Winter self-defense training

If you’re one of the lucky people that lives in a state that experiences this thing called “winter” you’ve probably faced the same dilemma that I face every winter. What to do about training? Let’s face facts, no one wants to go to the range when it’s -22 F outside, setting aside the fact that going outside when it’s that cold can be quite dangerous. But you don’t want to not train, you don’t want to be lazy, so what to do?

Pictured: Not Winter
Pictured: Not Winter

The pat answer is “dry fire” because everyone knows that dry fire is totally awesome, right? That’s fine, and if that’s what you want to devote your training time to, knock yourself out. I however am going to suggest an alternate option for your winter training time: use the winter as an opportunity to up your physical game. “What? Work out? MADNESS! This is a gun blog, not a fitness blog!” I know, I know, but bear with me here. What if I told you that being fitter would make you better at whatever your shooting goal is? Because it will.

For example, say the only reason you carry a gun and shoot a gun is to defend your life in a violent encounter. You don’t shoot matches, but you regularly attend classes as ways to benchmark your skill and improvement. Your goal when carrying a gun is to be able to win a fight. That’s awesome. Fit people are harder to kill than unhealthy people. None of us carry guns because we’re optimists. I don’t buckle on a pistol or revolver every day because I think that the world is a wonderful place full of sunshine and ponies, I do it because the world is full of awful people who might want to hurt me for no good reason. I don’t think that’s going to happen…but it could. So I might as well be ready. I also should be ready if the best solution to avoid getting hurt by a bad man is to be able to run away very quickly. It wouldn’t hurt me to be physically strong enough to shove someone away and create space, or to know how to throw a good jab/cross combo, either.

What if your goal is to win at pistol shooting competitions? Yes, you need to be able to shoot well, but you can train those skills on the range during the 7-8 months of the year where the weather is good. In the off-season, why not build an explosive sprint for those long field stages? Or make your upper body stronger so you can hold your rifle steadier on three-gun long shots? Those seem like good things to me, and they probably will have additional benefits in other areas of your life as well.

I’m not trying to say you need to become some kind of elite athlete like Rich Froning. You don’t even need to be as fit as JJ Racaza or Jordan Miller, but those would be great goals if you wanted to do that.

One of the big reasons people get discouraged about getting into shape is that they feel like they need to be able to perform at a high level right away. “I can’t do 100 pushups, why bother?” Or even “I can’t do 10 pushups, why bother?” You don’t need to do that right away. That’s a goal, something you can hit later. Can’t run 3 miles? Walk. Then walk a little bit faster the next time. Experts say that it takes 21 days of a routine to form a habit – try it for three weeks. Go for a walk. Do a pushup, or do five.

No matter what your current fitness level is, winter is a great time to up your game. It’s already cold outside, you don’t want to go to the range, so you might as well hit the iron. This is where I’ll be spending my winter.


Also, a note: if you want some inspiration, I suggest two things. First, watching Pumping Iron on Netflix, and second go follow The Rock on Instagram.


      1. Gee, that’s what made me like indoor ranges; the first one I frequented further north in the Bothell area, was a dive compared to them and also cost a fortune to shoot at.

  1. Caleb, I carry because I am an optimist. A pessimist thinks something bad will happen. An optimist KNOWS that something bad will happen. Sarc/off

  2. say the only reason you carry a gun and shoot a gun is to defend your life in a violent encounter.

    For us middle-class, middle-age, white guys, a good exercise program (and diet) is more likely to extend our life-spans than carrying a gun.

    More of us are going to die from things like heart disease than violent crime.

    1. This is absolutely a true statement. Hell, I’m in my 30s and the greatest danger to my longevity isn’t a bullet from Pookie’s .25 ACP, but a heart attack from too much cheeseburger/beer.

      1. As as philosophical point though, if you knew that cutting all the food you love out of your diet would extend your life by at least five years, would it be worth it to you?

  3. Carhart and sorals do a lot to help with the cold… Also hand warms (if you can’t feel your fingers it’s hard to be safe with any gun!)… Just saying.

  4. I’ve asked this before, and if it’s been answered my apologies for missing it, but does anyone have a list of specific exercises to deal with the specific muscle groups we use in shooting? Maintaining good general fitness is an excellent idea, but I suspect there are exercises that can benefit practitioners of particular shooting disciplines, above and beyond general fitness and muscle capacity.

    1. If I were going to build a workout specifically for the shooting sports, it would probably involve a lot of kettlebell swings, pushups, and hard sprinting.

    2. Being in the ranks of 50+ folks, I find stretching, maintaining the agility of movement to be the area to focus on. After a day at the range, hip and elbow, followed by finger joint discomfort.

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