Taking Your Shooting Skills to The Next Level

firearms instructor teaching class

What is the methodology involved in moving from technical firearms training into application in the training environment?

In this blog, we’ll cover taking your shooting skills to The next level. A few friends asked me a two-part question “What is the methodology involved in moving from technical firearms training into application in the training environment?” and “What is an example of training environments for firearms training?”

A perfect example for the first question I’d refer to us old school guys that have taken driver’s education when we were in high school.  When we start Drivers Ed, we sit in a class and learn about driving, defensive driving, situational awareness, and the laws. We then move to drive in a simulator where our mistakes do not impact the general populace. Start actual driving and testing for your license to make sure you have a firm grasp on all said skills above.

Firearms classroom training

Now you’re a driver and as you drive more your skill increases, better reaction times, you see problems or accidents before they happen, etc. Now you can pretty much exchange the word driver for firearms and that’s your methodology of moving from technical to application.

When do you move to Firearms Application Training?

The answer: When you have a firm grasp of the finer workings of gun fighting. A firm grasp isn’t just one basic pistol course or a concealed carry course, shooting is a degrading skill and needs continual training.

  • You never have enough fundamentals and must always reinforce those skills.
  • Repetition is key in making those fundamental skills consistently repeatable and instinctual.

If you look at shooting like everything else in life, as task-driven, this will help you understand more of the need for training and the instinctual need to know the fundamentals.

Are your fundamentals at a point that you are not asking yourself?

  • Is my grip, right?
  • Are my sights aligned?
  • Do I have a malfunction or just need to perform a magazine change?
  • Am I thinking about the trigger press and follow-through?

If these fundamentals are instinctual, you can now start to add in more tasks. To me, there isn’t really any advanced firearms training. It is just adding additional tasks to your fundamentals. You would then start adding additional tasks to your firearms training.

  • shooting while moving
  • shooting from a grounded position
  • shooting from sitting
  • shooting off hand

All legitimate firearms application trainers have prerequisites for their application training. You will not be able to jump into one of their classes without most if not all the training I listed above. It would be like giving the keys to your car to your sixteen-year-old son that has never driven and set him off on the interstate. This is pretty much the down-and-dirty without getting into a full-blown thirty-page paper, I hope I answered the question.

Reality-Based Firearms Training

Question number two: There is a broad array of reality-based training environments. In my view, reality-based training does not just include shooting on a static range at paper targets. Where this is good for marksmanship it is highly lacking in a real-world application. For reality-based training, you need stress-inducing factors. It is a known fact that under duress we do things differently, especially if we haven’t trained for those stressors.

Beginning stress-inducing factors can be as simple as

  • A shot timer
  • a little competition between you and a friend
  • sprinting to your target
  • Doing 20 pushups before you draw and engage.

As you progress the training should get more strenuous and take you out of your static comfort zone.

Intermediate stress-inducing factors would come with drills involving multiple attackers, and attackers mixed with friendlies (shoot don’t shoot).

Advanced stress-inducing training comes in more with training institutions that have more advanced means of delivering the training. Some examples would be;

  • automated targets during scenarios
  • airsoft force on force,
  • paint marker force on force.

I’m a firm believer in being a well-rounded fighter, reality-based training isn’t just about firearms, how about;

  • gun retention
  • can you fight off the assailant/s to create enough distance to be able to get to your firearm?
  • Do you wear glasses, what if your hit and they fall off?
  • Is it dark and you don’t have a flashlight, is that an intruder, or is that a family member?

Reality-based training can come in all different arenas and some can be trained without a range. Do not limit yourself to one set of ideals thinking that it will solve all the problems you run into, branch out, and have an open mind. Always seek training from a certified instructor and do your vetting on them.


  • Dennis Rousseau

    Mr. Rousseau is a former Army infantryman where he learned hand-to-hand combat, squad tactics, close quarter battle training, and multiple weapon platforms. He has deployed to Iraq and is an Operation Desert Storm Veteran.

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