Applying Lessons Learned to Training Drills

Training plateaus suck. They are also inevitable when you don't have unlimited resources to fund or spend time with professional trainers to keep growing your skillset. Stepping into IDPA has helped me raise the bar in a big way- if I can train to a level that makes me competitive in that arena it is probably enough– at least it seems like it not having accomplished that level of skill yet. My initial foray into IDPA courses of fire (CoF) helped me identify some improvement areas:

  • more work on targets at the 12-15yd distance
  • work on transition between close and far targets (instinctive shots vs. sight picture and fire as I work threat progressions)
  • grip-sight picture-trigger progression – I had a couple sloppy targets that made me wonder how the sight picture went wonky

How to practice target transitions from near to far distances?

Restricted to public indoor ranges at the moment I have to simulate target transitions since folks don't appreciate range cowboys shooting across multiple lanes. I'm trying to smoothly transition between small targets and large ones to simulate differing ranges. I also am using a 4″ A-Zone around small targets to focus on better accuracy.

Another approach is to work more targets at 10+yards to get better at longer shots to make transitions more natural.

How to practice shooting from cover?

That's a really important skill if you want to keep your body intact in a gunfight (think active shooter situations or roving mobs of thugs). It's also a dangerous thing to practice in an indoor range since you end up pretty far behind the firing line if you try to use a shooting booth partition for cover. I am working on a solution for this and will share my results soon.

Different targets on different days:

I spend a lot of time shooting silhouettes since that's what bad guys look like in IDPA, USPSA, etc. In real life they normally look a little scarier but the shape must be helpful- otherwise LE wouldn't train using them. One potential enhancement to the “3” string of my silhouette drills is to make these shots a Failure Drill (aka The Mozambique for you history buffs) – i.e. double tap high center mass and one head shot:

Now I have added a large stripe with 2″ circles underneath are great for precision/speed training and I hope this will help with the longer shots:

My theory is that a conscious effort is required to aim and hit a small target. Disregarding conditions like wind, cover, etc. it shouldn't matter if the target is small because its close and small or if it is small because it is farther away. If is works longer shots should become easier because the an A-Zone size target will be more forgiving, it's putting the gun on target and properly executing the shot that makes the difference when the chips are down.


Get off the X! I still think this is a critical component of self-defense training since it doesn't make sense to stand still – creating more distance between you and the threats makes lots of sense. A reasonable and safe approach I have started is to begin right up on the firing line and to practice a few steps backwards during a string of fire. You MUST be careful and aware of your surroundings– if you see the person in the booth next to you STOP because you're too far back. I'm surprised at how much my hits vary with just a couple steps backwards.

How to keep focused on fundamentals like grip, draw, sight picture?

This all sounds good- considering the above changes what fundamentals am I practicing now? I have not abandoned the 1-1-R-3 approach (like this but 1-1 instead of 1-2) although some modifications are noted above. It's good for mechanics (grip, draw, sight, reload) and is pretty efficient with ammo.

  • Draw, front sight, fire
  • Combat (Slide-lock)reloads: focus on executing reload in the workspace and keeping eyes down range
  • Rapid fire (double tap/triple tap)
  • Target transition from precision to speed
  • Travel (focus on backing away)
  • Reholster after post-fire threat assessment
  • Randomize distances- more reps on 10-15 yard targets

Looks good on paper– my next competitive outing will reveal how much value has been ascertained…stay tuned & stay frosty.


1 thought on “Applying Lessons Learned to Training Drills

  1. Pingback: Defensive Training Tip: practice mag dumps | kR-15: info and resources for firearms enthusiasts

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