Tanner's Gun Reviews

   By Mike Coviello (Tanner)

Defensive Shooting Practice Drills at the Range

That's the last thing anybody ever wants to have to do, but that's probably the main reason why you own a gun. So why not include some defensive shooting drills during your target practice session at the shooting range? Here are some self defense shooting drills that will help hone your defensive shooting skills.



How To Shoot Books

Parts & Magazines

Laser Bullet for Gun Training


The indoor range that I go to uses thick rubber backstops (2 1/2' wide x by 4' tall) that you pin paper targets on using roofing nails. Adjustable target distance is 50 feet. You are not allowed to practice drawing your gun at the range. Distance from shooter to target should be 15-20 feet. Adjust accordingly with shooter's skill level. You will need a training partner or shooting companion to call out commands for this shooting exercise.


Defensive Shooting Drill Preparations

  1. Purchase various sizes of paper plates at the grocery store (ranging from full plate size to saucer plate size).

  2. Randomly number the plates with a thick black magic marker so they are easily visible at distances.

  3. Tack four paper plates (various sizes) to each of the four corners of the target backstop (as far apart from each other as possible).

  4. Have the shooter load two magazines with 4 rounds each of ammunition (for pistol shooting).


Defensive Shooting Drill

Following all applicable safety and range rules and the Caller standing by the shooter, the shooter positions himself facing the target with the gun held in the ready position.

  1. Caller shouts out the following commands "Load and Ready"

  2. Shooter quickly loads a magazine into his pistol and brings the weapon into the ready position (for this exercise the ready position will mean a two handed grip with weapon close to the chest and pointed towards the target).

  3. Caller shouts the following commands "2, 4, 3, 1" (pausing in between each number allowing the shooter to fire his weapon at each respective target).

  4. Shooter shoots at targets in that order (shooting immediately upon hearing the target number as fast as possible. The goal is to get the hit each target as fast as you can.


Repeat this procedure using the following variations.

  1. Changing the target shooting order

  2. Changing positions and orientations of targets.

  3. Shoot one handed.

  4. Shoot two or three rounds at each target before moving on to the next one.

  5. Shoot from the defensive (close to chest) stance

  6. Shoot while holding a flashlight

  7. Instead of calling out target numbers, the caller calls out the position of the targets (for example, top-left or bottom-right) to confuse the shooter and make him think more before each shot.


Gun Video - "Move! Shoot! Live! - Survive a Gunfight", DVD Features How to Move, How to Shoot on the Move, and Why to Practice Movement for Self Defense Shooting, with Lenny Magill.

Benefits of Defensive Shooting Drill Practice

  1. Loading only a few rounds in your magazine each time you shoot gives you "repetitive reloading practice". It also provides you with the lightest possible gun weight which means the greatest amount of recoil for a "worst case condition" during practice.

  2. Having a Caller announce the target numbers in real time doesn't give the shooter time to think or plan and puts him under pressure making it more similar to a real life scenario.

  3. Promotes muscle memory, point shooting skills and good mental practice for the shooter.

  4. Having a shooting partner scrutinize your shooting practice increases the pressure you are under as well as providing a critique of your shooting style and skills. The more pressure that you are under while practice shooting, the better the practice.


  1. In place of paper plates as targets you can also make your own target. Simply draw circles on blank paper. Size of targets is up to you and your skill level.

  2. Variations of the above drill increase the benefits to the shooter.

  3. The above shooting drill is specifically designed as handgun practice to improve defensive shooting skills. They say the way you shoot is the way you practice. So if you shoot a certain way during handgun target practice you will shoot the same way when it comes time to defend yourself.


Gun Practice; Handgun Shooting Practice for Self Defense

Practice shooting guns of all types and calibers. The more you are familiar with guns the more comfortable you will be when it comes time to use one in self defense. Practice defensive shooting at least once a month. Practice your defensive shooting techniques with targets placed at distance ranging in increment from five to 20 feet.


Comments & Questions


Defensive Shooting Practice Ideas 

March 4, 2012
Yes this page was very helpful. I will be using your ideas next Saturday at the range.



Gun Target Practice

Gun target practice refers to any training exercise in which guns are fired at a specific target to improve the aim and the skill of the person firing the gun.


Handgun Target Practice

Handgun target practice refers to any training exercise in which hand guns are fired at a specific target to improve the aim and the skill of the person firing the hand gun.


Defensive Handgun Target Practice

Defensive handgun target practice refers to any training exercise in which handguns are fired at a specific target to improve the aim and the skill of the person firing the handgun in self defense scenarios.



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MIKE COVIELLO is a former aerospace engineer, now Web Designer/SEO Consultant. Hobbies include shooting zombies & reloading ammunition.