How often should I go to the shooting range? As often as you can, within reason.
As the adage goes, what you feed grows and what you starve dies. Shooting is a physical and mental skill and as such is perishable. If you don’t practice it, you’ll start losing that skill.
That is why soldiers in the infantry and elite units of police departments devote so much time to training.
You should go to the range as frequently as you can.
Why You Need Time At The Shooting Range
Time at the shooting range is what gets you to or keeps you at a state of competency with your carry gun. If you aren’t competent with it, if you can’t run the gun and put rounds where they need to go, you might not be able to use it when it really matters. This applies to civilian gun carriers as much as it applies to law enforcement or military personnel.
Most states require training prior to getting a concealed carry license. Some states even require a qualification, where you shoot for score and either pass or fail. You will usually have to re-qualify when you renew your permit. To do so, you’ll have to practice with your gun, which means you’ll have to go to the shooting range.
Decades of police and military training has demonstrated that the more training a person has and the more practice they put in, the greater their chances of surviving a life and death struggle and the greater their chances that they’ll be able to put bullets where they need to go.
No skill in life comes without practice. It doesn’t matter what it is. Whether in sports, in work, or in use of arms, competency does not happen without practice.
What You Should Practice At The Shooting Range
Pure target shooting is different than combat shooting. Combat shooting, also called practical shooting, not only demands accuracy and precision but also speed. Put simply, you need to place a shot accurately in as short a span of time as possible.
As the saying goes, speed is fine…but accuracy is final, if you’re given time to display it!
To gain competency for defending yourself, you need to train to develop both speed AND accuracy. For many shooters, this will mean having to start with consistent accuracy at combat distances and THEN developing speed.
Typical shooting distances for practical shooting are at 3, 5, 7 and 10 yards as starting points. Shooters who can put 10 rounds into a 5-inch bullseye at 10 yards have gained some proficiency; those who can do so in only a few seconds have attained good proficiency. If you can put all 10 rounds in that area from the holster in less than 6 seconds, you’re very good.
Start shooting slow and close. Once you can put 10 rounds in a bullseye from 3 yards, move out to 5, and then to 7 and then to 10. Once you’re doing that with ease, use a shot timer to see how long it takes you. Then try to beat that time.
Crawl, walk, run. It’s the same thing with developing your skills at the shooting range.
If you haven’t before, get some training. Take some handgun marksmanship classes, and pick up some shooting drills from instructors that will help you get better.
Practice is good, but remember that it isn’t just that practice makes perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. If your fundamentals aren’t there, all the range time in the world won’t help you.
Don't Neglect Dry Fire Practice
While you do want to get to the shooting range as much as possible, you want to use dry fire practice to hone those fundamentals. This is where you practice sight acquisition, grip, and trigger presses.
How often you can get to the shooting range depends on a lot of different factors, including the amount you can afford to spend. You have to spend money at indoor ranges, and even if you have some land to shoot on that you don’t have pay extra for, ammunition isn’t free either. But dry firing doesn’t cost a thing.
That’s how you develop the basic skills that help you develop your other skills when you go to the shooting range.