5 Critical Elements Of A Handgun Training Program

5 Critical Elements Of A Handgun Training Program

Tacticool instruction might be fun, but it won't make you a more prepared armed citizen. Handgun training should focus on the skills with practical tools that will save your skin.

What should handgun training focus on?

  • State of Mind
  • Functional Handgun
  • Handgun Presentation
  • Keeping Your Gun Running
  • Solid Hits

Unfortunately, much of what passes for defensive handgun training these days is “edutainment,” a word coined by famous trainer Pat Rogers. It’s a combination of education and entertainment, and unfortunately, the entertainment side is often more heavily weighted.

Pistol-drill-fouth - handgun training

If you want to go to man camp and spend five days crawling on the ground, shooting thousands of rounds through your AR or AK, that’s fine. It’s great fun. Chalk that up to your vacation budget, NOT your handgun training budget.

When you’re at your office or at the mall, you won’t have a chest rig and a rifle. You’ll have a concealed handgun and a spare magazine (unless you want to be another “forfeit”). The only gear you will get to defend yourself and your loved ones with will be that gear which is on your person when the incident occurs.

So, our handgun training program should be geared toward excellence in the following areas:

1) Develop an alert, aware state of mind, accepting the fact that violence can occur anytime, anywhere. Do not be surprised or astonished that someone is unlawfully attacking you. Instead of “I can’t believe this is happening!,” your mental response should be, “My day at bat.”

2) Acquire a reliable, functional handgun you can shoot well, a good carry system (belt, holster and ammunition carrier), and wear it on a routine, daily basis. You do not get to pick which day you will need your gun. Someone else makes that decision for you, and you will typically be informed at the very last minute!

3) Work on a safe, efficient, fast presentation of the handgun from its concealed mode of carry. Practice in the clothes you will wear daily. If you ever need that gun to save a life, you will need it quickly. You will have a very finite amount of time once the flag flies. The faster you can access your equipment, the more time you have to make life-altering decisions, and if necessary, get good hits.

4) Learn to keep your gun running. If it runs empty, reload it. If it malfunctions, fix it.

5) Do the bulk of your practice on getting solid hits in the 3- to 7-yard range, quickly and reliably. Do some handgun training at 15-20 yards, but not much.

In short, concentrate your handgun training on the skills we are most likely to need.

This article is an excerpt from Straight Talk on Armed Defense.


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  1. Basic pistol instruction focuses mostly on teaching safe handling and accident avoidance. Training with handguns should emphasize abilities with useful equipment that will save your skin.


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