Adding Stress to Training
(Photo by Ruger)

Training teaches and reinforces skills. However, training can’t introduce the feel of a gunfight, where eyes become locked on targets and fine motor skills diminish. So, shooters must do what they can to add realism by introducing stress to training.

Now instructors often try to introduce stress to drills. They do this in many ways, including yelling at opportune moments and changing factors, among other things. Even better, many instructors have ranges where multiple scenarios can be set up beforehand, or even shoot houses that add in the use of cover and clearing. Gunsite Academy has excellent shoot houses, as well as numerous ranges and courses that add difficulty and realism.

However, most people train by themselves or with a friend or two at gun ranges with standard lanes and static targets. At these places it is difficult, if not impossible, to set up scenarios and moving courses. But, shooters can still add stress to training, especially if they get creative.

Get Physical to Add Stress to Training

The simplest and cheapest way to add stress to training is with physical exercise. A gunfight makes hearts pump and breath short, just like exercise. Additionally, exercising prepares a person for what the body might actually go through. And considering the growing size of Americans, most of us could use more exercise. Even better, exercise can be tailored to target specific reactions to the stress of a gunfight.

The simplest, and probably most needed, is running. Place the gun on the bench or in a holster and sprint between 30 and 50 yards, and then back again. Another way is to quickly do pushups, ranging from 20 to 50; do as many you can perform to make the arms burn and breath fast. Then, fire a string, whether with a handgun for a long gun.

Variations on the shooting strings are pretty much up to the imagination. You can draw from cover and send a double-tap into a silhouette target, conduct a failure drill or just find out how difficult it can be taking an aimed shot into the 10 ring. In fact, exercise can be implemented into most standard drills.

Adding running, or other exercise, to drills increases the heart rate, makes the body short of breath and releases adrenalin. This creates a situation that is at least feels somewhat like a real fight.

Add Stress With Competition

Another way to add stress to training is through competition. It is just natural for human beings to compete, whether individually or on teams. And shooters are worse than most. In fact, shooters often compete with themselves, trying to improve accuracy and speed by shooting a scored target against a timer. Or, shooters can compete against friends for both accuracy and speed.

Shot timers automatically create a certain amount of stress, and it gets stronger when others are involved. No matter the situation, we want to win, and we just seem to want to win more when we’re friends with our competition.

Self-defense situations contain a lot of stress. So, it makes sense to try and add stress to training. Working with instructors who understand this need can be beneficial, but that is just a start. Shooters should constantly look for ways to make training more difficult. Sure, accuracy is important, but it is more important to be accurate under stress.

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