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Are You Training, or Are You Just Shooting?

“Every round going downrange should have a training element attached to it.”

I can’t take credit for that quote. Those wise words came from Dave Young, Director of Arma Training and a man I am proud to call my friend. Dave has 30 years experience as a trainer. He served in the USMC and has worked as a corrections officer. He is not a man I would like to fight.

I enjoy working with Dave Young because he doesn’t waste time. Time is valuable and most of us say we don’t train enough because we don’t have the time. If that is true, then make sure every minute at the range is dedicated to improving your shooting skills.

Let’s say you only have about an hour and one box (50 rounds) of ammo. What are you going to do? Most people will stand on the line in a perfect stance and launch rounds into the center of the target. After a few minutes, our intrepid shooter will reel in the target, look at the group, nod in approval (maybe issue an audible grunt of approval), and go home thinking he/she has completed some valuable training.

Not so fast. What I just described was nothing more than plinking. And while it has some value, it does not help you train for a fight.

So, let’s break down that box of 50 rounds and see what we can do to improve your shooting skills.

First 10 rounds: You might need a warm up, so assume your favorite shooting stance and a proper two-handed grip and fire five rounds into the target, center mass, using a good sight picture and slowly pressing the trigger. Focus on your follow through—that is, hold the trigger to the rear until you have reestablished your sight picture on target, then reset the trigger and fire the next shot. Try to create one ragged hole at 7 yards.

Switch hands and do the same with your other strong hand.

Next 20 rounds: Bring the target in to 3 yards. Starting in the low ready, move to the far left side of your shooting lane. Shout “Gun!” as you take a large step to the far right side of your shooting lane, come up on target, and fire a double tap (that is two shots in rapid succession) into the upper chest of your target. If you are not allowed to use human silhouette targets, aim for the 7 on your circular target. Adjust your pace to ensure all your shots land within a 9-inch circle. Fire five double taps with your strong hand and five more with your other strong hand. Verbalize and move—just like you are fighting.

Next 10 rounds: Run the target out to 15 yards and, focusing intently on the front sight, find an empty spot on your target and shoot for your best group ever. Float the dot. Shoot the shot. Don’t try to hold the gun too still for too long. When the front sight is on the center of the target, complete your trigger press.

Last 10 rounds: Focus on your trigger control. Bring your target back in to 5 yards. With a solid grip and a great sight picture, focus intently on the front sight and press the trigger straight to the rear. Imagine there is a string from your trigger around the front sight to the rear sight and you are trying to pull that front sight slowly and deliberately through the notch on the rear sight. (George Harris taught me that.) See that front sight, but feel that trigger. Learn it. Know where it will break; then, press so slowly that break surprises you. Fire five rounds with each hand, ensuring you maintain a great sight picture. Focus on the front sight and total trigger control.

This is just one training sequence, but it is one that will help you improve your marksmanship and your fighting skills with just one box of ammo.

Don’t just shoot. Train.

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