Skills Check: Concealed Carry Practice Session at the Range

posted on August 17, 2020

One of the downsides of testing and writing about guns is I seem to spend most of my range time working on writing assignments rather than practicing defensive skills with my daily carry pistol. Teaching also gets in the way of defensive practice. That seems counterintuitive, I know. After all, I teach at Gunsite Academy, a world-class training facility, and that implies I should be shooting all the time, but it’s not the case. Another problem with teaching is that I might be carrying a single-action revolver for one class, a double-action revolver for another, a 1911 for another class and my carry pistol for yet another. 

About a year ago, I had a serious discussion with myself and made a couple of decisions that sent my carry and practice routines in a different direction. I decided to stop carrying my beloved 1911s, switching to modified Glocks, and I changed my practice sessions. Why the Glock? Frankly, I shoot it better and carrying more ammunition makes sense. I also resolved to do all my defensive practice with my choice of carry ammunition to assure it is reliable and I know exactly where it is hitting. 

Here’s the Drill
To run my practice session, you will need an IDPA, Option or silhouette target, a timer, your carry pistol, 40 rounds of the defensive ammunition you normally depend upon and your EDC holster and support gear. All shots are fired from concealment, and I usually include movement, stepping to the side as I draw the pistol.

3 yards
A single head shot in 1.5 seconds. Repeat five times.
Total five rounds

3 yards
A hammer (very fast pair of shots) to the body in 2 seconds. Repeat three times.
Total six rounds

5 yards
A failure drill (hammer to the body followed by a head shot) in 3 seconds. Repeat three times.
Total nine rounds

15 yards
A single head shot in 3 seconds. Repeat five times.
Total five rounds

25 yards
A single head shot in 4 seconds. Repeat five times.
Total five rounds

50 yards
A pair to the body in 5 seconds. Repeat five times.
Total 10 rounds

This is not an easy exercise, but long-time readers of my columns will recall I have long advocated the need to make 25-yard head shots and 50-yard body shots with your carry pistol. Along with the close-in head shots, hammers and failure drills, I now practice the Jack Wilson 15-yard head-shot drill described in an earlier edition of this column.

Give this a try. If your pistol, holster or training aren’t up to par, you know what you need to do.


Federal Punch 25 ACP
Federal Punch 25 ACP

First Look: Federal Punch Ammunition in .25 ACP

Add a little oomph to your pocket pistol.

First Look: New Thermal Monoculars From ATN

Now it's even easier to get into the world of thermal optics. 

One Million Gun Sales for 58 Months Straight

The pandemic buying spree may be slowing down, but sales are still strong.

Practicing Precision and Transitions

Improve your pistol skills, even on an indoor range.

First Look: Falco A909 Hybrid AIWB Holster

Carry your defensive pistol and a spare magazine, front and center.

First Look: Onyx Home and Office Fire Safes

A stylish and secure way to keep your valuables safe.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.