Range Day! Two words that almost every shooter gets excited about. There is no doubt that going to the range is an exhilarating experience. We get to spend time with our firearm and put lead downrange. But most of us are not taking full advantage of this precious time. I use the word “precious” because most shooters do not have access to daily or weekly range visits. At best, most are lucky to get to the range monthly. When we do have the opportunity, it needs to be productive shooting, rather than simply static shooting you employ by blowing through endless expensive rounds. This article will cover five tips that, when utilized properly, that can make your range time more productive.
Prior to the start of your range day, have a plan outlined. Being sufficiently prepared ahead of time will ensure better time management giving you the most out of every minute. Create a “to do” list, so to speak. It’s just a list of specifics you are planning to work on during your range session. List the drills and the amount of time you want to spend on each. Next, estimate the required amount of ammunition needed for each drill. Doing so helps to safeguard against wasting or depleting your ammunition supply without getting everything done. Incorporate a checklist of all items needed. Number of rounds, targets, which gun(s) you plan on utilizing, staple gun, etc. Once everything is mapped out, check your bag to confirm that you have everything you need. By doing this not only will you be physically prepared but also mentally prepared.
The Drills: (The following drills are based on the knowledge that your gun sights have already been sighted in.)
- Figure-Eight Drill
Many shooters struggle with “moving sights” or what they deem as “shaky hands.” This occurs when you are pointed in, but you feel like your sights seem to be moving. When this happens, you tend to grasp the gun harder and tense up, but doing this causes you to shoot worse. You’re not seeing things, your sights actually are moving; however, they’re not moving as much as you think. The figure-eight drill helps you understand that slight movement does not truly affect the shot. It also shows that good trigger control can overcome the slight movement. To do this drill, set yourself up approximately 5 yards from the target. Aim in and move the front sight in a vertical figure-eight motion, about 6 inches wide, over the bullseye. As your sight comes across the bullseye, relax, breathe and take your shot. Stay pointed in and repeat, using five rounds.
- Ragged-Hole Drill
Focus on a single spot on your target. A great target for this has a small solid dot. If yours does not, you can create your own with a marker, creating a small, 1- to 2-inch colored circle. From 3 to 5 yards, fire five rounds aiming at the center of the dot. It is imperative to relax and breathe, as controlled breathing with every shot increases accuracy. As you fire your five shots, use the exact point of aim for every shot. Do not look over your sights with the “did I hit it?” mentality. Take your time and be conscientious of your trigger press, imagining the pad of your trigger finger coming straight back to your nose. The goal is to end with a single ragged hole within the dot. If your shots are spread out you will know that you still need to work on some fundamentals.
- Shrinking Targets
Upon conquering the ragged hole, move to shrinking targets. This drill will quickly improve your accuracy. The optimal target for this drill will have three circles, each diminishing in size. Begin at 3 yards and fire five rounds into the smallest circle. Move back to 5 yards and repeat on the middle circle. Then move to 7 yards and repeat on the largest target. The goal is to have each shot in each circle touching each other, similar to the ragged-hole drill.
- Timed Shooting from Low Ready
This drill is not only helpful in training, it’s also fun. From 5 to 7yards, hold your firearm at low ready, finger off the trigger. If you don’t have a shot timer, several timer apps can be used. Upon the timer sound, engage your target firing a single shot. After firing, remember to stay pointed in and practice after-action techniques, like scanning your surroundings to make certain there are not other threats. Once clear, slowly reholster. This drill is lets you see just how accurate you are in a timed situation. Don’t be discouraged if your accuracy is off. Putting everything together in one fluid and timed motion is an entirely different ballgame. With time and dedication, your accuracy and speed will improve.
5. Drawing/Shooting from Concealment
Practicing this is self-explanatory. We carry to defend ourselves and those we love. It will all be for naught if we aren’t able to get our gun out of the holster. This drill can be done the same as shooting from low ready, except from your holster. It allows you to practice moving clothing before you draw, letting you discover what works and what doesn’t. Even though this can also be practiced by dry-firing from home, doing it for real brings the training up a notch.
Incorporating a plan and utilizing these drills will help make the most of your range day. You will also obtain an accurate picture of your current skill level. With repeated practice you will most certainly begin to see your skill level grow.