25 Shot skills building solutions


Development of effective shooting skills for defensive purposes is the subject of this BHKnowledgeBaseSolution.  I became interested in a more planned and structured way of building my defensive shooting skills, after I started reading real-life stories about bad guys who, after being shot, continued shooting/injuring/killing innocent people.  Sometimes the bad guy ultimately expired – sometimes not.  I had started getting close to real-life reality about my own expectations of my defensive handgun….and an understanding that “Stopping Power” from any handgun should more accurately be written “Stopping Power???”  Shots that invade the brain or damage the spinal cord are “stoppers” – everything else, including shots that penetrate the heart, might be “stoppers”, or not. 


In writing this article, I’m assuming the reader understands that a bad guy, standing 21 feet away, has the potential to close those 21 feet and bury a knife in your chest in 1.5 seconds.  If this is new information, grab your buddy and a stop watch, and see for yourself.  The point – it is probable that the need to use a handgun defensively will likely carry with it an extremely urgent need to do so.  An attacker automatically has a big advantage (element of surprise) because the attacker knows the attack is about to happen and at a time and place of the bad-guy’s choosing.  Attackers strung out on the “drug-of-the-week” are nothing like the paper target at the gun range – it is highly unlikely you’ll ever find yourself looking down the barrel of a standing-still bad-guy’s gun from 15 yards away.   


So, I accepted that, in real life, it’s highly unlikely that any two defensive uses of a firearm ever happened exactly the same.  I accepted that the need to use a firearm defensively would also include the need to use that firearm very quickly and accurately – this means skills need to be “reflexive” – and it can be assumed I won’t have time to think about swiping off a safety.  Once deployed, a defensive situation could require multiple shots until the target changes positions in my sights (said target going from vertical to horizontal would qualify as a “change of position”. 


So, I read about a few drills I could try.  One of those drills eventually became a favorite of mine because it’s an easy to remember formula.  Draw a 5” diameter circle on a sheet of paper as a target – shooting position is 5 Yards from target – the objective is to deholster and deliver 5 accurate shots in 5 seconds.  The first time I tried this drill….was a humbling experience.  I found myself landing 1 or 2 good shots out of 5.  I could not deny my need to increase my skills.


One Important Note…..effectiveness with your handgun in rapid-fire drills, does become easier if your handgun is functioning optimally – See “Slide Velocity Synchronization” in the BHSpringSolutions Knowledge Base.


The drills and concepts I’ll share with you, helped me, and will help you. 


Non-Shooting Skills

I always try to practice drills in a way that require me to be moving my body at some point of the drill.  The best time for this is during the deholstering moment of the exercise.  The reason…….defensive use of a firearm dictates that you are under attack, or there is a real threat of an attack.  This makes you a target – and being a moving target is better than being a stationary target. 


It is a statistical probability that you will need to deploy your handgun with one hand, and shoot one handed.  Make at least some of your drill shooting one-handed.   


It has been estimated that the average amount of time involved in a defensive shooting scenario is around 4 seconds…..from start to finish.  There is only so much my brain can process in 4 seconds – and remembering how to breathe and remembering how to deploy my defensive firearm are not among the things I envision having time to think about. 


The more I can make my defensive skills a reflex, the better prepared I will be.  It is with this thought in mind that I offer this 25 Shot Shooting regimen. 


Warm-Up: “Dot Drill” (At 5 Yards) – 5 Shots Total

On a piece of white paper, draw 5-2” diameter circles.  With or without use of a timer, deholster rapidly, while taking a step left or right, and deliver one shot into one circle.  Reholster – repeat four more times. 


5” Diameter Circle Timed Drill (At 5 Yards) – 10 Shots Total

Draw a 5” diameter circle on target.  Deholster and deliver 5 Shots inside circle within 5 Seconds.  Forgetting that my pistol has a rear sight works for me on this drill – so I only focus on that front sight. 


Upper Silhouette/Center Mass Target Timed Drill (At 5 Yards) – 10 Shots Total

On 2 pieces of paper, draw an “upper” (head) silhouette on one sheet, and a square box (center mass) on the second sheet and arrange appropriately on target stand.  Deholster and deliver 3 shots to center mass target and 2 shots to upper target, in under 5 Seconds.  This drill is not intended to prepare me to necessarily deliver “3 down and 2 up” – the idea is to condition myself to changing my focus on a target, while shooting…..because it’s highly unlikely that a real bad guy would be stationary.      


For time keeping, a stop watch with a friend, works.  There is also a cool app for your smartphone called IPSC Shot Timer.  The element of time adds an element of “stress” to your practice.  You can compete against yourself, working to improve over the results of your last practice session.  Sharpening “muscle memory” and reflexes will result from this practice.  Practicing rapid deholstering and “sighting-in” during non-shooting practice will yield even faster results.