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Aiming Is Highly Overrated

Aiming Is Highly Overrated

The more I teach self defense shooting the more I hone what is most important to learn about it so students can learn those things first. Face it, you will probably never spend much time at the range or practicing. Right? You’ll take the class, get all fired up, pack away your gun and maybe once in a blue moon venture out to the range and shoot again. Sounds pretty negative but I’m reporting exactly what I’ve seen after my years of teaching handgun.

One of those “important” things is learning to shoot without aiming. It may sound odd to those who haven’t been to class and spend all their time at the range trying to get that bull’s eye full of holes. If target practice is your goal then just skip reading any further. If self defense is your goal, target practice has very limited value. Heck, that might be a relief to all the poor shooters out there. Whahoo!

If you are ever in a real life gun fight odds are it will be at “bad breath distance” and not at 20 yards. If so, wouldn’t it be wise to spend most of your time practicing for something with the highest odds of happening? This means 10 yards or less and most within 5 yards. That’s not far.

Dave Spaulding Target
Click on target for a PDF download for printing. Courtesy of Dave Spaulding at Handgun Combatives.

At 3-10 yards you should be able to effectively put 5 rounds on a target within 3 seconds from your holster concealed. That’s all within a 11″x6″ target area center chest. Now how much time will you have to align your sights going that fast? None. You are looking at your target and super imposing your gun over it and pulling the trigger as fast as you can. Now you can turn your attention to any other attackers because that effectively puts the first one out of commission, more than likely anyway unless wearing armor. Even is he is, you’ve given him something to think about.

No, this isn’t target shooting. If your goal is self defense, why are your spending so much time aiming for bullseyes? Yes, aiming and shooting is a skill that you should learn and I do teach that because your incident might be at 20 or 25 yards and taking a couple of ticks longer to align your sights and control that trigger will come in real handy. At 25 yards you still should be able to put in body shots from draw in 5 seconds. Those type of self defense situations are an outlier. It may be yours, so devote some time to it but most of your training should be up close and fast.

A good drill for this is to start at 3 yards, go for your gun and place 5 rounds at your life size target hitting all within the 11×6 area. Make 3 seconds your goal, 5 seconds at slowmo. Start slowly and smoothly at first and then speed it up as smooth is fast. Then step back to 5 yards, same thing. If you are not gripping the gun properly your recoil management will cause the following shots to be off target. Tighten your proper grip. If your first shot is on, your 2-5 should be peppered right around it. Good? Step back to 7 and 10 yards and repeat. Beyond 10 yards you may find you have to take an extra tick to actually align your sights, still your follow up shots should be on. It’s a good test again on your grip if they aren’t. Holes won’t lie.

Once you’ve worked on this make it a point to practice this cold next time you are at the range. Cold means no warm up shots. If in a fight most criminals don’t allow you to do warm up shots. They’re normally funny that way. Make your first drill at 5 yards and nail it. That’s your cold start drill to check yourself.

If you have to go to a range with a line up of people that doesn’t allow drawing from a holster then improvise. Start from your chest or ready position and do it adding 1 second to your time to account for the draw you can’t do.

This is practical self defense shooting. It’s the type of practice that will help you in the unlikely event that puts your life at risk.

Hope to see you at the range. See it in action below:

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