Shooting on the Move
All you have to do is watch the dash cam videos of law enforcement traffic stops to realize when bullets start flying no one is standing still. The static range training most people do is great for building fundamentals but don’t think that is where combat marskmanship begins and ends. Simply put you have to develop a skill set that allows you to shoot on the move effectively and practice it often. Your life may very well depend on it.
What follows is some key points of consideration about shooting on the move as I see it. Students in my classes know I always include a comprehensive shooting on the move segment in every class and I consider it absolutely essential training each and every time you go to the range. You need to train to a realistic standard and apply key principles to allow you to meet that standard. Here goes;
1) Make your lower body do it’s job; The most critical aspect to shooting on the move is minimizing vibrations that transfer above the pelvis (belt line) that in turn affect accuracy. You can’t eliminate vibrations, just dramatically reduce them. This is done by laying your feet down in a ‘rolling’ fashion such as heel to toe roll, bringing your feet closer together when walking to mitigate the side to side sway many people display, and most importantly make your knees absorb the shock of each step. Frankly you can half ass the first two principles and if you do a great job using your knees like torsion suspension you can still effectively shoot on the move. Using a visible laser at home as a training aid walking around your house (to the dismay of your significant other) to practice your movement techiques has value as the laser provides excellent feedback as to what is working and what is not.
2) Bend the elbows and stay flexible; Being rigid or tense does not work well in shooting and never more so than when doing mobile shooting. You have to stay loose and allow your joints to absorb the vibration so as to allow your weapon to almost seem like it is ‘floating’ in front of you. If you are moving and your weapon is doing alot of sharp ‘dips’ during movement as perceived through the sites then your doing something wrong (often times the knees are the culprit; remember don’t just bend your knees, take the shock of each step out with your knees – big difference) . Remember to stay loose.
3) Train to a realistic standard; Accuracy will suffer somewhat while moving – no way around it. A good rule of thumb is you want to be able to cover your shots with your hand – roughly a 6 inch circle in the center of the chest. Of course you will occasionally throw some shots out of that circle but never more than 2 to 3 out of 10 shots fired. If so you need to dial back in on the basics. By this standard shooting on the move is approx a 15 yd and in exercise with a handgun and 20 yds and in with a carbine. You can put shots on target farther out than that but accurate upper torso hits become much more difficult and the shooting will turn into suppressive fire instead of surgical shots on target. Remember the bad guy ain’t gonna stand still either so you need to keep it real when training for this critical skill.
4) Practice shooting on the move in all directions; Of course moving straight toward an opponent or straight back is not ideal but may not be avoided. The fact of the matter is you need to be able to shoot on the move in any direction as despite what some instructors teach when and where you have to engage a threat cannot be accurately predicted in the real world unlike in an IPSC 3 gun match. Remember the hostile action of the threat is what dictates your actions not the beep from a shot timer.
5) Practice trigger control; Most shooters who have bad shots with a handgun on the move do so because they jerk the trigger NOT because they are moving. This occurs because the brain exaggerates the movement of the pistol in relation to the target and this causes many shooters to ambush the trigger instead of cleanly breaking the shot within an acceptable wobble zone. A Red Dot sight on a carbine definately makes this task easier but I have found the better you become at mobile shooting with a pistol the skill set transfers nicely to the same drill with a long gun.
6) The more you do it the better you get; Make it a goal to practice this skill every time you go to the range. In this case literally practice makes perfect as like with many other difficult shooting skill sets the better you become at mobile shooting the better you will become in other aspects of combat marksmanship. Some ranges won’t allow it but make no mistake it is a potentially life saving skill so seeking out a range that does allow it is critical. You can certainly practice the moving aspects at home with dry fire but at some point you have to get to the range and bust some caps while moving.
A closing thought is to remind readers that many of the static range drills are very useful for building a solid grasp of the fundamentals but at some point you have to take it to the next level and apply yourself at mastering those same skills on the move.