10 Things Most Gun Owners Do Wrong

By Ralph Mroz

1. They don’t zero their gun:

Most handguns come from the factory more or less zeroed for some kind of ammunition at 7 yards, and most will shoot close enough to point of aim at that distance most owners don’t care about any discrepancy — if they even notice it. But if your gun doesn’t shoot to point of aim, and you don’t know its group size from 7 to 25 yards, then you’ll never know — when you miss — if you missed or the gun missed. If you don’t know the gun’s accuracy (point of aim relative to point of impact, and group size) then you’ll never know what shots you can make, even if you are shooting well.

2. They don’t have a holster or work from concealment:

I can’t tell you how many times I see shooters at the range not working from their holster, or not having a holster to work from at all. And when I see someone working from concealment, it’s often downright startling how scary it can be. Yet these people feel prepared to defend themselves. Get some advice, and get some help.

3. They don’t have proper carry ammo:

We’ve come a long way from the days of needing to obsess over the exact carry load. Today almost any top load from a major manufacturer can be acceptable. But it does require some thought to make the best match to your situation. Just stocking it with what “the guy at the gun store suggested” is playing roulette.


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4. They don’t know the law:

I recently taught a seminar on the law of deadly force. I asked the 30 people in the room how many carried a gun for self-defense and 90 percent raised their hands. I then asked how many had training in when, and under what circumstances, they were justified in using their gun in a defensive situation. No one raised their hand.

5. They confuse plinking with practice:

Just cranking off rounds does not prepare you for self-defense. You have to practice drawing from concealment, hitting a realisticly-sized target in reasonable times, from 3 to 25 yards. You also have to practice moving, tactics, verbalization and shoot/don’t-shoot judgment. There’s a reason trainers say: “If you don’t train, then when something happens and you revert to training — you revert to nothing.”


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6. They never train with a tactical instructor:

The number of shooters who train with even a local club instructor is quite small. That number diminishes as you move up to nationally known tactical instructors. Training with people like this is necessary if you’re going to get good at the complex set of activities composing armed self-defense competency. Competition-oriented instructors are great to train with — but aren’t enough. You’ll likely learn a lot from them about shooting, but there’s more to self-defense than just shooting.

7. They don’t do judgment training/scenarios:

You can be the best, fastest shot in the world, but if I needed someone to defend my family, I’d pick a merely good shot who had tactical and decision-making training over you any day.


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8. They don’t use a timer:

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. A lot of what’s involved in tactics and decision-making is not measurable by bullet placement or a timer. And while there’s more to self-defense than just shooting, shooting is a critical element of it, and you can’t improve — or even know how well you’re doing — without a timer. You need to achieve standards reflecting reality.

9.They don’t practice at distance:

The best competitive shooters will tell you one of the things setting the top people apart from those who can’t break through to the top tier is the fact the best shooters practice shooting at distance — for accuracy. There’s nothing else so critical to developing shooting fundamentals, and you can’t ever be good without fundamentals. Shooting slowly and accurately for groups is a foundational skill, one coming prior to, and much harder than shooting fast and tactically. Think of the French terrorist attack not long ago in Paris. What if it had happened in the US and you were there and a rifleman was 35 yards from you? Which brings us back to the first point above.

10. They don’t carry!

Do I really need to elaborate?

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4 thoughts on “10 Things Most Gun Owners Do Wrong

  1. Sassparilly

    It must be nice to have access to a range where you can draw from a holster, move and shoot, probably even shoot rapid fire, load more than 3 rounds at one time. Not all of us do though. So, we do the best we can.

  2. PJ

    How nice to be able to practice drawing from a holster. Every range (indoor or out) within 100 miles of where I live does not allow it.
    I am amazed by your elitist attitude… I do the best I can based on how much money I can afford from the family budget… but it sounds to me that not unless you are well-heeled enough to be able to afford private training, state of the art equipment, enough ammo to be able to practice with and get familiar with your gun’s operation. Guess I should just go unarmed since I cannot check off the items I need to do according to you. Try reading your article from a different point of view.

  3. Craig K

    I’ve been blessed to have a public (and free) DNR range that allows drawing from a holster and movement. Need to go early on a weekday to do so safely.

    Drives home the importance of dry fire practice if you don’t have that option.

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