Being a defensive shooter means you’re prepared to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones with a firearm when faced with a potentially deadly threat.

No gun owner wishes to find themselves in such a situation. Even expert shooters understand firing a gun under duress is very different from hunting, sport or practice shooting.

Like most aspects of gun ownership, information and preparation are key in firearm self-defense. Below are 6 ways to improve as a defensive shooter.

1. Research

All gun owners should research the best firearms for home defense, their proper ammunition and safety measures. In addition, it’s essential to know local gun laws, as they vary from state to state.

Home defense is commonly referred to in the legal system as “castle doctrine.” Though most states support the right to use reasonable force in protection of self and others against home intrusion, not all states offer immunity from prosecution for use of deadly force in some self-defense situations.

Stand Your Ground” laws also do not apply in every area and differ widely where they are applicable.

Knowledge is truly power when it comes to firearm defense, both in selecting weapons and knowing gun legislation in your state. Doing research to gain and understand this information makes for a better defensive shooter.

2. Training

A great way to improve as a defensive shooter is to go through some form of training. Even if you’re an expert shooter, the pressure of a threatening situation can undermine your skills.

Nearly all ranges and firearm academies offer self-defense weapon training. Learning techniques from a professional can ensure you’re as trained and ready as a defensive shooter can be.
If the time and/or cost of a professional training session is not feasible, you can also seek private self-defense lessons or go through online tutorials.

The professionals are there to not only help improve defensive shooting skills, but also defensive strategies when faced with threatening situations to minimize damage.

3. Preparation

Defensive shooting is not the same as hunting, sport or target shooting. In a sense, there is no effective way to practice defensive shooting due to the fact these situations arise unexpectedly and sometimes violently.

However, gun owners can prepare in order to improve their defensive shooting. One clear form of preparation is understanding proper and safe gun operation and maintenance.

Purchasing a gun and putting it aside for a “just in case” situation is likely to cause malfunctions with both the gun and user. Instead, regularly maintaining and operating your gun will ensure you’re familiar with it and can use it effectively when needed, even in defensive situations.

4. Combat Grip

Experts agree that developing a “combat” grip at all times when operating a firearm is the best advice to improve marksmanship and defensive shooting. There are a variety of grips for each type of gun, but their effectiveness is based on strength and consistency. A combat grip is an optimal, final-firing hold on a gun.

Using this combat grip in non-defensive shooting situations will improve defensive shooting skills in the development of muscle memory. This muscle memory will take over in situations of danger or threat.
In addition, keeping a consistent grip when operating a firearm will ensure follow-up shots (if necessary) are as likely to hit the target as the first shot.

5. Proper Stance

One of the most important skills to improve on as a defensive shooter is proper stance.

To have an advantage over an intruder or other threat, a defensive shooter must have a balanced, stable and mobile stance. This is hard to achieve when the body is defensively reacting to clear and present danger.

Therefore, developing a “power” stance during all gun use is a way to improve defensive shooting. A power stance gives a solid foundation to avoid being knocked backward by gun recoil or an opponent.

It can also be used when still or in motion. Gun owners can develop their proper stance by consulting a professional trainer or through tutorials.

6. Readiness

Ideally, defensive shooting shouldn’t be part of maintaining a safe and comfortable existence. However, nearly every homeowner is vulnerable to intrusion and potential violence.

No gun owner wishes to use deadly force in the presence of threat, but when lives are in danger, this defense becomes necessary. Defensive shooters can improve their chances of survival and success through tactical readiness.

Tactical readiness is based on situational awareness when it comes to defensive shooting. Knowing how to respond quickly, confidently and with control to dangerous situations can save lives.

This means practicing firearm preparation and readiness to avoid malfunctions or ineffective operation. It’s also important to have a reaction plan with predetermined maneuvers for cover, concealment and threat assessment.

The best defensive shooter is one who does not have to shoot at all. Gun owners can take many precautions for home defense that might circumvent the need for firearm force. However, when defensive shooting is absolutely necessary, it’s important to be ready.

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