Saturday, September 1, 2012

Training – A Range Day


So you’re going to the range – yippee, skippy. Why??

“I’m gonna practice!” Ah . . . . it’s so much clearer now . . . . what ya gonna practice??

“MMmmmm – making small groups . . . . or adjustin’ my sights . . . . tryin’ out a new gun . . . . or some other equally vague comment . . .”

So, with .45 Cal ammunition in the neighborhood of $.45 a round and 9mm in the region of $.34 a round . . . . . really, you’re just makin’ holes or tryin’ guns?? Really???

Perhaps a different approach. Rather that tell you what to do, let me describe my morning, the reason for my plan today, changes I made and the AAR to fully evaluate my range time.

My Plan: I go to the range with a plan in my mind, specific things I wanted to work on. Today I wanted to spend a bit of warm up time with my Ruger .22/45 then switch to my Glock 17 and work on marksmanship, longer range for a couple of magazines to see how I was doing there and finally to go through the drills I taught at the last course: 2-hand full extension, 1-hand ¾ Hip, 1-hand ½ Hip, Close Hip and the Zipper.

What I did: I followed the plan, but all the way through with the .22/45 and with nearly two hours under my belt (and the lawn waiting at home), I took a pass on the 9mm practice.

Targets: I use a variety of different targets –a half dozen 3x5 cards stapled on the cardboard, a 6” plate for the head and 8-1/2 x 11 for the body, law enforcement targets. Honestly, I’m not fond of traditional bull’s-eye type targets, I’ve long-since stopped using them. They have a tendency to have a shooter focus on their grouping rather than the dozens of other things that are going on to make combat effective hits, so I let them be.

Recently I’ve become fond of “Law Enforcement Targets” paper targets. They have just about everything you can think of. I’ve settled two versions.

An FBI Q target:


The cost of this target is currently $34 per 100.

And a SWAT training target:


The cost for this target is currently $38 per 100.

Both targets offer the advantage of command drills, marksmanship drills and a way to evaluate combat effective hits. For their cost, they are well worth the extra money.

Weapons: I took by two favorite range guns – my Glock 17 (currently my carry gun as well) and one of my Ruger .22/45s. I carry in a strong-side, IWB leather holster from Blackhawk. This holster will easily accommodate both of these weapons nicely. So, for all the drill work with the .22/45, a draw from concealment with a 3-4 round engagement was used.



Yes, I know – the grip is a slightly different cant and the .22/45 uses thumb safety like on a 1911. I accept that and train with it. It costs me nothing to flick a “safety” on the Glock and keeps that muscle memory alive for the times I carry my 1911. Other than that the weight, fit, feel of the grip are similar enough to provide solid training for the draw stroke of my Glock 17.

Just a quick word about conversion kits – I just don’t like them. I have a couple of friends that have them for their Glocks and they seem to spend as much time with their pocket knives popping non-ejected casings from the chamber as they do working their training plan. My plan today for the .22/45 ran 180 rounds without a single failure. I’ll take it.

The Plan: The target today was the SEB silhouette with the circles, squares and rectangles. First I wanted to “warm up” and work on marksmanship a bit with the 6 shapes. All shooting was done from the low ready, 10 rounds per shape. Here are the results:

5-Triangle: 5-yards, 10 rounds 8/10 or 80%

6-Triangle: 7-yards, 10 rounds 8/10 or 80%

3-Square: 10-yards, 10 rounds 9/10 or 90%

1-Circle: 10-yards, 10 rounds 8/10 or 80%

4-Square: 50-feet, 10 rounds 8/10 or 80%

5-Circle: 50-feet, 10 rounds 3/10 or 30% (something about “went to shit” comes to mind.

Lower Square – center-line: 75-feet, 10 rounds 3/10 (see line above . . . .)

Square – Center Mass 50 yards, 2-hand grip, Aimed Fire, Standing 10 rounds 7/10 or 70%

Not bad with going to hell at 75-feet and 50-feet on the 5-Circle. This will give me a comparison for my next trip shooting these same drills. Is 100% possible on all shapes?? Sure. But remember, defensive shooting is a balance between speed and accuracy. If you focus so hard on 100% that your engagement times become exceptionally long, you are teaching your body to be “slower and more accurate” rather than quick and sure.

One other training tool – your smart phone. Take photos of your target between drills (before you tape it up) so you can keep it for your records and do an analysis similar to what I am doing here. My target, after this process and before taping looked like this:


Pretty easy to see the hits, count and record them and provide a secondary way to track your progress.

From here, I moved to the shooting drills. I did six of them.

1: 21ft – 20 rounds, 2-handed, full extension, top of weapon slightly lower than traditional aimed fire.

Results: 19/20 or 95%

2: 21ft – 20 rounds, 1-handed, ¾ Hip

Results: 18/20 or 90%


3: 21ft - 20 rounds, 1-handed, ½ Hip

Results: 15/20 or 75%

Note here that for the ½ Hip and Close Hip the ability to use our peripheral vision to assist in aiming your weapon diminishes – and your hit rate will suffer as well.


4: 21ft - 20 rounds, 1-handed, Close Hip

Results: 11/20 or 55%


Simply body index is not the best aiming method in the world and this shows it. Yet, what would happen if we would keep this type of shooting where it belongs – 15 feet or less.

5: 15ft – 20 rounds, 1-handed, Close Hip

Results: 19/20 or 95%

6: 15ft – 20 rounds, 1-handed, Zipper (engage at Close Hip then continue to engage as you extend to Full Extension)

Result: 18/20 or 90%


By the time I finished this set of drills, the old Pathfinder on my wrist said I had spent nearly 2-hours on the range. There was simply no time for a repeat performance with my Glock 17. The lawn was waiting, I still needed gas – my range day was over. Yet, I felt good. I was happy with the results, found some areas that always seems to need polishing and had a nice batch of data to take home and review. Not bad, not bad at all.

My suggestion to you, especially new shooters – making holes is fun, but with a little forethought, a little extra work and a little more attention you can easily turn your “drilling holes” session to a solid training session that can quickly advance your skills.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, accuracy IS a perishable skill... One of the things we need to remember and PLANNED practice is a good thing!