Weekend Training: Defensively Accurate Shots

If we’re shooting in self-defense, we’re not going to have the luxury of time like we have on the range. We’re also not going to be shooting for that perfect bullseye - we are going to be shooting quickly and aiming for defensively accurate shots. A defensively accurate shot is one that significantly affects the attacker’s ability to present a lethal threat.

We can train for accuracy on the range in a number of different ways. New shooters occasionally fall into a bad habit of assessing every shot. Some people use targets that are marked off for the different common issues (slapping the trigger, anticipation, weak grip, etc.). Some shooters change the sights on their firearms. Classes and private lessons can also help. These are all good ways to train for accuracy in the comfort of your local, low-stress range at a time that works for you.

Taking our training further can help us prepare for the unknown variables we may encounter. Mental training (what-if scenarios, visualizations during range time), using moving targets (some ranges have targeting systems that offer timers/movement), and taking defensive shooting classes like the USCCA’s Defensive Shooting Fundamentals can help us be better prepared and more defensively accurate if we ever have to protect ourselves or our loved ones.

What has helped you develop your defensive accuracy the most?

  • Assessment targets
  • Visualizations and mental training
  • Targeting systems at the range
  • Classes/Private lessons
  • Other please share below

0 voters

Please share your suggestions for improving your defensive accuracy below!


Beginner shooters do not benefit from timers. It makes them feel like they need to speed up and this usually breaks the new machine that is not working optimally yet. Usually it creates more bad habits.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Train to execute smoothly, use economy of motion and make sure every execution is flawless. Speed is the end result of training, NOT the goal.

Timers are for seasoned shooters to induce stress (good in training experienced shooters) and to benchmark performance, but the quest for speed is only satisfied by smoother execution, not by speeding up what we don’t know how to do well yet.


Of the choices listed, I picked the “Visualizations and mental training”. I have found that using the SIRT pistol, dry fire, and drawing from holster all at home have helped improve my responses. You can swing the firearm around the room and do all sorts of things you can’t at the range.

I have done a lot of shooting on my own land in the past, and in the woods where I can set up targets that are spread out or at different distances and then you can practice all sorts of different scenarios that your mind dreams up. Can’t really do that at a range without getting into trouble. Now I live in the city and shooting in the backyard might get me in trouble.

Have also just shot from the hip at tin cans, and the point and shoot can become second nature after a while. Don’t want to do that in many situations you might run into, but it seems you become very comfortable with your firearm and know how it reacts or what the capabilities are. Hard to explain in a note, but the impact just seems to go where you are pointing after a while. Hard on your ammo supply, but we did it with 22s when ammo was cheap.

Actual shooting at the range is good, but I think the mental training and working at home will go a long way to get people ready for a bad situation you may fall into.


I always use visualization & mental training to the point of obsession. But I’ve done that since I was a teen. I was certain Vietnam was in my future and trained myself to always be aware of my surroundings and what I would or could do in unlimited possibilities. I just don’t talk about it. People would think you’re crazy if you told them.


Like @Enzo_T mentioned:

But this is only one part of defensive accuracy.
I love beginners to start with marksmanship first. This teaches fundamentals and precision.
If you know how to hit 2" circle from 15 feet each time without the stress or time limitation, you will be able to hit 6" circle from 15 feet (probably in 4" group) under any stress conditions.
That’s the way we can easily achieve defensive accuracy.
After that it’s time to make it consistent.


Dry fire practice, repetitive, correct movements to build muscle memory, training to focus quickly and other aspects of shooting are all important and necessary for defense. But if my mind goes into freeze mode, none of these matter; if I can’t recognize and react to a threat, I’m not going to be able to employ all the physical training I’ve done.

I don’t have regular (or any, really) access to a kill house or the like, so I can’t train my mind and body in that way. But mental training and visualization, is a key I have to unlocking my other training when I need it — or so I theorize, at least.


Absolutely! Without marksmanship fundamentals you have nothing. If you don’t have the basics of grip, stance, sight picture and trigger press mastered there is little point in moving forward in training. Advanced defensive shooting is nothing but executing the fundamentals from different positions, in different scenarios, flawlessly over and over again. Otherwise you’re counting on luck for a win.


@Enzo_T :clap: :clap: :clap:


Regular dry-fire training with a SIRT pistol, my EDC (plus Laser Ammo), LASR training software, and various targets (USPSA, IPSC, IDPA, etc.


Two things. Trigger squeeze and lots of dry fire practice.


Daily dry-fire practice with Mantis X and Mantis Laser Academy, weekly range days, and monthly IDPA matches have all contributed to my defensive accuracy.


Shooting under the effects of stress. Stress can be induced by a hard physical workout that leaves you quivering and shaky. Then the real test of accuracy at a threat target immediately after. I first learned this technique in a combination Cross Fit / Range firing group I once belonged to.


Any training regimen MUST be broad spectrum - the 2 best in this list are visualizations and assessment targets. Start with basics. Learn to shoot, learn to hit a static target, learn to fight. Gotta do all 3 if you want to be the best you can be. And, always remember - the best defense is a good offense. Live it, learn it, like it, love it!


Beginner shooters need to master the fundamentals to give them the confidence they need to go into defensive shooting classes. Once they learn that new skill / drill, they need to be able to practice on their own.


I feel that visualization and mental training contribute a great deal for me. I too do a lot of dry firing practice at home while visualizing and drawing/redrawing during the mental exercises. Range firing is timed sometimes to represent stressful situations.


I do a lot of dry fire and laser training. Get the trigger press and grip down. Then run as many scenarios as you can.


I choose classes and private lessons because I believe the greatest measure of success is to be as close as possible to actual defensive shooting scenarios. Having someone else who is able to observe your performance under stress (because that what happens in a defensive shooting-you get stressed) and push you to go faster or to pull back on the throttle while identifying things that were done correctly and things that need improvement-and how to improve them is invaluable for me.

I don’t use assessment targets but everything else mentioned is useful as well. I just place the most benefit for me personally in the classes/private lesson category.


IDPA helped me a lot. Certain stress level and accuracy as well as time counts.


The very first thing is to learn how to observe your area and to keep calm. You must train yourself to do this at all times when you are away from your house. Always. As a pilot you are always asking yourself what I would do if the engine quit now. And then now. And so on. If you are not doing that at all times, when it does happen you won’t react correctly. In all situations be fully aware, not typing on your phone. Don’t be paranoid. Paranoia is an emotion. You can’t afford an emotion. Stage situations in your mind until it is fully ingrained. Then practice your shooting.