PSTC’s PST 103: Advanced Defensive Handgun course builds and expands on a number of topics introduced in its prerequisite, PST 102, including shooting while moving. The typical gun range experience is a static one, with only the paper target rolling up and down the lane. Meanwhile, the outside world is one that’s in constant motion, so integrating that motion with marksmanship seems quite essential in a self-defense situation.
The process of lining up and firing an accurate shot safely is a mentally and physically engaging one. While I’ve done it often enough so far to make parts of that process etched into muscle memory, I still strive to be aware of the kinesthetic feedback of the grip, stance, sight picture and alignment, trigger press, and follow through.
Scootin' & Shootin'
The body acts as a platform, as stable (or not) as you can make it, for the firearm, and it’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish to line up and shoot when you’re walking from point A to B while engaging a target that’s also moving. I think by this time enough folks have played first person shooters to know that no one really walks in combat, but for a novice like myself, learning to walk and
chew gum shoot is a novel challenge.
We revisited PST 102’s “scootin' & shootin'” (not the official appellation) drill where one went from one orange barrel to the other and made “body shots” on the target at 7 yards. I was quickly reminded of how jarring and jerking (i.e., disruptive) the simple act of walking can be to one’s sight picture and alignment.
Things get even more dynamic when the target also starts moving, as pictured above. I found that “leading the target” like how B-17 bomber gunners would do with their .50 caliber machine guns against Luftwaffe fighters doesn’t quite work at this close range and at these slow speeds. Regardless, it’s far from easy making accurate shots, Messerschmitts and Memphis Belles not withstanding.
The white cardboard targets serve as guides to reduce chances of ricochets - basically one shouldn’t shoot at the targets when they’re behind the guides.
Two Fish, Three Fish
Another set of lessons and drills involved multiple targets while moving from point A to B.
Like arithmetic, there’s an order of operations involved in prioritizing and placing shots. Starting from the center barrel, you make your way to one of the forward barrels (e.g., the right one), and while moving place two shots on the body of one of the target you’re moving towards (the right one), place the next two on the body of the other target (the left one), make a single head shot on the same target (the left one), then make another single head shot on your first target, making kind of a rectangle with your six shots. Got it? Good.
When you increase the number of targets to three, you space out your rectangle, making single body and head shots from right, center, left, and left, center, right.
Admittedly any firefight involving that many targets is going to be a frenzy of adrenaline and torrents of cuss words (not to mention the questioning of one’s life choices that landed one in such a freshly squeezed pile of poo), but for the purposes of introduction and learning even these exercises posed quite a challenge.
Bowling for Dollars
As a bonus activity, we went bowling. Kinda. Thus far the targets we engaged were either stationary or moved in a predictable path.
Bowling pins, when suspended from the ceiling and struck with a 124 grain 9mm bullet, tend to spin and wobble in fairly random ways. When you pair up with another student and you both start taking shots at the same pin, things get even more random.
Here’s an opportunity for some “moral of the story” finger-wagging about just how destructive the aforementioned projectiles can be as evidenced by the bowling pins that we gleefully demolished. This was quite possibly the most fun I’ve had with a firearm and I’m also soberly aware of what that firearm can do to its target. Given the context of a training class, I think these are points well made and taken.