Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Practice Handgunnery

Courtesy of the NRA, a brief lesson in handgun practice!

For "drawing" and presentation skills:

1) Position a target with six 2-inch circles at between 5 and 7 yards. Shoot one shot at each circle, drawing the handgun from the holster before each shot. The goal is to fire one shot at each circle and hit each target once. This is not a speed drill, but rather it’s an accuracy and gun-handling drill to help you establish a foundation for gun presentation, sight alignment and trigger control. Conduct this drill four times at the beginning of every trip to the range.

2) Position a silhouette target at between 5 and 7 yards. At the signal, draw your handgun and fire two shots in quick succession to center mass. Then, immediately fire one shot to the center of the head. You’ll have to slow down to make the head shot count. Something between three and four seconds is commonplace. Perform this drill eight times during each practice session to establish your average time. Work toward a goal of completing the drill with no misses in less than three seconds.

3) We cannot simulate the stress levels you’ll experience in a life-and-death encounter, but we can simulate your reaction. This is why I believe the adrenalin dump drill is important. If your reaction is going to be to shove the handgun toward the target and start yanking on the trigger, then learn how to do it effectively. I call my version of the adrenalin dump drill “The 45 Drill,” because the drill has four elements of five—five shots at a 5-inch circle at 5 yards in five seconds.

4) This 12-shot drill is somewhat unrealistic, but it does provide the opportunity to evaluate a variety of handgun skills and is a good benchmark to use as an evaluation tool. Place a silhouette target at 3 yards, one at 5 yards, and one at 7 yards. Space them 5 feet apart laterally. Start by standing in front of the right or left target, and at the signal engage each target with two shots working from the closest to the farthest. Then, move laterally about 10 feet to cover, reload and repeat the drill from behind cover. Completing this drill in less than 10 seconds with all kill zone hits demonstrates a high level of proficiency. Times between 12 and 18 seconds with no misses will be average. Run this drill twice at the end of each practice session.

5) The basis for all marksmanship training is sight alignment and trigger control. Both must be mastered before realistic self-defense training can begin. One of the best drills for learning and sustaining these skills is dry-fire. Some shooters look at dry-fire as pointless. It’s not. The best shooters in the world do it regularly. It’s a very good way to develop hand/eye coordination and kinesthetics or proprioception—the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. Any time you dry-fire, remove all the ammunition from where you are practicing, double and triple check that your handgun is unloaded and be sure that you are working—pointing your handgun—on a safe direction. Using a snap cap is a good idea, regardless of whether your handgun maker recommends one. Basic dry-fire is nothing more than pointing the unloaded handgun at a target and squeezing the trigger while you keep the sights aligned on the target. You want to execute the trigger pull without disturbing the sights. Handgun-mounted lasers can help tremendously and there are even training lasers designed just for this purpose. If you flinch or snatch the trigger it will show up as a wiggle or jerk of the red dot on the target.

Plenty more at the link, including videos!

Practice, practice, practice!


James Pawlak said...

THANK YOU! I have printed it out on heavy duty paper for mounting where I can see it and use it on a frequent basis.

Anonymous said...

Now, what local range is going to allow that level of training?

Dad29 said...


Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to scrape together some cash so I can spend time there (oh, and get a weapon that I feel confident conceal carrying).