Keep Your Distance

| November 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

The longer I train, the more I realize the majority of gun owners go to a small, static shooting ranges and shoot at short, predictable distances. Students who have “owned guns for years” come to a basic hand gun class and think that shooting a popper target at 10 yards is far.

Increasingly I have been training to shoot my handgun at longer distances, currently up to about 70 yards. I’ve scored hits with a handgun at 100 yards — 70 isn’t a magic number, it just happens to be the rear of the berm we use for carbine classes.

Conversely, we’ve been shooting at shorter and shorter distances during carbine classes. Some drills start with targets as close as 5 yards, extending out to 70 yards.

distance

Targets at various distances in a carbine class

“What do you do if a target is closer?” QSI head firearms instructor Erik Pakieser asks during advanced carbine classes.

“Speed up.”

“What do you do if a target is farther away?”

“Slow down.”

Seems simple, but we often subconsciously (or even consciously) set rhythms for ourselves that we follow regardless of distance. For example, students shoot most of a carbine class at 40, 60, and 70 yards. When the shorter targets appear, their shooting speed is slower, as if the targets were still farther away.

This is something we have to train. It’s not enough to shoot at one or two distances. Additionally, I encourage you to shoot carbine distances with your handgun, and handgun distances with your carbine. For ballistics and retention purposes you should choose to use one tool over the other most of the time, but you never know what you’re going to face.

I first trained on AK pattern rifles. To this day I hear Gabe Suarez from Suarez International say, “the front sight hood of an AK is a poor man’s EOTech.” I learned to point shoot an AK at close distances in the same class I used its iron sights to hit targets farther away.

Thanks to that advice, professional instruction, and training, I am able to vary my shooting cadence, stance, etc based on circumstance and environment.

I’ll be writing about the importance of using different tools at different distances in the near future, but for now I’d like you to do something.

Count the number of paces from:

  • where you usually sit at work to major meeting rooms, social areas, hallway intersections, elevators, and stairs.
  • your favorite parking spot to the front door of the grocery store / big box stores you frequently visit
  • the front door of each store to the back of the store, taking the most used and direct route
  • your bedroom door to your front door, especially if there is a straight line of sight
  • where you typically sit in a movie theater to where people normally enter and exit
  • where you park your car at work to the front door
  • and other places you frequently visit (shopping mall, churches, public transit, etc)

These distances will vary. I recommend that you make a note of these distances, and tailor your fight-focused training to match these distances. Shooting at various ranges is just the first step, and hopefully putting real-world context around your training will be helpful.

Understanding the various distances in which you live and work, the rate of fire and time spent aiming at those distances, and the capabilities of your tools will all come together in another post.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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