Training Part 4, Live fire

Every round you fire at the range should have a training objective attached to it. “Practice what you suck at, so you stop sucking at it.”

This article is all about slow, careful fire with an objective of accuracy. There is no time limit for this part, your job is to hit the target consistently and accurately, not quickly (yet). Once we have achieved a level of mastery here, then we can move onto the next part, speed.

The what we are practicing is the very basics. Stand in a relaxed manner, your shoulders square with the target. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, with the right foot (if you're shooting right-handed) back 3-4" from the left foot. Ladies, shoot in sneakers/boots, where your feet are flat. Shooting in heels comes later. Same for the guys. ;-)

Hold the weapon in both hands, head upright (not turned to one side), put your dominant eye to the target, bring the sights up to that line from your eye to the target, not your eye down to the sights. Properly line up the sights, then slowly and consistently squeeze the trigger until the weapon fires. 

sight alignment

I am going to admit this, it was these articles that inspired me to start quantifying and tracking my practice. As you'll see below, I need more training. I do have several glaring holes that I am working on addressing.

For your first few range sessions, your training objective is to see where you are. Once you know where you are, then you know what direction and how far you have to go to reach your goal. It's long been a phrase in the military, "Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast." Translated it means, "Go slow and get smooth. Once your shooting is smooth and accurate, then you can work on being fast." 

As an armed citizen and CCW holder, the level you are looking to achieve is proficient.

There is a joke among hikers, where two hikers encounter a bear, which charges at them. One hiker immediately begins to run, the other stands there and shouts, "You can't outrun a bear!" His buddy shouts back, I'm not outrunning the bear, I'm outrunning you!"

If you are proficient in drawing from concealment, getting the gun on target quickly, and accurate in your shooting, you are most likely way ahead than your standard criminal. Going beyond proficient will consume exponentially more time and ammo, resources that you could spend with family or friends. Just to be clear, the money you would spend on ammo, please don't use your family and friends as targets, no matter how badly you want to. ;-)

Frankly, if you're proficient (or better), you are most likely way above anyone you might have to face off against in a real defensive situation. Don't bet on it though.

The targets I shoot at ranges cost me $1.50 each. Any target is only good for 20 shots or less, as after that it becomes impossible to tell shot strings apart. I can easily go through 8-10 targets in an hour of range time, you do the math. Or, I can use a ridiculously cheaper option of printing out a bunch of my 8-6-4-1 targets. This is an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper that I have an 8" circle, in it a 6" circle, and within that is a 4" circle and finally a 1" center. Don't forget FAST Targets (on 8.5" x 14" paper) and T-Rex Arms Training Targets. The benefit is, we tape them to a single range target, then easily remove them and take them back home for further study. 

Start off by taping one 8-6-4-1 sheet to your target. You'll notice at the bottom of the page there's space to write everything you need to analize and record it when you get home. The date, Which target this is for the day (1st, 2nd, etc), which weapon (if you're like me and practice with several postols), the range (distance, not the place), the type of drill, where you're starting from, and time/misses. The reason for this is, say you shoot at 10 yards 3 times. If you know what order you shot them in, that helps you determine if you're getting better or worse during the training session. Maybe you have an arm strength issue, and the longer you shoot the more tired your arms get and it becomes more difficult to shoot accurately. That is real important to know, and something I will address in another article. All of this information is important so you remember it for when you get back home and study them.

Starting out, go for the big, easy targets. Your objective here is to put 5 rounds anywhere in the 8" circle, no time limit. 10 rounds won't tell you any more than 5, and with ammo prices, 5 rounds is cheaper. Do that for 5, 10, 15 and 20 yards. Your objective is inside the outer ring, even if it's just a nick on the edge. Once you get them all on target, try to put them inside the 6" ring. Then the 4" ring.

See how far you can go in range to put all rounds on the card. If you miss a shot at a given range, try it again. If you “drop a shot” twice, come back in to the prior range and score 1-2 times, then back out to the farther range.

Back when ammo was scarce, Lena Miculek was one of several professional shooters who came up with some "low round count" drills or training sessions. This one has no time limits, just shooting in different ways and at different targets to help develop multiple skills. Here you will use three paper plates, 2-3” between each on a horizontal line, 5-7 yards away. If you're in an indoor range with lanes, do it vertically, lest you hit the targets of others or the walls.

  • Start from various positions:
  • Low ready (pistol in hand, muzzle touching table)
  • Pistol on table (hands off pistol, hands anywhere)
  • Pistol in holster (where allowed)

Drill 1

-1 shot on single target. Perform 10 times.

Drill 2

-2 shots single target. Perform 5 times.

Drill 3

-5 shots single target. Perform 2 times.

Drill 4

-1 shot each target, Left-Middle-Right-Middle-Left (Top-Middle-Bottom-Middle-Top).

-1 shot each target, Right-Middle-Left-Middle Right (Bottom-Middle-Top-Middle-Bottom).

Drill 5

-1 shot any target, drop mag, insert new mag, 1 shot. Perform 3 times.

Drill 6a.

Start with 2 mags, one round in each.

-Load mag 1, chamber round, fire (slide lock). Drop mag, insert mag 2, pull slide to chamber round, 1 round.

Drill 6b.

Start with 2 mags, one round in each.

-Load mag 1, chamber round, fire (slide lock). Drop mag, insert mag 2, Use slide release to chamber round, 1 round.

At this point, you can move on to the next article, paying particular attention to the "Comfort Zone" and "5-5-5" drills.

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