Shooting is a perishable skill. If you don’t practice the fundamentals of shooting on a regular basis, you’ll lose them. Regular shooting practice is imperative, whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro.
If you practice at an indoor range, you probably have to pay for your practice by the hour. However, even if you don’t have to pay for your practice time, you still want to make it as productive as possible.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the range, remain focused while you’re there, and make your practice more effective.
Pack Your Range Bag
A well-stocked range bag can save you tons of time at the range. You don’t want to arrive at the range only to find you are missing some piece of essential gear.
Make sure to pack proper eye and ear pro, plenty of ammo, targets, and a cleaning kit. If you want to be extra prepared, throw in some bandages or a first aid kit, a pen or marker, tape for targets, a shot timer, and a shooting journal to record your results.
What you choose to include in your range bag largely depends on your personal needs, what you’ll be shooting, and whether you’ll be shooting at an indoor or outdoor range. You’ll learn to optimize the gear in your range bag with experience, but the items listed above are some of the basics.
It’s always a smart idea to keep all your essential shooting gear inside a dedicated range bag. That way you’re less likely to forget something crucial. However, always check (and double check) to make sure you have everything you need before you head to the range.
Take Only One Firearm
While it can be tempting to haul your whole arsenal to the range for a fun day of shooting, that won’t be particularly conducive to focused practice. There is a difference between shooting for fun and shooting to improve (or preserve) your skills. If you want to make progress or improvement, you should focus your practice on one or two specific skills.
Decide which gun you want to use to improve your skills, and leave the rest at home. If you carry a handgun for self-defense, either open or concealed, prioritize practice with your carry weapon.
Pre-Load Your Magazines
If you have extra magazines for your firearm, go ahead and load them up at home. This will allow you to spend your range time shooting rather than loading. Most ranges will allow you to bring loaded magazines, as long as they are stored separately from your firearm.
You can also invest in a magazine loader. These are fairly simple tools that speed up the loading process. They also make loading a whole lot easier on your fingers.
Have a Specific Plan
Before you even leave the house, decide what you will try to accomplish in your training session. Be as specific as possible.
Thinking, “I’m going to work on shooting more accurately” isn’t going to cut it. Not only is this vague, there are hundreds of specific things that can affect your shooting accuracy. While accuracy should definitely be one of our end goals, focus instead on improving one of those specific things that affect accuracy. If you can improve just one aspect, your accuracy will also improve.
Not sure where to start? Try one of these more specific shooting goals.
- Maintaining proper grip.
- Proper sight picture and alignment.
- Maintaining focus on the front sight post.
- Regaining proper sight alignment after each shot.
- Proper posture, stance, and arm position.
- Executing proper trigger pull.
- Strong or weak hand shooting (for pistol shooters).
- Proper cheek weld (for long gun shooters).
Know When to Call It Quits
When you’re at the range, it’s easy to think all your problems will disappear if you just shoot one more rep, one more magazine, or one more target. However, shooter fatigue is a real thing. Ultimately, we want our practice to be productive, and fighting through fatigue is rarely that. Once you notice a drop in performance, especially if that drop occurs over several reps, it’s a good idea to call it a day. Come back when you’re rested, otherwise you may be wasting ammo as well as time, and all without accomplishing any real gains in proficiency.
Practice At Home
Not all shooting practice needs to happen at the gun range. There are plenty of ways to practice your shooting fundamentals without ever firing a single shot. Most of them can be performed in the comfort of your own home.
You can easily practice your draw, sight alignment, and stance at home. There are also dozens of dry fire drills you can use to improve your skills. While these drills still require a time investment, if you practice them at home, you can save yourself some time at the gun range. Also, since you’ll be sending less lead downrange to achieve the same results, these at-home drills can also help you save on ammunition.
Be sure to always follow the rules of gun safety, whether you’re practicing with a loaded weapon at the range or an unloaded weapon at home.
- All guns are always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Going to the gun range should be fun, even if you’re there for serious practice. With a little advance planning and preparation, your range sessions will become more productive, but they will also be a lot less stressful and tons more fun.