Top 3 Defensive Handgun Drills

A gun is an absolute equalizer. We hear this often and the meaning is clear – a gun is the only thing that enables you to be evenly matched or stronger in a threat situation that would put you at a disadvantage otherwise. There’s a critical piece missing from this mantra we hear over and over. A gun is only an absolute equalizer in the hands of someone well trained in defensive handgun fundamentals. Anyone can pick up a gun in defense and have chance to defend themselves. Sometimes it works out but there’s always a chance it may not. Many people miss, freeze in fear or worse yet are out skilled and lose the gunfight. If faced with an armed threat, you have no way of knowing if that person is better trained, faster, or more accurate than your current skill level. Practicing defensive handgun drills and training is crucial. The first sentence should more accurately read, ‘A gun is an absolute equalizer in the hands of a well-trained shooter’.

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This doesn’t mean that you need to dedicate all your time and change your life to become the best gunfighter in the world. It requires taking time to comprehend defensive handgun training and practicing it. Defensive handgun is entirely different than competition or recreational shooting; it’s a different mindset. You’re not training for a title or just having a friendly competition. You’re obtaining skills necessary to save lives of the ones you love and your own if needed.

defensive handgun

There are many elements of defensive handgun training that should be incorporated into live and dry fire. In this article, I want to focus on accuracy. Shooting tight groups in structured static shooting is a great way to develop better accuracy. This, of course, comes after you’ve established good fundamentals in your grip, stance, sights and trigger press. In a threat situation, your shot groupings are guaranteed to at least double in size. If you’re shooting larger groupings at the range, doubled they may not even be able to save your life. The tighter groupings you’re able to continually master, the better your chances will be if ever in a threat situation that requires your firearm.

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I want to give you three of the best defensive handgun drills to start with. These are slow, static drills that once you become good at you can increase difficulty with more distance and faster follow up shots.

  1. Ragged Hole Drill:  This is one of the best accuracy drills we can do.  It’s a slow fire, on our own time drill that forces us to bring the fundamentals of marksmanship together. Shooters work from the 3-yard line.  Once you become good, you can begin to move back. From a low ready stance point in at a small dot or aiming point on your target.  With a slow and smooth press of the trigger, fire a shot into the target. Get your follow up sight picture and aim at the exact same place you were aiming to begin with.  Do not make any adjustments to compensate for the shot possibly not being exactly on the spot you were aiming for. There is no need for a “bullseye”, you’re just looking at a grouping for now.  Fire four more shots, slow and smooth, totaling five and then check your work.  If you had solid fundamentals (grip, stance, sights and trigger press) your shots should be very close together or even all touching. If the group is spread out, you may be jerking the trigger and then need to refocus on fundamentals.  Just take your time.  Once you can do five shots, try to add more!
  2. Figure 8 Drill: A huge challenge shooters face is the perception that the front sight is moving more than it is. We try to keep it still, but sometimes it looks to be moving all over the place.  The sight isn’t moving as much as we think, even with movement we can still get accurate shots.  To understand how much the gun is moving and still be accurate, we use the figure 8 drill. In this drill, point in at the target and take the slack out of the trigger as if you are getting ready to fire a shot. Intentionally move the gun in an elliptical or figure 8 pattern across the target in about a 4 to 6-inch area. Keep the target area in mind and as your pistol hits that point, finish your trigger press and fire. Keep the motion going and fire several other shots as well.  Once you are done, you will see your shots are actually close together – even with the gun moving. Now look at the sights as you point in without moving to see the difference.
  3. Trigger Reset Drill:  Trigger reset refers to the handgun trigger resetting to the point where the gun can fire again. It is important that we only let the trigger move forward until it resets instead of letting it go the entire length forward. Going the entire distance causes us to run the trigger much further than we need to and potentially affect our accuracy. There are many versions of this drill. For this one, point in on the target and fire a shot with a smooth trigger press. As the gun is cycling, allow the trigger to reset leaving your finger on the trigger just to the reset point at a low ready. Point in and repeat by firing a shot, relax to the reset and stay pointed in and fire a follow-up shot, then again relax to the reset and back to low ready. Repeat with next with two follow up shots. So, it’s one shot with reset, then two, then three and so on progressing with as many as you’d like. The goal is to practice letting your trigger reset after you fire a shot.  This creates good habits and will shorten your time between shots.

These structured, defensive handgun is just a fragment in learning the fundamentals of defensive handgun. Continual training in all aspects will enable you to handle your firearm with skill and confidence. The two major components of truly being confident in knowing your gun is indeed the absolute equalizer.

Karen Hunter, Contributor

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