It's a sad fact that, while everyone knows that range time is good for your shooting skills, not everyone takes the time out of their schedule to put rounds down range as often as they ought to. Some may consider themselves to already be "good enough" to use their guns the way they need to, and others may just not be willing to devote the time necessary to build proper skill. Whatever the reason, it's important to note why squeezing in some time at the range is so important.
Read on for the 5 most important benefits of shooting consistently.
1. Muscle Memory
Whether you're a competition shooter or a concealed carry permit holder, shooting quickly and accurately is a vitally important component of your end goal. When you regularly spend time at the range carefully and deliberately stepping through the motions of your shot, your muscles begin to remember exactly what it feels like to take aim where you are looking. This may not seem all that important, but it can be crucial when seconds count. If your sights are already approximately aligned by the time you extend to take your shot, then you are that much closer to pulling the trigger and quickly landing a shot on target.
2. Improve Your Aim
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to improving your accuracy. How are you breathing? Are you jerking your trigger pull? What does your grip look like? What does your site picture look like? How are you pulling the trigger? These are all things that you should be looking at when attempting to improve upon your accuracy. While some of them can be accomplished through dry fire drills, nothing beats time logged at the range shredding targets and making adjustments to sharpen your precision. In a competition or defensive gun use setting, knowing exactly what you need to do to land shots on target is crucial, and this skill cannot be improved by simply carrying your gun around or keeping it in the safe.
3. Prepare for Errors
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of logging time at the range is knowing how to manage errors and misfires as they come up. When your gun is left in the safe at home or carried around in a holster without being fired, there is no way you'll have to manage a firing error. This means that, when you do have to use your gun, either in competition or to defend yourself, a stovepipe or a failure to eject could be devastating and, potentially, life threatening. By going to the range regularly, you are more like to experience these errors, which will teach you how to manage them safely and efficiently should you ever need to clear them under pressure.
4. Building Confidence
How confident are you at taking aim and firing your gun? If your answer is anything less than "extremely confident," then there is still room for improvement in your gun-handling skills. When you regularly practice at the range, your firearm begins to feel like an extension of yourself. You know how it works. You know how it shoots. You know how to manage its recoil. When you've gained comfort with these elements of your gun, you will feel infinitely more confident carrying it, holding it, aiming it and firing it—which could be vital down the line.
5. Draw Speed
Some ranges don't allow you to draw from your holster. If that's the case at your range, we suggest you find a different range. When it comes to shooting, it's important to "practice the way you play." This means that, if you'll be drawing from an OTW holster during competition, you should be drawing from an OTW holster at the range. If you're drawing from an ITW concealed carry holster for self defense, you'll want to practice at the range drawing from that same holster. This relates back to the "Muscle Memory" section at the top of this article. If you're going to need to draw quickly under pressure, it's important that your body knows exactly how to get that done well before your score or your life depends upon it.
When it comes to responsibly shooting your firearm, you can never have too much practice. If you're one of those people who lets their gun collect dust in the safe, take this article as a challenge to get it out, clean it and take it to the range sooner rather than later. As a gun owner, it's your responsibility to be a safe and skilled shooter, and the best way to achieve that is to put in some quality time at your favorite gun range.