Practice with Purpose (with Colonel Smoothbore)
By angelamontana

As American citizens, we have a right to bear arms for legitimate purposes. One of the legitimate uses of arms is for self-defense. If we chose to use a firearm for defense, we also have a responsibility to be as proficient and safe as possible. Our guns must be stored properly, they must subject to inspection, cleaning and maintenance, and we must train regularly.

There are many ways to train that do not require live fire target practice. I’ll cover some of them in a couple of future columns, but this week I’m going to offer some basic personal defense drills that when practiced will improve your firearms handling and marksmanship.

While ammunition is now much more available and, in my recent experience, getting less expensive, a trip to the range still costs us all some of our hard-earned money. So when we travel to the range we should strive to get the most out of each shot we fire. Here’s a protocol for a 50 round practice session. While it is basically designed for a handgun, one can use this template for both a rifle (e.g. AR-15), or a repeater shotgun.

First, I suggest that you set up a target at about 7 yards. Ideally you will have some USPSA silhouette targets, but just about any target will work. I like to use 8 or 9 inch paper plates. You can buy a hundred for a couple of bucks. To start you drills, load 5 or 6 rounds in your gun and shoot a group. Take your time, work on trigger control, sight picture, and follow through. In time your groups should become smaller and eventually your marksmanship will improve to the point where the result of your shooting will be one ragged hole in your target.
Next, try the classic El Presidente drill. Setup three targets, three feet apart, and about 4 to 5 feet high. Your shooting station should be 10 yards from the targets. Stand with your back to the targets. On the start signal, turn and face the targets, draw you gun, and fire 2 shots at each target, reload, and fire another 2 shots at each target. If you have a shot timer, completing this drill under 10 seconds is a very good time, but accuracy is also very important. If you make the 10 second time frame but only have 3 or 4 total hits, you need to slow down and be more deliberate with your aim and trigger press.

Remember a slow hit is always better than 10 fast misses. I suggest that you perform this drill at least twice, it’s a lot of fun and great training. If you don’t have a shot timer, check the app store on you smart phone. You can find one that will be adequate for the time being.

Another drill I really like to do is somewhat like El Presidente. Use the same 3 target setup but this time stand 7 yards from the target. On the start signal, shoot 1 round at the first target, either the left or right one, then shoot 2 rounds at the second, and then 3 rounds at the third for a total of six shots. Reload and shoot another 3 rounds at the third target, then another 4 rounds at the second, and finally 5 rounds at the first. Depending on the capacity of your gun you most likely will have to reload at least once to finish the drill. When you finish the drill you will have fired 18 total shots, six on each of the 3 targets. Times will vary depending on what kind of gun you are using. A high capacity semi-auto pistol or rifle will require one reload and times will be quicker. A revolver, or shotgun will require more than one reload and your times will obviously increase. Work at it and you will see your times come down and the number of hits increase.

Finally, finish up with a new target (paper plate) and work on shooting another small ragged one-hole group. It’s a great way to finish a fun and productive range session. Believe me, if you practice with purpose, you will see almost immediate improvement in your shooting.
Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore