We’ve all told ourselves this little lie before, and if I’m being honest, I’ve told it to myself before I learned the truth.
“I go to the range all the time and my marksmanship skills are nothing short of John Wick levels. I don’t need any training classes because I’m good to go!”
Sorry to burst your bubble here Range Rat Ricky, but no, you aren’t “good to go”.
Don’t get me wrong, going to the range is great for working on your trigger control, general marksmanship skills, and how your firearm operates. But there’s a lot more to learn when it comes to properly employing a firearm to defend your life that static range shooting won’t teach you.
In this post, we’re going to share the top three reasons why going to the range simply isn’t enough and why a training class (or four) is a solid investment in your future.
There’s nothing like rolling up to your favorite range, pulling a few boxes of 223 ammo out of your bag, and loading up some mags. There’s shooting all around you, brass is flying, and you know you are among “your people”.
Then you slap that mag home in your favorite Glock or Sig Sauer, rack the slide, and proceed to fire off one round every 3-5 seconds. Your aim is meticulous, trigger squeeze is perfect, and your follow through is impeccable.
There’s only one problem…This isn’t remotely close to what a self-defense situation is going to be like.
Do you think the bad guy is going to just stand there as you ensure your sights are perfectly aligned? I think not.
Ok, so you need to practice rapid fire, that makes sense. But there’s just one tiny problem…
Most ranges prohibit rapid fire, and if you start cracking off multiple rounds per second the range safety officer (RSO) is going to crack down on you harder than a Marine Corps drill instructor.
Although doing marksmanship training is great to reinforce muscle memory and trigger discipline, it simply does not compare to the type of training and experience you receive when you take a defensive pistol course.
When you take a course, the instructors are going to walk you through the process of how to not only shoot quickly, but accurately as well. And I promise, they aren’t going to hold you to the “one round per second maximum” that most ranges enforce.
Most ranges have a sign that reads, “Holstered firearms are prohibited”. And I’ll be honest, there’s a good reason for this.
The truth is that most shooters are extremely inexperienced drawing a firearm from a holster. And doing so incorrectly can cause, at best, a negligent discharge and at worst, harm to another shooter.
Don’t believe me? Watch THIS (warning: graphic language).
A proper draw stroke is essential to not only getting your gun into the fight as soon as possible, but also essential for preserving your safety and those around you.
Although you can do draw and re-holster drills at home with snap caps or an empty chamber (triple check that by the way), dry fire only gets you so far. The truth is, there is no substitute for learning the proper draw technique from a qualified instructor.
Sure, you can watch as many YouTube videos as you like, but this pales in comparison to having another human watch you and critique the areas where you need improvement.
Furthermore, drawing from concealment represents different challenges that you’ll not experience at the range. While taking a class, you’ll work on your draw from concealment, presentation, and sight acquisition. Basically, all the things that shooting ranges won’t let you do!
Doing work at the range is a great option for a virtually stress-free shooting experience. You can ensure your focus is always on your front sight and that you don’t jerk the trigger and throw your shot off.
The problem is that a defensive situation is going to be anything but stress free, and working at the shooting range does little to prepare you for this.
Although there is no way to completely understand what a life-or-death situation can be like, it is possible to introduce stress to any shooting situation in a safe manner. Enter: the shot timer.
If you’ve not had the pleasure of experiencing what it’s like to shoot competitively with a shot timer, let me explain it to you.
Imagine, if you would, walking up to a competitive shooting stage and being given five minutes to walk through the course of fire. You plan out everything, from determining the first target to dump two rounds into, to your reloads, and what foot you’ll lead off on.
It’s your turn to go, you step up to the start position and make ready to fire. The RSO gives the commands, “Shooter ready! Standby….” You’ve got everything planned out perfectly in your mind until…
The bloody shot timer goes off and with it, your entire plan. You’ve forgotten everything and you have to do, where you’re going to reload, and you hastily blast through mags like the hero of a John Woo movie.
Is this going to produce the same level of stress as a defensive shooting situation, absolutely not. But is it going to get your blood pumping and introduce stress into your system, you bet it will!
During a class, instructors may use shot timers to not only introduce stress, but to also add a bit of competition to the class. It allows them to get you outside your comfort zone a little bit. It’s a humbling experience to say the least, especially when you see your shot groups open up to the size of a dinner plate (or larger) when you typically are pitting the ace at the range.
However, stress can create dangerous situations when shooters forget the cardinal rules of gun safety, which is why it’s best to introduce this stress during professional training to ensure everyone remains safe.
Going to the range has a lot of benefits. It familiarizes you with your firearm and allows you to focus on the fundamentals of marksmanship by building positive muscle memory and good trigger control.
However, this is only part of the puzzle, and if you want to be a complete shooter and be ready for any self-defense situation you need to get professional training.
If you haven’t done so, make sure to check out the list of upcoming classes here at Defensive Strategies as there are classes for all shooters of all skill levels.
No matter if you get your training here or somewhere else, just make sure you get some professional training. Because the last thing you want is for all that range work to go out the window when you need it the most! Stay safe out there and we’ll see you in an upcoming class soon!