Your Firearm Practice Routine | Voices of the USCCA

If I didn’t do well in some aspect of the course, I try to isolate that skill and practice it later.

If I didn’t do well in some aspect of the course, I try to isolate that skill and practice it later.

Tell us about your practice routine! How often do you get to the range and what do you do while you’re there?

I shoot something almost every week, for an hour or so, and always once a month I practice drawing from my carry holster and point shoot at about 15 feet. I fire about 25-35 rounds of FMJ, out of my carry pistols (Rohrbaugh R9 or Ruger LC9). Every three or four months I shoot the carry ammo that’s in the pistol.

— Jim Corderman


I have the pleasure of living in a very rural area and am able to train on my own land. I shoot twice a week. I shoot 100 rounds through my Glock 34 that I use for IDPA competition every Saturday afternoon. I shoot an additional 50 rounds through my Glock 19 that is my carry gun.

I usually shoot my 19 on Tuesday evenings after it gets dark. It has night sights and I do nearly all low light shooting with it. I usually train using three IDPA targets and orange cones. I do most of my shooting while on the move. I shoot advancing, retreating, moving parallel to both the right and left side. I then repeat using just strong hand only and then again using weak hand only. I vary the distance from week to week. Using a timer I try to shoot it faster than the previous attempt without losing accuracy. I keep a journal of all my training to monitor progress and to find weaknesses.

I always start with the gun in the holster to practice the draw, even weak hand only because you just never know when that might be a lifesaving skill. I do the training in the dark the exact same way with some minor variations when using a flashlight.

— Kelvin Meeks


Grip, draw, aim, fire, recover, reholster, repeat.


In Iowa we are pretty well limited by winter weather in our practice time. When I am able to make it out to the range, I go through the drills by the numbers, and one shot at a time, speed increases with repetition. Grip, draw, aim, fire, recover, reholster, repeat. I start with carry ammo, change to practice ammo and continue. At home I use a LASERLITE Pro, and dry fire. As an old arthritic, full house loads start to hurt the hands after a while, but it is necessary to shoot them just to keep the mind trained that this is how it will feel when it happens.

— Ray Davies


I try to end with some dry fire to help counter any bad habits I may have induced during the session. I like to start with “ones,” draw one and fire one. That’s also a good cool down exercise. First hit is normally the one that wins.

— Uncle Dave in Bloomington


I never leave without loading up with the carry ammo I came with, unless I’m changing it out to fresh carry ammo. Whenever I change out, the new ammo is inspected and cycled through the gun to make sure it chambers without issue. This is not a guarantee, but tends toward that direction. I don’t get to the range very often, so I try not to put too much pressure on my performance. I concentrate on the basics, such as grip, sight alignment, and stance. I also try to cycle through my repertoire as much as possible: two hand, one hand, both hands, draw and fire, mag changes.

I try to end on a positive note. Maybe some slow fired tight groups or longer range (40 yards) work. I would love to have a place to get more realistic, active, regular practice, but my schedule and funds won’t allow it currently.

— John Deere


I used to only shoot half of the ammo I buy to build up a stock. Now my attitude has changed and I shoot as much as I feel I need to and just buy twice as much ammo. A friend once mentioned that when practicing basics, 50 rounds is enough. Any more and you start getting tired or complacent and bad skills will set into your shooting. Nowadays, because I joined a club and can swipe in at the gate I shoot more often and have started doing IDPA Carbine competitions. This is better practice than just standing in a lane, and requires a little more tactical skills and thinking.

— Ken in Texas


I take my carry gun in the range bag and carry my second carry gun concealed. I shoot dominant hand and non-dominant hand (both one- and two-handed), then 10 rounds with a pair of dark safety glasses without my prescription glasses.

— Roger in Missouri


Years back, shooting with one of America’s premier trainers, we ended with him telling us he liked to end a range session by shooting slow fire and trying to shoot the tightest group he could shoot. It helps to end every range session on a good note. Sounded very reasonable to me and I try to end every range session doing just that. It is a nice finishing touch.

— Gary Slider


Typically, I get to the range once or twice a month. Wish I had the time for more practice but can’t seem to fit it in at this point in my life. Practice with my CZ 9mm at 15 to 20 yards trying to get a consistent 3 inch grouping. Once I’m happy with that I’ll try some quick double tap or perhaps two to the chest and one to the head in rapid fire. I always end with shooting a few of the more expensive defensive carry rounds, and normally go through a couple hundred rounds total.

Now the best part of all this: Getting to spend time with all my kids. Both my son and daughter along with their spouses have carry permits, so the majority of time we all hit the range together. There’s nothing better than improving (or at least maintaining) your abilities while enjoying the sport with your family—plus knowing that your kids have the capability to defend themselves and their loved ones is a great peace of mind too!

—  Craig in Connecticut


…I fire one handed with both right and left hands to round things out.


I usually shoot at an indoor range and the first shot down range, at full sized human target at 25 feet, is the one in the pipe of the handgun that I carried to the range (personal defense load). That way I know how good that shot would or could have been and it cycles that round out of the magazine.

Next I shoot a magazine (solid nose factory load) for accuracy, two handed at different ranges (15, 25, 50 feet). I do this with both guns I usually take to the range.

Then, on to some draw and fire two handed at different ranges slow and fast. Next, I switch to the non-dominant hand and shoot some two handed at different ranges.

Last, I fire one handed with both right and left hands to round things out. Between each change in distance I examine the target to define problems.

When finished, I reload my carry weapon with the personal defense rounds and am ready to clean up and leave. I usually limit my sessions to about one half hour, mostly to keep the cost down. I do this once or twice a week.

— Augie from Pennsylvania


As an instructor, I get to the range a lot, but don’t take time to shoot as often as I’d like. We have a weekly training league which is great for practice under stress with courses of fire that test the physical and mental skills you would need in a self-defense situation. However, there’s not time to practice there. If I didn’t do well in some aspect of the league course, I try to isolate that skill and practice it later.

For general range practice, there are a few drills I typically run through to refresh perishable skills.

Semi-auto handling and function drill:

Load a couple of magazines with two rounds each. Set empty gun on bench, one magazine on your person wherever you regularly carry, one on bench next to gun. Set up two small targets (2”-3”) at 5 yards. On start: load, fire one round at each target, drop the magazine and reload, fire one round at each target in the reverse order. Time yourself or have someone time you, but go only as fast as you can shoot accurately. All the rounds must hit the small targets or you’re going too fast.

Repeat, starting with the other target first. If your range allows you to draw a live gun from the holster, load and charge with the first magazine, carefully holster, and start with the draw.

Draw and dry fire: Our range does not allow drawing and firing from the holster. However, draw and dry fire is permitted. And it’s inexpensive. Draw, present to the target, press the trigger. Make sure the gun stays on target and you do not jerk the trigger. Do not let the sights dip when the trigger breaks. Action should be as smooth as possible, no wasted motion from relaxed position to grip in holster, draw and muzzle down range, two handed grip, sight picture and smooth press. Use a specific target and call your shots, even though the gun isn’t firing. Reset the action and reholster to repeat. Use some random action to determine your start; for example, if there are other people at the range, let one of their shots be your signal to fire.


I want the last thing I did at the range to be the same thing I’d have to do if I need to use it for self-defense.


Accuracy drill: Multiple targets at 20 yards or so, start at low ready, take precise shot at each target, focusing on fundamentals of shooting accurately, especially trigger control. Shoot at the targets in different orders, one shot at each. Not a likely personal defense distance, but any errors are magnified. Expect to hit the targets accurately and consistently. Call the shots: see where the sights were at the moment the gun fired, then confirm the shots went where you thought they did.

If I take multiple guns to the range, or if I end up shooting someone else’s gun as part of a lesson or class, I always end the session shooting my own carry weapon. I want the last thing I did at the range to be the same thing I’d have to do if I need to use it for self-defense.

— Mark Avery


Next Issue’s Question:

“What advice would you give to someone who wanted to carry while wearing business or dressy clothing?”

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