Firearms training: 3 Home defense drills to sharpen your shooting skills
By Virgilio Marin // Jul 13, 2021

Equipping yourself with firearms and other weapons is not enough to successfully defend your home from burglars. You also need to be comfortable handling your weapon, which is why it's important to train at the firing range to hone your shooting skills. Here are three home defense drills to add to your firearms training: (h/t to


Gun retrieval

Guns are usually locked in a safety container to keep them out of children's reach. As such, you need to practice retrieving your gun and getting into a good shooting position.

Here's what you'll need for this home defense drill:

  • Rounds needed: One full magazine per repetition
  • Target: Law enforcement target #CFS-BSP-100 or paper plates
  • Special equipment: Quick-access safe or any other suitable substitute, as well as masking tape to recreate your home's floor plan. Be sure to choose a firing range that has some wiggle room and allows you to make markings on the floor.

Drill instructions:

  1. Use the masking tape to recreate the room in which you store your gun. Lay out the walls, doorway and any large furniture around which you need to navigate to get to your gun storage.
  2. Orient the gun storage to the target so that you're in the same shooting position from which you expect to mount your defense in a real home invasion scenario.
  3. Start the retrieval drill. Though this drill is not intended to sharpen your shooting skills, you should still hit the target with all rounds inside the target area.
  4. Repeat this drill several times to embed the sequence of events firmly in your mind.

Sudden response drill

The purpose of this drill is to improve your ability to think and speak with a 911 operator while holding an attacker at gunpoint. In that scenario, the bad guy can run at you or make a bolt for the door while you're on the phone.

Before trying this drill, you should already be skilled at drawing and aiming your gun with one hand. If you've already mastered the one-hand draw, you can try this home defense drill.

  • Rounds needed: Two magazines loaded between 40 to 60 percent capacity
  • Target: DT-2 series targets, so you can figure out which target really needs to be shot
  • Special equipment: Cellphone

Drill instructions: 

  1. The scenario is that you're on the phone with a 911 operator to report a burglar with a knife.
  2. Stand at a plausible distance from the target, based on your measurements of the room in your house.
  3. Carry on a simulated conversation with the imaginary operator. Tell the operator you need the police, give your name and address, describe the suspect and so on. You can bring a training partner and ask him to play the operator.
  4. Your training partner will ask standard dispatcher questions. In the middle of the conversation, your partner will call out a target identifier, such as color, number, shape or a combination of those. Your job is to determine which target to shoot and to deliver accurate rounds into that target.

Barricaded defender

In a real home invasion, you'll likely assume a shooting position behind cover for your personal safety. This can be extra difficult if you have no one else who can call 911. (Related: Self-defense basics: 4 Tips that will improve your situational awareness.)

The following drill is designed to give you some practice shooting from a realistic home defense position. Here's what you'll need for the drill:

  • Rounds needed: A couple of magazines, shot in successive repetitions of three to five rounds each
  • Target: Law enforcement target #CFS-BSP-100, which has a realistic depiction of an attacker's target zone
  • Special equipment: Any prop to substitute for cover, such as target frames with cardboard, plus an old cellphone

Drill instructions:

  1. Measure the distance between the shooting position that you'll assume in your safe room, which can be your bedroom, and the room's path of entry. At the firing range, use that measurement to stand at a precise distance from the target.
  2. Start in a ready position. Hold your gun close to your chest and put your elbows at your sides. If you're not working with a partner, decide for yourself when to shoot.
  3. For the first repetition, hold the cellphone to your ear and keep the gun close to your body with your shooting hand. On the command to fire, drop the phone to establish a good two-hand grip on the gun.
  4. Extend your arms and shoot at the target, making sure you get 3 to 5 solid hits. Remember to keep behind cover as much as possible.
  5. For the second repetition, repeat steps 3 and 4 using only one hand to shoot. You can use your free hand to clutch the phone. Drop it if you need to reload.

Firearms training improves your gun-handling skills and your ability to successfully defend your home from burglars. Try these home defense drills and always follow safety precautions at the firing range.

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