A day at the range can hone your defensive & shooting skills

Regular training is critical if you plan to carry a defensive handgun for protection, or if you keep a defensive handgun (or other gun) in your home for protection. 

Training takes time, effort, planning, preparation — and dollars, too — for the training to be effective. 

Firearms training is important, even if you only shoot a gun to hunt. Training will improve your accuracy and success afield.

You will need to plan, and set goals for your firearms training sessions. What do you want to accomplish with the training session? Improve your speed from the holster? Improve your accuracy? 

Try a new drill that you learned from a video, DVD, or class. Set your goals and work towards accomplishing those goals.

I recommend dry fire practice before you go to the range and shoot live ammunition. Dry fire practice will help improve your basic shooting skills — grip, draw, sight alignment, target alignment and trigger control. 

Dry firing regularly will help you develop your basic skills so that you become smooth and confident. 

Remember, slow is smooth, smooth is fast. I dry fire with a LaserLyte Training cartridge and a miniature silhouette “bad guy” target regularly to keep my defensive skills sharp. 

This type of target gives you some sense of realism during your practice sessions.

Determine what you want to accomplish at the range well beforehand, then practice doing these skills while dry firing regularly at home. You will be amazed at how much your live fire accuracy will improve!


No firearms training article would be complete without a discussion about safety at the beginning of the article. 

Religiously practice the four basic firearms safety rules and insure that others do the same, at home or on the range:

1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded. Period! The only time a firearm is technically “SAFE” is when the action is open, the magazine is out (or cylinder is open), and everyone can visibly see that. 

I check by sight, and feel/look at the action and stick my finger in the mag well, and breach. When I dry fire, the ammo goes in another room, or in a drawer, if I’m staying at a motel.

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2. Keep the gun pointed down range, when on a range, except to case (or holster, or un-case/unholster the gun), and never point a gun at anything you don’t want to shoot or destroy! 

I had to take my new Sig Sauer P-220 10 mm pistol away from my brother-in-law one day, after I cleared it and handed it to him, he pointed it at me. 

I yelled at him not to do that, and his excuse was, “Well, it’s not loaded.” 

“Unloaded guns” KILL PEOPLE or DAMAGE PROPERTY!!!!

Remember, you are responsible for every bullet that leaves the barrel of your gun, if you pull the trigger.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. When I train, my finger goes on the trigger as I am pressing out to shoot. 

You should train to do the same thing, whether you are shooting live ammo or dry firing.

Otherwise, my finger stays along the slide until I am pushing out and acquiring the target to shoot. Build the proper “muscle/mental memory” for this and practice this skill often. 

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