Take A Shooting Lesson, For Your Sake And Others’ As Well
My journey towards a safe and secure armed lifestyle started on an outdoor shooting range in Arizona. That range held practical shooting competitions almost every night. It also had many smaller ranges (a/k/a “bays”) where I could practice or take a shooting lesson. These pistol bays were about 25 yards across and anywhere from 15 to 100 yards deep. They allowed me to set up multiple targets and move back and forth with my gun.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my experience was very different from how many gun owners learn to shoot their guns. You see, pistol bays are common at outdoor ranges that hold practical pistol matches. You’ll also find them on law enforcement ranges. But outdoor ranges and pistol bays take up a lot of real estate. And, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (a gun industry trade association), 47 percent of new gun owners live in an urban area.
Finding the space for outdoor ranges and pistol bays in an urban area is a tough — if not impossible — task.
Take It Inside
Indoor shooting ranges don’t have that problem. They’re smaller, and they can be built almost anywhere in a city that zoning laws allow. Yet, the experience inside most indoor ranges is dramatically different than the experience at an outdoor range with pistol bays. The typical indoor range features a bunch of three foot wide “lanes” that shooters stand in while shooting at a target that moves back and forth to varying distances. Bodily movement isn’t really possible at this type of range. Neither is shooting at multiple targets.
This presents a problem. Most pistol drills and training regimens are designed for pistol bays, not indoor ranges. So if today’s gun owner wants to progress in his or her skills, they must find a an outdoor range that allows shooters to set up the drills needed to improve pistol abilities.
Smarter Gun Owners Are Safer and Happier Gun Owners
Ask almost any gun owner if they “know how to shoot,” and they’ll tell you that they can indeed shoot. But knowing how to pull a gun’s trigger to make it go “bang” while aiming downrange is not “knowing how to shoot.” It’s simply knowing how to operate your gun.
Regardless of whether you practice at an indoor or outdoor shooting range, your ultimate goal should be to achieve a high level or marksmanship. This can be achieved most easily by taking a shooting lesson and learning and practicing good marksmanship fundamentals. Yet, time and again, we see poor marksmanship exhibited by shooters who are either unable or unwilling to take a shooting lesson.
Karl Rehn of KR Training in Austin, Texas has done a spectacular job of showing who is, and is not, taking shooting lessons in Texas, and how that applies to the country as a whole. To sum up Karl’s findings, we have a large group of gun owners who think they “know how to shoot” (but really can’t), who don’t see a need to improve, and who can’t improve even if they wanted to take a shooting lesson because of where they shoot.
If you or someone you know falls into one of these categories, I hope you’ll consider taking a shooting lesson to improve your marksmanship, as well enjoy the other benefits that come from taking shooting lessons.
Learn Your Limits. Then Exceed Them.
Up until recently, the training for the armed citizen was based on the training for law enforcement. Concealed carry was not the law of the land. Because of this, firearms trainers had to craft their shooting lessons from the only data they had available at the time: officer-involved shootings. But as I’ve said before, my job as an armed citizen is not the same as a police officer’s job. Therefore, the training for each job needs to be adjusted accordingly.
Claude Werner, The Tactical Professor, has taken the lead in documenting what essential firearms skills we need to know based on defensive gun uses by armed citizens. First and foremost is being able to consistently shoot a group. If you can’t place your pistol shots close to the same location, time after time, then you’re relying on dumb luck to hit your target — not your skill.
Let’s change that by taking a shooting lesson. You’ll be amazed at how far your marksmanship skills can improve with just one course. I recently described the miraculous progress my two sons were able to achieve at single Project Appleseed event.
It Feels Good To Feel Good When You Leave The Range
Let’s face it: Our self-image is a big motivator of change. Some people change their lifestyle and lose weight because of medical reasons or their desire to save their own life. However, other people lose weight because they’re tired of looking overweight and are dissatisfied with their self-image. What does this have to do with guns? It demonstrates how self-image could (or should) motivate us to want to train more.
Most of my friends who carry a gun do so because they want to protect what matters to them most. And as my friend John Corriea of Active Self Protection has so aptly put it:
“You’re only going to draw a gun on the worst day of your life. I don’t want Jesus to look at me and go, ‘How come you didn’t test your equipment, dummy?’ ”
He’s not alone in this sentiment. I know other high-level trainers who carry and train with their guns because they’d feel stupid if they were caught without them when they needed them the most. Self-image can be a big reason why we make changes in our lives. It can motivate us to go out, take a shooting lesson, and improve our ability to protect those who matter the most to us.
Get Better, One Step At A Time
Realizing that you need to be a better shot and finding the motivation to practice and improve your skills means nothing without the means to do so. Sure, you can dry fire, but sooner or later, you’re going to need to see if you’re actually getting better at this pistol shooting thing. That means going to the range.
Developing the needed skills can be a challenge on an indoor range. Movement and multiple targets are an essential part of many skill-building pistol drills, as is rapid, accurate fire. Moving with a gun and shooting at more than one target is off-limits at most indoor ranges. Many of them also have “1 shot per second” rules that are meant to limit the amount of damage that inerrant shots can do the range equipment and other shooters.
While I certainly encourage you to take a shooting lesson to alleviate these issues, I also recognize there may be a plethora of reasons why you can’t take a shooting lesson right now. Thankfully, there are still some simple, easy-to-follow drills that can be shot at indoor ranges to help improve your marksmanship. Over the next few weeks, we’ll show you how adding a few simple steps to your indoor range time can improve your accuracy with your pistol and make you a better shot, giving you more confidence in your ability to protect your life.
We hope you enjoy them. After all, while shooting guns might be fun, shooting guns and hitting what you aim at is even more fun.