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Maximize Your Training by Getting Some Distance!

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Often, we shoot on our own without outside input or supervision. How can we maximize our training time and expenses by dialing ourselves in? Distance. Not only is distance our friend in a gun-fight but it can be our friend in training time.

Since becoming a pistol and rifle instructor, I find myself not having the opportunity on a frequent basis to have outside input for diagnosing my own shooting errors. We all have found, with any time on the range, that our little mistakes become exaggerated with distance. This “problem” can also be our friend when it comes to figuring out what little errors we are making that are contributing to our errant rounds.

When addressing our own marksmanship, it’s much easier to figure things out when we can “feel” the error as it happens. When we isolate those errors, it most likely comes down to one of two (or sometimes both) errors; trigger manipulation and sight alignment.

Keep Pressing

Trigger manipulation or trigger control, is the root of the problem for many shooters as they anticipate the noise and recoil of the firearm. Sight alignment and sight picture, once understood, tends to be an automatic process that you continually apply throughout the shot. Controlling your trigger manipulation, by continuously pressing straight and to the rear, without anticipating the point of ignition is what usually messes us up.

Use a Dummy

By combining ¾ dummy rounds to ¼ live ammunition and shooting at a challenging distance (50 + yards with pistol), you’ll feel your error on the dummy round! I find it most beneficial to do this distance work on steel targets such as the static steel targets from Action Target.

After doing some work at distance, I work on speed with balanced accuracy at closer distances using targets such as the DOT Torture Target with a timer to challenge myself.

Remember that distance can be your friend when shooting, both for practice and in a gunfight.  If you’d like more personalized training and you’re in the SW Washington area, come see us over at Willapa Firearms Training.


About the Author /

Heath has been a law enforcement officer in the Great Pacific Northwest since 1993 and trains as a pistol and rifle instructor for both law enforcement and civilians. He also serves as an advanced armorer on pistols and rifles. If you're looking for training or would like to contact him, he can be reached at

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