What is a good distance to train for self defense?

If a person can cover 6 yards a second that means at 20 yards, it would take about three seconds to cover that distance. That would be a total of 60 feet from you. The FBI say that most shootings happen around six feet away, and last 3 seconds. All of that is well but what is the idea distance to train for self-defense? Or should I ask How efficient are you at different distances? Can you place 10 rounds
in a 16-inch target at 25 yards?

Training is a vitally important part of effective concealed carry. Different schools of thought have you practice your defensive shooting skills at various distances. While there are different scenarios, 3-7 yards is a good distance to practice self-defense shooting. That would cover a vast majority of encounters where an officer was killed with a firearm. This distance covers the conditions in which you will likely need to defend yourself. Should I put it at 11 feet since half of law enforcement fatalities happen within 11 feet? Should I put it at 9 feet since an “average” self-defense encounter happens within 3 yards, lasts 3 seconds, and 3 rounds are fired.
The best way to proceed with your practice is to start with drills where you’re shooting at a 99%-100% success rate, push conditions until you’re at 75%-90%, and then end with 99%-100% again.


Yes with my 9mm pistols though I have had very limited live fire practice and less dry fire practice than usual this summer so I suspect I would have to do it at a slower pace than usual. With my micro .380 I might have a couple of misses at that distance given my current lack of practice:(

I often use steel targets so my minimum with those is 10 yards for safety purposes and that is often the distance I practice at. But I do occasionally set up paper targets to practice closer shots or push the steel targets back to 20, 30 or occasionally 50 yards as well.


My thoughts, I train at different distances however, to me, it’s not about distance it’s about time. How fast can you accurately hit a target? I’m at around 1-1.5 seconds for the first round on target depending on my cover garment. That’s from 4:30 IWB with Kimberly in Condition Zero.


We use steel targets all the time at 25 feet. Are yours angled so the rounds deflect down?


I’m mostly focusing on 15’ - 20’.
If I can quickly (max 2 seconds) stop the threat at this distance it’s good for me. And I know I can do this without any hesitation, hitting perfectly 8" circle (which is a size of center mass).

However you have to be always prepared for unexpected situations, so shooting from retention, then making space, increasing distance it’s a must in practice schedule.
I’m comfortable shooting up to 30’ with pace 2 rds per second. Closer distance allows me to shoot faster.
10’ or less can be covered with 5 rds per second.

Of course I’m not forgetting about longer distances, but these are only to find my limits. I practice up to 75’ (max on my range) with good results shooting silhouette target.
Once per year I’m attending classes that have shooting up to 100 yards. This is only to prove myself what I’m capable of. It has nothing to do with training for self defense.

I would say this - be sure what you can do and what you cannot do. Know your limitations. Know the distance you can allow your assailant to be at. Because in self defense we are always reacting, it’s a good idea to practice any possible distances. Always be ready for unexpected.


Life doesn’t come with distance markers and neither does my range or the drills I run.


I’ve been shooting steel angled down from about 20’. Nothing happened. I’ve been shooting same targets from 50’ and experienced splash back. It’s still nothing, the jacket’s fragments have very low energy so long sleeves and pants, plus eyes protection are enough.


So… how do you all train stress inculcation? BTW, I train from direct contact to 15 yards (45 feet). Occasionally I shoot from 25 yards out to 50 yards just cause.


You are right, it doesn’t. But it’s a good idea to have any reference, even in your mind, how you can shoot from short and log distance. It doesn’t need to be exact number (5’, 10’… whatever number) but you should know if, for example - somebody is shooting at you from the other end of the room, if you can hit him or not.


I am practicing at 150 to 200 yards. I need to eat to survive. Thanks for the encouragement.:deer:


My most common practice distance is 5 yards. On a good day, that’s about a 2-second first shot inside a 8” target using a green dot. Glock 43 IWB appendix. Still working on getting the time down.

I also practice point & shoot at 3 yards. That first shot is definitely under 2 seconds.

I shoot targets further out to 20 yards, but don’t really time myself on those. I probably should.

With permission from the range, I’ve practiced having someone reel the target in from various distances. So I’m drawing and shooting at a target moving towards me.


I am not familiar with this statistic. Would you mind sharing?

Everything I can find indicate that the majority are at 3-5 yards…9-15 feet.

But longer definitely happens. Tom Givens’ data set of only sixty-some (all wins, all justified) self defense gun uses (shots fired) by prior students has one in the teens of yards and one at 20+ yards.

I think the standard indoor range going to 25 yards represents a reasonable max distance a person who conceal carries should be able to hit at.

The gold standard here is react, draw, fire, hit a 6" circle at 25 yards in 3 seconds or less. JMO


I vary the distance, from 15’ to 75’. If you can group nicely at 50’, you will have no problem at 20. And don’t forget Elisja Dickens 40 yard confrontation with the mall shooter. These things happen.
Do practice getting off the X, moving and shooting, etc. dynamic drills.


Life doesn’t come with timers either, but if you want to train, and improve, you need to quantify and measure your performance…the most quantifiable and measurable measures of performance are

*Where the bullets went

In real life you can’t expect to see exactly where the bullets hit either, but I bet you use something at the range that tells where the bullets went, because we need to know these things to evaluate our training, our abilities, our progress or lack thereof

Which is not to say that you should always know exactly how far the targets are when training. Doesn’t necessarily have to be every single string or COF or drill


Sadly my range does not allow drawing from concealment, so I have to practice that dry firing at home. All I can do is drill that as often as I can, and practice live fire from low ready at the range (at about 3 - 6 yards, sometimes further), and hope they come together if a self-defense situation comes up (which I also hope never does).


There is a training routine named “Dot Torture.” Tame that and you won’t need to worry about distance.


Mine hang with a slight down angle. The instructions say 10 yard minimum so that or longer is what I use them at. Figure if I can hit at 10 yards I can hit closer. Though I use paper or cardboard targets to practice really close distances as well as photo realistic shoot/don’t shoot targets to mix things up.


You can even buy the targets for that on Amazon all fancy and structurally sound, last I checked.

It’s a humbling exercise for most, if they haven’t done it before. 50 rounds without a glitch is a lot.

Really good drill to mix in with the timed stuff to keep your trigger press honest and smooth. Also great to work up reliability testing, by volume of fire over time, of your gun shot one handed and even WHO



I’ve always been told - 3 feet, 3 rds, 3 seconds. That’s what we should expect most of the time.
Somehow it’s confirmed by this statistics.

But, because we must be prepared for unexpected - we should train up to 30’.

If I can constantly hit 8" target in fast pace with fast enough draw at 30’, 20’, 15’… I can do it, even better way, at 3’.
All is about permanent practice and confidence.