I’ve met many people over the years who believe that simply having a gun strapped to their hip is enough to protect them against any situation. This is not the case – having a decent gun is certainly a good start, but unless you know how to use it, and have the physical capability to respond to dangerous situations, it is almost useless.
Physical training is an important part of your preparedness training. There is a reason why soldiers spend as many hours running and lifting weights as they do on the range – strength and fitness dramatically increase combat effectiveness.
Regular physical conditioning not only improves your stamina, and therefore your ability to respond to threats. It also improves your ability to handle your weapon, which is particular important if you own a large, serious handgun like a 1911.
Shooting is, after all, a physical sport. Whilst many aspects of physical conditioning for shooting are shared with other sports, there are a few areas of fitness that are particularly important for shooters. Let’s look at a few of them.
Many people who are otherwise very fit do not train their grip strength, but this is an extremely important aspect when training for shooting. There are various types of grip strength you can train for, but for shooting undoubtedly the most important is crushing strength.
Improving your grip has huge advantages in terms of shooting. Not only does this allow you to keep a good hold of your weapon when in dangerous situations, but being able to grip well also takes a load off your other muscles. This allows them to do what they were designed for – moving you around – rather than helping you to merely hold your firearm.
Training your grip strength is pretty straightforward, and can be done in a number of ways. Getting a decent Torsion Gripper is a good place to start. Ideally, you should look for a Torsion Gripper that is hard to close, and for this reason I do not recommend the type normally sold in sporting goods stores, because they are simply too easy.
If you don’t have a Torsion Gripper, grip strength can be trained in other ways. Static holds from a pull-up bar can also help, as long as the bar is wide enough to train your arms and not just your lats. If you already have a pull-up bar, grips are available to increase its diameter, and turn it into a training tool for grip strength.
Another important area of training for shooters is core strength. This is particularly important when in combat situations, because it allows you to quickly and easily get down into, and get up from, a prone or kneeled position. With good core strength, you should be able to keep your weapon pointed at the target whilst transitioning between shooting positions, increasing your combat effectiveness.
A lot of pseudo-science surrounds the best way to increase your core strength, but my recommendation would be to use the simple push-up. If done correctly, this simple exercise trains your whole core, from your thighs, right through your back, to your triceps. And in addition, push-ups require no special equipment, and are quick. A set of 30 – 50 push-ups a day takes minutes, and if repeated on a daily basis will greatly improve your core strength.
Cardio training is overlooked by many people training for active shooter situations, which is a problem. You can be the strongest guy in the world, but without cardiovascular stamina you will quickly flag in a combat situation. Many professional trainers therefore include significant levels of cardio training into their programs.
Again, training for cardio fitness need not be complicated. Go for a run a few times a week, and you will see dramatic improvements in your stamina in quite a short period of time. Cycling, swimming, or even brisk walks are also great ways of improving your overall fitness.
Build A Training Routine
Of course, the best way to ensure that you are training effectively is to incorporate all these forms of training into a routine that you enjoy. If you regularly go down the range, you can easily incorporate push-ups, grip training, and some cardio training into your range routine.
Doing this also keeps you focused on what you are training for – active shooter situations – and also allows you to track your progress. After a few weeks of incorporating physical conditioning into your shooting practice, you should see your accuracy improve, and you will feel much more confident in your ability to respond to dangerous situations.
About the Author
“Sam Bocetta is a writer at Gun News Daily where he writes about global gun news and reviews products. In his spare time he runs a small company installing gun safes for local residents.”