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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Practice Like It's Real

 A phrase heard often during sports training is, "You play like you practice."  The idea being, the level of commitment you put into your training will be reflected during the real game.  If you only do your drills half-assed, you'll play the actual game the same way.  Generally, that means you'll end up on the losing end.

The same can be said for most things.  Actors have rehearsals.  Novelists write drafts.  Boxers have sparring matches.

For some reason, when it comes to self-defense practice - especially with lethal weapons - we somehow feel we're at the "top of our game" by simply going to the range and firing a box of rounds at a stationary target from a steady benchrest position.

The chances of having to use a gun AND being able to calmly line up your sights are virtually non-existent.  Come "game time," you will be lucky to get a decent sight-picture, let alone having a stationary target.

Finding a facility where you can do some realistic training can be a challenge - particularly here in California.  Unless you're a member of a club that has an IDPA or IPSC training facility, you're generally restricted to firing at a stationary target while standing in your own "shooting point" at the range.

Make the most of what you have to work with.  These are some of the routines we teach in our Advanced Pistol classes:

1.  Don't make hitting a perfect bulls-eye your objective.  Shoot at a 6 or 8 inch target, and consider any hits on the target as a success.  Your objective is to put all of your rounds on target in as short of a period of time as is possible.

2.  Use ranges that have targets you can set at different distances.  This generally means you need to use indoor ranges.  Set your targets starting at 5 yards.  Once you can put 10 consecutive rounds on target, move the target out 3 yards.  Repeat.

3.  Start from the "high compact" position - the gun is held near the front of your chest with the muzzle pointed down range.  Extend your arm(s) towards the target at eye level and fire once you have a sight picture.  Practice this until you can fire your gun as soon as your arms are fully extended.

4.  Practice this strong side and weak side, both two-handed and one-handed.

I'll share some other techniques in later posts.

One way to add some of the adrenaline-rush of a "live fire" situation is to play paintball.  I particularly like type where you are out in the woods (as opposed to the more rigid X-ball style).  You learn all about concealment and paying attention to your surroundings so you know when it's safe to shoot.

You shoot and are shot at without lethal consequences.  As long as you don't get into the "spray and pray" style of play, you can pick up some very practical self-defense skills.

Using air-soft guns at home in your garage or backyard is a wonderful way to improve your point-and-shoot skills.  While you cannot accurately duplicated multiple-shot drills (since you're not getting the recoil from an air-soft gun), you can significantly improve your first shot accuracy.  And you can do it very inexpensively.

Accept The Challenge

There is nothing more important than protecting your life, or the life of a loved one.  Don't give yourself a false sense of security by telling yourself that by shooting a box of cartridges at a target every 6 months means you a proficient with your handgun.

Every owner of a handgun should practice with it at least once each month.  Make the most of your practice time by developing skills you will most likely use if the need for self-defense ever arises.

Practice Like It's Real.
Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Andrea said...

Interesting stuff...we've long talked about getting me a handgun, but I'm really more comfortable with a rifle. And I'm embarrassed to say how long it's been since I've shot anything but a paintball gun. Do Wii shooting games count? LOL

Chief Instructor said...

LOL, I guess the Wii beats a blank (but not by much!).

Ride Fast said...

I recently shot a Steel Challenge match at the GBR-IV outside Reno, Nv.
Really good practice for multiple targets in minimum time.

Also, if an indoor range has a dark lane I try to put some time in on it. Hitting targets in dim light is tough.

Chief Instructor said...

It has been WAY too long since I've been in a match. I need to check with my AP club to find out when the next match is - we usually hold at least one a month.

Nice tip on the dark lanes. I need to see if my primary indoor range will dim the lights when I'm on the range alone. It will give me an excuse to buy some night sights as well!

Gun eTools said...

Great ideas. It's always a good idea to go to the range with some sort of a plan for skills maintenance.