Practice Outside the Box

Friday, March 21, 2014

By Chris Andersen, 3-Gun Nation Pro

One of the biggest challenges in training for 3-gun or action shooting can be finding methods for honing some of the skills needed if you don’t have access to a bay-type shooting range that allows movement, holster draws, etc. Obviously this sort of facility is ideal for your practice sessions, but when you don’t have that available, there is still good viable training to be had at the more conventional ranges when there isn’t another option.

Table Pick-Ups and Reloads

While the range you are shooting at may not allow holster draws or reloads from your belt, you can still take advantage of your time there to work on picking up your firearm and getting on target quickly, as well as reloading from the staging table at speed. Not only are these great drills to enhance your dexterity and hand speed, they are also likely to be specifically used in some stage designs. Stage your gun in different conditions and in different positions and then visualize starting that major match stage. Concentrating on being perfect in your execution and manipulation will ingrain good habits that will stick with you. 

Target Transitions

While you can’t shoot at multiple targets at a conventional, laned shooting range, you can dry fire or start with a sight picture on a different target in the bay. Make sure you are careful with this, and that the range you are at doesn’t have a problem with it. A shooting bay with multiple shooters in it will generally mean that there will be several targets down range for you to get a sight picture on, offering you the opportunity to transition between multiple targets. Obviously only shoot YOUR target. People tend to get upset if you put holes in theirs.

(Eds. Note: Remote Camera)

Rifle Bench Shooting Drill

On slow days at the rifle range try transitions between multiple benches on the firing line: off the side of a shooting bench, the back of a chair, a sandbag on the ground, etc. I like to arrange a different shooting position in multiple lanes and run transitions between them on the clock. Avoid taking a sight picture before running the drills and change the shooting positions up to add difficulty to each shot. Doing this teaches visual patience and will force you to adapt and remain patient under stress.

Malfunction Drills

Conventional ranges are the perfect place to practice clearing malfunctions in your gun. Starting in different conditions, with unknown numbers of rounds in your magazine, or dummy rounds can offer a great opportunity to keep your mental game sharp. 3-Gun in particular is never perfect. So the more surprises you can throw in the mix the more you are going to be honing your problem solving skills.

Low Port Drills

Low shooting ports and positions are common at every match. It is usually going to be acceptable to fire under the shooting benches at most ranges. This offers the opportunity to practice transitioning between two completely different positions, all while staying in your lane. Getting creative will even allow multiple elements in one drill. For example, employ an empty gun table pick up start:  Load and take a sight picture on your neighbor’s target, transition to your target and fire two rounds, transition to a knee and fire two rounds on your target under the bench.

Shoot Some Groups

With all of the dynamic movement in action shooting, it can be very easy to get bored when you are at a conventional shooting range. But don’t let that distract you from the importance of the fundamentals of marksmanship. I always try to begin and end every practice session with some 25-, or 50-yard pistol groups, regardless of where I am training. Obviously, shooting lanes are perfect for that, and give you the opportunity to make sure your fundamentals are where they should be. Group shooting also allows you the chance to spot errors in your technique that can sneak up on you when you are running around and shooting quickly.

Speed in 3-gun comes from taking advantage of every opportunity. So be sure in your training that you are taking advantage of every moment available to practice and improve. As you can see, those opportunities exist in even the most restrictive of shooting ranges.  As always, stay safe, and make sure you are following the rules of the range. But make sure you don’t miss another training opportunity!


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