Monday, January 6, 2014

Training - Cold Weather Range Training


I did a post a while back talking about dressing for “COLD!!!” weather. While we certainly have had colder temperatures so far this winter, today it was 1*F with a wind chill of -13*F. Temps were headed down but I had other projects for the afternoon so I headed to the range shortly after noon for a bit of video work and range work.


I dressed for the range exactly as I described in the link above with a couple exceptions – no outer layer pants or extra fleece. The gloves I wore are my standard daily fare for winter wear – leather gloves with 3M Thinsulate.

Cold days on the range are – like many things in life – a “head game”. If you dress properly, you are simply as cold as your head lets you believe you are. I was actually quite comfortable for the entire range trip – about an hour beginning to end.

I shot my every day carry weapon, a Glock 17. One of the NRA Instructor Facebook groups I belong to had one member who was doing some research for an article he’s writing on whether a shooter goes to the range in inclement weather – and cold weather in particular. I was planning on doing a post on “COLD!!!” weather shooting, Iowa seems to be in the grip of a substantial artic weather system - so all the right conditions seem to dictate that today was the day for a range trip!

I wanted to focus on two specific pieces of training today – the draw and solid first-round hits. As a result I did only single round engagements and set an 80% as my minimum hit percentage. A “hit” is a round within the silhouette on the standard LE training target that I use. I also sent 3-round groups down range at the 5Y, 7Y and 10Y distances for marksmanship.

I teach and emphasize a single hand draw with the shooter’s dominant hand. I make the assumption that during an attack their support hand will be used for defense while they are getting to their weapon. I also stress a single hand reholster as well. I ask shooters to draw as quickly as they can safely and to take “all the time in the world” to reholster. Winter gear adds an additional issue of much more clothing. Rather than the “shoot me first” vest may shooters wear during standard competitions like an IDPA match – in the winter, in “COLD!!!” weather, there is much more clothing to clear away during your draw stroke.

For my own defensive shooting courses I teach a 4-step, single hand draw . . . Clear the grip, drive to the grip, draw and drive to the threat. At this point you may – or may not – be able to bring your support hand up to support your weapon. You need to practice both ways. For today’s videos – all engagements were 2-handed, full extension.

I brought a PACT MKIV timer set with a start time around 2 seconds and a par time of 3 seconds. The typical goal of defensive shooters is a draw and first round engagement in 2 seconds or less. Inches of winter gear affects this goal line. I extended mine to 3 seconds and, for the majority of shots the first round met that goal. A time or two, when my draw went sideways . . . I didn’t.

And, speaking of going sideways – that is always a possibility. I had one draw in particular that was a “challenge”. Your ONLY OPTION is to KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER, work to clear your garment and get your round on target. In the real world failure to do this results in a trip to a steel table in a ZipLoc. These failures on the range are your opportunity to work through these issues.

As for weapons failures – there were two and I had not experienced them before. When I pressed the trigger the safety simply failed to release. The cure was to release pressure on the trigger and press a second time. This happened twice and the release of the trigger and pressing again cleared both malfunctions. I am ASSUMNG it was the cold, but have no firm proof.

I put 10 rounds down range, each from a draw with an 80% accuracy. On the video I mention two rushed shots – I focused on reducing my time and NOT hitting the threat. Two problems with this. Typically the guy who gets the first hit . . . wins. Secondly, YOU OWN EVERY ROUND! Saying words like “I was just shooting to keep them away” simply isn’t going to hack it! Every shot counts and you should do your best – your VERY BEST – to put every round on the threat.


As for marksmanship today . . . it was a heavy sigh trip. I shot from 3 distances. 3 rounds from 5 meters – hit ratio 66%. 3 rounds from 7 meters – hit ratio 33% with 1 round just outside the circle. Finally, 4 rounds from 10 meters – hit ratio of 50%. You can see the target below. That is why you work on marksmanship EVERY TRIP!


Training in all seasons, in all types of weather, is simply a must for every defensive shooter. The bad guys will not take a pass just because it’s “COLD!!!” or wet or hot or beautiful. They will attack on their own schedule – and you simply must be able to respond.

Buy some rain gear, some cold weather gear – work with your carry system and then hit the range. Carrying your weapon EVERY DAY, being able to draw and engage a threat regardless of weather or clothing, and being able to hit the threat is your best chance for survival during a lethal attack.

And the training to do this is firmly in YOUR hands . . . so get off your butt and hit the range!


  1. Shooting in cold weather (heavy clothes) with a shoulder weapon is even more important to practice because the snapshot point of aim will changed based on awkward heavy clothing if you've been accustomed to shooting with light clothing.

  2. Good points, all. If we didn't shoot in cold weather, here, we'd miss 7 months out of the year. And like you said, the bad guys won't take a pass just 'cause it's chilly.

  3. Good video, and good call out on the 'problem' draws... Honesty helps EVERY ONE of us to know that things WILL happen...

  4. LL - Good point, thanks for the add. With the way our winter is going it should be able to get in at lease one trip in with my carbine this winter. More trigger time with the carbine is on my "list" for 2014.

    Rev - We may be right there with you this year. Hoping things warm up quick this year, my farmer friends really had to push there growing seasons this year.

    Jim - Yep, pretty darn hide from screwing the pooch on the range when the camera is running. :) Heavy sigh . . . but you are exactly right - those issues will happen both on and off the range.

  5. I did a post a while back talking about dressing for “COLD! ...