View Full Version : What's next? (Training)

August 25, 2009, 07:47 PM
With my own gun, at 3-10yds, standing still, with good lighting, I'm now a pretty good shot. :D (Rapid improvement from dry fire exercises, and the wall exercise that someone posted to this board.)

So, I'm wondering what my next steps are, and how to get there?

Most of my shots are in the 9, 10 area, with a few out to 7 or 8. Trying to get them all in at 9-10, doesn't seem to be helping me make any progress.

I suppose I need to find a defensive pistol class?

Seems like near term goals are:
- improve accuracy
- learn something about shooting while moving or with targets that are moving
- learn to draw from a holster
- drill on tap, rack, ready (am told tap, rack, bang is outdated)

Are those good near term goals? Am I missing any big near term defense goals or steps?

How do I get there?

I also think I have safety 101 down. I'm not making mistakes like allowing my finger to drift onto the trigger anymore. I'm working on awareness of what's beyond where I'm pointing.
I don't think I understand safety 201 yet. I'd like to understand more about mechanical workings because it seems like it would give me a better idea of safety issues.
I'd also like to understand more about problems like misfeeds, stovepiping, etc, because again, it seems to be safety 201 related.

Please share any thoughts.

August 25, 2009, 08:13 PM
The NRA has a course called Personal Protection in the Home. You might consider taking that.
http://www.nrastore.com/nra/images/detail/01781detail.jpg This book is provided with the course.

Posted by Kayla:
Seems like near term goals are:
- improve accuracy
- learn something about shooting while moving or with targets that are moving
- learn to draw from a holster
- drill on tap, rack, ready (am told tap, rack, bang is outdated)

Those four goals sound reasonable.

One goal in defensive pistol shooting is balancing speed and accuracy. If you are getting groups that are under 4 or 5 inches shoot faster. If your groups are larger than 8 inches slow down. If your groups are between 5 and 8 inches you are balanced.

To push your self in shooting and to add a bit of stress, buy a shot timer. You can set the timer to give you a random start time. It will record all of your shots so you can see how you are doing. I found that when I was practicing to go faster I was mistaken about how long the time was between shots sometimes because I was focusing on some different aspect of shooting.

Shooting moving targets can be enlightening. You might be surprised how much you have to lead a target moving at 10 mph that is only 10 feet away moving perpendicular to you. Since you shoot a relatively fast moving 9mm bullet the lead will be less than for a relatively slow moving 230gr 45acp. bullet.

I suggest saving the challenge of shooting while moving for the last of your four listed goals as it is the most difficult. Have you had any instruction in how to move your feet while moving and shooting? It is a peculiar "dance step"; sort of like how Groucho Marx moved in the movies.

August 25, 2009, 08:23 PM
My groups are mostly under 4". :D

So, apparently speed is maybe the next step.

A shot timer sounds interesting. How does it work? Signal means shoot? Is it an audible signal? (seems hard to hear??)

I haven't had instruction in moving. Plan to join IDPA (is that the right acronym?), but my range isn't going to allow for much movement.

Just had someone explain Weaver to me but I'm not sure how to understand advantages or disadvantages of stance.

August 25, 2009, 08:26 PM
Moving targets is definately a very vauable skill, although a bit tough to practice without a fairly upscale range. Getting comfortable with shooting the movers makes shooting still targets feel that much easier. If you plan on carrying a spare mag or two, some reloading drills cant hurt either (just to avoid bad habits or hesitation if/when that slide finally locks back).

Shooting while moving is a different beast entirely, and I would recommend trying it in the garage with a cheapo airsoft gun until you can get the footwork down. No point in presenting a safety hazard at the range when you can be practiced and ready to go before you get there. Its hard enough learning the basics without introducing a loaded weapon. I got the hang of it as a side effect of years of paintball, but thats a bit more expensive (and painful) than is truly necessary for this particular skill.

August 25, 2009, 08:31 PM
Most ranges I have been at do not allow rapid fire, drawing from the holster or movement. There are lots of good training courses listed at the top of this forum. i looked at Blackwater's training as it is closest to me and a pistol course up through drawing was 1 day and $200 plus ammo, Getting to the movement and shooting moving objects took the three day course and more like $600 to $900. Full up stress testing was at the end of two 1-week courses. I think Frontline was listed as being in Nevada, so that might be a good place to start looking.

August 25, 2009, 08:40 PM
Shot timers have an audible signal. It is fairly loud and piercing so it can be heard through hearing protection. The device has a microphone which detects each shot, a clock and the ability to record the time each shot is fired relative to the start signal; thereby allowing you to review your shot string after have fired that shot string and you have made your handgun safe.

For example, let us say that you set up three targets and are going to shoot two shots center of mass (COM) on each of the first two targets, reload, and fire two shot COM in the third target.

You start with your handgun holstered or in the ready position (your choice) with a spare magazine in a pouch on your belt or in your pocket (your choice). You set the timer for a random start (between 3 and 5 seconds) and hang it on your belt, pocket, or put it on a table (your choice).

At the signal you proceed to fire your four shots COM, reload, and two more shots to the third target. Make safe. You can then review the shot string times which the timer recorded. You might be surprised at the times involved (both large and small) and how the times can change with practice. Even this relatively simple example exercise involves several aspects of defensive pistol shooting.

You might consider getting hearing protectors with microphones which allow you to hear normal conversations and which still protect you from loud noises. They are great for people who are under instruction. The student can hear the instructor's range commands or suggestions much more clearly.

The NRA Personal Protection in the Home covers both the isosceles and Weaver stances; however it is only an 8 hour course most of which is classroom. It requires that the laws concerning self-defense be taught by either a lawyer licensed in the jurisdiction or a certified law enforcement officer of that jurisdiction. If you talk to an instructor about the class he/she teaches, find out the student/instructor ratio to get an idea how much range instruction you will get.

August 25, 2009, 08:40 PM
After shooting for a few years I was at the same spot, what to do next. There are alot of training schools available. However, they do require going to them for a period of time. As i live in vegas, I received a coupon to visit Front Sight Firearms in Pahrump, NV. The coupon was for their 4-day defensive handgun course. I found the training very valuable to increase my skills and confidence. I have started looking into the IDPA as well. I see it as a practical way to keep reinforcing my skills.

Good luck.


August 25, 2009, 08:50 PM
At least in my area I was surprised to learn the IDPA guy let me shoot with them for free for a few weeks just to get me involved in the sport. They have a lot of knowledge and a lot less money than taking a regular class when money is an issue.

August 25, 2009, 09:02 PM
I started by joining IDPA and doing a lot of research on the web watching IDPA videos on youtube and reading on competition forums. IDPA will help you develop some shooting skills and it is a fun game to play but I think the important thing to remember is that IDPA or IPSC are both "Games" and neither really does much to prepare you for a gun fight or defensive encounter.
A good IDPA course will have you reloading, shooting from concealment, transitioning, and shooting moving targets which are all good shooting practice, but to take it to the next level I think you should seek out a course in your area from a reputable instructor or school if you can find one that can introduce you to real world defensive techniques.

A good basic defensive course in my opinion would have you working on speed and combat accuracy which is a lot different than shooting out the bullseye at a slow steady pace. Lots of presentation work. Basic defensive gun handling with reloads and malfunction drills as well as transition work and some rapid fire target engagement from the holster to full presentation.

A solid day of training is taxing both mentally and physically but it will give you some good basic skill sets and drills that you can practice on your own.
Also finding a good local outdoor range that you can join which would allow you the freedom to do defensive drill work would be a great investment if there is a range like that in your area.

Stay safe, get trained, and good luck.

August 25, 2009, 10:13 PM
Kerby, I've been looking at that 4-day course at Front Sight. I'm uncertain if I could actually physically handle that much shooting.

How much is range time vs class time?

Did you buy from Ebay? Is that safe?

Dhaught, the range the IDPA uses, sounds like it might be workable, but I haven't been there, don't know the rules, etc.

BTW, to anyone who has mentioned NRA, from their web site, I find nearly nothing in my area. :-(

August 26, 2009, 12:16 AM
Try putting your information into this link.


You might also try doing an internet search with the terms "handgun training" and city names in your area.

August 26, 2009, 01:02 AM
Try putting your information into this link.


Not many options there. I get 3 hits if I search across all classes. One is Bass Pro, where a guy freaked me out by pointing a gun at me the other day (though that's hopefully not telling about their instructors), another that doesn't sound that useful, and a third that is $300 for the day.

Maybe I should look into Front Sight more closely....

Do other areas have more offerings via NRAs site? I'd have thought there would be more here.

August 26, 2009, 01:06 AM
You can increase the radius of the search to include a wider area.

I would also guess that if there are any large cities near you that there should be a few folks offering some handgun training. You might check out indoor ranges in particular. It's been my experience that they often either have a resident instructor or have made a deal with an instructor or two to give classes at their range.

August 26, 2009, 01:19 AM
kayla, there is a lot of range time, however, it is broken up with instruction, dry fire exercises, frequent breaks, and potty break when ever you need. The coupons on Ebay are exactly what you need to keep the cost down. you will need about 200 rds per day. When I was there in january, there were young women, (20's) all the way through grandmas(70's) some leo's and some former military. Mostly civilians just wanting to learn about shooting and all that goes with it. There are some lectures, usually during lunch break, going over civil,& criminal liabilities. Some scenerio role playing. All in all, a very safe enviroment. During the four days you will wear your holstered gun, empty. The only time you will have a loaded firearm is on the range during supervised shoots. There is lodging close by at a couple of the casinos. One even gives you breakfast vouchers so you don't have to pay. They will even prepare a box lunch for you for the day time. This was my first time attending a formal class training and absolutely enjoyed it. I would go back. I realize there are other quality courses around, however, I cannot budget traveling very far right now.


pm if you have any further questions.

August 26, 2009, 01:20 AM

I went through this same process last year. The transition from target and plinking to defensive shooting. I have taken a couple defensive handgun courses, and I can tell you, they changed my mindset completely. If you are serious about using a firearm for self defense, you need to commit to a good solid class financially, and physically/mentally.

I can tell you from personal experience that the stress created (however safe the environment may be) from action shooting, competitive shooting, and defensive shooting does funny things to your body and mind.

Recently, i took a class on Basic Carbine Tactics. I was so concerned about running a particular drill correctly that I forgot to load my rifle before I started!!!:o:o

Needless to say, I was the laughing stock of the class, but I did sling my rifle, and drew my pistol and finished the drill, mostly.

Bottom line, find a good training school. I have considered going to front sight, never actually have. My next training is going to be here, I think this school is a better "bang for the buck". Pax (Kathy Jackson) teaches at this school last time I looked. Firearms Academy of Seattle (http://www.firearmsacademy.com/)

I don't know where you are located, but this is a solid school from what I have been told.

Hopefully I can help out a little.

Feel free to PM or email to [email protected] if you have any specific questions!

August 26, 2009, 01:54 PM
So, I figured out my personal next step (besides working on speed.)

I just signed up for my CCW class. :D

I'm sooooo excited!

I don't know if I will end up carrying, or how often, but I want ALL of my options.

I also just ordered the Smart Carry based on recommendations here. I'm going to see what's really possible for my XD9.

August 26, 2009, 03:01 PM
If you are interested in training for the defensive use of a firearm, the first step is to take LFI-1 from Ayoob. This gives you a good eduction in how to physically use the weapon defensively, but (and far more importantly) an excellent education in the circumstances that justify its use.

After you take LFI-1, take a pistol course taught by Louis Awerbuck.

August 26, 2009, 03:10 PM
Kayla: I do most of my training these days, not at a formal range, but out on open BLM land. On BLM land that isn't leased by anybody and that is at least a mile from the nearest inhabited dwelling, you can set up your own targets and practice all of the things you can't at the range, like rapid fire, quick draws, etc. You have plenty of BLM land that meets these qualifications in the area where you live, and if you wait another month or so, the temperatures will drop enough that you can stand to go there and practice.

Or you could drive up here some weekend and we could take you out to our favorite place, along with our handguns and shotgun, and practice together. ;-)

August 26, 2009, 03:34 PM
Sakeneko, I have an acquaintance who lives up in Mt Charleston and could probably go up there.

But maybe I will make it up your way soon.

As for Ayoob, that would obviously be awesome -- but that is undoubtedly an expense that isn't currently budgeted.

Glenn E. Meyer
August 26, 2009, 03:48 PM
Gila Hayes from FAS has a book:


Effective Defense - it is oriented towards women but also contains a good deal of the major points from LFI as Marty and Gila work with Mas.

Excellent read as well as Mas' books.

Too bad, you aren't in the NW or Texas - we could fit you up with great trainers.

You might check out the IDPA site for Nevada matches. I know in TX we are very supportive of new shooters.

August 26, 2009, 04:18 PM
IDPA has no Sept event, but I'm in contact with them and my point of contact has been nice, friendly and helpful. I look forward to going to one of their events.

Someone from Appleseed also contacted me and that sounds fun, though perhaps longer term. I worry about my shoulder vs long guns.

Did you see the price on Gila's book?? :eek: I think she has a new one coming out and I've already got it pre-ordered. (At least I think that's a new book from her.)

I have an Ayoob book and found it to be minimally useful, given all the Ayoob hype. The info was sparse and much of it was outdated. So I'm not sure that I'd buy anything else from him. Not sure who/what Mas is?

My guess is that I'm moving along about as fast as I can, given a full time job and other time and financial constraints.

In less than a month, I've gone from clueless newbie to having enough skills that it would be dangerous to a man trying to come into my house again. :D

Give me another six months and I might really be a force to be reckoned with! :D :cool:

August 26, 2009, 05:53 PM
do what I did, get into reloading next. its great and your ammo cost will be cut by 60% or more.
other then that, i say take a day vacation. your brain needs a reset for the past month to replay it all.
I think after a while of reloading I will get into some other fun stuff. :)

August 26, 2009, 08:50 PM
Kyo, since defense is goal one, reloading is probably a ways down the line.

Had a bf who was into reloading some time ago. His house practically looked like a munitions factory. I can't see going there in my own house!

August 26, 2009, 09:08 PM
The best initial pistol class that I am aware of is the Defensive Pistol taught at CSAT by Paul Howe.

August 26, 2009, 09:24 PM
"Fighting pistol" from Tactical Response (www.tacticalresponse.com) is another good one.

August 26, 2009, 09:29 PM
Having shooting skills is very important.Having skills that will keep you in one piece are equally important.I can shoot the button off a mans shirt at 7 yds but I also will be looking for something big and solid to hide behind while I am doing it.Your brain is still the best defense.

September 3, 2009, 02:21 PM
Never stop training. Do the same training over again. Change it up a bit. Being proficient with a firearm means lots of practice in varied situations (staged for training purposes).

Personally I hardly ever just target practice. I try when I am able varied ways of drawing and firing at the target. lately I have been using props in my hands / arms (like grocery bags or shopping bags). I bring different outerwear (jackets / vests / etc. that I normally wear) to practice being able to get to my weapon. These methods have helped me find the weak points in my knowledge / training and allowed me to know better the type of situation where I become most vulnerable.

September 15, 2009, 10:48 AM
I'm back to this question again. (And will probably keep coming back to it.)

I'm planning on taking a class in November.

Meanwhile, I'm practicing on my own.

I bought some stick-on targets that can go over my paper targets to practice accuracy.

I have not received my CCW yet, but have two concealed carry methods lined up -- Smart Carry and a Galco Underwrap. I suppose I should start practicing drawing and reholstering with those?

I'm not sure what more dry firing exercises can give me? They have helped my steadiness and accuracy. But I don't know where the next steps are there.

My off hand, plus my carry weapon are a crappy combo. I'm not sure what I can do to work on that. The recoil just slams my off hand pretty badly and at more than 3', my accuracy with my off hand is not acceptable. Any helpful hints?

September 15, 2009, 12:04 PM
Where does one go after they feel they are pretty proficient while at a stagnet "regular" range?

You can look at going out the hills and at some pit but that can be a bit hairy at times, especially for a gal, even with a gun.

Yes, taking a self defense course is a good idea but for you in mind a pretty basic self defense course would be in order - why I say this is you can go to a very good course but from the sounds of it you'll be information overloaded the first hour. Most of these concepts and actions take practice.

The cost is the major concern. I'm sure I'm like most on here (and I have good job and no kids) and it's still tough to pay for those $300-$1000+ courses, plus all the ammo and travel.

I have been fortunate to set up a "bridge" course for $25 for those in the Seattle area where we have volunteer safety officers/instructors donate their time and take shooters like you to the next step. What is the next step? Shooting on the move.

If you've never done it before (shooting on the move) you don't really know where to start? What to practice, why, how... all the basic stuff. Unlike basic marksmanship you can't fake it through shooting on the move. You really need some guidance and direction from an instructor.

So, depending on where you live. Look me up.

"Shooting Like the Good Old Days - Shooting on the Move at Renton Fish and Game Club"


September 15, 2009, 12:08 PM

I'm back to this question again. (And will probably keep coming back to it.)

I'm planning on taking a class in November.

I have not received my CCW yet, but have two concealed carry methods lined up -- Smart Carry and a Galco Underwrap. I suppose I should start practicing drawing and reholstering with those?

My off hand, plus my carry weapon are a crappy combo. I'm not sure what I can do to work on that. The recoil just slams my off hand pretty badly and at more than 3', my accuracy with my off hand is not acceptable. Any helpful hints?

What class are you taking?

As to practice, you are building muscle memory and some strength by muscle recruitment. By repetitive practice your body unconsciously learns to do the task better (assuming that you are practicing proper form).

In Morrison's book The Modern Technique of the Pistol it states about dry-fire practice: "Practice only when able to concentrate fully, and when you are physically fresh. Practicing when fatigued, or until exhausted, leads to needless errors and their compounding."
"Perfect practice makes for perfect shooting." <---- (who said that?)

You can benefit from drawing (presenting) your gun, dry firing, scanning and re-holstering while continuing scanning for threats. Under stress we tend to do what we practice. Scanning is important to keep situational awareness, to not lose sight of a threat.

Off hand shooting can be humbling. I know I don't practice enough. When I do shoot with my weak hand I'm slow and feel awkward.

September 15, 2009, 12:17 PM
Mello, I will be taking a defensive pistol class with Corrina Coplin of Suarez Institute.

I've been reading a book called, "On Combat", and it's making me doubt myself. Or at the very least, making me realize I have a long way to go to be where I need to be.

Oldkim, I'd like to do some IDPA and USPSA soon. I am concerned about how many rounds those competitions use, and how often I could afford to go do something like that! But I think you're right -- I need to learn to shoot while moving.

September 15, 2009, 12:48 PM
The number of rounds is limited to the scenario

Roughly you shoot more during a USPSA match than an IDPA match. Figure on shooting about 3-5 boxes at most during a regular IDPA match.

It's a good way to learn. Just get there early and let the match director (MD) or a safety officer know it's your first time and they'll welcome you and take you under their "wing." You'll be amazed how we like to share our sport.

Go and take it slow and ask a lot of questions. There are a lot of good shooters out there and they're more than willing to share.

Take is slow and safe and have fun!

September 15, 2009, 10:19 PM
You might be having mixed feelings about the upcoming course at Suarez International. It looks like an intense course for someone of your level of skill and experience. You should learn a lot and be able to build upon the instruction you receive during the two days of the course. I believe that you will do well; and maybe surprise yourself with how much you improve in shooting and confidence.

I know nothing about Suarez International. If they have a low student to instructor ratio you may learn the benefit of personal attention from a well qualified instructor.

September 16, 2009, 12:22 AM
You are taking a good course. Suarez teaches slow in the basic sourses. The more advanced courses you would be lost in because they move at a faster pace.

September 16, 2009, 09:38 AM
It's actually Corrinne from Suarez, who would be teaching (don't recall her last name), but she is with SI.

I now have another possibility to evaluate.

But twice, I have almost spent $100+ on gun safety 101, when thinking I was going to get different info than that. I have taken a gun safety 101 course already. So, one concern (not from Suarez, but anything else), is that I don't want to spend a bunch more money on the 4 basics. I am practicing those at home every day. I don't think sitting through another class on safety would be useful, unless it's more advanced safety issues, and even then...that's not what I'm looking for. I need defensive pistol, including low light and night shooting, weapon retention, shoot/no shoot scenarios, etc, on top of work on basic shooting skills such as breath control, timing, accuracy, etc, in addition to learning at least something about point shooting.

At least this is what I think I need. I recognize I may not know enough to be asking the right questions.

But I have also noticed that nearly every defensive pistol class I see, gives little description of what is being taught.

It's very frustrating. It's either a secret, or they don't have much to say?

Also, much of what I need seems like it could be learned in places like IDPA matches.

September 16, 2009, 09:59 AM
i agree on the matches thing. learn to draw, point and shoot in a smaller amount of time as you keep going. There are a few pistol shooting instructors that are descriptive on what you learn. Roger's school of shooting is 10000 per person. I can't afford that, but I figure its the best around.

September 16, 2009, 10:07 AM
For $10k, it better include bullet proof armor, kevlar head and body gear, and at the end, a kevlar brain implant! :eek:

September 16, 2009, 10:42 AM
The $10,000 figure was a group price for up to 10 students.


"We have combined our Advanced and Intermediate classes into one class. For students who attend one of our scheduled Intermediate or Advanced Classes the tuition cost for Handgun instruction is $1,000. The cost includes lunch and dinner for the five day program."
Plus ammo:
"Students will require approximately 2500 rounds of handgun ammo . . . " That is a lot of shooting in 5 days!!!
"Ammunition costs for the class: 9MM Handgun Ammo - $550, .40 S W Handgun Ammo - $665, .45ACP Handgun Ammo - $750, 12 gauge bird shot Ammo - $50, 12 gauge 00 Buck 75. Ammunition costs subject to change without notice. Students must confirm price of ammunition at registration time."

Rogers Shooting School is located in Ellijay, Georgia about 60 miles from Atlanta.

September 16, 2009, 03:35 PM
If you are close to Memphis, check out Rangemaster with Tom Givens. They have ladies classes and offer a variety of different levels. Good people.

On another note, why is tap, rack, bang outdated?

September 16, 2009, 05:44 PM
You are on the right path. I wholeheartedly agree that studying the mechanical workings of firearms is a very good way to better understand safety issues and how to resolve problems with the firearm, and how to better get the performance from the firearm that you desire. I tell people all the time to train AND study.
On the shooting while moving, are you interested in learning competition techniques or fighting techniques. They are not the same. You will need to decide what you want to learn.
I disagree with the idea that if you are shooting 5-inch groups you need to shoot faster. Shoot no faster than you can control the shot placement and shot placement is is entirely target dependent. It requires a situation-specific assessment.

September 17, 2009, 12:11 AM
On another note, why is tap, rack, bang outdated?

From what I've read, training, "tap, rack, bang", led to NDs because you do what you drill. So, my understanding LEOs now train, "tap, rack, ready."

Note: I have no first hand knowledge of this nor do I know if it's true. I'm just reporting what I've read.