Train Hard, Fight Easy
In other articles I’ve talked about how I approach formal defensive handgun training. At least that training I can afford. I see formal training as an opportunity to discover new techniques and drills and I hope to get some constructive criticism from instructors who know more than me. I do not expect to complete any professional regimen and leave the facility as some kind of Wyatt Earp, Jr. I expect to learn things I must then perfect through my own disciplined self-training.
Two defensive handgun drills I got to do for the first time at Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, New Hampshire were shooting and moving and shooting from cover. Shooting from cover was easy. Shooting and moving though, involved skills quite new to me at the time. We were instructed to move slowly and deliberately while we carefully stepped heal to toe going forward and toe to heal going backwards and made sure not to trip over ourselves going left and right. This shooting and moving was all great fun but when class was over the problem remaining was how would I practice and perfect these fine new skills? I knew of no gun ranges which allowed shooters to heal-toe and toe-heal forth and back or shuffle along the firing line while shooting at everyone else’s targets, or something. I needed a place to shoot where I could work out solutions for myself as I perfected this skill of shooting on the move.
The place I found is a public range located on a Wildlife Management Area in Massachusetts. It’s a 50 yard range with a good high and solid berm as a backstop. The good part is on weekdays it’s easy to have the place to yourself as the range sees the most use on weekends. The bad part is the range is closed during the hunting seasons. When I have the range just to me I’m able to train my way, i.e, in a structured but unstructured fashion. By this I mean having specific training goals to work on but being able to spontaneously mix up my drills as I see fit. At formal training your limited by the instructor’s commands: move three steps to the right, three steps left etc. When on this range I have the freedom to move in any direction in any sequence for any number of steps. And I can move at any speed I feel is safe and challenging for me on that day. I can also throw in some draws and move and reloads while being a moving target. The targets I use are empty plastic bottles of various sizes. These bottles make great reactive targets and it’s a lot of fun when you can move and shoot and watch the bottles fly on every trigger press. I believe this kind of mix-it-up spontaneity more closely resembles what you will do in the case of an actual gunfight. More so than the traditionally rigid formal training. Don’t misunderstand, the formal classes are great because that’s where you go to learn new things about defensive shooting and about yourself. However the training I do on my own, for me, solidifies my proficiency and my confidence in that proficiency.
Also I’ve recently moved into a larger place. Here I have a spacious living room and kitchen where I can practice drawing and moving. I don’t dry-fire here because my wife wouldn’t be too big on the idea of me setting up suitable back-stops all over the place. Anyway dry-firing in this sense would be a bit cumbersome and not useful with a semi. Instead I work on settling the front sight onto a “target” and mentally press the trigger at the right moment.
Not perfect, but it works for me.
Let me know if you have any comments, criticisms or suggestions about helping me or other readers enhance our self-training journeys.