Idiot firing rifle

5 Things You’re Doing Wrong At The Range


Yes, what YOU’RE doing wrong. I’m talking to those who practice defensive shooting. Competitive shooting is a completely different animal. The equipment, techniques, and mindset don’t all translate into the defensive world, so you folks go about your day. Nothing to see here.

OK, for the rest of you. You load up the car or truck with guns, ammo, and targets and head to the range. So far, so good. It’s what you do when you get there that counts. And this is what I’m seeing.

#1. You’re not practicing the basics.
Sight alignment, trigger squeeze. The mantra of basic marksmanship. You should spend at least 25% of your range time on this. Practice shooting as small a group as you’re capable of. Then make the next one smaller. Wash, rinse, repeat. If you go to the range once a week, one range session should be the basics. If you go to the range once a month and shoot 200 rounds, 50 of those should be sent downrange perfecting the basics.

#2. You’re shooting at 7 yards.
Or 10 yards, or 15 yards. Wherever you are consistently hitting the target from, but never further. You need to push it out there. Shooting 5 inch “groups” at 7 yards will have you off the target at 25 yards. So practice outside of your comfort zone. It’s not about bragging rights, it’s about improving. Don’t think you’ll ever need to make a 50 yard defensive shot? What’s the farthest distance between cash registers at the grocery store or Wally World?

#3. You’re practicing with loads softer than what you carry.
You can do a Bill Drill in 3 seconds with your GP100 or 686. Shooting .38 wadcutters. You carry full house Remington Golden Saber .357 magnums. Practice with the soft loads, and you won’t be ready for the muzzle jump, flash, or bang from your carry loads. Practice with heavier loads than what you carry. Give yourself a fighting chance.

#4. You’re not practicing drawing your weapon.
Every shot you take is from the low ready. Because you’re going to walk around with your gun in your hand all day, right? Practice drawing from the same holster and clothing combination you normally use for concealed carry. Get comfortable clearing your clothing, drawing, and firing your gun. You’ll appreciate the practice should the time come when you have to defend yourself for real. You may even realize that your “ideal” concealed carry outfit is horribly impractical. Better to find that out on a one way range.

#5. You’re not working on your weak areas.
Everyone wants a fun time at the range. Good groups, shots off in the right amount of time, etc. So you do what you’re good at. But this doesn’t advance your skills. Instead, practice what you’re slower or weaker at. Shoot with your non-dominant hand. Practice reloads. Engage multiple targets. Have a plan in place to work on one weak area until it isn’t weak anymore. Then move on to the next one.


The Tactical Pirate

View posts by The Tactical Pirate
President and lead instructor. Follow me on Twitter, and check out our blog.

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