Training with your gun multiple times a year is vital to keeping your shooting skills up. Maintaining those shooting skills will become even more important in an SHTF situation.
The problem is that ammunition will be scarce in a true SHTF scenario, and since you might not be able to resupply yourself, it’s easy to think that you won’t be able to practice once things get tough.
In reality, you need to keep up your shooting skills regardless. Just like how you want to ensure you remain strong and fit and prioritize your physical health, you’ll also want to ensure you remain on top of your shooting abilities. When SHTF, there are many strategies you can follow to continue practicing with your firearm without wasting a large amount of ammunition.
Here are the top tips for practicing your shooting skills during SHTF…
There are many shooting and firearms-related drills that you can practice that do not require the use of ammunition.
Take note that for many of these upcoming drills, it will be wise to use snap caps for dry firing your firearm.
Pull The Trigger
The purpose of this drill is very straightforward: pull the trigger on your firearm and dry fire it to achieve a consistent trigger pull while ensuring that your sights are aligned properly. Slowly pull the trigger back so you can get used to the trigger pull and identify the exact point at which the gun will go off.
The idea is to essentially ‘memorize’ the trigger pull of your firearm and to pull the trigger back in a consistent and deliberate way each time. Pulling the trigger back in a slow and controlled manner each time is a critical skill to learn so you can avoid accidental discharges. The last thing you want to do is to jerk or yank the trigger back.
Here are the top mistakes you’ll want to avoid when pulling the trigger of your firearm:
Anticipating recoil by shaking the gun or suddenly yanking the trigger back
Tightening your fingers over the grip of the firearm while shooting
Jerking or yanking the trigger back instead of allowing for a smooth pull all the way to the rear
Pulling the gun towards you when you pull the trigger back with your trigger finger
Note that this discipline should be practice for your handguns, rifles, and shotguns.
Draw and ‘Shoot’
In this drill, you’ll expand a little bit over the above drill. Once you’ve ‘memorized’ your handgun’s trigger pull and can consistently pull the trigger in a controlled and disciplined fashion, it’s time to
Draw your handgun from your holster, achieve a proper shooting stance, raise the handgun to your eyes while keeping the sights aligned, and then pull the trigger using the smooth and controlled method like we described above.
This is a drill that you’ll want to practice over and over again until it becomes muscle memory. This way, each time you draw your handgun from its holster, it should be instinct to always adopt a proper shooting stance so you are ready to fire.
Raise From Your Sling and ‘Shoot’
This is the same drill, only with your rifle or shotgun instead of a handgun. Keep your rifle or shotgun close to your torso via a sling. Then place your shooting hand over the grip of the weapon and your non-shooting hand over the forend of the weapon before bringing the stock of the rifle or shotgun back to your shoulder and aligning the sights to your eyes.
Make sure that you lean forward into the stock of the weapon, so the recoil won’t force you off balance. Additionally, make sure that your foot on the same side of your body as your non-shooting hand is placed firmly in front of the foot on the shooting side of your body.
Try to practice each of the above drills every day if you can, both in your everyday life and after an SHTF scenario has occurred. If you practice ten repetitions of each of the above three drills, it won’t take up more than three minutes of your time in total.
Conserve Ammo When Training
Inevitably, you will need to practice on the range and expend live ammunition in the process.
When stockpiling ammunition, there are two piles of ammunition you’ll want to stockpile: ammunition for real-world use (such as hunting or defense) and ammunition for training purposes.
Your goal should be to practice with your firearms consistently, using ammunition from your training stockpile, while limiting the amount of rounds that you shoot so that you can make your stockpile last for as long as possible.
Divide Your Ammunition Accordingly
I’d recommend that you dedicate a certain amount of ammunition, such as one hundred rounds, to each shooting session. Let’s say that you decide to practice shooting every month at the range, with one hundred rounds per weapon.
Now let’s say that you have 1,000 rounds set aside for that weapon. That means you would have enough ammunition to practice shooting ten times for the entire year for that particular weapon. This honestly goes to show why one thousand rounds is really not very much in the long run.
Remember, it’s very important to practice with live rounds and to set aside training ammunition for this purpose. Decide A. how often you want to practice shooting when SHTF and B. how many rounds you want to shoot per shooting session, and then you can C. determine how many rounds you need to store over the long term.
Practice in Threes
Another good strategy to help conserve ammunition during live-ammunition training is to practice in threes.
In other words, load three rounds into your firearm for drills. Three shot groupings will be the best way for you to determine the average impact of the rounds and thus determine what your average point of aim is. This applies for rifles shooting at long distance and handguns at short distances alike.
When you shoot three rounds at a target, you can immediately see how close each of the three rounds were to the target and how tight your groupings are. This applies both when you’re taking your time with aiming and when you’re drawing from a holster and firing quickly.
Furthermore, shooting only three rounds at a time will help you become more conscientious about how much ammo you are shooting. It’s very easy to get carried away by loading and firing magazine after magazine of ammo, and before you know it, your stockpile will be depleted.
Shooting only three rounds at a time helps you to slow down and to more accurately assess how accurately and precisely your shots are being placed. Furthermore, it helps you to be more aware of how much ammo you are shooting. For example, you can put together ten sets of three rounds each (thirty rounds total) for your range session, ensuring that you will only shoot thirty rounds for the session. If you loaded a full magazine each time, it would be much easier to end up shooting more ammo during the training session than you should.
In summary, in addition to the dry fire skills we covered above, practicing with live ammunition will be very important in an SHTF scenario to ensure that you don’t lose your skills. What’s also important is that you don’t get carried away and ‘budget’ your ammunition accordingly.
Make sure you explicitly stockpiled ammunition for training purposes and divide that ammunition accordingly. To that end, determine how much ammunition you will fire per shooting session (i.e., 100 rounds) and how many shooting sessions (i.e., 12 if you shoot once monthly) you estimate you will complete yearly.
Then, ensure you have enough ammunition stockpiled for that year (in this example, 1,200 rounds).
Loading and firing three rounds at a time can also help you more carefully moderate the amount of ammunition you use.
Nick Oetken is a writer and firearms enthusiast based out of Idaho. He specializes primarily in writing about the outdoors, firearms, and disaster preparation. Nick is a published author and has written for major firearms publications like Guns.com.