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Master The Life-Saving Skill Of Shooting On The Move

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If gun battles happened at a standstill, there would hardly be any battles at all. Military technique from time immemorial emphasizes the concept of maneuver – the art of positioning your element – or even you – in the most favorable position to either attack or defend. Maneuver and motion in general are some aspects of shooting practice that get little if any attention when recreational shooters practice, mainly because it’s considered unsafe at many ranges to shoot and move at the same time. Shooters are carefully lined up behind a bench, and not only is excessive movement while shooting discouraged – it might just get you tossed from the range!

Movement is an important strategy for the defensive concealed carrier. When a threat emerges, you might need to move to a position of cover in order to engage that threat. Most people know that. The part they fail to realize, however, is that you might just have to shoot while moving to that position of cover! If the thought of depressing the trigger while your feet are in motion worries you, take heart – it’s an easily learned and practiced skill.

First of all, why should we learn to move and shoot and the same time anyways? In the words of classic military textbooks: fire without movement is indecisive. In layman’s terms, that means that you may not necessarily hit what you are aiming for, and by staying in the same position, you engage in a back and forth volley of fire that will eventually leave both parties with empty magazines. But wait – we don’t really think that any of us will be involved in a military style gun battle, do we? It’s far from likely that such an event will ever happen on American soil, but there is still much that can be learned from military tactics. Here are some reasons why movement is important, and some situation where you, the average Joe concealed carrier can use movement to your advantage:

  • The vast majority of active shooters are unskilled marksmen at best. Sure, these people are dangerous when they go off in a public place, but statistics show that for the most part, they can’t hit the broad side of a barn. Movement on your part lessens the chances of taking a hit while at the same time delivering lethal fire in the direction of your attacker.
  • Movement allows you to deliver fire while in the process of moving to a position of better advantage. The time you save between moving, then shooting versus moving while shooting might be small, but gun battles are notorious for being measured in seconds, not minutes.
  • Shooting while moving is something most assailants and attackers will not expect, because it is something most of them cannot do themselves.

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Teaching Yourself How To Shoot And Move

To some people, shooting on the move is like walking and chewing gum at the same time; namely, it takes some practice. Practicing realistic shooting always has to come in baby steps tailored to the level of the shooter. First, fundamentals need to be mastered. You need to major in the minors at first by mastering grip, trigger squeeze, sight picture and alignment, and breath control. Once you are a master of fixed position, upright shooting, you need to alter your shooting position to ones more unconventional, like prone, supine, on your side, and even from inside a vehicle. Once you’ve master those positions, it’s time to learn to shoot and move at the same time.

At this point, you might wonder where it is that you are moving to exactly. There is only one correct answer: to a position of better advantage. What the advantage is in particular is really dependent on your goals for the gunfight. Some positions of advantage could be:

  • To a better position of cover
  • To a better position to egress the building, or to escape/retreat
  • To a position that allows you to better engage the attacker (such as flanking)

So why shoot while moving? Why not just wait until you get to one of these “positions of advantage”? That, too, is a simple answer – because you may never get to such a position if you don’t lay down some cover fire first!

Safety is paramount when teaching yourself to shoot and move, and the easiest way to initially practice this art is to start dry. Completely unload the weapon, then start your drill from any position you choose. From that position, proceed at half speed, then practice putting two well-placed shots on the target while moving to your end point, which could be a position of cover or egress. Even dry firing and moving at half speed, you’ll quickly learn that shooting and moving is harder than it looks. Your sight picture is bouncing, and the target’s position changes laterally as you move. That’s why you need to practice it! It will eventually work itself out with practice.

When you’re ready, go hot with the weapon, still proceeding at half speed. Make sure you obey all safety rules, and remember that just because you are moving, doesn’t mean your finger is on that trigger – it’s only on there when actually firing. Take it slow, and practice diligently, and you’ll acquire a skill that few shooters can perform.

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  1. Never did do much shooting from one position unless it was a crossfire trap. We were always on the move. One thing we learned was if you stand still you die. Cowboy action is for the movies…

  2. This is a great little un-complicated video showing some solid advice for “on the run” shooting!

  3. There is a range where i buy my supplies and I see a lot folks shooting, carefully lining up their sites and slowly squeezing the trigger. Then I remember what it’s really like in a firefight. Almost none of what folks do at the range will keep you alive in a real fight. It will get you killed. Charlie didn’t sit still for us and anything here will be the same, count on it. Movement is life…

  4. While the demonstrated movement while shooting does have some real world application, it does not resemble anything close to the required movement while shooting to a close spontaneous attack! Two hands are usually needed when operating a long gun, not so with a handgun. Two hands actually magnifies “bounce”, but one hand helps to mitigate it, I know, better control with two hands you say. My response, “bull”, get a proper grip. As demonstrated, using two hands moving towards your strong side, there came a point when you had to turn your whole body, when simply transitioning to one hand left hand would allow forward movement for a longer period of time. Yeah, eventually, you need to change direction or body alignment at some point. One hand works either way, but especially moving to your “weak” side. Two hands are needed sometimes going to the strong side if you don’t transition, so the support hand/arm can help torque/turn your body in the direction of your target. To much to say here, don’t dwell on what was not said here. As was aptly stated, terrain, scenario, distance, all variables to consider. MOVE, SHOOT, COMMUNICATE!

    • My thoughts pretty close. I’ve tried two handed and it takes too long to position. One handed, hold on to the gun, acquire target, shoot, move and as you say talk to your partner-buddy if in the field. I know there are a lot of opinions but in a fight they won’t matter much if someone is shooting at you[them]. Do I have some experience, You could say that. mostly with an M-14 then an M-16 and some with a hand gun. Hated the hand gun though, for me, worthless past 40 yrds or so… I was in Nam in the middle 60’s Note: My wife has stated categorically, “No hand gun in the house”. She’s my life and I comply with the boss. She’s big on long guns though, go figure.

      • Yes, I had some as well. Hills 861,881,TET 68, siege at Khe Sanh, etc, 28 years L/E. Still deeply involved in instruction of tactical application of firearms. Don’t kid yourself, handgun good out to more than 100 yards, depending on skill level. There was never a question of handguns in our home. Concessions need to be made on occasion on “BOTH” sides. Arguments can be made about differences, but in the end, there is no difference. Stay Safe

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