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Old December 21, 2013, 03:23 AM   #1
45Gunner
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How do you shoot at the range?

Although I shoot at paper targets, I use the human silhouette type. I typically adjust the distance from 25 meters into 5 meters. I rapid fire through the first magazine, do a quick magazine change and rapid fire through the second mag.

I didn't just start doing this. It has taken several years to develop speed with accuracy. Yet, when I go to the range with members of my gun club, I notice that most of them fire one shot, put their gun down, and study what hole they just punched in the paper. Now, if one were strictly target shooting, that would be fine. However, I'm talking about a group of people that are supposedly training for self defense.

I've got to wondering how many are practicing for the real world as I do, or are you doing something different. What do you do at the range?

BTW, at the public range, we shoot from the bench. For those of us that belong to a private range, we are authorized to shoot from the holster which, to me, is a much better training scenario.
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Old December 21, 2013, 05:52 AM   #2
Nathan
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When practicing self defense, I usually setup 3 targets at a little bit of s stagger in height and distance from 3-10 yards. Then in not particular order, I:

Draw and fire 1 shot at 1 target
Draw and fire 2 shots at 1 target
Draw and fire 2 at every target
Draw and fire ~5 at 1 target

I often short load my gun so a mag change is required.

Draw and fire means: scurry back to cover, draw, fire, high ready access the situation around me, reholster slowly.

Since I believe smooth is fast, I really focus on developing a flow and all of the little things like trigger finger placement, thumb on back of slide and grip safety release when reholstering, the snatch technique when drawing. I air pistol until all the motions are in sync. My purpose is to develop perfect motion and muscle memory. The I throw ammo in.
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Old December 21, 2013, 07:37 AM   #3
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How do I shoot at the range? It depends on what I'm doing, what I'm trying to learn, and what the range allows.
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Old December 21, 2013, 07:48 AM   #4
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Sounds like you're a young shooter who is good and is on the road to getting better. I'll offer how I shoot not as an example to emulate, but so that you can make a resolution never to sink to such depths. First, I know I won't be improving. Between deteriorating eyesight and arthritis, I am on the downward spiral. I shoot for the pure pleasure of it, My major concern is my lead supply. I am down to 7 or 8 hundred pounds of it, and although I have lines on where I might get more, I don't have a steady source. For that reason most of my shooting goes into a 2 by 3 foot bullet trap 35 yards out my backdoor so I can reuse the lead. My trap won't handle a jacketed rifle bullet much bigger than a 22 hornet, but it stands up pretty well to a cast 45-70 bullet. Because I want to reuse my lead I only shoot at other places where I will lose my lead if I can articulate a specific need. I especially like to invite other people to shoot into my trap--free lead. Worse, I've gotten lazy in the summer, and I've learned that I can extend my range to forty yards if I roll over in bed, open the back bedroom window and shoot from there. I keep sandbags on the bedroom windowsill, but I try to avoid shooting the 1911 from the upstairs window because a guest who uses that room might find it disconcerting to find missed 45 auto brass tangled up in the bed sheets. Kind of kills the romance, especially if the young lady is of a deep liberal bent.

I still do a fair amount of rapid fire on paper with both handguns and rifles, and the holes in the paper bring me back to reality in a way a line of clanking gongs never will, but I confess that I do keep a few hidden gongs hanging up at various discreet places on the farm. And stacks of gongs in odd places. Nothing is quite like running through a line of gongs with an '86 Winchester or a Garand. Even though I lose the lead when I shoot at gongs, I reason that I tend to shoot at the bullet trap in longer sessions when I am at my best. Sometimes after a hard day on the land if some succulent like a rabbit or a squirrel doesn't offer itself up, or if they are out of season, I try a few shoots at a hanging gong, figuring that the true test of my state of readiness is not what I remembered from a warm summer afternoon, but what I can do in fading light with a body trembling from running a chain saw for hours and shaking from cold.

As much as I like rapid fire, it is slow deliberate fire that puts the rabbit in the pot and makes a better supper than sleeping on an empty stomach and thinking about why I missed. Slow deliberate fire also establishes the limits of what I can hope to achieve with rapid fire on demand.

More than shooting paper, more than shooting metal, which can be set up and repeated upon demand until you get it right, a shot at a game animal or a varmint in often uncertain shifting light and wind tells you more about where you stand as a shooter than any amount of time on the range. I will add that limits to this philosophy exist. You won't get to shoot enough game to expect to prepare for a major match. I encourage you to shoot in formal competition. The hardening of competition may be a necessary element to make a shooter. I remember being physically sick with fear before stepping up to the line in a match in a way I never felt in later years when shooting for my life. Before someone asks if I am making a thinly veiled reference to being an aging gunfighter, I will quickly add that my references to shooting for my life refer to being deep in the wilderness in game poor country, and knowing that if I missed I would starve, and of course bears.

You will always hear contradictory advice on how to use limited resources of time and material to learn how to shoot. The question you need to ask yourself before you shoot the first round in a session is what you expect to learn, and once you've finished what you did learn. There are many paths.
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Old December 21, 2013, 08:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Although I shoot at paper targets, I use the human silhouette type. I typically adjust the distance from 25 meters into 5 meters. I rapid fire through the first magazine, do a quick magazine change and rapid fire through the second mag.

I've got to wondering how many are practicing for the real world as I do. . .
Sorry there is nothing "real world" about that. You are advancing on a static target and dumping a whole magazine, then dumping another. Chances are you're going to be moving sideways or backwards, aka away from the threat. You might dump the whole magazine, but chances are that you won't. What you're training for is agressively attacking the threat. That is a good way to end up just as hurt or dead as the other guy.

Anyway, slow fire helps teach trigger discipline and accuracy. You need both if you hope to make those shots count in the real world. So, I usually run through a magazine of slow fire. Then I'll try double taps, controlled pairs, and shooting on the move. Ocasionally, I will try shooting from different positions.

Learning to shoot from kneeling and laying positions can be beneficial. What are you going to do if the need for defense comes after a sucker punch floors you? What if you trip while trying to evade the threat?

Magazine dumps are fun, but serve little purpose in most encounters. If you're just flinging bullets you aren't truly addressing the problem at hand.
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Old December 21, 2013, 08:25 AM   #6
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The rules at most ranges prevent really useful practice techniques.
About all that is allowed at ours is static shooting at a single target.
No draws from holster and only a couple allow rapid fire, of any sort.
So, that limits practice to drills and gun handling.
To make up for it, there's plenty of uspsa and idpa matches around.
And blowback air guns at the home range.
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Old December 21, 2013, 10:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
I didn't just start doing this. It has taken several years to develop speed with accuracy. Yet, when I go to the range with members of my gun club, I notice that most of them fire one shot, put their gun down, and study what hole they just punched in the paper. Now, if one were strictly target shooting, that would be fine. However, I'm talking about a group of people that are supposedly training for self defense.
Ive noticed the same thing. A lot of people are good target shooters, but ask them to stick that gun in a holster, and then draw and shoot while moving, and most will just give you a black stare or uneasy laugh.

Quote:
The rules at most ranges prevent really useful practice techniques.
About all that is allowed at ours is static shooting at a single target.
No draws from holster and only a couple allow rapid fire, of any sort.
This has always been a problem, and doesnt help things in regard to trying to practice even the least bit realistic.


Im lucky enough now to have a range where I can practice pretty much anything I want and now and not catch grief for it. While I do still shoot bulls eye type targets on occasion, most of my shooting these days, is on situational photo type targets, and much of it is shooting bursts while moving.

One thing Ive noticed when I shoot with friends who mostly shoot on the static bulls eye type ranges is, they seem to have troubles presenting the gun from a rest/ready position (from the holster is a whole other story), shooting quickly, and without hesitation. They are also usually very "stiff" in how they shoot, and moving and shooting seems to be like the old walk and chewing gum at the same time thing.

Distance has a lot to do with how you shoot too. As the distance opens, so does time. I find that most of my shooting from 10-7 yards in, is more reactive, less sight and more target oriented, and generally more shot in bursts. As the distance opens out, I slow down and the focus on the sights become more apparent.

If you dont practice realistically, so that there is no thought involved in your response, how do you expect to deal with things when they do go south?


Quote:
To make up for it, there's plenty of uspsa and idpa matches around.
And blowback air guns at the home range.
The blowback Airsoft guns that mimic your carry gun are a great way to practice when not at the range. They also let you practice things with a buddy, you couldnt do otherwise.
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Old December 21, 2013, 11:40 AM   #8
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i drive about an hour out to the country and find public land, i have shot at an indoor range exactly one time and at an out door range about 5 times
when i first started shooting around here, i would find easments and river banks and just stop and ask a cop if it was okay to shoot around there, they are usually very nice about it, but now we have a designated place that we go to that is considered public land, cops will sometimes come and see what is going on, but never tell us thatwe have to leave
when i practice, we set up target at approx 100-200-300 and 500yard for rfles, for pistols we have five man sized targets in a v for v drills, an we have a very large 2x4 tringle wth brads nailed into it that we hang clays on
the first hour or so we take practice seriously, but we also just play around and see who can hit what from how far, or how well does a watermelon blow with different ammos
at the end of session we haev a firepit, where we clean everything up and burn it, its about 1/4 mile back to the car, so that part is crucial to save alot of work
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Old December 21, 2013, 12:16 PM   #9
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Depends on a few things. If the range is empty which it is sometimes I will run some SD drills, drawing and firing, shooting while on the move, etc.. Most of the time I cannot do this though, which is where dry fire practice at home can come in handy. At home you can practice point shooting while drawing, reloads, moving while shooting which can be supplemented with dry firing and etc.. But for the most part, as much as my guns are for self defense, more importantly I enjoy shooting. I don't want to ever make shooting seem like a chore. Most of the time I go to the range it is for enjoyment, I don't really consider it training, although I do designate some time to training. Usually I am shooting different sized steel plates, and every now and then will switch to silhouette targets.
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Old December 21, 2013, 04:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
I've got to wondering how many are practicing for the real world as I do, or are you doing something different. What do you do at the range?
I got tired of the paper targets and moved to using steel silhouettes...which also means that I moved from practicing at public ranges and built my own range.

Drills vary from visit to visit but involve any combination of the following, but almost always the first 3.
Draw and fire, standing, seated, turned (timed or untimed)
Shooting on the move (forward, backwards, laterally)
Moving targets (round steel targets 6-11" in size)
Malfunction clearing
Strong hand
Weak hand
Occasional use of cover, shooting from the ground, weak hand only due to disabled strong hand.

Used to be weekly. Not such practice is monthly, 200-300 rounds.

Occasionally, there is the odd 50 rounds here and there of plinking and fun.
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Old December 22, 2013, 12:01 AM   #11
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For sighting in of anything, you will find a bullseye style target and some bags and a stool. For everything else, it's offhand standing with a silhouette, I usually use blue head n' shoulders silhouettes if I can find them.

I've killed many blue paper men over the years.

Generally speaking I practice like I play. If I'm going to pay for range time, I try and make it count for defensive practice. I go for accuracy but reload my weapons by drawing from magazine pouches. I try and make it as realistic as I can while still following the range's rules.

In other settings, i.e. my backyard which I don't pay money to shoot at, the skies the limit. I might be content sitting in a lawn chair sipping lemonade plinking cans with a .22. But if I'm going to put my cash down to use an indoor range, I'm going to get my money's worth and utilize the range's features as much as possible. I often visit the range for sighting in of new guns, but outside that, I try as much as possible to not have to pay to shoot. Shooting already is very expensive these days.
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Old December 22, 2013, 09:05 AM   #12
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I concentrate on being accurate, to a degree, and trigger control. I concentrate on trigger control,ie; Not just drawing and firing, but getting the correct sight picture before firing, and not just spraying any bullets out, if that makes sense.
I honestly believe mindset is as important or even more important than anything else. I've had numerous attempts to rob me, or assault me over the years as a guard, a business owner, and a busybody that always got involved and called PD when something was going down. My mindset is that I will get hurt and that my first shot is the most important one of all, if I have to fire.
No, I don't pucnh out the center of the target. I try to have fun and sometimes just shoot for fun and don't care where I hit, as long as I'm near te center X. If I draw and miss a can by inches, I'll keep trying, but I'm still somewhat happy if my misses are all within an inch or so at 15-20 yards.
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Old December 22, 2013, 01:17 PM   #13
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Lately, I have actually been emphasizing doing more single target, static shooting, and emphasizing constant trigger manipulation. That is, maintaining contact with the trigger, keying in on prep/break, reset/break, etc. Doing this at a distance of 50 feet (range rules at the gun club I typically shoot at) has helped me shoot faster and with greater accuracy when I shoot at shorter distances.

Here are some other things I have done and continue to do to work on defensive proficiency:

- static range movement work: run a sheet with 2+ targets on it out to 50 feet, and do tight figure 8's in my 'booth' while alternating targets. ABBAA, BAABB, etc in 5 shot strings, with a reload in between.

- dry draw work at home. lots of drills, working against time, and breaking the draw down to work on specific counts. LOTS of work to count 1, since I consider that such a critical part of the draw.

- dry fire at home. prep/break, pin trigger to the rear, manually rack slide, reaquire target, reset/break, repeat.

- dry draw to first shot

- dry prep/break, reload, prep/break vs time

- use of VirTra 300, 300 degree scenario/immersion range. This is an incredible tool. Shooting vs movers while moving, shooting while being fired upon (shock belt for pain penalty), application of vocal elements, work on situational awareness... this is about as close as it gets to the full meal deal. I think alternating this with simunition training would be amazingly beneficial.

- formal training

- work. I'm currently an operations manager with a large retailer. My day to day involves being out on the floor all day, observing and interacting with a wide variety of people, in a location where shoplifting seems to be part of the town's culture. While it's easy to be disappointed with humanity, the benefit is that I'm being drilled on situational awareness and verbal tension deescalation all day, every day.
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Old December 22, 2013, 09:32 PM   #14
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I shoot slowly and enjoy my time at the range. Ammo is pretty expensive, I don't reload, and I only do the range twice a month or so...

Lately I've been shooting paper zombies... "whatever comes with free shipping, when I get around to buying it, is whatever I am going to shoot at the range."
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Old December 23, 2013, 06:56 AM   #15
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Im sure you have already been told a million times, but once again......RELOAD!!!!!! Its a 100$iinvestment for a lee anniversary edition and another 30 bucks for a set of dies. When it comes to pistol calibers, its about as difficult as doing laundry (not difficult). Itll make the time at the range so enjoyable, not having to think twice about layin 500 rounds down the range. When i first started reloading, i got EVERYTHING i needed to load 1000 rounds of 9mm(this includes all needed equipment) for 230$, and this was just 6 or 7 months ago. Not preaching, i just hope youll do yourself the favor, reloading is actually my favorite part about my gun hobby
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Old December 23, 2013, 11:22 PM   #16
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RELOAD!!!!!!
Yes, yes.. Well... I'm going to think about it, and I'll let you know if I take it up.

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Old December 23, 2013, 11:29 PM   #17
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Lately I have mostly been freezing my butt off and getting a lot fewer rounds down range as I would like.

As for reloading: buy Lee and keep it basic. Your wallet will thank you initially, and then even more so once the savings start to kick in. I'm easily saving 60% on 9mm because I got a good deal from X-Treme Bullets
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Old December 24, 2013, 05:55 AM   #18
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what

Quote:
I've got to wondering how many are practicing for the real world as I do, or are you doing something different. What do you do at the range?
Practicing for the real world.....what does that mean reallY?
I suppose that I am not. Virtually all of my firearms are sporting goods.
When i shoot at the range near me, I shoot at 25 and 50 yards....at bullseye targets and almost always one hand unsupported. The exceptions to that are hunting handguns which get shot with a two handed hold.

Quote:
A lot of people are good target shooters, but ask them to stick that gun in a holster, and then draw and shoot while moving, and most will just give you a black stare or uneasy laugh.
I have noticed something similar.....a lot of guys who practice combat style shooting at 3 to five yards from a human silhouette target cannot hit a slow fire bullseye at 25 or 50 yards. And shoot one handed? Fuggedaboudit.
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Old December 24, 2013, 08:04 AM   #19
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I have noticed something similar.....a lot of guys who practice combat style shooting at 3 to five yards from a human silhouette target cannot hit a slow fire bullseye at 25 or 50 yards. And shoot one handed? Fuggedaboudit.
I can't argue with that. I also noticed that people with substandard shooting fundamentals somehow think that shooting a lot of rounds with bad technique will make them better. It is hard to fake accuracy.

Well I got to go now and get on Ebay to find a holster for my free pistol so I can work on my draw.
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Old December 24, 2013, 08:26 AM   #20
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Practicing for the real world.....what does that mean reallY?
Thats a good point. Just what is it we are all practicing for, and what is your reality?

Bulls eye target shooting is great for showing you have the "basics" down, and it can be quite challenging in its own right, but if thats "all" you do, its like stopping school in the 8th grade.

Combat type shooting takes you through high school and into college. You still have to apply the basics, but now, you have to do them at speed, while drawing or quickly presenting the gun, shooting while moving, and shooting with and without sights at different targets at different distances from different positions, just to name a few.

Do the basics offer benefit? Absolutely! If you dont have them down, youre not going to continue to move ahead. Are you at the height of your skills when you have them mastered? I suppose thats the question you have to answer honestly, and truthfully, to yourself.
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Old December 24, 2013, 08:44 AM   #21
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Last night I went out and practiced shooting with a light while moving. I managed to keep all my shots roughly com. But -without actually measuring- I looked to be getting like 8-10" groups at 7-10yds.
Probably something I should practice more.
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Old December 24, 2013, 01:33 PM   #22
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interesting

Quote:
Bulls eye target shooting is great for showing you have the "basics" down, and it can be quite challenging in its own right, but if thats "all" you do, its like stopping school in the 8th grade.

Combat type shooting takes you through high school and into college. You still have to apply the basics, but now, you have to do them at speed, while drawing or quickly presenting the gun, shooting while moving, and shooting with and without sights at different targets at different distances from different positions, just to name a few.
Interesting. Very.
We have such different takes on this set of ideas...
as to the 8th grade, HS, College thing....I see it precisely opposite. But I suppose, it all depends on what you intend to get as a degree.
All that running around, I am sure is fun....it looks like fun. For my money, though, accuracy is the name of the game and regardless of how athletic and talented a combat shooter is....the targets are bigger and closer and much of what goes on....while fun....has little or nothing to do with shooting per se.
Now that I have said that....i understand that it is an inaccurate evaluation.
Combat shooting must be judged as a complete thing, an integration of movement and shooting...not each part separately. Much like Olympic Biathlon.
I can say about Bullseye shooting that the emphasis is on precison. What is the emphasis, would you say, in Combat shooting since so much is added?
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Old December 24, 2013, 02:18 PM   #23
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Quote:
I can say about Bullseye shooting that the emphasis is on precison. What is the emphasis, would you say, in Combat shooting since so much is added?
Bullseye is about shooting for the sake of shooting.

Combat shooting is about shooting as self-defense (or as offense for millitary/LE).

Saying one comes "before" the other depends on where you're trying to go, but training in one isn;t going to be a very effective way to get better at the other.

Or at least that's my opinion/impression.
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Old December 24, 2013, 03:27 PM   #24
AK103K
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Accuracy is always the goal, its just what is acceptable accuracy depends on your discipline or goals.

The targets may appear to be bigger at first blush, but when you consider that you have to find and hit specific areas of those targets, with no (usually) perceived aiming point, and how small those areas are, the sizes of the targets are not all that much different. Its just perspective. The heads on the photo targets I use, are roughly 6"x 6", COM (or, depending on the angle to it) isnt a whole lot different. Whats the bull on a 25 yard slow fire target? 6" or so?

All that "running around" also varies as the distance opens up. The farther apart you are from the target, the more time opens up as well, and you have more time for less animation and more precision, with a more traditional sight picture, than you do at 3 yards, where you likely arent seeing the sights at all as you move off line.

With most of my autos, I personally dont start to get a traditional sight picture until Im clearing 10-15 yards or so, and see the three dots on my sights first. On my revolvers, I see the red insert/painted tip of the front sight.

These days, with getting older and my eyes not being what they used to be, Im finding 25+ yards is getting to be more and more of a challenge. Focusing on the front sight and hitting those smaller, fuzzy and unclear targets is becoming more problematical.


I shot these three yesterday using my 4" S&W Model 28 (just got it late last week and it was my second time out with it. ).

The first target was shot at 3-5 yards, starting from a "SUL" ready, and moving off laterally as I was presenting the gun, two to three quick DAO shots each time, no sights. (there are more in the head here as I was fooling around here a little bit too.)

The second at 10-15 yards, same as above, but this time with a flash sight picture.

The third, 25 yards, again from SUL, but stationary, with a more focused traditional sight picture, again, double taps, DAO.









Quote:
What is the emphasis, would you say, in Combat shooting since so much is added?
I would say, its not much different than a rapid fire bulls eye string, rapidly hitting what youre looking at, and doing so, multiple times. Its just there is usually more going on, and the hits on target are not always little groups. Still, they are usually "good" hits, not that a "bad" hit in this case, is a bad thing, as there really is no such thing as a bad hit, as long as your not the one taking it.
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Old December 24, 2013, 05:55 PM   #25
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If possible, it's probably prudent and worthwhile to attend at least a basic handgun safety class and then a defensive-oriented handgun training class. It's not easy to know what you don't know without an instructor observing and assessing you.

Before I entered LE I thought I was pretty competent at shooting my 1911, DA & SA revolvers. I was an avid handloader and did a lot of shooting. Not any sort of competitor, but just an avid handgunner who first learned to shoot as a youngster under the tutelage of my father.

Having to shoot LE revolver quals as a young cop, for score & time, showed me where I needed improvement.

Then, after several years I decided to try and become a LE firearms instructor. I figured it was a good way to get even more training & practice, and teaching other folks helps instructors continue to learn. (Something I learned as a younger martial arts practitioner.) The basic firearms instructor class again showed me where I needed some further training and refinement.

Recurrent training over the years, including now working alongside fellow firearms instructors of a wide range of training & experience of their own, continued to show me areas where I needed ever more development.

Nowadays, younger shooters have an advantage of a lot more handgun training being commercially available ... with the caveat that "buyer beware" is still a prudent consideration. Maybe some NRA sanctioned classes for basic skills and knowledge?

Then, the acquired skills can be tested, practiced and hopefully refined by finding any IDPA events that may be conveniently located to the budding enthusiast.

Having a qualified instructor/trainer lend a hand is still the best way to get some good training and learn the difference between good & bad habits.

Having hit 60, and being retired, but still keeping my hand in things as a firearms instructor, I try to keep my skills current by taking advantage of having access to an agency range where I occasionally work. I don't get fancy, but tend to do a lot of whatever current qual/training sessions are being run, which typically means 1-11 yds. This can include shooting-while-moving, shooting & moving, multiple threat targets, judgment/decision-making by including non-threat targets, different positions (standing, kneeling, prone, supine), off-hand (also called weak-hand, if you'd rather), barricade/cover use & shooting, etc. It changes all the time. I also slip in other demanding drills we've periodically developed, or "borrowed" from elsewhere, over the years.

It still comes back to well-learned & ingrained "basics", though. Proper practice keeps them ingrained and accessible.

I also still include shooting longer distances to make sure my "basic" handgun skills aren't rusting away (which includes handgun shooting at distances from as close as 15 yds to as far away as 75 yds using paper or steel targets). This dates back to my revolver days, when making aimed 25-50 yd shots wasn't exactly uncommon for qualifying courses-of-fire here & there.

During an instructor update class I attended a while back, they taped over the sights of everyone's service pistols and made us run a course of fire which included 50 yd targets. Everyone was able to pass this course of fire before we moved on to something else, although it did seem harder for some than others, with older, more experienced instructors seeming to have an easier time with it. (Basics, basics, basics ... and, being older, also being able to see the threat target at 50 yds. )
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