Perfect Practice

Improving your shooting starts with understanding that you have room to improvement.

posted on July 15, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

A friend of mine attended Gunsite several years ago. He was pretty excited about going and had been practicing a lot. At the end of the first day he had a nice, tight little group of bullet holes, all perfectly centered in the vital zone of the target. Col. Cooper came down the line, examining the targets. Glancing at my friend’s target, Cooper never slowed down...”You’re not shooting fast enough!”

Too often, we wind up spending too much time practicing on the things that we are really good at when the time would be better spent on stuff that we are not so good at. I suppose our ego is partially responsible, especially when we are shooting with friends or at a public range where others can see our targets. Here are some ideas that might help you get the most out of your practice sessions and create good defensive shooting habits.

Be honest with yourself and identify the shooting techniques that need the most improvement. Then, dedicate a practice session to work on only one or two of those problems. I like to keep my practice sessions short and really concentrate on getting it right. And the sort of concentration I am talking about can be fatiguing.

Another good practice idea is to make videos of your shooting sessions. Quite often we may not be aware of the mistakes that we are making, mistakes that are costing us time or making less-than-perfect center hits. A good afternoon would be spent with a friend, videoing each other’s shooting and discussing ways to improve.

The thing to keep in mind is that every time we practice we are creating habits. Habits are what the less informed like to call muscle memory. You can create good habits or you can create bad habits. And, hopefully, we have good habits that take over when we are forced to respond to a violent criminal attack.

Bill Jordan told the story about several Border Patrolmen in a hot little gunfight down on the Rio Grande. When it was over, someone noticed the bulge in one of the officer’s uniform pockets.  In the midst of that gunfight, as he emptied and reloaded his revolver, he had been dumping his empty cartridges into his pants pockets. Why?  Because their firearms training officer required them to do that when shooting on the range. It seems that training officer reloaded the cartridges and didn’t want them to get dirty by being dumped on the ground. Habits.

What kind of habits are you creating on your trips to the shooting range?  Are your practice sessions really designed to improve your defensive shooting skills?


man aiming shotgun
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