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by Kim Foster

As some of you may know, I'm a fairly serious student defensive training. One of the biggest problems I see with most people's training regimen is they fall into a routine of practicing the same few skills during every training session. Training time is limited for most of us, so we need to make the most out of it. To do that, make a list of all the skills and techniques you feel would be applicable to your situation. Prioritize them in order of importance. For instance, we know that most confrontations occur at seven yards or less (often at spitting distance) so preforming a rapid draw stroke and making consistent thoracic cavity hits would take priority over twenty-five yard head shots. So we might spend thirty minutes shooting at seven or less and only five minutes shooting at twenty-five yards. 

You probably won't have time to run through your entire skills list at each training session, so I recommend dividing it into two sections. One section (A list, below) contains the most basic and often used skills like presenting the weapon from the holster and engaging at close range. The other section (B list) covers less-used skills like weak hand shooting and one-handed manipulation (reloading and malfunction clearance).  Depending on how much training time you can squeeze into a session, I recommend you run through your "A" list at every session and then finish up with some things from your "B" list. After you have trained enough to complete your "B" list, start over. Identify things you are having problems with and spend more time on them.

NOTE: Beginner basics like Safety, Muzzle discipline, Trigger control, Sight picture, etc. are not listed because you should be conscious of and practicing them every time you handle a firearm.

COMBINING SPEED AND ACCURACY: For most drills, acceptable accuracy is consistent hits in the upper chest, thoracic cavity area. If you are shooting three inch groups at seven yards, you aren't shooting fast enough.

The A list.   (In no particular order)
Draw stroke. (If you carry concealed, practice concealed)
Point shooting. (If you use it)
Firing multiple shot strings. (Double taps and non-standard responses)
Malfunction clearance.
Multiple target engagement.
Moving off the line of attack.
Shooting from cover.
Shooting while moving.
Magazine changes. (Tactical and Slide lock)
Shooting from retention.
Shooting positions. (Kneeling, prone, etc)

The B list.    (In no particular order)
Negotiating corners and door ways. (This, and low light techniques, are the back bone of house clearing. You don't need a shoot house. Use barricades or any object to simulate a wall and practice clearing corners and entering the fatal funnel)
Post shooting assessment (360 scan)
Shooting at moving targets
Low light shooting
Reloading or malfunction clearing with a flashlight
Failure to stop drills
Weapon retention
Shooting from the ground
Weak hand shooting
One handed manipulation (reloading & malfunction clearance).

The above lists are not all inclusive. I welcome anyone's input on additional skills.

It is often possible to practice multiple skills at once. Set up two targets, draw, fire two rounds at each target, perform a post shooting assessment. You just practiced four skills with one exercise.  {Draw stroke; Multiple target engagement; Multiple shot strings and Post shooting assessment.} Now, repeat the drill but add a dummy round to simulate a malfunction. Repeat the basic drill again, move to cover as you engage the threats and continue to fire from cover, both standing and kneeling. When you think about it, you'll realize you have probably already been doing this to some extent, already.
Yes, the method I have described is quite a bit more regimented and structured than most people are used to. Keep in mind, you get out of something what you put into it. If you are serious about defensive training and you wish to improve your skills and provide yourself with a well rounded education in defensive use of a firearm, give it a try.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the skills mentioned above are advanced techniques and should not be attempted anyone that has not had proper training. A responsible shooter should seek competent instruction and fully understand the safety issues before attempting the technique with live ammo.

The author has spent a combined total of twenty-three years in the military and federal law enforcement. He has served as a Sniper and Entry Team member on a US Air Force Emergency Services Team. He has been employed by the private security firm Vance International where he was member of the security and transport detail at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington DC. He is currently employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons where he holds positions as Firearms Instructor and Disturbance Control Team member.  Kim has taken classes from several schools including H&K and has a master class rating from the Chapman Academy and is a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors. 


Uploaded: 12/5/2006