You have a great optic to help to aim. Great! Now you need some training. You have an awesome body armor setting up. Fantastic! Now you need some training. You owned a perfect holster for concealed carry. Wonderful! Now you need some training. Without proper firearms training, even if you have the best tools for a defensive situation, you still cannot make the most of them.
Chapter most important – Firearms Safety Rules.
Without a doubt, firearms safety rules are the first lesson for everyone. We have emphasized it in so many articles because it is imperative! Remember, when you are training, you want these rules to be intuitive and habitual so that you can detect an inappropriate act at any time.
Rule #1: Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
You have probably heard of this rule, even if you are new to firearms. Unfortunately, many people get complacent when they believe a firearm is not loaded. This can lead to a negligent discharge causing a potentially severe injury or death. The takeaway is to uphold your respect for your firearm even when you believe it to be in a harmless state being.
Rule #2: Never Point your weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.
This rule ties well with the former. You must be aware of which direction your muzzle is facing, whether you are actively shooting or not. This will instill good muzzle discipline and keep you from being the guy that flags everyone and gets kicked off a range.
Rule #3: Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
Equally crucial to muzzle discipline, trigger discipline. Your finger should remain straight and off the trigger until you present your weapon to fire. This is probably one of the most common mistakes amongst new shooters that is a frequent cause of negligent discharges. Remain very cognizant of this, and after a while, it should become second nature for you. This is just as important, if not more important than any form of manual safety. An undisciplined finger is probably the easiest way to spot someone who is an unseasoned firearm user, which will make people uneasy.
Rule #4: Keeping your weapon on safe until you intend to fire
This is especially important for rifles as they are not holstered. Your firearm should remain safe until you are ready to engage. If you are using a firearm with no safety, that further elevates the importance of Rule 3.
Rule #5: Know your target and what lies beyond and in between.
Close to self-explanatory. Know what you are shooting at, what lies beyond your target, and anything in between. Rifle rounds can remain lethal for thousands of yards, so this is a critical aspect to consider.
Free firearms training at home: Dry Fire
Dry fire is the act of conducting the same shooting fundamentals of live fire without ammunition. It makes it an extremely convenient, cost-effective form of training that can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Dry fire training can be a great asset whether you are a new or experienced shooter. In fact, I would consider this a mandatory requirement if you wish to truly become proficient with your firearm. The first, most important aspect of this training is that there is no source of ammunition present in the area you are conducting your dry fire training. This will eliminate the possibility of an accident, especially if you are working on something like reload drills where inserting a source of ammunition unintentionally would be of increased risk. After ensuring the absence of ammunition, visually inspect and finger the internals of your firearm for good measure before beginning.
The sky is unlimited when considering what you can practice while dry firing. Some good practices include conducting reloads, refining trigger control, drawing your weapon, operating a turn and drawing your weapon, weapon manipulation with and without cover, room clearing, and movement from cover to cover.
Nowadays, aftermarket accessories can further improve the dry firing experience, such as proving a recoil impulse or automatically resetting your trigger.
5 Firearms Training Drills that will help during defensive scenarios
You can find lots of firearms training drills on the internet, and although we are not expected to try all of the drills, we can find the drill that suits you the best. Remember, all of the firearms training drills build your muscle memory and teach your body how to react when a threat is exposed. Please note that if you are a beginner at shooting, it’s better if you have someone to guide you while you’re training.
Works for lower-capacity firearms: El Presidente Drills
This drill has been around for a while but remains relevant and useful. It incorporates movement in the form of a 180-degree turn, draw, target transitions, and a reload. It makes for a very balanced drill. A shot timer is recommended to help you perform the drill and gauge your progress. To perform this drill, you will need three separate targets set at 10 yards for a firing. Each target will be spaced 3 feet apart as pictured below.
Two magazines of 6 rounds will be required for each run of this drill. You will start facing away from the targets with your hands up in the surrender position. When queued, conduct a 180-degree turn and present your pistol firing rounds into the chest of each target. You will then run a reload and perform the same process putting two rounds into the center of each target. A couple of important things to note:
- When conducting your turn, spin on the side of your holster as it is the shortest path.
- Work to ensure you are not crossing your legs when conducting your turn to prevent loss of balance.
- Work on utilizing controlled pairs on each target, acquiring a sight picture before each pull of the trigger. Speed will come naturally through repetition.
- Spend time at home or during a cold range to become proficient with reloads before utilizing the drill.
- Try moving your eyes first when transitioning targets. This can help with both speed and control.
- Do not unholster your weapon until completing a full 180-degree turn. This will ensure a controlled, deliberate, and safe draw when conducting this drill.
Par time for this drill is 10 seconds. This gives you a good baseline to aspire to.
If you don’t have time to put the body armor on: Cover Drills
Being able to manipulate your weapon around cover pieces is a crucial skill to have to win a gunfight. You can use any piece of cover you have available, whether it be a makeshift wall or a barrel. Practice shooting around your cover using standing, kneeling, and prone positions using your dominant side.
Once you are comfortable doing this, attempt transitions from utilizing one side of the cover to the opposite side. This will assist in conducting shoulder transitions and using all angles of cover while subjecting your body to the least amount of exposure to your target as possible. If you have multiple cover pieces, practice moving from one piece of cover to another as quickly as possible and reestablishing your firing position.
If you are practicing your firearms training with friends, you may have your friend provide cover fire while moving up to your next piece of cover. Once you have established your new cover, provide suppressive fire for your partner to move to his next piece of cover. This concept is called bounding and is very effective when closing in on or breaking contact with a target when conducting firearms training or a gunfight.
A good rule of thumb I like to follow for a time exposed to target is, “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down.” Say this diddy in your head while moving from cover to cover to gauge how long you are exposing yourself to your target when transitioning to a new piece of cover.
The dangers are coming toward you: Failure to Stop Drill
This drill is similar to the box drill in function but only utilizes one target instead of two. Ideally, a target with distinguished chest and head areas will best work at a distance of 7 to 10 yards.
You will present your weapon from the low ready position and conduct a hammer pair (2 rounds) to the chest, followed up by one round to the head of the target for a total of 3 rounds. Click here to learn more about controlled and hammer pairs drills.
Your third shot in the head should be more controlled at a slower tempo. Meaning there should be a slight pause when transitioning from the body to the head. As roughly as I can demonstrate this through writing, the cadence should sound something like “Bam bam……. Bam.” This drill is an excellent way to prepare you for a determined, unwavering attacker.
When performed successfully will shut down their central nervous system. Body shots are, of course, lethal, but various factors can diminish abrupt lethalities, such as body armor, drugs, or sheer determination. The head may be harder to hit, but it is undoubtedly the quickest way to turn somebody’s lights off.
Learning about shot placement: Box drills
Box drills are essentially a failure to stop drills broken down to incorporate two targets placed about a yard apart. For this drill, a hammer pair will be conducted into the chest of each of the two targets. After completing this step, you will fire slower and deliberate shots into each of the target heads, finishing the drill with a head shot on the first target you fired upon. The path of your grouping will then resemble a box, which is where this drill gets the name “box drill.” See below for what this will look like.
Shoot faster but remain accurate: Bill Drill
The bill drills are another great drill to hone your defensive shooting capabilities. This drill will incorporate drawing, recoil control, and sight tracking abilities and give you a solid idea of where you stand in the ability to balance speed and accuracy.
You will need a total of 6 rounds for each drill performed. The targets will be at 7 yards, although you may play with different distances using this drill. You will present your weapon and fire all six rounds into your target’s A zone (center torso) as fast as you can. The kicker is that if any round exits the A zone, you fail the drill. This will force you to balance both speed and accuracy as the value of speed is greatly diminished should you not be able to supplement acceptable accuracy to complement a faster tempo. Par time for this course of fire is anything under 4 seconds from start to finish.
Use a timer for speed training.
The fact of the matter is a shot timer will do nothing but improve your shooting capabilities should you choose to include it in your firearms training. Shot timers will allow you to track your performance and will enable you to induce a consistent element of stress into your shooting. This obviously is a good thing considering stress is a bountiful emotion when being forced to defend yourself. The shot timer is the easiest way to identify your limitations and then push past those limitations.
How can you see your opponent? Use a gun flashlight
Positively identifying your target is crucial to responsibly deploying your weapon system against a threat. Smoking Tiny Tim at 3 AM is a no-go. If you can reasonably carry a light on your weapon during the firearms training, do it. I mean, it’s dark every day, right? Buy from a reputable manufacturer and get some low light training in when you are able.