We all deal with daily life stress whether it’s work-related stress or just regular everyday stress, but we oftentimes forget about overwhelming stress when we are put in certain situations. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen both new and experienced shooters at the range start to fumble and fall apart because there was a little stress introduced into the drill. It’s nothing to be ashamed of but the vast majority of concealed carriers I have met stay within their comfort zone and don’t push their boundaries. This is typically what we all do, but if you want to truly mentally and physically train to deal with stress, you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable while shooting. Let’s dive into understanding and training with stress.
What Stress Does To The Body
Stress is one of those wildcards that truly makes people act radically different than they would if there was no pressure on them. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen shooters in training courses or even drills do odd things because they were stressed out from a competition mindset. One of the more recent examples of this is shooting with a group of police officers practicing off-hand shooting around cover. We were switching to our left hands and kneeling around cover to engage a single target twice before going back into cover and switching positions. This particular police officer decided to wrap his thumb around the top of his left hand when engaging the target. As a result, the slide came back and chewed up his thumb to the point where we had to stop and address his open wound.
This was a seasoned shooter who I train with on a regular basis. It wasn’t a new shooter who didn’t know what he was doing, but introducing something new and adding a little stress made him make mistakes that luckily didn’t have a worse result. It’s a fact that sometimes individuals panic and do things they can’t explain when becoming stressed. I have done a number of odd things when put under stress from time and a drill which pushes me out of my comfort zone. These things happen and it’s important to attempt to reach your failure point before you’re thrown into a situation where you need to figure it out while fighting for your life. The important part is training yourself to understand and work through the stress rather than falling victim to it.
How To Train With Stress
Over the last year and a half, ammo has become extremely difficult to find. As a result, there have been less and less shooters at the range every time I go. This is true for the vast majority of people who enjoy shooting and it’s somewhat concerning. Especially for keeping up your shooting skills if you conceal a firearm every day. Last weekend I went to the range with four other guys I train with regularly to figure out some drills that can add stress into your training without consuming a ton of ammo. What we came up with are short but high-energy drills that only use 5-6 rounds of ammo but make you focus and ultimately you’re using those rounds more effectively than just standing still and firing 5 rounds quickly.
Zig Zag Barrel Drill
The Zig Zag Barrel drill spaces 5 barrels out for about 40 yards. At the end of the range, about 25 yards from the closest barrel is a 2/3 human-size steel target. The shooter starts roughly 15 yards back from the first barrel and at the sound of the buzzer, the shooter runs up to the first barrel and engages the steel target. If you want to make sure to absolutely conserve ammo, it’s probably smart to only put 6 rounds into your magazine or cylinder to make sure you don’t try any follow-up shots.
At the buzzer, the shooter will run to the first barrel and take cover behind it before kneeling around and firing one round into the steel target. Once that shot is fired you move up to the next barrel repeating the process. If you don’t have barrels you can use anything that looks like cover and if there’s nothing for cover you can always just mark lines on the ground to show where to stop. This drill is great for adding stress and an element of physical exertion to your drills. We shot it as the sun was coming which washed out my front sight making it even more challenging so keep that in mind when shooting at various times.
The Peekaboo drill is shooting from behind a piece of cover and alternating between standing and kneeling. This allows shooters to practice standing and kneeling shooting as well as off-hand shooting. Running through the Peekaboo drill is a pretty straightforward procedure but keep in mind this is also the same drill the police officer I talked about earlier injured himself so it’s still challenging enough for people to make mistakes in.
It’s important to keep in mind that you should be as safe as possible with your firearm even though you’re pushing your limits. When you’re going outside your comfort zone, it’s important to remain in control and not push yourself to the point where you’re rushing just to rush. It may seem basic, but trust me, I’ve seen my fair share of shooters lose control and either miss shots or injure themselves. If you plan on pushing yourself with certain drills, it’s important to know your limitations and work on slowly pushing yourself rather than jumping in head first and overwhelming yourself.
There are plenty of ways to push your skills and work through drills safely while using less ammo. I get ammo may be hard to get and rather expensive but if you decide to carry a firearm, you should feel obligated to continuously work on yourself. You will be liable for every shot you take which should motivate you to work on skills regardless of how much ammo costs. I’m curious what you guys have been doing to stay sharp during the ammo crunch.
Do you guys still train or have you decided to take a break with ammo being as expensive as has been? Let me know in the comments below and start sharing your favorite drills if you have any. If you have any questions about carrying concealed or just have any firearm-related questions in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.