Being an avid shooter is great survival training. There are many survival scenarios where you are likely to have to be able to defend yourself and your family; so learning to shoot, and shoot well, is an important part of survival. But there’s only so much you can do at a shooting range. You need to work on the tactics that go with shooting as well, or you’re not going to get a chance to use your gun.
Many ranges offer tactical shooting events. These are excellent training as well, as in them you have to compete against various targets, shooting all of them quickly and in a tactically logical order. You also have to use skills like shooting while moving, shooting a moving target and shooting in a low light situation. Those makes these events an absolutely essential part of your self-defense training.
Nevertheless, there are limits as to what you can do in the shooting range, either in regular target practice or in tactical shooting events. Those things are best practiced in your home.
A Word About Safety
If you are going to do any firearm training in your home, you must use extreme precaution. Check to see that your gun is unloaded, and then check again. An accidental discharge could have fatal consequences, so you want to make sure that you eliminate that possibility.
Even though your gun is unloaded, you never want to point it at a real person. Pointing a gun at a person you aren’t planning to kill is bad training, even if it is a practice drill. It will affect how you think of firearms and how you think when things turn real. You’re better off using something that is clearly not a real gun, when it comes to practice where you are pointing the gun at people.
Dry Fire Practice Exercises
Dry fire refers to firing a gun, without any ammunition in it. Most firearms can handle this, just fine, but I would avoid doing it with firearms that use rimfire ammunition. If you are not sure whether your gun can be safely dry fired or not, check with your local gun store or range. They should be able to tell you.
Dry firing offers the opportunity to practice a number of important shooting skills that you may not have the time or money to practice at the range. There are also a number of skills that are associated with shooting, especially in a home-defense situation which you can improve upon during your dry fire practice.
Basic dry firing consists of cocking the gun, pointing at a target and pulling the trigger. This is a great way to practice the fundamentals of shooting, making them automatic. It is also a great way to practice things like target acquisition. The faster you can find a target, the faster you can send lead downrange. If you can do that faster than the bad guys, while still remaining accurate, you stand a much better chance of survival.
Draw and Fire
Most ranges won’t allow you to draw and fire, due to the risk of you pulling the trigger early and either hitting yourself in the foot or sending a round ricocheting off the floor. However, the important part of drawing and firing can be practiced just as well dry-firing, as it can with rounds in the gun.
The thing you are after is to see how quickly you can pull the gun out of the holster and align the sights with your target. Pulling the trigger any quicker than that is a sure recipe for a missed shot. So, practice drawing and aligning the sights. Ideally, you should be able to get to the point where you can draw the pistol and align the sights with your eyes closed. Then, when you open your eyes, you see that the sights are actually aligned.
Swapping magazines is an important part of defending your home. Many people will wait for that pause in firing, taking it as an opportunity to attack. The assumption is that it will take you several seconds to change magazines and another several seconds to reacquire your sights to take another shot.
You should get to the point where you can drop the expended magazine (let it fall on the floor), grab another magazine, slam it home and release the slide, all without looking. Oh, and keep the sights aligned while you’re doing it. That shouldn’t take you more than about a second and a half. If you can get to that point, then you’ll have a big surprise waiting for anyone who waits for that pause to attack you.
You never know when you are going to end up having to fire one-handed. Perhaps you are in a spot where you can’t use both hands, without exposing yourself unnecessarily. Or, you could be injured in your support arm and have to fire one handed. Even more likely is that you have a hostage or innocent in the other hand, whom you are trying to drag from trouble. Practice holding your gun steadily and firing it, even though it’s with one hand.
Firing with Your Off Hand
Speaking of injuries, few people bother to practice shooting with their off hand. That leaves them vulnerable if they get hit in their shooting hand or arm. Get comfortable shooting with your off hand, just in case you need it.
Holstering Your Weapon
Believe it or not, holstering your weapon after action isn’t the smooth and easy motion shown in western movies. It takes practice to be able to locate your holster and get your gun into it, especially if you have too much belly getting in the way.
Shooting Practice You Can Do at Home
In addition to the dry firing drills I’ve mentioned above, there are some live fire exercises you should try at home as well. However, you don’t want to use your normal gun to do these. I’d recommend buying an airsoft gun that’s similar to your actual firearm. Many of the more common firearms are available as airsoft copies.
Another useful tool for practicing is a Nerf gun. Yes, I really said that. You can use a Nerf gun for exercises where you are shooting at people. The gun is dissimilar enough from a real gun, that it won’t reprogram your thinking to make you shoot someone. At the same time, it shoots similarly enough to a real gun, including aiming, as to give an element of reality to your training, especially at close range. Just make sure to buy plenty of extra foam darts to use.
You should be the best one man or two man SWAT team for your own home that exists. You know your home, so you should know how to move around in it. So, take your airsoft pistol and maneuver through your house, doing a building clearing drill. Your goal is to get the bad guys, before they can get a shot at you. So, you’ll need to use proper tactical movement, firing order and methods like slicing the pie to find your targets.
For an added level of realism, have a family member set up targets throughout the house, before you start. You then have to take out those targets, without exposing yourself to fire.
Shooting with a Flashlight
You’ve probably seen cops with a flashlight attached to their gun or shooting with a flashlight in their support hand on some movie or other. Actually doing that is much harder than it looks. So, repeat your tactical maneuvering around your house at night, but use a flashlight. That will give you an opportunity to get used to moving with it, aligning the light and your muzzle and finding targets in diminished lighting.
Tactical Shooting Order
You walk into a room and there’s a bunch of bad guys. Who do you shoot first? Basically, you want to shoot the one that’s the most of a threat first, unless the first one you see is not the biggest threat. I mentioned slicing the pie a moment ago; if you’re slicing the pie, you may see an enemy that’s farther away, long before you see a closer one. In that case, the one you see is the biggest threat.
Tactical shooting events help with this, but there’s one problem with them; you have time to study the layout, before you shoot. So, you can pick out your tactical order. Real life isn’t that way. In real life, you have to determine the tactical order in a split-second; as I said, walking into a room of bad guys.
This is great to practice at home, especially when you can get a family member to set it up for you. Have them make it even harder by putting some innocents in the room too. Then you have to shoot the bad guys, while avoiding hitting the good ones.
This is the ultimate test of shooting and a great place to use those Nerf guns. Go head to head with another family member, trying to get them, while avoiding them getting you. You can do this with airsoft guns as well, although it will sting a bit more.