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  • Rowan

How to train with purpose

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Being proficient with firearms means different things for different people. One of the best things you can do in your training journey is to decide what your goals are and what competency means for you.

Some people just want to feel comfortable safely handling a firearm and knowing how to unload one if they ever needed to. There is nothing wrong with that! Lots of trainers and gun nuts spend hours and hours honing their skills as gunfighters or competitors but if that isn't your goal then training that way isn't going to be for you. I totally respect that for a lot of people, firearms are not a primary interest but just one more skill or hobby on top of many others.

The skill set needed to shoot cans in the woods or hit paper targets at the range is very different from the skills necessary in self-defense, law enforcement, or military shooting. Likewise, the skills needed for hunting a deer are going to be different than the skills needed to excel in competitive shooting.

These two shooters have different goals and should be training differently!

While many of the fundamentals and skills certainly have carry over, all too often I see people training techniques that don't match their goals or abilities.

For effective and efficient training you should identify your end competency goal and then determine the most useful and likely skills needed to reach that goal. Let me give you a few examples.

Shooter #1 wants to be proficient enough to go to the local indoor range and stand in a lane shooting paper targets out to 25 yards. He wants to be able to safely handle firearms and shoot accurately at the range targets. He does not plan on carrying a firearm for self-defense and does not feel the need to have them accessible for home defense.

Shooter #2 wants to get her concealed carry license and

carry a firearm for protection. She wants to be able to defend herself and her family whether at home or in public and wants to be able to respond appropriately and legally if she is ever faced with a lethal force situation.

Now both shooters will need to learn the same fundamentals of marksmanship and gun handling, but shooter #2 is going to have to learn far more skills than shooter #1, along with an understanding of the legal and ethical ramifications of self-defense, local laws, cover vs concealment, shooting on the move, terminal ballistics, ammo choice and much more.

There is nothing wrong with having goals like shooter #1. I would actually prefer that more people were honest with themselves and not carry a firearm that they have not trained with enough to not be a liability to others. Maintaining the skillset of shooter #1 but having the goals of shooter #2 is a recipe for disaster.

Once you have decided what your competency goal is I recommend you structure your training around what I call a Skill Pyramid.

The Skill Pyramid is simply organizing

the individual shooting skills required for your goal and prioritizing the most likely and fundamental skills at the base of the pyramid. As you move up the pyramid you reach more and more specialized and low-probability skills. At every class I've been to and on most range days I see people training who clearly have flipped their pyramid upside down and it is not helping them!

Check out my next article on the Skill Pyramid to see how to build yours!

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