Watch this KR Training video and follow this link to find the course of fire Karl and John Daub are shooting in the video. This course of fire provides a minimum standard that all handgun carriers should be able to meet. Can you?
Follow our Google calendar and join our Facebook group to keep up-to-date on local women’s shooting events.
The Temple Chapter of A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League has Girls’ Night Out on the 1st Tuesday of the month at Temple Gun Club in Temple, TX, at 6 p.m.. We also host a members-only 3rd Saturday event. We develop weekend events and special training sessions that are members-only events.
You do not have to be a member of AG&AG to participate in our GNO event, but we highly encourage signing up. You get great discounts with local firearms trainers, on AGAG events and merchandise, and with more than 100 national-level vendors. A Girl and A Gun members are invited to attend a yearly Training Conference and other members-only events and training opportunities at local, regional, and national levels.
Follow our Google Calendar and join our Facebook chapter page to see what we’re all about, and join our chapter to have access to weekly training e-mails, the exclusive Shooting Journal, and monthly training challenges led by Becky Dolgener, facilitator and instructor with Texas Personal Defense Training.
Good firearms instructors aren’t all that hard to find if you know how to spot a good one.
Taking on the role of firearms student might be intimidating, but rest assured: it’s intimidating no matter what your level. That’s why it’s so important that Every. Single. Instructor. Continue to be a student on another instructor’s firing line. Here’s how you spot an instructor you want to train with.
Good instructors never stop training
Kathy Jackson of The Cornered Cat knows a thing or two about mindset. While investigating the perspective of a firearms student, she reveals that people often don’t know what they don’t know until they push themselves to learn more. And, there’s always more to learn. Sometimes, students become more advanced learners or even instructors and, at some point, they decide there is no more they can be taught. Those people are dangerous.
Shooting skills are corruptible and perishable. A slight wobble in a solid grip could, with enough “practice,” morph into a really ineffectual grip without a skilled eye applying his or her own best practices to correct it. An instructor’s sloppy re-holster when demonstrating on the line sends the wrong message to his students about re-holstering safely. Every instructor needs to continue to be a student under a variety of good teachers. Anyone who says otherwise has just decided to stop learning and growing as a shooter.
Good instructors understand that practice only reinforces training
Last weekend, I was a student in Karl Rehn’s “Beyond the Basics” class at KR Training. I am always humbled by the opportunity to learn from truly skilled instructors, and to gain a new perspective on training and new techniques that will benefit my students. This class provided ample opportunity for both (as well as helping me figure out that I had developed a bad grip habit that could have really derailed me if Karl hadn’t pointed it out). Karl compares skill development to digging a “hole” in the brain, a sort of a well where you put all the training and practice. These are the skills you’ll revert to when under stress, such as in a defensive situation. The more you practice, the deeper the hole becomes and the more ingrained your shooting skills. For better or worse, when you practice, you’re reinforcing whatever habits you already have. That doesn’t mean you’re improving as a shooter, and it’s disingenuous for an instructor to tell you to practice without telling you what to practice.
Hundreds of round downrange, plus range fees, can get pretty expensive. Spending that money on a couple of hours with a good instructor, however, can help you pinpoint exactly what you need to work on and how to practice most effectively. Sometimes, the exact right practice to reinforce good habits and skills doesn’t even involve range time.
Good instructors are safe instructors
If you don’t have the Four Rules of Gun Safety memorized, post them somewhere in your home so you see them enough that you do. But, that’s not enough. A good instructor spends a good deal of time ensuring that everyone follows the rules, all the time, and then they do the same ad nauseum. If you see an instructor not practicing really annoyingly exaggerated safety habits (H/T April Strong of Holding Strong in Cheyenne, WY), it’s time to find a different instructor. If the teacher doesn’t show respect for the deadly weapons in his or her charge, that’s a failure on the most basic level and points to an overall lack of respect for firearms.
If you’re ever uncomfortable or feel unsafe in a firearms class or on a firing line, don’t be afraid to address it right away, or just leave the area. Your safety trumps any social constraints about rudeness. Be sure you let the instructor or safety officer know why you left or what made you feel unsafe; it’s the only way they’ll have a chance to improve their safety practices for later classes. A good instructor will thank you for bringing it to their attention.
What’s your reason for training with firearms?
Here’s how you can apply SMART goal-setting to your pistol training and actually become a better shooter.
What’s your reason for training with firearms?
Maybe you’re a target shooter who wants to improve accuracy or speed. Maybe you’re a competitor looking win competitions. Maybe you’re someone who carries a gun for self-defense, and you’ve realized that hefty responsibility requires training. Maybe you’re an instructor who realizes that training is never finished, and you actively seek to learn more in all disciplines.
Whatever your reason for wanting to improve as a shooter, you had better have one. Not many successful people have gotten there by accident; successful people have a plan of action, and they work to make it happen. Stop waiting for your skills to magically materialize, and instead do the work to improve. Here’s how you can apply SMART goal-setting to your pistol training and actually become a better shooter.
“Become a better shot” is not a specific training goal. Let’s say you’ve decided that you’re focused on pistol shooting for self-defense purposes. Your goal might be, “shoot 90 percent or better on the Texas LTC qualification test.” Once you’ve determined what your focus is, and you know what it takes to get there, you can more easily set specific, step-wise goals.
Obviously, calculating a percentage of your total rounds which hit their mark is a measurable goal. But, what if you “just want to get faster” at drawing from concealment and accurately hitting your mark? That requires a shot timer, and it wouldn’t hurt to take video so you can critique technique and make sure you’re not sacrificing technique and safety as you work to increase speed.
It’s unlikely that a new shooter will qualify for an Olympic rifle team in their first year, but placing in the top 20 in a local Steel Challenge match might be realistic with adequate training and practice. For the defense-minded, if you’ve already earned your LTC (License to Carry) in Texas, you should have been required to shoot with 70 percent accuracy in the qualification portion of the class. Improving that score to 90 percent could be realistic with a specific plan of action.
Set a goal that’s important to you. Why is improving a qualification score by 20 percent important? Why do you want to increase your target presentation speed from concealment? Both speed and accuracy will benefit anyone interested in carrying a firearm for self-defense. You may (hopefully) never have to employ those skills in real life, but you’ll be more confident and better trained having developed them.
“Someday” isn’t on any calendar I’ve ever seen. Give yourself a hard deadline for meeting your training goals, and stick with it. Write it on the calendar, and then figure out what halfway to your goal looks like. Write that on the calendar halfway to your deadline. We know through research that practicing skills the right way more frequently works better than infrequent marathon practice sessions, so schedule daily or three-times-weekly practice sessions once you’ve trained and learned those skills.
Set a goal today, and if you need training, set it up now. There are ample opportunities to train with firearms in Central Texas, and we’re working every day to bring you more. Whatever your goal, train SMART, and train for real life.
Use your smartphone to help you improve shooting fundamentals and spot problems before they become bad habits, and you’ll never be without a training partner on the range.
Success in shooting isn’t measured by how many rounds you put downrange. It is measured by accuracy and, in the case of competitive and defensive shooting skills, by the speed at which you do it. If your practice isn’t perfect, though, all you’re doing is reinforcing bad habits that you’ll have to overcome through training—and even more rounds downrange. Use your smartphone to help you improve shooting fundamentals and spot problems before they become bad habits, and you’ll never be without a training partner on the range.
Once you know what proper stance and grip feel like, and what a smooth trigger press feels like, you can generally call your shots when you flinch or slap the trigger. But, what if there’s something else going on with your grip that you simply aren’t noticing? What if you’re sweeping the muzzle with your weak hand, or sweeping your own body when you re-holster? Set up your smartphone to take video while you’re shooting drills; it takes seconds to review the videos and perfect your form and safety for the next range (or dry-fire) practice session.
Time Your Shots
Shot timers are gadgets that sound a super-annoying “beep” signaling that it’s time to start your drill (or stage, for competitive shooters). They usually cost over $100, but your smartphone is a great stand-in with the right app. Surefire and Taurus both make iPhone shot timer apps that even show you how long you take between shots (splits), and can store several practice sessions in your phone memory for comparison. There look to be quite a few more free shot timer options for Android phones, but keep in mind that apps aren’t competition-level timers. You could even pay for timer apps with a range officer telling you to “Make Ready” before the buzzer, but you won’t get the most accurate shot timer of all time in a free (or even $10) smartphone app. We think having the app is better than no shot timer at all.
Next time you go to the range, set up your phone to be just the training aid you need to give you unbiased feedback on how you’re training. Use a journal to record what your app and video tell you, and then find out more about tuning up your gunhandling so you’ll continue to see improvement in both accuracy and speed.
Formal pistol training can get expensive, but here are three ways to improve your shooting that won’t require a second mortgage.
Formal pistol training can get expensive, but a few well-chosen classes and a dedication to both live-fire and dry-fire practice can help shooters at every level improve skills without a huge expense. Here are three ways to improve your shooting that won’t require a second mortgage.
Get Free Training Advice
The mark of a true professional is willingness to share their methodology. But, before you start trolling YouTube and watching lots of derps do it wrong, start reading. Many of the world’s top instructors and champion shooters are also published authors, but buying all those books could get pricey. This is where it pays to find books at your local library. You will find certain reference books you’ll want to purchase for your own library, but reading them first for free will help you figure out which books best suit your goals. Also, some of the best educational material—especially on mindset and gear—is out there for free in blog form. Just make sure you find the best shooting blogs from reputable sources, like the ones we feature in our blogroll.
Print Your Own Targets
A simple “pistol training drills” search online turns up more printable targets than you’ll ever need. Most are free to download and print, so your only expense is printer ink. If you can’t find exactly the target you need for a specific drill, there’s no law that says you can’t make up your own. Use a large piece of cardboard with a small square of masking tape (aim small, miss small). What’s important is to remember that those splatter targets and self-healing spinners might be fun, but they really aren’t necessary for building skills. Set a goal for your target (all hits on a 1-inch square) and then increase distance to increase difficulty.
Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Shooters
You’ve probably heard by now that in five years, you’ll be most like the people you surround yourself with today. Develop friendships with shooters who are more advanced than you are and who are willing to share some pointers. If you’re wanting to participate in a specific sport, join social media groups dedicated to those sports and start asking questions. Find nearby matches and go watch, but don’t stop there; competitive shooters are like missionaries for their sports. Tell them you’re interested in learning more, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’re welcomed into the fold. Plus, it’s always more fun to go shooting with a group of friends than to go it alone.
Learning a new skill on a budget requires some resourcefulness, but it can be done. Maximize your return on investment by starting with some professional training. Remember: if your range time is reinforcing bad habits, all that ammo is going to waste. Make every round count, and train first for more effective practice later.
Holding your arms out in front of you while shooting a pistol requires lots of muscles working in synchronization, and you need a basic level of fitness to prevent fatigue and injury. We’ve built a workout for that.
Holding your arm out in front of you requires lots of muscles working in synchronization. Add the weight of a pistol and try to hold it steady while you shoot and fight recoil, and you need a basic level of fitness to prevent fatigue and injury. Check out the video below from Destinee of Guns Gear & Fitness to learn more about all the muscles that have to work together when you shoot a pistol. I’ll wait right here.
Shooting strong-hand-only puts particular strain on the muscles of your strong arm, but do an experiment next time you dry-fire or go to the range: get into a good, two-handed shooting stance and take note of what doesn’t feel comfortable. Your weak-hand wrist should be locked out–does that give you a forearm twinge if you hold it for more than a couple of magazines? If you shoot a revolver, there’s actually a thing called “revolver finger,” and even the pros get it. At some point in your shooting, those tiny muscles in your trigger finger that are expected to do all the hard work just…quit…working. Annnd, you’re done shooting for the day.
Start by selecting the firearms that fit your hand, your hand strength and your upper-body strength. Gradually strengthen your body to prevent concussive and repetitive-motion injuries using some basic moves that focus on the muscles you use while shooting. Adjust it to your own needs and fitness level by adding or subtracting reps and weight, and be mindful of existing injuries or limitations. Add cardio, core, and lower body work for a complete fitness regimen. Get help from a certified trainer if you’re unsure how to proceed, and always consult with your doctor before you start a new workout routine. That’s especially important if you’re nursing an injury.
Warm-Up: 25 Arm Circles, 25 Arm Crosses, 25 Wrist Circles (Repeat 2X) Dynamic stretching is the way to warm up cold muscles without risking injury. Make big movements that involve your chest, back, and core, feet directly under your hips. Complete arm circles to warm up the shoulders, then swing the arms wide and “give yourself a hug” to complete arm crosses. Wrist circles warm the forearms and get them ready to work. Speed up the movements as you get warmer, and you’ll get a little cardio warm-up, as well. Do this every time you’re going out to shoot.
Chest, Back: (with dumbbells or canned goods) 25 Chest Flys (on the floor, elbows slightly bent, straight arms going up and back down), 25 Bent-Over Upright Rows. Repeat two times or until your muscles won’t work anymore and are shaky; that’s called muscle failure, and it means you’re pushing your limits and getting stronger.
Stretch It Out: (Goal is to ultimately hold each stretch—no bouncing—for 30 seconds) Extend arms straight back, thumbs up to stretch the pectoral muscles; bend at the waist and round the back to stretch back muscles, slowly rolling up one vertebrae at a time until standing. Roll the shoulders back to complete the stretch, and don’t forget deep breaths to oxygenate and help stretch the back and chest.
Shoulders, Biceps: (with dumbbells, arms as straight as possible) 15 Front Raises, 15 Side Raises, 15 Overhead Presses. Repeat two times or until failure.
Stretch It Out: Put one arm straight out in front of you, then grab it with your other hand above the elbow. Pull it across your chest and hold the stretch. Repeat on the other side. Turn your head to look over each shoulder to increase the stretch.
Forearms: (with dumbbells) Seated, place your forearms on top of your thighs with weights in-hand. Bend your wrists only as you roll the weights up and down for one movement. For greater grip strength, relax your fingers slowly and allow the dumbbell to roll just to the fingertips, keeping them curled to keep from dropping it. Bring the weight back up into your palm by curling your fingers, then lifting your hands to work the wrists and forearms. Complete 10 reps, then stretch by pushing each hand as far back as possible toward the elbow and as far down as possible, without pain. This exercise will help prevent repetitive-motion injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Repeat two times, and increase reps as it gets easier.
Triceps: (with dumbbells) 15 triceps kickbacks (one or both arms), 15 overhead triceps extensions. Repeat two times.
Stretch It Out: Bend each arm at the elbow and try to touch your upper back while keeping gentle traction on your triceps with the opposite hand. Stretch both arms.
Kick It Up a Notch: Complete this workout, adding weight and reps as you get stronger, every other day. Keep your core engaged and tight. On off days, gentle cardio such as walking is your best bet for improving endurance.
Alternative: Walk while carrying weights, pumping arms the whole time.
Always: Drink an ounce of water each day, per pound of body weight.
Source: Beth Moses, personal trainer.