, turn and go! Using a timer helps with the turn/go part.

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