Range Visits for Self Defense Practice

The ideal place to practice shooting for self defense is an outdoor range, because you need to be able to practice shooting on the move, shooting from odd positions, and other scenarios that you would encounter in a self defense situation.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t have access to an outdoor range often enough to practice these perishable skills. In some previous posts, I gave some thoughts about how I practice at an indoor range to get ready for competition. Yesterday during lunch I went to the range to practice my self defense shooting.

Here’s what I practice for self defense. Since my range doesn’t allow me to draw and shoot, all shots are from low ready.

I use a silhouette target set at 7 yards to 10 yards. I use 10 yards because I’ve paced off my house, and this is the longest shot I would have to make. Sure, I might face longer shots, but that’s not what I’m practicing today.

I start with the target at 7 yards, and make single shots into the central target zone. For me, this is a triangle formed by the nipples and the larynx. A shot in this area makes the most effective hole in an attacker, and is most likely to stop the fight the fastest. I want 10 or so good shots in this zone, with good form and follow through.

Next I do two shots to the triangle, starting with a measured pair, and moving to a double tap. Again, I want good hits, good form, a follow through.

Next, I do Mozambiques – a shorthand for a drill invented by Lt. Colonel Jeff Cooper, consisting of two shots to the triangle which fail to stop the threat, followed by a shot to the head. It should be noted, from my experience at competitions where it has been included, that a true Mozambique is not a quick “two shots to the body and one to the head.” There is a pause between the first two shots and the head shot to assess whether the head shot is needed. This is important, because in a real fight, there is no way to know that the third shot would be needed. So, that’s the way you should practice it.

In fact, if you have a shooting partner at the range, a great way to do a true Mozambique is for the partner to watch you shoot the first two shots, then call “Yes” or “No” indicating whether your shots stopped the target. If not, then you follow up with a head shot. Then, go on farther – if that shot isn’t dead on the central nervous system, follow up with a pelvic shot.

Next, I turn my body 90 degrees left, and starting with the gun at low ready, I press out to the target with my right hand and deliver shots to the triangle, first singles, then doubles. This simulates a shot to the extreme right, where you might not have a chance to square yourself to the target.

Next is a couple of Mozambiques from this position, but I try to square myself to the target between the body shots and the follow up, just like I would want to do in a real situation.

Next, do the same from the other side. Naturally, using the weak hand means taking more care, but that’s the point of practice. You will get better.

If your range allows, shots from the retention position would also be included. My range has a bench in front of me, so this isn’t a good idea.

Next, I run the target out to 10 yards and practice making single shots and doubles, either to the triangle, or to another zone like the pelvis, so I can distinguish those shots from others. The longer distance doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough for me to make a difference.

I usually end the session with the target at 5 yards, and I shoot 4 or 5 shots as fast as I can, while keeping them in the triangle.

As you can see from the photo, I’m not always as accurate as I want to be, but most of the shots are in the triangle or in the head, or at least where I was aiming. But I am getting better, and that’s the whole point.

The Wall Drill, a video

My Quest for C Class

In a recent post I talked about the Wall Drill. I’ve been doing these fairly regularly for about 4 weeks now, and I have found my performance is improving. The sights hardly move at all as I break the trigger.

I was surfing the instructional videos on the interwebz, and I came a cross a really good video on the Wall Drill, presented by its inventor, MSG George Harris of the US Army Reserve, who is also Director of the SIG Academy. It really helped to see it in action.

Getting Better by Going Small

One way I have found to get better at shooting is to make the target smaller, and make the caliber smaller if you can. An example – this past weekend I spent a couple of hours shooting bumblebees with a regular old Daisy BB gun. I stood on my driveway while the bees flew around the gutters on the back of my house, which are full of pollen these days. I figure most of the shots were from about 20 feet, and although they did go out to maybe twice that, I didn’t have any success out much farther than 25 feet.

Shooting bees with a BB gun is as hard as it sounds. In fact, I played around with the photo above, so that the bee is just about life size, to give you an idea of what you’re up against. But with practice, you can get pretty good at it. It uses a lot of the skills you need for wing shooting or trap – you basically follow the bee with both eyes open, and use the front sight of the gun like the bead on a shotgun. The difference is a clay pigeon doesn’t bob and weave.

I hit two bees while in flight, and believe me, when you can shoot that way, then when they land, they’re toast. A third bee landed on the under side of the gutter, and my first shot hit him mid thorax.

A quick word, if you try this – remember Rule 4! Always know what is behind the bees in case you miss. In my case, there’s 20 acres of woods, but if I slide around trying to get a better shot, the end of the parabola is probably in a neighbor’s yard, so I hold fire and move back around.

This isn’t my only Go Small drill. I also cut out some pieces of aluminum in the shape of a tombstone target, but sized much smaller. By making a 2 inch target, and setting it at 33 yards, I simulate a 2 foot target at 400 yards. Once I work out how high to hold, I can usually get hits half the time after that. The aluminum makes a nice ping, and down it goes.

My son and his friends had a ball with me Saturday, shooting these tombstone targets. Then I set out some 5 inch clay pigeons, and they didn’t stand a chance. Once they could Go Small, the bigger targets were easy.

We started out a couple of years ago, shooting 8 inch aluminum pie pans hung on the back fence, about 40 yards from the driveway. Unless it’s windy and they are swinging and fluttering, though, these don’t seem quite the challenge they once were.

Now, I’m not the first to discover this. I remember reading Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko, one of the founders of Seal Team Six. His standard was to use 3 x 5 index cards as targets for his Seal Team, since it represented the size of the target zone on a terrorist. It stuck with me, so I must give credit to Dead Eye Dick. Thanks!