Self-Defense Long Range Pistol Shooting

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 5.00.51 PMIf you have done your homework on self-defense shootings, be it the police or a civilian doing the shooting, you know that most armed encounters occur at close range.  In fact, the vast majority occur at what is commonly referred to as “conversational distance.”  Bad guys know, and it makes perfect sense, that getting in close before announcing their attack gives them a tactical advantage.  The bad guy gets close before he attacks thereby drastically reducing the time a vicim has to react and put up a defense.  Because of this, most of us practice our defensive shooting tactics at close range.

Now, I ‘m a big proponent of practicing defensive shooting tactics up close because while it should be easier to shoot a target at close range, it becomes more difficult to draw your firearm from concealment when in a hurry.  At close range you may only have a very short period of time to get the gun out of the holster and put an accurate shot on target, especially if the bad guy is so close that you are forced to fight him off with one hand while trying to draw with the other.

But what if the bad guy isn’t up close and personal, what if he is across the parking lot or down a long hall?  Im talking about a bad guy with a rifle who begins shooting 35, 50, 75 or even 100 yards away from you.  If you aren’t the intended target yet, maybe said bad guy is just randomly shooting people, you could turn and high tail it to safety and nobody would fault you for it, or, you could elect to try and put a stop to the shooting spree before it claims more lives.

What if the  bad guy isn’t your garden variety violent offender or nut job, maybe he is a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his chest.  In that scenario, you aren’t going to want to get up close to take him out, you will want to do it at the longest distance possible.  Unless you carry a rifle with you all day, a pistol will probably be your only option in either scenario.

A 100 yard shot with a pistol isn’t as easy as point shooting is from 3 yards, but it is certainly doable.  It’s also a different kind of shooting.  While any real world shooting, meaning, your target is a bad guy and is most likely shooting back,  should be considered “combat shooting,” at conversational distance you will most likely be point shooting.  At long distance, this isn’t an option.  Long distance shooting has more in common with target shooting than combat shooting.  This means you will have to take your time, line up the shot, control your breathing and press the trigger without disturbing the sights.

Typically, the longer the shot, the more time that is needed to make the an accurate shot and the more you need to be paying attention to your breathing.

A  long distance shot incorporates all the same fundamentals of shooting that you have practiced like trigger control and sight alignment, but with a few others.  Firstly, most of us will require a supported position to make a shot with a pistol that far.  The hood of a car, a table or the frame of a door will work.  Your trigger control will have to be spot on.  Any movement of the trigger that moves the sights, even a fraction of an inch can result in a miss.  At long distances, moving the sights will exaggerate an off target shot.  Move the sights slightly at 7 yards will generally result in a hit, at 100 yards, not likely.

Lastly, as a bullet travels from the muzzle of your gun to the target, the bullet will be affected by gravity causing it to drop.  Not at issue up close but depending on the distance to the target, it will be a big issue.  So it is important to know how far it will drop at a given distance and with a given ammunition.   Your gun, it’s caliber and the ammunition weight and makeup will play a role in how far the bullet will drop.  Oh, and don’t forget that the wind will also play a role, a major role in fact on the flight of the bullet.

Because there is a possibility that you may be called on someday to make a long distance shot with your pistol, acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to do so is critical to your success.  While I don’t do it on a regular basis, I do on occasion set up a target 50 or 100 yards out and practice making the shot with my everyday carry pistol.  In doing so, I know that I and my equipment are capable of putting hits on target at those distances.  Should I be called on to do so, I am confident that I at the very least have a fighting  chance at ending a gun fight or taking out a terrorist at distance.  Of course, at the range the targets don’t generally shot back or blow up.

Don’t just survive, thrive!


Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility. You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life. It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun. Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.

If you have doubts about hitting a target with a pistol at long distances, check out the video below of Instructor Zero hitting a target at 300m with a Glock 9mm.