Humdrum should never describe our shooting range experience. Pack up the guns and ammo, go to the range, shoot at a paper target, reload, repeat. It takes a disciplined person to do this on a regular basis, but if you’ll add in a little “fun factor”, you might find that range drills can be both enjoyable and beneficial. I’ve made a list of my favorite pistol games.
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When I can, I prefer to shoot outdoors. There’s something about the fresh air and open space that just feels relaxing, not to mention there’s less noise. Some of my favorite range games are ones that can be played with friends.
I love a good battle using a dueling tree. If you’re not familiar with a dueling tree, it has a steel post with slots for steel paddles. Mine has 6 paddles. The post fits into a base to allow it to stand upright. The paddles flip from side to side when hit by a bullet. The object is to start with equal paddles on each side and challenge a friend to compete against you while trying to shoot all the paddles to the opponent’s side.
A couple of my favorite reactive targets are shaving cream cans and 2-liter pop bottles. The pressure inside each container will cause it to burst when it’s punctured by a bullet. This is especially true of the shaving cream cans, which also tend to spin wildly in the air when struck. Pumpkins can also make an amusing target. Try to make a face by shooting holes for eyes, nose and mouth. All of these options tend to make quite a mess, so make sure your range approves.
If the weather outside isn’t cooperative, move inside. Indoor ranges are generally more restricted when it comes to the type of targets used. This doesn’t, however, mean that there aren’t great ways to practice and have fun at the same time.
There is a plethora of paper targets that combine skill and enjoyment. From Tic-Tac-Toe to Battleship, the competition options abound. Or, if you’re at the range alone, work on your accuracy with a bullseye target and get as close as possible to the center. Want a real test? Print out the “Dot Torture Test” and see how well you do with accuracy, trigger control, and reloading. Or, if you just want to get a little trigger time in, consider a colorful themed target such as the birthday balloons shown below.
Besides going to the shooting range, there are other ways to practice necessary firearm drills.
Many local ranges have shooting simulators. These virtual shooting ranges provide many options which can include marksmanship training, competition, concealed carry shoot/don’t shoot situations, and more. Using a laser gun, or real weapon with a laser insert, participants shoot at a screen that is interactive. In the scenario-based situations, you have to react to what’s happening on the screen. Not only does this help you mentally prepare and think through a situation, but it also adds stress to help you evaluate what can be improved upon.
If a shooting simulator isn’t available nearby, check out the selection of electronic target systems, such as LaserLyte, that can be set up at home. Most systems work with a SIRT gun or your own firearm with a laser cartridge insert and provide immediate audio and visual feedback from the target. Electronic targets can be placed in any location around your house and help to improve shooting skills. What a great way to work on your fundamentals, beat the cold temperatures, and save money without having to use ammo.
No matter how or where you choose to practice, don’t forget that safety comes first. Never shoot at anything that could cause the bullet to ricochet or explode. Break the monotony and make practice fun. You’ll be more apt to work on your skills regularly.
Freelance writer Stacy Bright holds instructor certifications from the NRA in Pistol & Rifle, as well as being an Range Safety Officer and Refuse to be a Victim instructor. In addition to her NRA credentials, she also is a Missouri CCW instructor and teaches various other home and personal defense courses. “In a field dominated by men, I feel I bring a unique perspective to firearms and training, especially to women. I'm passionate about educating, empowering and developing confidence in those I train. In November of 2014, I started the Southwest Missouri chapter of The Well Armed Woman,” said Stacy. Stacy lives in southwest Missouri, and has been married for 20 years. Visit TWAW Facebook page: The Well Armed Woman-Springfield, MO Chapter. View all posts by Stacy Bright