Practice, practice, practice

Yesterday, I posted about the value of training for situations that you’re likely to encounter. Just as SWAT teams train for breaching houses and other situations that they’re likely to encounter, armed citizens should train with their defensive weapon(s) of choice for situations that they’re likely to encounter.

A few of the people in the comments mentioned that their training method generally focuses on rapid sight acquisition and multiple rapid shots, and I agree that those are two of the the most important things for the armed citizen to practice.

If you’re in a situation where you need to defend yourself with a handgun or rifle, the ability to get on target quickly and place hits on the target is of paramount importance. Since my favorite range doesn’t allow drawing from the holster, I practice my draw at home with snap-caps to anchor that skill. At the range when I’m practicing, I always start my drills from step 2 (or 3) of my draw so I can practice acquiring the sights and pressing the shot out.

That being said; I also practice formal bullseye shooting and target shooting. I get a lot more excited about teeny-tiny little groups than I do about blasting a lot of rounds downrange. I would say that in an average range session, I devote equal amounts of time to practicing defensive shooting and shooting for groups/score.

The skills that you develop shooting bullseye; such as sight picture, trigger control, discipline, etc will make you a better shooting when you’re shooting defensive pistol. Of those, I would say that skill with trigger control is the most valuable for defensive shooting – it doesn’t matter how fast you squeeze the trigger if you’re constantly jerking your shots away from COM.

My combat pistol teacher at the Academy had a saying he was fond of that I’ve heard repeated elsewhere. “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”. It’s a nice modernization of the Wyatt Earp quote of “you must learn to be slow, in a hurry”. Before you can become a good defensive shooter, you need to have a fundamental grasp of the mechanics of good shooting. I don’t think that this is a problem for any of my readers, rather I think that it becomes a training issue for new shooters.

Before you worry about double taps and Mozambique Drills, make sure that you can hit the target consistently.