What Drills Can I Do at My Local Range to Build Skills?
By: Rob Orgel, Emergency Response Tactical
Getting in some range time in my new body armor kit requires some planning. What are some specific techniques I can work on as well as drills to incorporate into my tactical training with body armor?
Gun Range Training Considerations
Training is something of a moving target. I believe most people are limited in what they know how to do and/or can do at their range.
Training inside the "phone booth" at your local gun range is going to limit you to focusing entirely on the fundamentals of accuracy. This can be a useful skill but without incorporating several other considerations, this can be very limiting.
If our range allows us, let's expand upon what we do when we find ourselves on the range with some free time and a willingness to train with our tactical gear.
One of the best ranges is on your own property if you have room. Take advantage of a metal target from Spartan Armor Systems®.
Body Armor Training Environment
First off, let’s talk about safety. If you’re not familiar with any of these exercises, seek instruction. If you’re unable to find proper instruction, seek supervision.
It’s important to have a professional observe your safety manipulation and muzzle control for obvious reasons. A qualified instructor can give you lots of tips to make you more proficient, which comes with the bonus of safety and effectiveness.
Whether or not you have an instructor giving you tips and supervision, always have an emergency plan. This includes emergency medical equipment and the training to use it, as well as a planned route to the hospital in case you need to treat or evacuate a casualty.
Now that we’ve got safety in mind, let’s talk through the concept of training.
In all my classes, I focus my client's training session time on what is most likely to happen, and then dive deeper into mastery of these drills as well as leaning deeper into what could happen.
There are a lot of trainers out there that have great appeal and appearance. But when you ask yourself the question, “Does this apply to me?” you are left unsure. You might find it inappropriate for your needs.
So, let’s focus on what is most likely first.
Recommended Range Drills
My number one favorite drill is going to be, “up drills.”
An up drill is when you start with your weapon at the ready or the low ready position. This would involve your weapon being angled 10° in front of you pointed in a safe direction or 45° in front of you pointed in a safe direction.
Using a shot timer set to random or having a buddy use a timer will reveal your immediate reaction time.
The goal here is to present your weapon to the target, disengage the safety, and place two rounds into the upper chest of your target. Ideally, they should happen under one second.
If you play your cards right your first round should be fired at approximately .36 seconds. The distance to the target is up to you. But remember to train for what’s likely to occur.
As we’re getting proficient in our up drills, we should then add body armor. Start slow and then regain your speed.
In a perfect world, up drills should be equally fast with and without body armor, build comfort before we chase speed.
The Use of Barricades in Your Gun Range Training Drills
Another valuable technique and skill to hone is the proper use of barricades. Understanding what can and cannot stop incoming rounds is crucial in barricade work.
Next, it’s a good idea to consider reducing your target profile as you use your barricade. Why is there such value in barricade work?
Consider dismounting your vehicle or checking your home for intruders. All around you are things you can use such as doors, walls, hallways, and engine blocks.
All these items can be used as a barricade, either to stop bullets or to conceal your movements between positions. With the right training, these devices can aid you in your defensive engagement.
Once you become comfortable and proficient in your barricade work, add your body armor to work out any complications that may have been introduced with the added weight and shouldering position.
Utilizing Your Kit When Training with Body Armor
Effectively and expeditiously reloading your carbine from a magazine pouch on your kit is a skill that takes practice.
I’m starting this with effectiveness, not speed. What this means is, how we conduct a reload or malfunctions need to be 100% effective and consistent. Once it is reliable in all circumstances then we need to seek to gain speed.
Having a reload that works some of the time or corrective action that is successful most of the time is not acceptable. Stride to have fail-proof techniques.
Darwin has a way of making your 85% effective and fast reload, 100% unsuccessful.
Back to Basics
Lastly, as boring as it sounds, come back to the basics. This means getting familiar and comfortable while standing, kneeling, prone, and even supine in your body armor.
You may find that accessing a magazine in the prone can be difficult, you may find that shooting in the kneeling position with your body armor can offer challenges.
It’s important to work these out when you are cool, calm, and collected with your free time on the range. This ensures that we don’t find problems during an emergency.
Range Time is precious, so let’s have a plan to make good use of it. Not all training is good training. Be aware of what you’re teaching your body and make it effective and consistent.
Once you have gained training on the range, apply your kit, and start training as you would be dressed. Evaluate whatever that’s going to mean for your specific needs.
About the Author:
Rob joined the USMC in 2004 with a military occupational specialty of 0311 (Infantry Rifleman). Assigned to 3rd Bn 1st Marines, Rob participated in a deployment to Iraq (OIF-3) as a point man followed by an assignment as Team Leader for the 13th MEU Special Operations Capable to Iraq (OIF-6). In 2007, he joined 1st Marine Regiment and reenlisted to deploy to Afghanistan. InJanuary 2010, Rob was promoted to the rank of Sergeant & continued to serve 1st Marine Regiment for a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. On return from Afghanistan, Rob was assigned to School Of Infantry West to work as a Combat Instructor (CI) for the USMC where he trained thousands of Marines to gain the skills necessary to survive. Rob exited the USMC in 2014 & was immediately picked up by Securing our Country (SOC). As a private military contractor, Rob was responsible for training the specialty teams of operators at the American Embassy in Iraq. Shortly after leaving Contract in 2018, Rob became the Chief Instructor of GPS Defense Sniper School. Rob now gives 100% of his attention to Emergency Response Tactical training all levels over 320 days a year as his passion & full-time job.
You can read his full bio here.