“I want to practice and train with my handgun. I don’t have access to an outdoor range or even know where to go on public land to shoot? How can I get any training benefit?”
An indoor range may not be appealing to students seeking to train. And while an outdoor range has far numerous advantages and benefits than an indoor range; an indoor range is not totally useless or relegated solely to those who are trying to train with a handgun.
So, let’s talk about this for a brief moment: training with a handgun. This is a multi-faceted concept. There are many things you can do on your own without the watchful eye of a coach, there are things that require a teacher or mentor to help coach you into improvement (because you cannot watch yourself from the third person and a camera can only do so much and not near as much as a trained eye), and there is “plinking” or just wasting ammo.
The option that offers the most ideal options is the outdoor range. And, in a later blog post I will lay out a successful plan for training outdoors with others or by yourself. This post, however, is about the ubiquitous indoor range.
I should also specify that when I say an outdoor range, I mean a private location. Shooting at an outdoor range on a firing line with regular intervals of cease fire and a range safety officer is akin to shooting at an indoor range. There are limitations to what you can do from a line. I generally mean a separate bay or on public/private shooting area.
Here are the pros and cons, from as objective a position as possible. You will clearly see that cons outweigh pros, but that does not totally remove any benefit from an indoor range.
(This list is not comprehensive, I have a decent imagination, but I can’t think of everything).
· All weather
· Known distances
· Rental guns and ammo
· Limited to a single target/lane
· Possible restrictions to drawing
· No barricade/cover training
· Limited low light environment
· Limited weapons
· Noise, congestion, and crowds
Like I said, lots more cons than pros, but the pros are sufficient enough to support use of an indoor range from time to time.
The absolute best benefit of an indoor range is that it is immune to weather conditions (barring a hurricane or catastrophic earthquake or tornado).
Now, this is in no way a call to abandon inclement weather training. Training in the rain, wind, dust, bad weather has a place in training. However, weather can be a distraction. When this distraction needs to be avoided an indoor range is an appropriate alternative.
Another pro to indoor shooting is being able to shoot an known distances. This is just as easily accomplished outdoors with a measuring tape or range finder, but zeroing a red dot on a handgun at 15-20 yards is almost a no brainer at an indoor range when weather is bad.
Most indoor ranges are gun shops and they have rental guns and ammo available. If you are new to guns or looking to try something new a rental gun could be a great way to discover a different firearm.
Ok, there are some benefits to an indoor range. But, what can you train at an indoor range? There is at least one constant with handguns that can never be practiced too much: marksmanship.
This is an easy thing to train at an indoor range. Start close and walk the target back. Don’t miss. Or don’t shoot anything closer than 10 yards. Work those fundamentals. Make each round a bullseye. Too easy? Pick up the pace and watch that grouping open up.
No matter what you do later with a handgun being able to hit your target trumps everything else. At a minimum that is the one thing you can do at an indoor range at varying distances.
You can also work on presentation from a Ready Gun position if drawing from a holster is restricted at the indoor range. Work on getting a sight picture as the gun is presented to the target.
Those two things never get old and never lose value.
Most indoor ranges rent a lane by the hour. You can get a lot of fundamental work done in an hour. I guarantee that fundamental work will not go unnoticed in other parts of your handgun training.
So, if you can’t get to an outdoor range on public land or a private shooting bay, an indoor range is a good way to keep the fundamentals of marksmanship sharp.
Fundamentals never go out of style. And if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at when you want to, you should spend more time on those fundamentals.
So, if you have access to a open public land or a private range or shooting bay take full advantage of it. If you don’t, you can always get solid training out of an indoor range session by working on marksmanship and presentation; two important skills.
Excellence is a habit.
There’s trained and there’s untrained.