Listen, I get it. Many of you don’t get to the range enough—myself included. And perhaps when you go, you get a little bored 30 minutes in. So how in the world can we improve our shooting beyond merely hanging up a target and putting holes through it?

I’m glad you asked.

First, let’s remember that the best way to improve your shooting is by repetition. You’re not going to get better if you don’t put the time in. Putting bullets through your gun gets you more and more familiar with yourself as a marksman, but there are several other skills that should be exercised and trained into muscle memory. Loading, unloading, on the fly fixes to malfunctions, finding cover, shooting from cover. These are all just as important as shooting accurately and let’s face it: if we are to encounter a situation where we must draw our weapon and fire, it’s likely no going to be as simple as aiming at your target and firing, with no other obstacles, by standers, &etc.

So you’re at the range; switch things up. Don’t just fire from down range at your target. Set up balloons, for example, and fire until “the threats” (balloons) are gone—reloading if necessary. If you carry a revolver, or a pistol with a low capacity magazine, for concealed carry, this is an imperative skill to put into muscle memory.

You are also, in a self-defense situation, not likely to have a stationary target. In fact, the assailant might even be coming at you, rather than away. So, get creative if you can: hang cans and bottles from a tree, shoot skeet (if you think you can; personally, I’m not ready for that with my pistol!), jumping targets, and other moving targets. If anything, it may be worth it to spend the money to train at a tactical course every once in a while (hint: men, take your ladies with you! Would make for a great date).

Luckily, the variations and options, if you decide to create your own range challenges, are limitless, depending on how complex you want to make it. But I recommend using balloons just to get started, since it’s been working for me. However, the point though, it to get to the range, get practicing, and put those skills into muscle memory.


What has been your favorite way to challenge yourself at the range?