An armed self defense course at any of the top firearms instruction institutes like front sight and thunder ranch can be very expensive, costing upwards of $1500. While I am sure it is worth every penny, not everyone can afford to spend this much money. Aimlessly (no pun intended) blasting away at targets or just practicing precision shooting is a good way to spend a sunday afternoon but teaches one very little about combat shooting which is what one needs to learn if one is to survive a violent encounter.

With just one IDPA sized target, a sheet of target patches, and the drills that I will enumerate below, one can now have a decent guide in teaching oneself the finer points of armed self defense. A friend with a competition timer will also come in handy. All drills involve firing live ammunition and should only be performed in a shooting range or a place where there is no danger of hitting anything other than your target or its backstop. Oh yeah, you'll also need a gun. The instructions below assume that you are using a semiauto pistol, for wheelgunners replace magazine changes with speed loader reloads.

Remember to observe and practice the four rules of gun safety.

  1. From 5 yards, allowing 1 ½ seconds, beginning at "low ready" one shot to head.
    Repeat 3 times.
  2. From 5 yards, allowing 2 seconds, beginning with gun holstered, one shot to head.
    Repeat 3 times.
  3. From 5 yards, allowing 2 seconds, beginning at "low ready," strong hand only, two shots to body.
    Repeat 2 times.
  4. From 7 yards, allowing 2 seconds, facing 90° to left of target, gun holstered, two shots to body.
    One time only.
  5. From 7 yards, allowing 2 seconds, facing 90° to right of target, gun holstered, two shots to body.
    One time only.
  6. From 7 yards, allowing 2 seconds, facing target, gun holstered, two shots to body.
    One time only. 
  7. From 7 yards, allowing 4 seconds, while backing to 10-12 yards, three shots to body.
    Repeat 2 times.
  8. From 10 yards, allowing 3 seconds, beginning with gun on target and round in chamber, change magazine and fire one shot to body.
    Repeat 2 times. 
  9. From 10 yards, allowing 3 seconds, beginning with gun on target and slide locked back, change magazine and fire one shot to body.
    One time only.
  10. From 15 yards, allowing 2 ½ seconds, draw and fire one shot to body.
    Repeat 5 times.
 

Head shots only count if you hit the A zone of the "head" of the target. Body shots count if you hit the A, B, or C zones of the "body" of the target.

It is best to do these exercises with the same sidearm you intend to carry and with the same holster you plan to use. For most of us, this will be a concealed carry sidearm and concealment holster. Also wearing a shirt or vest that properly conceals the weapon is also recommended as the idea is to practice what you will do should you ever need to use your ccw piece in self defense. Assume that all drills that require starting with a holstered firearm mean a holstered and concealed firearm. Using your star trek mod 1911 and an offset, fast draw holster won't really teach you much about drawing and presentation which is what these drills are mostly about. Think real world.

Don't expect to be able to do all of these within the time required in your first few attempts, few meaning less than fifty. While this is not a substitute for proper training, it sure is a good start for many of us.

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