Practicing Lateral Movement for Self Defense & Shooting Competitions
The first step towards being able to move and shoot is being able to move, then shoot. Moving then shooting is an incredibly practical skill for self defense and competitive shooting, and it can be easily practiced at home during dry fire or at a shooting bay.
The first step towards being able to move and shoot is being able to move, then shoot. Moving then shooting is an incredibly practical skill for self defense and competitive shooting, and it can be easily practiced at home during dry fire practice or at a shooting bay in live fire. The more room you have, the better, which turns it into a pretty good cardio workout in addition to shooting practice.
John Vlieger is an excellent USPSA shooter, and he reviews one of his shooting drills for practicing lateral movement.
Set up two “fault lines” (lines on the ground) or any measurable point on the ground, in a way that allows you to move back and forth, parallel to the range’s 180. You can use just markers on the ground, or you can use a physical object as a fault line, forcing you to stop without crashing into an object.
Run back and forth between the two fault lines, putting one or two shots on target upon arriving to each fault line.
Be mindful of the muzzle. It is very easy to break the 180 rule when working on moving and shooting. Always keep the muzzle pointed down range.
Tips for tweaking the drill
Any drill will get stale after a while, especially as you become proficient in the drill. Here’s some ways to improve the drill and make it more challenging or simply different to focus on different skills.
Move to the outside of the fault line
Instead of stopping just inside the fault line, finish on the outside of the fault line. In shooting competitions such as USPSA, sometimes it is beneficial to hop from shooting area to shooting area, and this trains you to get inside the next available shooting area as quickly as possible. This is more helpful for shooting competitors than self defenders or law enforcement.
Add an obstacle between the fault lines
Practicing moving around an obstacle will improve your footwork and general agility. The more the obstacle forces you to adjust your path, the greater the challenge is.
Adding in a little bit of forward and back movement changes your start and stop a little bit, so it’s a good thing to practice. It also changes up the drill to keep it from going stale.
Add an obstacle to lean around
In shooting competitions and self defense, leaning around cover or concealment is a useful skill to have. Putting up an obstacles at the start and stop of the lateral movement allows you to practice leaning both directions.
Use smaller targets
Pretending to be John Wick doesn’t generally get old. But shooting quickly means very little if you can’t hit small targets. The only way to get better at hitting small targets is to shoot at small targets. Don’t cheat and use a large target and only count hits inside a certain ring. Give yourself a small target and force yourself to slow down. Don’t accept misses. Train until you’re consistently hitting those small targets, then you’ll be significantly faster when you shoot at larger targets.
Reloading on the move is an important skill to have for shooting competitors, law enforcement, and self defenders who carry spare mags. Only include reloads in this drill if you are consistent and smooth while reloading while standing still.
Dry fire drill
Almost all of these drill variations can be done at home in a garage or living room. Dry fire is an excellent way to work on shooting skills without spending money on ammo. Dry fire training is critical to becoming a better shooter.
Simply set up some targets and fault lines at home, and drill away. Thirty minutes of this drill will get you working up quite a sweat and help your shooting skills quite a lot.
Written by Brian Purkiss - always a student, sometimes a teacher.
I don't consider myself a competition shooter - I think of myself as a performance pistol shooter. I am all about performing at as high of a level as possible. Towards that end, I am obsessive about learning how to perform. I spend a lot of my life learning from the best across the entire firearms world and even into other areas of performance and other sports. I am a USPSA Carry Optics Grandmaster, currently working towards my second GM title in the Open division.