Self-Defense Pistol 101

The “keep it simple, stupid,” or KISS, principle applies to most things in life. Training with a defensive handgun is no different. To employ a handgun effectively in a defensive situation, you must be able to get it into play smoothly and deliver accurate hits before the attacker injures or kills you.

And the only realistic way to accomplish that is to practice the skills you could reasonably be expected to use in a life-or-death situation before it occurs. They include drawing the handgun, hitting the target, moving, using cover, reloading and clearing a malfunction. The following is a 100-round training regimen, consisting of five drills, that takes all these skills into account. Become proficient with them now, and you will be better-prepared for the dark day when trouble comes to call.

The Dot Drill (24 shots)
I strongly believe that most defensive handgun practice should start with the gun holstered. This lets you practice your draw stroke or handgun presentation more frequently. When practicing basic skills most shooters draw the handgun only once and burn through an entire magazine before they holster again, if at all, which wastes precious opportunities to practice handgun presentation.

Position a target with six 2-inch circles at between 5 and 7 yards. Shoot one shot at each circle, drawing the handgun from the holster before each shot. The goal is to fire one shot at each circle and hit each target once. This is not a speed drill, but rather it’s an accuracy and gun-handling drill to help you establish a foundation for gun presentation, sight alignment and trigger control. Conduct this drill four times at the beginning of every trip to the range.

The Failure Drill (24 shots)
Il Ling New, an instructor at Gunsite, is one of the best firearm instructors I know. She believes practicing head shots at between 5 and 7 yards is a great way to stay sharp. Why? According to New, “The idea is to become absolutely confident in making that shot, at least at that distance, every time, under all conditions and on demand. If I can do that, I am well-equipped to deal with bad things that may happen to me. Vital zone shots at 15 yards should be easy if one can do head shots at seven yards.”

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I agree, but to maximize training opportunities I like to incorporate head shots with torso shots in what’s called a failure drill. The failure drill presents…



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