Training Bite: How Far Away Should I Practice?

When we see people at a range practicing there is seldom consistency in the distance they are shooting. What we see more often than not, particularly at indoor ranges where targets are on a motorized cable, is people shooting at whatever distance that they can achieve tight shot groupings…5, 10, and 15 feet being the norm.

The question is, is that far enough? Will 15 feet (or less) adequately prepare us for a violent encounter? …..or are we staying in our comfort zone distance insuring an impressive target to show on facebook and to our friends?

When we look at violent encounter statistics we see an average distance of under 10 feet (more like 3 to 7). We also see an encounter only lasting 3 seconds. So is this what we need to practice for?

One thing a reliance on statistics does is leave us ignoring the spectrum of possibilities. If under 10 feet is an average, how many encounters happen further than that? And how many incidents were used to determine “average”? When Jack Wilson stopped the gunman at the West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas, he made a single shot at 45 feet, immediately stopping the shooter from killing anyone else. Do we need to be practicing at 45 feet? A typical law enforcement qualification will include a 45 foot line. Should we be practicing to be as effective as law enforcement?

In 1983 a time and motion study was done that resulted in the “Tueller Rule”. Basically the findings showed us that the average trained police officer could draw and fire his weapon in approximately 1.5 seconds. It also showed us that the average adult male could run 21 feet in 1.5 seconds. As a result, the 21 foot distance became a standard in training to this day. So should we be practicing at 21 feet?

The answer to how far we practice becomes a variable one based on our development as a shooter…and that doesnt mean the more experienced we are the further we shoot. What it means is we start by learning to shoot in a very static manner standing at a line, then once we have the act of shooting mastered, we move both closer and further, developing speed (within the confines of accuracy) up close, as well as calculated accuracy at distance, with added elements of moving and pressure.

Start with a standard…the training standard of 21 feet. Dont go closer to make your groups look tighter, work on your form to be successful at 21 feet. Save closer for speed development later. You will never find yourself in a position of taking slow aimed shots if you are close to your attacker. Once you get proficient at 21 feet its time to go both directions, as well as start training with movement and an elevated heart-rate. Move further out and work on accuracy. Distance in a confrontation can buy you the time for a calculated shot, so accuracy is the key for distance. When you get proficient at say 30 feet, go to 45… then 60, 75, etc. (If you dont have that distance where you practice, use smaller and smaller targets to simulate the distance). What you will notice is now your 21 foot distance will be considerably more accurate…and easy! Now with closer being easy, its time to focus on increasing your speed, and moving even closer, and shooting even faster….and with an elevated heartrate! Alternate between working your distance with calculated accuracy, and working close with increasing speed (and accuracy).

So the answer to how far you should practice is entirely dependent upon your level of development as a shooter. 21 feet to start learning, then extend your distance..and shorten it, developing your skills in both directions working on difference defensive scenarios. Be systematic, and get training as its difficult to do on your own.

Femme Fatale Arms & Training has a full progressive and systematic curriculum that can take you from being brand new to firearms to being able to effectively address any threat, at any realistic distance. From Basic Firearms Use and Safety through to our Protectice Tactics classes…we can get you where you need to be.

Femme Fatale ARMS & Training
 is a woman-owned business that provides education and support to an over victimized and underserved segment of our population.  We have programs to build confidence and skill without the intimidating aspects that tend to exist elsewhere in this industry. Our goal is customer satisfaction and loyalty.  We’d appreciate an opportunity to show you how we are different, yet still, help you to accomplish your education and safety goals.

Amyone can shoot a gun, we train you to defend yourself!

Femme Fatale Arms & Training is located at 160 Malabar Road, Palm Bay, Fl. We are open Mon-Wed 10 to 5, Thurs and Fri10 to 6, and Saturday 12 to 4




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