BE­YOND PA­PER TAR­GETS

THESE TIPS WILL EN­ABLE YOU TO BUILD FLU­ENCY WITH YOUR FIREARM

Home Defender - - Contents - By Mia Wood

Build flu­ency with your firearm and sharpen your skills with a num­ber of crit­i­cal drills.

We all want to im­prove our abil­i­ties with a gun, but we don’t al­ways have a whole day—or even half a day—to ded­i­cate to an out­door range. So, what do you do?

Con­sider, in­stead, adding a holis­tic ap­proach to your train­ing. Ex­pand it be­yond how of­ten you can hit a bulls­eye. Train­ing ul­ti­mately trans­lates into how flu­ent you are with your gun and how com­fort­able you are with your weapon.

Here are a few tips to help struc­ture your train­ing be­yond just stand­ing in front of a static pa­per tar­get.

01 DED­I­CATE A CON­SIS­TENT SCHED­ULE TO TRAIN

Make your prac­tice a habit, like a work­out. Like your phys­i­cal health, your shoot­ing skills are per­ish­able and need con­stant tend­ing.

We all lead busy lives, so be re­al­is­tic with the chunk of time set aside. Is it an hour a week? Is it 30 min­utes, twice a week? On the week­ends? What­ever you choose, keep it re­al­is­tic, so you can sus­tain the habit. Noth­ing kills a well-in­tended habit like over-ex­tend­ing yourself.

Your firearms train­ing can be shoot­ing at the range, dry-fir­ing at home, gun clean­ing and main­te­nance, or a ro­ta­tion of the above. You can even use your al­lot­ted time to look up YouTube videos or blogs on spe­cific top­ics. I of­ten used YouTube videos to keep my mem­ory fresh on how to take apart my gun and—more im­por­tantly—put it back to­gether af­ter I was done clean­ing it.

There is no one way to train, but the end-goal is the same: Learn as much as you can about your gun.

02 HAVE A SPE­CIFIC GOAL WITH YOUR TIME

Know­ing your end-goal be­fore you start makes your time spent more ef­fec­tive and helps you avoid just “go­ing through the mo­tions.”

Maybe you want to over­come your flinch. Maybe you want to prac­tice how to reload your mag­a­zines into your guns more smoothly, or learn how to shoot mul­ti­ple tar­gets without hes­i­tat­ing. De­cide your ob­jec­tive be­fore you start, or when you set aside that time in your cal­en­dar. It’s not un­like de­cid­ing be­fore a work­out, “Today is car­dio day,” or “Today is my yoga day.”

03 RE­VIEW WHAT YOU’VE DONE

Aside from grip and stance, it’s hard to tell ex­actly what you’re doing at the mo­ment of fire, but there’s a good so­lu­tion. I’ve found my phone’s video cam­era to be an ex­tremely use­ful tool. Switch your video cam­era to selfie mode and find a way to prop it up to record you while you fire. If you’re with a shoot­ing buddy, have that per­son record you and vice versa. You’ll be

“… YOUR SHOOT­ING SKILLS ARE PER­ISH­ABLE AND NEED CON­STANT TEND­ING …”

amazed at what the cam­era cap­tures. Next, use the slow-mo­tion fea­ture of your cam­era. It slows down and ex­poses what you’re re­ally doing when you press the trig­ger. I’ve shown this tip to a few dif­fer­ent peo­ple, and they’re al­ways as­tounded at how the cam­era breaks down what they are ac­tu­ally doing, ver­sus what they thought they were doing.

You can also make notes for yourself on your phone or in a notebook.

Keep a short-but-sweet record of your progress. I used to take pho­tos of my tar­gets with a quick note on yardage, what I was prac­tic­ing (for in­stance, one-handed shoot­ing or ac­cu­racy), and the date. It was a great way to track what habits I over­came and my progress.

04 SUG­GESTED DRILLS

The fol­low­ing are some sam­ple drills to prac­tice at an in­door range, but they can eas­ily be adapted to an out­door range. They do re­quire rep­e­ti­tion, but re­mem­ber to prac­tice with pur­pose, and the ac­tiv­ity will be­come as sec­ond na­ture as brush­ing your teeth.

WARM UP

Don’t start blaz­ing away at 20 yards out and then try to see how you did. Start with your tar­get at close range and fire a shot or two at a time.

PRAC­TICE RELOADS

Load maybe three or four rounds of ammo in each of your mag­a­zines. When your emp­tied gun locks back, prac­tice re­leas­ing your mag­a­zine one-handed with your fir­ing-hand thumb, and reload­ing your fresh mag­a­zine with your non-fir­ing hand.

Start slowly, and make your mo­tions de­lib­er­ate, so you can see how your hands and fin­gers ma­nip­u­late the gun and the mag­a­zine re­spec­tively. Smooth­ness and speed will nat­u­rally fol­low.

The whole point of this ex­er­cise is to ma­nip­u­late ev­ery pos­si­ble fea­ture of

your firearm in the man­ner for which it was de­signed … not to men­tion it’s a use­ful skill to learn in­tu­itively.

If you’re prac­tic­ing this at home, use dummy rounds in your mag­a­zines.

PRAC­TICE FRESH STARTS

When I was a lit­tle girl and sub­jected to endless piano recitals, I prac­ticed walk­ing on an imag­i­nary stage, doing the curt­sey and then sit­ting down to start the piece. The recital did not start with me sit­ting at the piano. It started with me getting into per­for­mance mode as soon as I stepped foot on that stage.

At the range, that ac­tion of draw­ing your weapon and getting ready to press the trig­ger is just as im­por­tant as land­ing your shots on tar­get. You want to set yourself up for con­sis­tent suc­cess.

Start with your tar­get 5-7 yards out. Fire one shot, then bring your gun back in and take your eyes off the sights. Now, start all over. Push your gun out, at­tune your eyes to your sights and fire a sec­ond shot. Re­peat this again, and fire two or three shots.

The point of this ex­er­cise is to con­di­tion your body to know the prime poise to shoot, so that should you ever be in an adren­a­line-driven sit­u­a­tion with your gun, your body will re­spond with fa­mil­iar­ity. You can grad­u­ally move out the tar­get if you wish, but the main point is to prac­tice getting set up for the shot. You can take his drill one step fur­ther at home and prac­tice pick­ing up your firearm from a table­top or gun safe, so you re­hearse getting a good grip on the gun as you set up.

PRAC­TICE MARKS­MAN­SHIP

Start with the tar­get at 5-7 yards and grad­u­ally move the tar­get 3 yards out at a time, but fire three or four shots at a time in­stead of emp­ty­ing your whole mag­a­zine at once. You’ll find that fir­ing at 15 yards out is the same setup and trig­ger press as 5 yards close.

PRAC­TICE MUL­TI­PLE TAR­GET SHOOT­ING

Put up mul­ti­ple tar­gets. You can clip one tar­get on each clip, and you can at­tach four pa­per plates with a sta­ple gun to a piece of card­board. Prac­tice mov­ing your shots be­tween tar­gets, in any or­der you wish. Take the time to see how your shots land as you move left to right, vice versa, or up and down be­tween tar­gets.

Now, throw in a mag­a­zine reload or two when shoot­ing those mul­ti­ple tar­gets. This will sharpen your skills in the fol­low­ing ar­eas: getting ready from a neu­tral po­si­tion, prac­tic­ing a reload and ma­nip­u­lat­ing your gun and getting ready in a fire po­si­tion again. Video­tape yourself. You’ll be sur­prised at what you find. And it will give you good fod­der for what to prac­tice next time.

BONUS CHAL­LENGES

You can also add hol­ster-draw­ing

prac­tice to any of these ex­er­cises, whether it’s your con­cealed carry hol­ster or purse, or your out­side-the-waist­band hol­ster. Check with your in­door range first be­fore doing any hol­ster draws.

COM­FORT & FLU­ENCY

There is no end to the shoot­ing drills you can find on­line, whether on blogs or YouTube. If they ad­vo­cate som­er­saults and un­safe stunts, though, move on. Your train­ing ses­sions, in and of them­selves, should build up to be cu­mu­la­tive. No one can turn into John Wick (or Jane Wick) overnight.

The key is to handle your weapon on a reg­u­lar and con­sis­tent sched­ule, which will turn your firearms train­ing into a habit rather than a chore, and in­crease your com­fort and flu­ency with your firearm. This adept­ness will soon carry over and al­low you to more eas­ily learn and handle other guns with which you’re not fa­mil­iar. It will also serve you well in your hour of need with your gun.

When the panic hits and your brain re­sorts to your last level of train­ing, you’ll be glad for all the prac­tice and train­ing you did for yourself and your fam­ily. HD

“WHEN THE PANIC HITS AND YOUR

BRAIN RE­SORTS TO YOUR LAST LEVEL OF TRAIN­ING, YOU’LL BE GLAD FOR

ALL THE PRAC­TICE

AND TRAIN­ING

YOU DID …”

Go into each ses­sion with a plan. Know­ing your end-goal be­fore you start makes your time spent more ef­fec­tive, says Mia Wood.

Above: When you train, make sure you have your eye and ear pro­tec­tion. Plus, your train­ing should in­clude draw­ing your weapon and getting ready to pull the trig­ger. In­clud­ing these ele­ments sets you up for con­sis­tent suc­cess.

Be­low: Handle your weapon on a reg­u­lar and con­sis­tent sched­ule. Why? This will make your firearms train­ing a habit, says the author.

Bot­tom Right: The author says your train­ing can be shoot­ing at the range, dry fir­ing at home, gun clean­ing and main­te­nance, or a ro­ta­tion of all of these items.

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