Sometime back I was at a public shooting range and a gentleman was giving a shooting lesson to a newer shooter. The instructor admonished the neophyte to all but ignore his sights, and just “get rounds downrange” at the hostile threat. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut. After the class, I spoke with the instructor who told me his feelings were that target shooting had no place in the world of defensive shooting. De-crying the use of sights was this instructor’s way of taking a short cut, Sighted fire taking too long, in that man’s mind. And like many short-cuts to the learning process, this one could easily turn out to be more costly than a proper understanding from the beginning. I’m guessing the instructor has no idea where or how most common shooting sports came into being. I’ll give the reader a hint. The initial purpose of firearms was not sport. They were designed to kill either animals, or people. Hunt or fight. And handguns were no exception. The fundamentals of aiming and shooting, accurately and quickly have not changed greatly. Only our ability to teach these things has seemed to evolve to any significant degree. Defensive shooting is less about different technique, and more about your mindset and the application of the fundamentals of shooting as the emergency dictates.

So, what is defensive shooting? Defensive shooting can be described as the act of using a firearm for the purpose of preserving a life of someone other than a hostile actor. In the civilian world, defensive shooting is almost always a reactionary product of some threat. A crashing of glass as an intruder forces their way into your house. Or the sudden presentation of a knife while you walk home from work. In short, defensive shooting is a form of self-defense. Like many other martial arts. And like any other martial arts, shooting requires training and sustainment practice to maintain what is a very perishable skill. If you don’t practice it, you lose shooting skills quickly.

There is little denying that guns are frequently used in self-defense. How often guns are lawfully used for self defense is not well understood because many cases, which end just short of shots fired (think presenting the weapon as deterrent) are suspected to be grossly under reported. But they are used. And for most people, guns are the best defensive tool, provided they make the commitment to the skills needed to comfortably manage the gun and situation. To that end, we recommend training. And practice.

California Tactical Academy hosts many classes where one can learn and advance the skills associated with firearms. There are beginner classes where the fundamentals are honed. Do not be fooled by the title. Many long-time shooters come to the beginners’ class and find they take away a tremendous amount of information. I have often maintained that some experienced shooters take away more than novice shooters, because the experienced shooters understand the mistakes they have made, and the time wasted with poor technique or practice.

California Tactical Academy also offers advanced classes for handgun, rifle, and shotgun. All the classes are geared towards the practical use of these tools. There are classes such as the Urban Pistol Class where one learns how to move around common urban obstacles such as walls, vehicles, and other objects, all while maintaining a focus on accurate shooting for self-defense. California Tactical Academy also offers a Short-Range Rifle class which is perfect for those who keep a rifle by the bedside for defense against intruders. For those on a larger property, there is even a precision rifle class where the focus is on decisive first round hits out to 200 yards or more. CTA even offers a Low Light pistol class and a home defense class which features room clearing drills and practical instruction on how to respond to a home intruder, beyond just grabbing a gun.

I will say this final word about defensive shooting. The practitioner is responsible for every round they fire. To that end, and in the interest of stopping the threat in the most efficient and quickest possible manner, we strongly encourage some use of the sighting devices your firearm is equipped with. Because defensive shooting should never be “just get rounds downrange”.

We’ll see you at the range.

About the writer

Mike Lazarus

Military and Law Enforcement Veteran

FBI certified firearm instructor

MP5 and Sub Machine gun instructor

Defensive tactics instructor