Chance favors the prepared!

9 firearm training tips to help you survive a deadly encounter

A while back, I received an email from a guy asking me my opinions on various firearms. The guy had some money to spend, and wanted to know what sort of rifle he should buy. He said he was new to rifles and was asking for my insight. His budget was on the higher end, between $1500 to $2000 according to his email. My response may have caught him off guard.

I told the man NOT to spend more than $1000 on the rifle. I talked about a few solid rifles that were under $1000. Then I told him to take the rest of the money, and spend it on training. (Getting several magazines and ammo as well is something I stressed.) I explained that a $1000 (or less) rifle in the hands of a trained shooter is head and shoulders better than a $2000 rifle in the hands of a novice. The shooter makes the rifle, the rifle doesn’t make the shooter!

When it comes to firearm training, there are many reputable instructors out there. They can give you a one day, two-day, or even longer classes to teach you more than just the fundamentals of shooting. However, many of these classes can be pretty pricey….costing hundreds of dollars or more. (That doesn’t include any travel expenses, the cost of providing your own ammo, etc.) So for many people, the ability to take classes like these may be cost prohibitive.

However, that does not mean you cannot train on your own. I have advocated multiple times on this site the importance of firearm training. Unlike riding a bike, firearms skills can go rusty if you do not do it regularly. In addition, simply shooting at paper targets 3 to 7 yards away is great for beginners. But just like any other skill, you need to push yourself for that skill to improve.

So with that in mind, I thought I would take a look at some training tips that can help you be more prepared should you ever have an encounter where you have to use lethal force to protect yourself/your family.

  1. Practice shooting from both the left and right barricade positions. When shooting from the weak side, you will quickly learn whether you prefer to shoot with your weak-hand, or modify your stance and shoot with the strong-hand from the weak side. Do this with both any handguns you own, as well as long guns. Keep in mind that the recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun will be different than that of an AR-15, so be sure to practice this with both if you own them.

    US Marines shooting from barricaded position

  2. Practice from several different shooting positions. This includes standing, kneeling, and prone positions. You might square off against your paper targets at 3 to 7 yards. But in a real-life situation, it doesn’t work that way. If you can practice shooting from a sitting position, do that as well. You could be seated in a restaurant or in your car when a deadly encounter occurs. So the more ways you can simulate this in practice, the better off you will be.
  3. Get your heart rate up to simulate an adrenaline dump. Do things like running, push ups etc. prior to shooting. Sprinting 50 yards is going to have a huge effect on your steady aim. And in reality, in a real life situation, your heart rate will probably be running a mile a minute. So practice with this in mind.
  4. Vary your course of fire. Try shooting two to the chest and one to the head as quickly as you can. Then try three shots center mass in 2 seconds. Maybe try this at the one foot line and then at the 10 yard line. When you find yourself becoming comfortable with a course of fire, change it to something else. Vary the number of rounds, the amount of time, and the distance to the target.
  5. Weak-handed shooting (also know as off-hand) should be part of your training. This is different than the barricaded positions I talked about in #1. What happens if you receive a severe injury to your gun hand? (Or gun arm?) Being able to switch hands could save your life. Practice with your weak hand. (This includes with long guns as well.) As you grow more confident with your off-hand, begin using these other tips with it as well.
  6. It was always “High noon” in the movies when the “show down” occurred, but that doesn’t mean you might not find yourself in a deadly encounter at night. So practice shooting in low light conditions. (I have a Streamlight TLR1 300 lumens light on my primary side arm.)
  7. Practice firing while on the move. This is one of the most difficult skills to master, but it is so important. Stationary targets are sitting ducks. So moving while shooting could save your life. I’ll admit I still struggle with this, but I practice this more and more. I found an outdoor range that I can do things like this, so I do it often.
  8. Practice with malfunction drills as well. For example, randomly load a few dummy rounds in your magazines before shooting. Then see how well you can implement the “tap, rack, and bang” method of clearing a malfunction. This adds some stress, making concentration paramount. (It also shows you when you are jerking the trigger!) I have a video that goes into more detail on malfunction drills at the end of the article. (The video is NOT me.)

    Laserlyte Laser Trainer Cartridge

  9. Dry fire! I have a Laserlyte Laser Trainer Cartridge I use at least once a week. These come in most standard handgun calibers, and will work in ANY semi auto pistol in that same caliber. These are great for trigger control and sight alignment practice! It has certainly helped me. Click the link for more details on this!


I have talked before about the importance of practice. A high end firearm doesn’t mean anything if you don’t put in the range time to become at least proficient with it. As preppers, I would encourage you to go beyond proficient, and become an “Expert” with it!

If you have other prepper firearm training tips, please leave them in the comments section below.

voteStay safe out there!

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