I have a friend in the tactical community who likes to say, “For a gun to be effective, it must be in the hands of the unaffected.” What he’s getting at is that all the marksmanship practice in the world will not help us if we are winded after a minor altercation or do not have the strength to break away from an attacker to access our handgun. But selling a fitness routine across the gun counter goes over about as well as $35 for a box of 9 mm Luger, so, unfortunately, this important consideration fades into the backdrop; however, training our lungs, chest and core can easily be done at the range, allowing us to develop both skill sets simultaneously.
Before getting started, first check with your prospective facility to determine if they allow the activities outlined below. Doing push-ups or sprinting might be especially frowned upon at a packed indoor range, so it’s best to check before gaining dirty looks and losing your privileges. Outdoor ranges are always best whenever anything strenuous is involved, so these should be your primary consideration. Dry practice is also an option. As always, observe all NRA safety rules at all times.
Phase One: H I I T, then Hit
Fitness experts have lately been emphasizing that the cardio benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may exceed what steady-state aerobic exercises can give. This form of training involves periods of near-exertion sandwiched between low-intensity work. After stretching, follow these steps:
1. Set a six-inch round target at 15 yards and place an unloaded handgun on the shooting point with the action locked back. Set your filled magazines or speed loaders next to it.
2. Establish a goal point approximately 50 yards behind the shooting point.
3. Run full speed toward this point, turn around and jog back.
4. When you arrive at the shooting point, load and fire two rounds into the center of your target.
5. Unload your handgun.
6. Repeat 10 times.
Phase Two: Push Up, Press Out
Upper-body strength can be the deciding factor between separating from an attacker or the grim alternative. The good news is that you don’t need to spend hours in a gym strengthening these muscles. For years, ordinary push-ups have been a cornerstone to developing this part of the body and are a simple, efficient exercise to add in.
1. Set a six-inch round target at 7 yards with a three-inch round target approximately 10 inches over it.
2. Place an unloaded handgun on the shooting point with the action locked back. Set your filled magazines or speed loaders next to it.
3. Drop down directly behind the shooting point and execute 15 push-ups, focusing solely on proper form.
4. Rise and immediately load and fire two shots into the center of the larger target, followed by one into the smaller target above it.
5. Unload your handgun.
6. Repeat five times.
Phase Three: Sit Up to Stand Up
Most doctors and personal trainers will attest that our core muscles are responsible for the lion’s share of our physical constitution. Regardless of how you feel about this statement, it’s hard to argue that strengthening muscles in this area won’t help us recover from the ground faster. This phase of the routine will assist with scenarios where you are caught off guard or have fallen to the ground prior to the altercation.
1. Set a six-inch round target at 15 yards.
2. Keeping your muzzle pointed at the target, place your unloaded handgun on the ground, slightly to the right or left of the target’s line, with the action locked back. Set your filled magazines or speed loaders next to it.
3. Sit down in line with the target.
4. Do 25 sit ups or crunches.
5. Pick up your handgun and ammunition.
6. Rise to your feet.
7. Load and fire two rounds into the center of your target.
8. Unload your handgun and place it on the ground.
9. Repeat five times.
You should have wound up with 45 pieces of brass and, by the next day, some sore muscles. Don’t worry; a perfect recovery activity is cleaning your gun in front of the TV, followed by a protein-filled meal.