It’s Saturday. The skies are clear and you’re out the door to do some shooting. Sounds great right? Well, here’s the catch: it’s at an indoor shooting range.
Indoor Shooting Range Tips
Whether location or time of year, we do not always have access to outdoor shooting facilities that allow for more robust training sessions. Regardless, there are still certain ways you can make the most out of an indoor shooting range session.
First and foremost, find an indoor range that isn’t ridiculously strict. The “one shot per second” rule that certain facilities employ will kill your ability to train effectively. If finding an appropriate facility is an issue, you can still use the tips in this article; you’ll just need to adjust for low volume of fire exercises.
Prepare Everything Before Arrival at the Indoor Shooting Range
Seems straightforward, right? Because indoor shooting ranges charge by the hour, you do not want to waste time preparing equipment that could have been addressed at home. Whether lubricating a firearm, loading magazines or even a stapler, these actions cost seconds that easily add up to minutes.
However, the real cost of not preparing before hand is the drain on your attention. A big part of marksmanship training is your ability to focus. Your mental energy is at its highest at the beginning of a training session. Harness these initial moments by not distracting yourself with where your magazines are and how many bullets need to be loaded for your warm-up exercise.
Print Your Own Targets
The standard full-size bullseye or silhouette targets sold at the range are not the best to use during indoor training sessions. Because of the restrictions with your ability to hang multiple targets, or shoot at significant distance, you’re better off printing your own targets of smaller size.
Smaller sized targets force you to hone in on the proper application of the fundamentals. Where as hanging a full-size silhouette at 7 yards can create false-positive feedback with skills development. You will get more out of shooting at a 2-inch dot at 3 yards than you will just the A-Box of a silhouette at 10 yards.
Focus On Strict Margins of Accuracy
We often mistake that the hardest feat of accuracy performed at an indoor range is sending a bullseye all the way to the end of the firing lane. Whether 25 or 50 yards, this action can be a waste of time. Why? Because we’ve not performed the necessary work that allows us to get the most out of shooting at distance.
Typically, it goes like this: A shooter fires a couple of magazines at 10 yards. They feel confident with their ability. Then they send the target all the way back to the end of the bay. However, once the target is at distance, the shooter will frustrate himself/herself with trying to score accurate hits.
So why are they failing? Because full-size bullseyes and silhouettes are easy to hit at close distances. Therefore we receive a false-positive regarding our performance. With egos high, we attempt to test our skill, but not in the most purposeful way by jumping from, say, 10 yards to 25.
Added to that, shooters feel self-conscious after their target returns with poor results. Although you might not know the shooter to your left and right, it’s easy to feel judged.
Instead of sending the target all the way to the end of the bay, focus on shooting much stricter margins of accuracy (e.g. 2-inch dots) at 3 yards. Stricter accuracy standards at close distances also force you to diagnose micro-errors with your application of the fundamentals, versus shooting at a 12-inch bullseye that is more forgiving with error.
Save Ammo By Working On Hand Speed
If you are stuck shooting one round per second, you can still work on hand speed. But what if I’m also prohibited from drawing from the holster? Then you can still perform tabling drills.
A tabling drill is when you set an unloaded firearm on the table or bench in front of you and, on command, pick up the firearm, load it, then shoot. Tabling drills are great because their deviation from draw stroke movements force you to work on purposeful speed in a different way.
Both tabling drills and draw stroke exercises should be performed with strict margins of accuracy. Too often, shooters develop quick, but incredibly sloppy speed when working on hand movement. Consequently, shooters will quickly present their firearms, but with improper grip, or worse, they will start reflexly shooting before they actually see their sights.
Leave When You Start Reaching Diminishing Returns
When you’re in the gym and attempt a max rep and fail, it’s a sign that it’s time to decrease the amount of weight you’re lifting; either that or shift to a different exercise. Unfortunately, we don’t think the same way with shooting. A big mistake that’s easy to make is assuming that if we just perform one more rep, or shoot more ammo, we will improve. This mentality wastes money and can potentially lengthen our performance plateau.
Whether at an indoor or outdoor range, if I’m shooting an exercise and notice a drop in performance over a few repetitions, I stop. I then visualize what I’m attempting to perform in the drill. After that, I proceed to shoot at 70 percent of the speed I was previously at. This helps me reset my focus.
If this is toward the end of my training session, I continue to shoot the exercise at reduced speed. Then I move on to the next exercise or pack it up and head home. The reason I don’t attempt to go for speed again is because this can quickly turn into a never-ending hole of frustration. Understand the difference between when you need to slow down to work on something, versus when your energy is waning and it’s time to call it a day.
About the Author
Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.