My Torture Tests

There are few things more stressful a person can get themselves into than a defensive shooting.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to really recreate the kind of stress you’ll find yourself under in a real defensive encounter outside of same but there are things we can do to prepare for them. Some are fairly simple, some very complex and rather expensive. Scenario training is great but requires a very controlled situation and multiple instructors to do it safely.

I try to lean towards the simpler things where I can, lower risk, less expense but still good training.

A couple of simple drills you can do at just about any outdoor range to test your skills under the same physical stresses you will bear in such a situation are my torture tests which are based on a combination of training we did in football and in the military.

Set up your target at a reasonable short self defense distance. I like to mark a line at 12’. I’ll then mark a line at 3’ intervals up to just beyond arm’s length.

I’ll set up one two targets for each of these distances and shoot six rounds as rapidly as I can from the draw at each target cold with no physical stress at all.

I then have a line thirty yards behind me, alighn myself with the 12’ target…

On “Go” sprint to the 30 yard line and back, shoot the same six rounds from the draw, re-holster and repeat the sprint coming back to the 9’ target, and then repeat the same for each target up to close contact as quickly as I can.

By the time you get to the close contact line your breathing, heart rate etc will have actually exceeded what you will typically see in a defensive encounter.

Evaluate each target making note of the degradation of accuracy.

I like to repeat it at least weekly or bi weekly time dependent.

At some point I’ll introduce all of my higher level students to the drill and encourage them to do the same.

I do a second similar drill working on lateral movement engaging five targets moving ten yards to one side, then back to the starting point for each of six targets with a varying number of rounds specified for each.

The rule is you must do all of your movements laterally keeping your weapon downrange at all times and shoot the targets alternating between right and left movements moving from the center outward, reloading whenever you hit slide lock and reloading while moving is allowed but your must come to a complete stop before firing.

We start the engagements at 3’ then move back at 5’ internals to 18 feet.

Each target is to be engaged from each of the distances taking only the time necessary to change targets and reload magazines in between.

These are definitely not drills for novice defenders/shooters but are great skill builders for more advanced students. The great thing is you’ll never truly “master” master them so it’s like golf, you can spend the rest of your life trying to “improve your game”.


Thanks for this @WildRose, I’m going to add this to my outdoor range time.

Bring plenty of water and targets. HA!

I’m in the California desert, I always have gallons of water handy!

1 Like