The Importance of Follow Through

Sheriff Jim explains the importance of follow through in shooting.

posted on February 11, 2022
Sheriff Jim

I once asked a number of African hunting guides what the most common mistake was that hunters made when hunting dangerous game. Without exception, they said that it was firing the shot and then raising their head to admire their work. The PH’s pointed out that the proper move after firing the shot was to get right back on target and get ready to shoot again. We call this Follow Through.

The same mistake is frequently made by defensive shooters. They will often raise their head, and frequently even lower the gun, to see if their shots have had the desired effect. Part of this is habit that comes from being told by the instructor how many shots to fire in a particular drill. The student knows that the required number of shots has been fired, and now can’t wait to see if those shots went where they were supposed to. It is not uncommon for the shooter to move their head and gun so quickly that the last shot misses the mark entirely.

For the same reason that follow through is important when hunting dangerous animals, the defensive shooter needs to get back on target as quickly as possible. If it is a two-shot drill, the shooter should see his sights--and the target--three times. The proper sequence should be, “Sights on target. bang ... Sights on target. bang ... Sights on target.”

In dealing with a violent attack, we need to be on target and ready to fire until we know that the threat is no longer a threat. If the threat goes down, we follow it down, ready to shoot again if necessary. Obviously, just because the threat goes down doesn’t mean that the fight is over. If he or she is still armed and still moving around, there may very well still be a threat.

Oft times a student is led to believe that two shots to the vital zone will solve the problem. Well, it does – except when it doesn’t. And, in the middle of a gunfight is not a good place to stop and admire your work. That wastes time and time is something that you can’t afford to waste when your life is on the line.

The smart move is to develop the habit of getting right back on target any time you fire a shot. We make this a habit by doing it every time we fire a shot, whether hunting, plinking, or practicing defensive skills. Follow Through is an important aide to fast, accurate shooting; and it just might save your life.


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