Movement drills… Defensive shooting practiced while in motion. In other words, learning how to hit the target while being a very uncooperative target yourself!
Among combat and defensive shooting instructors (which the author certainly is not) there is a general agreement. Moving targets are harder to hit. There are studies to back this up, mostly built on police involved gun fights. The officers who were in motion were rarely hit, while those stationary were hit more often.
A civilian’s goals are different than police officers. Officers may be required to run into the battle, while civilians are usually required to avoid one unless there is no other choice (I’m comfortable with this difference, and it’s reflected in the defensive training drills I design for myself).
Shooting like this is something most ranges do not allow. If for no other reason, there is the danger factor of having people shooting on the move. Falling with a loaded weapon is dangerous, especially to on-lookers. It’s possible, for many shooters, the only way they’ll be able to practice defensive shooting on the move is by taking a training course. There is a solid value to many of these courses, and it’s something anyone serious about CCW and self defense should consider doing.
If one is are lucky enough to have a range where free movement is allowed, then perhaps the shooter can do some of the drills on their own. Very few shooters ever get formal training, and almost none train in movement. Surprisingly, a fair percentage of criminals do train as such, as is revealed in this sobering report. Reading this should encourage anyone serious about self defense to re-evaluate their strategies. Most telling is the point of many criminals getting military training and practicing regularly. ( More articles on the use of lethal force can be found here).
In this post, we’ll try to outline one type of practice used, which is simply called ‘Movement drills’. As the name implies, this is shooting on the move. Letting the legs carry one away from the threat while still engaging the attacker with force.
The basic premise is simple. Hitting a moving target is hard, and if we are the target we would certainly prefer not to get hit. Therefore, we should be moving. On the other hand, shooting defensively while moving is also hard, therefore we need to practice shooting on the move because it’s difficult and requires practice. The goal is to make ourselves harder to hit while improving our chances of stopping the threat by making solid hits ourselves.
These types of drills require an open range and considerable room. One target might be used (simulating one attacker) or a string of targets. The primary goal is to make room between the attacker and oneself, while still making good hits on the target. This means backing up if possible. Backing at an angle is preferred, as this is more likely to throw off the attacker’s ability to follow and rush in, as well as throwing off the opponents aim.
Whether straight back, angled back, or horizontal to the target all these movements should be practiced. By definition a defensive shooting will be by surprise and unplanned, and there is no way to know ahead what options will be open. Movement is good, if possible, but the circumstances will dictate what is possible. A defensive shooter should practice and drill for every eventuality he can.
The following video shows a series of movements the author uses while practicing. Much of the shooting is done with a .22 auto for economic reasons, but every carry weapon gets a turn at bat regularly. Shooting the .22 allows ten times the shooting practice that centerfire only would allow. On the day this video was taken, the author fired more than 400 rounds of .22 (about $12), and another 50 of 9mm and 50 of .38 special (about $30).
There are many schools of thought on such movement, but some things are consistent. The feet should never be put in a position that throws the shooter off balance. The legs should seldom, if ever, be crossed while moving. The torso should stay pointed directly at the target if possible, and one should remain aware of the surroundings at all times.
Here, we see demonstrated the wrong way. Crossing ones legs in this manner is a recipe for a hard fall with a loaded weapon. It places the body off balance, and subject to disaster.
In the second photo, The feet are not crossed and the torso stay in better alignment with the target. This allows better balance, stability, and smoother shooting.
An obstacle or slick spot on the ground should always be in the awareness of the shooter. One encounter with an icy patch or a stray rock can cause a fall and serious injury. In a negative social encounter, falling is a sure way to eliminate any chance of escaping quickly.
In practice, a simple movement drill might go thusly: Place a line of five targets on the backstop(s). The shooter begins at the five yard line, and moving left to right engages each target with either one or two rounds, depending on the firearm used. Reload, and do the same thing, only right to left.
Now, reloaded and ready again, the shooter begins on the left at about the three yard line and moves backwards laterally at an angle to the targets, engaging each in turn. Finally, do the same again, only right to left.
This series of drills is repeated several times, beginning with slow movement and carefully aimed fired, and increasing the speed as the shooter becomes more comfortable with the movement. Any movement too fast to allow a solid hit...is too fast.
If enough targets are available, they should be replaced with fresh each time the drill is run. Hits count, misses don't, and a clean target is needed to see the hits. 8" paper plates serve the role nicely for the bulk of the practice, but occasional use of full silhouette targets is a good idea too.
As in almost all drills, there is a need and value to running the drill first dry without ammunition or firing. Go through the movements slowly, with an empty weapon, paying attention to the foot movements and aiming skills.
Practicing drills such as these fairly often will ingrain them into memory. The more practice, the more likely a person is to use the skills instinctively in a stressful situation.