Author Topic: Suggestions for Training Exercises  (Read 274 times)

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Online anonymouscuban

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Suggestions for Training Exercises
« on: June 10, 2018, 11:14:12 PM »
I've been shooting for close to 2 years now. In that time, I've become pretty proficient at hitting paper targets. I can get nice groupings out at 20 yards. Thing is, I'm getting kind of bored with it. It starting to seem monotonous to me. Like I'm just sending rounds down the lane for the sake of doing so.

Eventually I want to get into some competitive shooting. Probably in the fall when it cools a bit here I California I would like to try my hand at some steel match or maybe even USPSA.

With that in my, can you guys suggest some training exercises that will add a bit of a challenge and fun to my weekly visit to the range? Something that will prepare me for my goal to compete?

Some limitations to keep in mind...

Although I do have access to outdoor ranges with longer target spans, I have a membership to an indoor range. It's just down the street from me so very convenient. Making it out to other ranges just won't happen all that often. As such, Im limited to 20 yards distance.

Also, because this is California, none of my local ranges allow me to draw from a holster so I've only been able to practice that in dry fire and a couple of times I've been out to shoot on BLM land.

Lastly, rapid fire is also frowned upon. I can get away with it some when there are no other patrons at the range or just a few regulars but I've been asked not to when there are "renters" shooting.

Really appreciate any help you guys can give me. Ready to step my game up a bit.

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Offline 1SOW

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 01:04:50 AM »
These are best done using a shot timer,  but still can be useful without one.
Can you run two or even more of the range targets down range 8 to 15 yards?
If you take tape and some 8" ROUND thin white cardboard cut-outs and tape one or two to each available target,  you can do some steel plate practice. 

If you can get 4 steel plates set up at two different distances you can make a mini "stage".  First shoot closest to farthest starting from the left "plate".  Second string of fire is to shoot the farthest plate first from right to left.  Shoot at a speed "tempo"  so you can hit all the plates with no Misses.  Once your sure can hit them all , Up the tempo just a little and do it again.

Also you can mark one plate as your "START and STOP Plate".  You must hit the START plate first before you shoot the other plates and then the last shot MUST hit the STOP plate.
Can you start with the pistol laying on the rest in front of you?   On the start,  with the pistol laying flat on the rest, loaded with one in the chamber,  hands relaxed at your sides and muzzle pointed down range: Pick up the pistol and shoot your stage.  Another option is starting from the low-ready with the muzzle pointed down at a 45 degree angle.

Option 2:  Using 4 targets:  only load the mag with 3 rds.  Have another mag loaded and on your belt or laying on the rest.  You must make a mag change before the last shot.  WHERE to do it is up to you.


USPSA or IDPA carboard targets can be ordered as another possible target option used in competition.  These  two targets can be downloaded on line as "scaled targets" in smaller sizes.   They look the same as full size when set up at 10  yards or even closer.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 01:17:04 AM by 1SOW »

Offline Jigo23

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 01:09:16 AM »
I suppose since you live in CA, you can’t carry a handgun on your person?  So your primary use will eventually be just competition and home defense? 
If you carry, was gonna recommend definitely practicing live fire exercises drawing from holster, engaging at least one target (2-3 better) from varying distances (7yds, 12yds, 20yds, max 25yds), then safely reholstering. 
You don’t have to “rapid fire” as in see how fast you can dump a mag, but a simple timed drill with two to the chest and one to the head is a good drill to help you reacquire your front sight onto your target quicker and improve accuracy under simulated stressful conditions (the shot timer going off)

Have a buddy mix in some dummy rounds in your mags, so that you can simulate malfunctions and go through steps to clear them and re-engage target. That will also help simulate stressful conditions and help you speed up your clearing malfunctions process to get back in the fight quicker.

Practice shooting from non-standard positions...leaning around barricade (Left and Right) and over barricade, sitting, kneeling, laying on your belly/back/side
Practice shooting one-handed with your weak hand (simulates if you got wounded in your strong arm/hand) a lot harder to do accurately than one might think I you don’t practice.
Do some drills that require you to do mag changes (regular empty mag changes where you just drop empty mag to ground, and reload and “tactical reloads” where say you know or maybe aren’t sure if you’ve only got a couple rounds left but have multiple targets to engage. Behind cover you drop your mag but retain it cause it still has rounds left, but you go ahead and reload a full mag.
You could practice shooting on the move and moving from point of cover to point of cover.
Almost all public indoor ranges are going to be a lot stricter on doing these kinds of drills, even many outdoor ranges are unless they have a designated “tac bay” but maybe if you go early before it gets busy or late, and talk to them about some drills you’d like to do, they just might let you. I have a couple that are that way but just cause they’ve gotten to know me and know my background in the military and know I shoot IDPA matches regularly, but the big thing is they watched me at first so knew I could do these things safely and proficiently.  If IDPA is in CA, highly suggest you join them for a match. It’s a helluva lotta fun, and you are able to practice lots of different and more realistic shooting scenarios. Even ranges that don’t normally allow drawing from holster, waive that when IDPA matches are happening. It’s not just ALL about competition either, there are shooters at all skill levels, many who would be like you and just want to hone their skills in a realistic training environment.
If all else fails and you can only stand at a lane on the range, use smaller targets to shoot at...like those small 6” targets or even 3x5 index cards (aim small/miss small) to challenge yourself. You can still incorporate some aspects of the above drills but without getting kicked off the range.
Can think of lots of other things we’ve done in the military but the things I mentioned are a good start.
Good luck man!  I commend you on recognizing the need to up your game and striving to become a better shooter. Too many are satisfied just standing in place and punching holes in paper and done. That’s fine and can be fun too, but if you plan on using your guns as defensive weapons you really gotta do more if you are really serious about being successful at it if god-forbid you had to do it for real.

Offline Jigo23

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 01:14:10 AM »
These are best done using a shot timer,  but still can be useful without one.
Can you run two or even more of the range targets down range 8 to 15 yards?
If you take tape and some 8" thin white cardboard cut-outs and tape one or two to each available target,  you can do some steel plate practice. 

If you can get 4 steel plates set up at two different distances you can make a mini "stage".  First shoot closest to farthest starting from the left "plate".  Second string of fire is to shoot the farthest plate first from right to left.  Shoot at a speed "tempo"  so you can hit all the plates with no Misses.  Once your sure can hit them all , Up the tempo just a little and do it again.

Also you can mark one plate as your "START and STOP Plate".  You must hit the START plate first before you shoot the other plates and then the last shot MUST hit the STOP plate.
Can you start with the pistol laying on the rest in front of you?   On the start,  with the pistol laying flat on the rest, loaded with one in the chamber and hands relaxed at your sides then Pick up the pistol and shoot your stage.  Another option is starting from the low-ready with the muzzle pointed down at a 45 degree angle.

Option 2:  Using 4 targets:  only load the mag with 3 rds.  Have another mag loaded and on your belt or laying on the rest.  You must make a mag change before the last shot.  WHERE to do it is up to you.


USPSA or IDPA carboard targets can be ordered as another possible target option used in competition.
Me thinks 1SOW and I have been assigned to some of the same stomping grounds...Hurbie maybe 1SOW? Just a wild guess from your name :)
He made some excellent suggestions too!

Offline 1SOW

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2018, 01:20:52 AM »
Oooraaah.  Almost 3 years there. Retired in '92 after 26 years..
PM me.

Offline Earl Keese

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2018, 09:08:48 AM »
I would suggest just going and shooting a match. You will be welcomed by a very understanding group of people who want you to join in and have fun. The best way to find out what training you need is to shoot a match. I was given this advice by several people and didn't listen but should have.

Offline IronicTwitch

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 09:31:35 AM »
Agreed, don't wait to shoot a match - Steel Challenge or USPSA - the sooner you are able to do it in person the better you'll understand what things you need/want to practice at your home range or in dry fire. 

Shot calling is the key, and it sounds like you've got those fundamentals down.  Faster strings of fire will work your support hand grip (aka "grip it and rip it!"). 

2-3 targets on the indoor range would work, varying distances to understand the cadence for your shooting to acquire the front sight and get your hits.  Get good at unloaded table starts at the indoor range since no draws from holster are allowed.

Drawing from holster and reloads can be learned in dry fire.

Last piece of the puzzle for USPSA is movement. 

Dry fire for positional stuff - leaning around walls, under ports, awkward positions where your sights aren't parallel to the ground, partial targets, keep the gun up, keeping the muzzle downrange while you're moving right-left or front-back, reloading on the move, etc.

Live fire is needed to really understand your sights on entry/exits into target arrays.  This last part is an advanced skill, the good shooters find a lot of time saved in shooting while moving.

Online anonymouscuban

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2018, 12:35:17 PM »
Thanks for the tips guys. Try to address some of suggestions from each of you.

The range where I shoot weekly is the type that has the paper hanger on the wire in each lane. I can setup two smaller targets side by side but can't setup targets at varying distance. Now... my wife goes with me to the range each time and we get two lanes. We could setup a target in each, and then shoot across lanes. Our lanes are always side by side so this is completely doable. And I am unaware of any range rules that explicitly forbid this. We know the RO's very well so I doubt they would say anything. Gonna try this. Now just need to decide if I should ask for permission first or forgiveness later. ;-)

We do periodically drill miss fires. We take turns loading in snap caps into mags without the shooter knowing in what order they are in. I think we need to do more of this for reasons you guys point out. I do a lot of reload practice at home in dry fire. Reload speed but also do reloads on the move in the backyard. What I am going to introduce is reloads at the range. Maybe set up two mags with 5 rounds each. Shoot at multiple targets, 2 rounds a piece so I have to reload in between. Again, this is something I can do at the range.

Shooting on the move I've done only twice. A few friends of mine and I went up to BLM land here. We took some USPSA silhouette targets. Staged them up and spent a full day out there running drills. Some of the most fun I had in a long time. The friend who organized it is LAPD. He gave us some tips on shooting from concealment and also on the move. I was surprised how well I did. Seemed that I shot more consistently when my mind was occupied on other things than the gun going boom! I've put in a lot of time since then working on fundamentals so I'm looking forward to seeing how my improved skill translates to practical shooting.

As far as doing a match. I want to. I'm not delaying it to practice more or get better. I'm the type of person that learns by doing and I like to jump into new things feet first. I am competitive but it is mostly with myself. I don't shy from things because I know I will fail. That all said, it's really a matter of time and schedule. Most of these matches are quite a drive from where I live and there in places that are bleep HOT this time of year. I also have a few trips planned coming up that are on match dates that I've seen. I'm gonna try to get one in before long but I know by September, I will have the time do one. I want my wife to participate as well. Is why I'm leaning first to steel match. She can get her feet wet competing in steel match. And then see if I can get her to move to USPSA.

Again, thanks for all the help so far. Really appreciate it. And that reminds me of an observation both my wife and I have made. The firearm community is one of the most inclusive and friendly communities we have ever encountered. It's not unusually to see people from all walks of life, all colors, all shapes on any given day at the range. Everyone is always friendly and accommodating. How ironic that we are painted in almost a complete opposite light nowadays by the general public.

My wife and I are perfect examples. My parents are immigrants from Cuba. Hers are from the Philippines. We are both college graduates. We both have successful careers and make a very nice living. We do have conservative values but we are pretty middle of the road when it comes to social issues. Basically, we are very different than the "American Gun Owner".

Offline baldrage

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2018, 01:03:05 PM »
You are more than ready to try competition.  I've never been to a match where everyone did not bend over backwards to help out first-timers, so just go ahead and jump in!  Steel challenge, bowling pin shoot, USPSA, IDPA, whatever -- go give it a try!


Offline 1SOW

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2018, 05:06:02 PM »
What Baldridge said ^^^^^.
Shooters are highly populated by good people.  At your first match,  you'll meet people from all walks of life.  You and your wife will like the atmosphere and the people.  Let the match director know you're new to the sport.  There's usually a "New shooters briefing" that will thoroughly cover the required safety procedures.   You'll normally be paired with an RO that will guide you through the stages.
  Beware!  This is even more addictive than CZ firearms.

Offline 1SOW

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2018, 12:28:36 AM »

Offline IronicTwitch

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Re: Suggestions for Training Exercises
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2018, 09:27:54 AM »
https://www.benstoeger.com/livefire-drills/

I use the live fire drills on this page a lot too.