Can you skip marksmanship training and just train for Self Defense? Yes. However, marksmanship training, done right, will help you with your self defense training. The Winchester NRA Marksmanship Program offers progressive standards for increasing your skills. It is a self-paced, honor system working your way to get to Distinguished Expert (the highest level, which must be witnessed in order to get the medal). You can geek out with the patches and rockers if that is your thing. However, the handgun training that you must work through to accomplish each level starts easy and gets progressively harder. That is the beauty of this program. You learn to shoot with one hand, strong hand and support hand; you have to complete a course of two handed shooting that uses your support hand as the strong hand. The value is that you get proficient with either hand (and it is harder than it sounds) so that if you are ever injured you have practiced and can shoot with either hand. To complete each level required you must get a minimum score on a series of targets at 15 feet. This is not the hardest part, but it is possible. Marksmanship skills are important, being able to aim and hit a point is important.
Self Defense shooting practice is a different focus. You aren’t looking to put multiple shots through the same hole; you are looking for speed, “combat accuracy” meaning the shoot placement in high center chest in the least amount of time. What is the difference between 2 shots within 5 seconds in a 1 inch group and 5 shots in 5 seconds in a 6 inch group? It could be the difference in your survival. Practice shooting without sights, drawing and firing, and moving while you shoot. Incorporate your startle reflex. Draw, shoot 2-5 shots, come back to a ready position and then drive out and shoot again. Incorporate your reloads, ensure you are dropping your magazines and indexing your reload. Practice so that you can reload while you are scanning and keeping watch over the threat.
Both styles of practice are important, but if you have to choose only one, and you are carrying a firearm for self defense, practice for self defense. However, if you can combine your practice techniques, your accuracy will improve and so will your confidence. If you only practice for self defense, remember to incorporate one handed practice, and weak handed practice. If you have never shot with one hand, remember to cant (angle your hand slightly toward the center of your body) you firearm so that you have better control, and a stronger wrist.
Always be aware of your surroundings and remember that the firearm is a last resort. Safe Shooting!
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