Thursday, August 22, 2013

Training – Multiple Targets


Many ranges impose limits on the type and level of training a shooter can work at. Many do not allow a draw from a holster, some limit our range of lateral movement – or movement in general, and most do not allow a shooter to engage multiple threats at the same time. If this is true in your case – you need to broaden your range selection. For this post, I want to specifically talk about engaging multiple targets.

A quick review of the past year’s confrontations between armed civilians and direct threats to them, you will find multiple cases of a person being attacked by more than one person. While strictly empirical, it seemed like most of home invasions I read about this year, there were more than one invader and in most cases each of the invaders was armed. If your typical range session involves a single target – you are training your body to simply engage a single threat. Should the real world involve three invaders coming into your house, you need to be nimble enough mentally to engage all three.

Honestly, this is a trap I fall into myself. It takes more time to set up two or three threats on the range, to record, evaluate and tape three threats after each drill . . . . and most of the time I “don’t bother” and just shoot a single target. Not a good range habit and one I do my best to consciously break. So, let’s assume you have finally made time to “do it right”. What would that look like? Well, my suggestion would be something like this:

                    1                                            2                                           3

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Number the targets left to right 1-2-3. On our range we have five lanes. If I have the range to myself, I set up on lane 1,3 and 5 – that gives me about 4 feet between each target. This will give you a good amount of “spread” that you will need to handle. To add to the mix you can include colored squares of paper to provide more “cognition drills” as well. More variety, more things that you may need to think about – is better for this kind range drill. Another thing that helps with this is a range partner for the day – giving you each a chance to work on multiple targets.

There are some things that DO NOT change, regardless of the number of threats:

The Draw: A grip, draw and rotate needs to be accomplished smoothly – regardless of the number of threats. That is why each and every draw is important regardless of the number of targets you are shooting.

Focus on your threat: For defensive shooting, I suggest the “metal on meat” method of target acquisition. Place the rear outline of your slide center mass of the threat and press the trigger three or four times. Remember, “rule of three” – three yards, three rounds, three seconds – you don’t have the time for “sight alignment” and “sight picture”, nor do you need to for combat effective hits.

Multiple Hits: Build multiple trigger presses into your training. Many shooters are fond of the “shoot and look” method. This will make you dead! Every defensive pistol engagement – training or real life – should simply involve pressing the trigger multiple times. In multiple threat cases the necessity of the moment may limit you to a single round a threat - “tactical sequence” or a single round – closest to most distance threat - “tactical priority”. This is one of the primary elements of IDPA competition and one of the values I find in it. Once each threat has been hit once – reevaluate your situation. Keep shooting until you are certain ALL threats are down – period. This is the primary argument for carrying multiple magazines. Three threats – you could easily go through 5 rounds per threat.

Past this, some things change, target acquisition for example. You have to move your eyes to the new threat. Move your eyes FIRST – then move your weapon TO your eyes. Again, you are moving the REAR OF THE SLIDE (the metal) to CENTER MASS (the meat). That will get rounds on target. Repeat until you have a round per threat – repeat as necessary. Your eyes will take your weapon where it needs to go.

MOVE!!! If you are static with a single threat – your chances of a ride home in a Ziploc increase significantly. If you are static with 2, 3, 4 threats in front of you – your death is assured. Make THEM react to YOU while you are using “metal on meat” to engage the different threats. Sound complicated?? Honestly, it’s not – but it takes practices, again stressing the importance of finding a range where a draw from a holster and movement is allowed.

Expand your training, work past simply “holes on paper” to a tactical target and finally to multiple tactical targets. In today’s world, the possibility of facing multiple threats is very real . . . . you need to train for it.


  1. Thank you Sir! What I have trouble understanding is how can one simulate real life scenarios, ie: in bed in a dark room, sitting in a chair watching tv... etc by shooting in a range environment. Are you depending on the range training and muscle memory to compensate for the surprise factor?

    1. Couple thoughts. Do a Google search for "hostage targets" and then look at the images. Find some you like, copy them to your computer and bring them into word or some other program. Size it so the image fills the whole page and then print it out on a standard size piece of paper. Place these at 7 feet and you'll be proportional for a 21 foot target. Then, put them around your home (yes, friends may call "the wagon" :) ).

      The next step would be to get a LaserLyte round for your carry gun. Work up the scenarios you talked about - from a chair in the living room, getting out of bed, sitting at the kitchen table.

      Another alternative is the SIRT pistol, but honestly they're pricey. Anyway, give this a try and see what you think.

      Thanks for stopping by Brighid, glad you like what you see.

    2. The thanks is mine, sir. I really appreciate that you take the time to answer my questions.

  2. Most people don't have the space, means or insurance to do it, but building a killing house out of used automobile tires allows you to handle multiple threats in different directions. It's more suited to combat style operations than it is for defensive measures of the sort Brighid invasions. But it allows for options that are not available in traditional ranges.

    I think that given the parameters that you're working with, EIAFTINFO, you have it nailed.

    Close Quarters Battle situations are won or lost based on calm nerves. I know of real-life exchanges at 10 feet where each party expends all ammo and nobody was hit. Practice helps to instill confidence and accuracy when it counts. Speed is fine, accuracy is final.

    1. "Speed is fine, accuracy is final." I like that. Accuracy also saves lives of innocents as well. I really stress being a "thinking shooter" - you gain nothing if the stress of the moment turns off your brain and you kill an innocent rather than a threat. And, if you can't get rounds on the threat - well, it isn't going to end well!