Written by: Ben W
You’ve chosen to carry a weapon concealed for your personal protection and that of your family. But you’ve eschewed specialized training and chosen instead to rely upon your personal knowledge, the stuff you have read in written self-defense and firearm publications, and the common sense that has gotten you to this point in the first place. After all, mama didn’t raise a fool. You’ve been pretty successful at staying alive to this point, so the following is intended as a basic guideline to enhance your current set of skills.
The following is what I call the 30-round defensive shooting scenario. Grab an IDPA target, 60 or 90 rounds and get to the range. If you can get someone to time your shooting, it’s helpful (specifically if they have a stopwatch or a competition timer). This helps keep you on your toes and gives you effective training.
This type of training is a live-fire exercise and should be performed where you can shoot without concerns for safety (and only after you are confident in your safety protocols). You can perform these drills with a revolver or a semi-auto handgun. Just make sure to have reloads to practice that aspect of your defensive shooting.
Take a position at 5 yards with a low-ready position (unholstered). This drill is not to specify that you ought to use a headshot at this range, but rather to help you learn target acquisition at a short range quickly and with a good focus and size range. You will want to shoot within 1.5 seconds to hit the target in the triangle or head region from a ready position. Repeat the shot 3 times to get comfortable with it before moving on.
Position at 5 yards with a 2-second window from a holstered, semi-ready position to simply focus on drawing and firing at the triangle (the area in the upper chest to nose region), or the headshot. Same area of focus (triangle/head) and you will also repeat this for a total of three shots.
At 5 yards again, in a single-handed, strong hand, low-ready position, fire a double tap to the body within 2 seconds. The goal is to ensure that you can instinctively shoot to eliminate a threat. You will focus on taking a two-shot action to the body, and repeat the process for two times (6 shots total).
At 7 yards, turn so that the target is to your right side at 90 degrees. This is to react to a threat coming from your side and to help you establish balance and reactive measures to such an attack. You will have 2 seconds to fire a double tap to the body from a holstered position. Shoot this drill once.
A reverse of drill No. 4, you will be facing 90 degrees turned away from the target, with the target to your left side. You will try to shoot a double tap on the body area within 2 seconds from a holstered start. Shoot one time.
At 7 yards, perform a double tap from a holstered position to the target with a 2 second time limit. Shoot once.
At 7 yards, take four seconds maximum to make three body shots in succession, while moving rearward away from a target as though distancing yourself from the attack threat. Shoot 3 shots 2 times. You will want to back away five retracing steps to about 10-12 yards away. The goal is to maintain the sight picture and point of impact for the target to keep groupings tight and centered to the low chest/center mass, starting at the ready position.
At a distance of 10 yards, you will have a loaded chamber. Drop your magazine and then fire your round at the target. Within a 3-second window you should be able to drop the magazine and then deliver your shot on target to the body without concerns. For those who use revolvers for self-defense, do not underestimate the importance of speed reloading in defensive scenarios. There are only 3 seconds, so get to the point where you can make a speed reload on an empty revolver (AND a full cylinder of empties).
You cannot rely on the idea that just because it may not be as easy to reload a revolver under stress that there will be concessions for it. You must do this; it’s the most important drill in the scenario for wheel-gun shooters. Repeat 2 times with a single shot.
From a distance of 10 yards with an open and locked slide, reload a magazine and load the chamber from the top of the new magazine to fire a single shot to the body in less than 3 seconds. Shoot this only once. Revolver shooters, practice by loading an open unloaded cylinder and with fresh rounds.
From a holstered weapon draw and fire within 2.5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
All 10 drills will combine for a shot total of 30. You should be practicing real technique and looking to improve timing and holster control, as well as accuracy. Sight acquisition is an important factor in these drills; try doing it dry, without ammunition, to determine if you have the fundamental control and ability to do it in that time frame to begin with. Establishing a base level idea of your capabilities will help in the process of improving.
Repeat all 10 drills as a single set at least 3 total times per range trip until you are fully comfortable with the drills. Using 90 rounds (3 sets of 30 rounds as listed above) per 250 or so that you shoot until you get to a state of comfort and proficiency is an excellent rule of thumb. These drills are ALL ABOUT de-holstering and coming ready with a target coming towards you.
To make the task more difficult, use scoring zones to test your proficiency. Specifically, headshots might only count if you can hit in the center section. The first 3 inner rings might be the only ones that count for the body shots.
Use the same gun you carry, and do it with your carry ammunition at least once (preferably at the end of training, when you are already proficient). You will want to use a concealed carry holster, not a duty holster or a competition shooting holster. The goal is to eventually get to a point where you can meet the time constraints and hit the correct areas, but mostly, you want to maintain comfort, control, and sight picture under stressful situations. The ability to do these drills in non-stress situations means very little; you need to perfect your skills under circumstances more like those you might face while the subject of an attack and where you will have to defend your life.