Progressive Pistol Training for Self-Defense


In today’s world, people are flocking to obtain their concealed carry license. Concerns over the changing political climate, the right of self-defense, and gun ownership are – at least in part – responsible for the drive towards concealed carry.

As human beings, we all have the inherent right of self-defense. But, as you begin the path towards everyday carry of a handgun (or any firearm for that matter) have you considered what training you may actually need? Gun ownership is a constitutional right under the 2nd Amendment. However, I would challenge you to take a more progressive training approach to the carrying of a handgun on a day-to-day basis.

Some states require only a couple hours in a classroom or an online course to obtain a CCW license. Some simply require an application to the local law enforcement authority. Other states require two days of training and then renewal training every few years. Regardless of your state’s requirements to carry a handgun, I implore you to take your training to the next level.

A step-by-step approach for training is a good recommendation when teaching new students. My initial training for students usually flows along a progressive path as follows:

Solid Shooting Fundamentals

Basic shooting fundamentals of stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, breathing, and follow through need to be understood and taught at the earliest possible level. Working on accuracy, distance, and speed while shooting will be brought in the training regime when the student is ready.

Drawing the Pistol

I always start new students with a belt-mounted holster on their strong hand side. This is the appropriate beginning point for those not accustomed to carrying a pistol on the waistline. Concealed carry holsters and draw techniques can come at a future time.

Progressive Pistol Training
Drawing from concealment

Understand; most accidents occur when drawing or re-holstering the handgun, so this step of training is critical.

Efficient Reloads

There seems to be much debate today in the gun training world as to what reloads are necessary and should be taught. I believe every student of pistol shooting for self-defense should have the ability to perform a speed/ emergency reload or a tactical reload depending on which is needed at the time.

Progressive Pistol Training
Reloads need to be practiced

While some instructors have drifted away from the tactical load or magazine exchange, I still teach it and will continue to do so, as it yields a number of safety and preparedness benefits both on and off the range.

Malfunction Clearances

If you’ve never had a malfunction while shooting your pistol, you have not been shooting very long or enough. Despite the reliability of today’s handguns, sooner or later you will experience a malfunction. These can include a failure to fire, failure to extract or eject, or a double feed. All of these can be cleared with immediate action and you should know how to perform these actions early on in your training.

Alternate Shooting Positions

Self-defense encounters do not stay stationary very long. At some point your training should include shooting with lateral movement, shooting from a kneeling, sitting (from a table or while in a vehicle), prone, supine (on the flat of your back), and one handed positions. Use of a barricade or simulated cover should be also added.

Progressive Pistol Training
Use of cover and kneeling

While these steps are not all-inclusive I would submit to you that they are at the crux of good life saving shooting skills and that you, as a responsible student of self-defense, should include these skills in your repertoire. Of course, a healthy awareness lifestyle of your surroundings along with a strong mentality goes with all of the above.

Progressive Pistol Training
Supine or flat of back

Getting outside of your comfort level and challenging yourself is critical in my estimation. Although I have been a law enforcement officer and instructor for decades, I continue to learn and search out training that will help me provide solid training to students. Recently, I had the opportunity attend a pistol combatives course put on by Kyle Defoor. I was humbled and challenged which is a good thing for any student or instructor wishing to up their game.  If you would like to be challenged you can find Kyle’s training at Defoor Performance Shooting,

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