As a student continues to grow and expands his or her education, you should address the combination of moving and shooting. This evolution will create a well-rounded shooter. The challenge for the instructor is defining each action separately. A good instructor should define how to perform the movements separately or in concert with one another as well as explain the merits of each.
Express consideration to muzzle management and trigger-finger discipline is paramount. This is because movement may be in any of the 360 degrees, creating an infinite number of variables. The instructor should emphasize that the trigger finger must not contact the trigger until the muzzle is pointed in the direction of the target and the shooter has made the decision to fire.
Six Categories of Movement
Divide movement into six categories to keep the training exercises from becoming overly complicated. Pivots, turns, forward movement, rearward movement, lateral movement and angular movement, individually or combined, should be performed from the right and left. These provide a wide variety of challenges and solutions for students who are conditioned to shoot from a specific stance.
Since this can be a new twist for many students, each new technique should be initially performed dry, without ammunition, to ensure safety and maintained balance and stability. Give specific attention to ensure safe and efficient presentation from the holster and tracking of the muzzle to the target. Multiple repetitions while detecting and correcting deficiencies will make the student and instructor more confident and comfortable when live ammunition is added to the equation.
Forward and rearward movement are by far the easiest exercises. In either case, the student is facing the target similarly to how he or she would when in a stationary stance. The major difference is the movement of the body below the waistline.
You can teach footwork in many different ways. The heel-toe-rollover (moving forward or rearward) is popular with many trainers, and the shuffle step is a popular method for going in either direction. While both of these are somewhat effective, neither will work for every student. In many classes, instructors teach both methods, leaving each student to decide which works best for him or her.
Objective-Based-Training Method of Movement
The concept of objective-based training provides a simpler way to teach movement. In this case, the objective is to stabilize the muzzle on the target in the best manner possible while moving toward or away from the target, which will likely facilitate acceptable hits every time the trigger is pressed. It’s really simple to do and simple to practice — not to mention exceptionally effective.
In this exercise, each student is issued a cup or similar container filled to the brim with water. His or her objective is to move forward, backward or otherwise out of standing position while holding the cup with both hands at eye level, and the goal is to not spill from the cup. This teaches the student what it feels like to stabilize while moving. Though speed is desirable, the stability of the cup — or, of course, the gun — is essential for success. A student will find his or her own levels of competency and develop an understanding as to what he or she requires for further improvement.
Lateral and angular movements add the challenge of keeping the muzzle of the gun in the area of the target from the draw to the delivery of the shot and beyond. This is best accomplished by using single-hand shooting techniques. Forward foot movement is recommended when the target is to the shooter’s dominant side, and rearward movement is recommended when the target is on the non-dominant side. There is no hard-and-fast rule since the approach to the target, especially with angular shooting, has an infinite number of variables. Often, the student’s range of motion and flexibility will guide the method of target engagement to place acceptable hits.
Pivots allow a shooter to engage a target that is 90 degrees to one side or the other, and it’s little more than shifting the weight to the pivot foot and stepping into the preferred shooting stance with the remaining foot. The pivot foot can be either foot, depending on whether the student chooses to step forward or rearward to attain the desired shooting stance. The student initiates the draw during the movement and times it so that the muzzle is pointed at the target as he or she faces said target.
A turn describes the body movement required to engage a target to the rear or 180 degrees from the direction the student is facing. Similar to the pivot, the body weight is shifted to the pivot foot while the remaining foot takes an exaggerated step into the preferred shooting stance, facing the target. As with the pivot, the student may initiate the draw during the turn but must ensure the muzzle only points in the target’s direction after it clears the holster. As with the pivot, movement can be in either direction.
Train Movement Subjectively
An instructor should consider that most classes have right- and left-handed shooters, which can affect the firing line setup. More space is required between students if you instruct them to turn to their dominant or non-dominant sides for a given exercise. With space limitations, a student may have to make movements either to the left or to the right regardless of his or her dominant side. However the line is set up, never forget that safety and assessment are always the instructor’s call.
There are lots of variables to consider when teaching shooting with movement, such as the availability and the proximity of cover. It may be more prudent to get behind cover first and shoot from a stationary protected position than to shoot while moving, when accuracy may not be as reliable.
Encourage your students to practice each method of movement with the mindset of muzzle stability on the target along with smooth control of the trigger. This will result in success, regardless of the scenarios in which they find themselves.