There are a variety of ways to practice as well as the various type of shooting you are practicing. All are beneficial at least during the various stages of your progression.
There is practice of the Fundamentals of Marksmanship, usually done at a public range, standing motionless, shooting at a fixed target. This type of practice is more beneficial in the beginning for new shooters because you want to engrain in your memory the correct way to stand, grip, control the trigger, and align your sights, your sight picture and your follow through. It is called neural pathway programming, basically creating a memory in your mind of a physical action so you can perform this action on a more subconscious level. Regardless of the type of shooting you do, or your proficiency level you must always maintain good fundamentals which includes incorporating them into your practice regime, for it is a certainty, they are perishable skills.
If you have not tried this I always recommend it to people who do not have the fundamentals committed to memory. It is the Winchester/NRA Qualification Program, it is self-administered up to the last level AND it gives you focused practice without wasting ammunition just punching holes in paper while engraining BAD fundamentals.
If you are a competitive shooter your practice sessions will include some fundamentals but you will begin to focus more on physical actions to allow you to score better in your chosen sport.
If you are a purely defensive shooter and your gun is intended to be used to save your life or the life of an innocent person then your practice session is entirely different . . . or at least it should be because the use and need of the gun is ENTIRELY different than the previously mentioned practices.
When I practice I will normally work on a couple of skills, maybe as simple as getting the gun in the correct position before I extend towards target, or perhaps just working on shooting through the sights quickly.
After I have warmed up if you will, by shooting a bit while working on my skills I will begin to run a couple of drills. I do the same ones every time because I am interested in how I am doing over time. We all have good days and not so good days but you cannot use one days shooting as an indication of long term change in your shooting ability.
Drills are intended to challenge your ability, to measure how you stand relative to prior performance or relative to another group of shooters. I have a list of about 300 drills but have narrowed that down to just two that I like to run each time I have a practice session. I guess when I get to where I run those perfectly every time I will have to find others to challenge myself.
This first one is pretty simple, I place a paper plate over the appropriate area of a silhouette target, rounds inside the margin count as one point, rounds on the edge or are out do not. If you exceed the allotted time, the rounds do not count.
For Advanced Students the Standards are:
Seven Yards – draw and fire one shot on Plates in 1.75 seconds.
Seven Yards – drawn and fire one shot, do a slide-lock reload and fire a shot on Plates in 3.5 seconds.
Seven Yards – draw and fire six rounds on Plates in 3.5 seconds.
25 Yards – 10 shots slow fire inside 9” paper plate, hits must be inside the edge.
Keep in mind that not everyone will shoot a perfect score and you should develop your on acceptable level of efficiency, say 75% for starters. Once you have attained that level raise it and keep pushing yourself to shoot faster and more accurately. Only you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
Finally I end up with a scenario, basically a pretend gunfight, timed and scored. I usually do the same one once a month, again to just monitor my progress . . . am I improving, holding or declining.
Owning a gun does not make you a shooter, going to the range and practicing crap makes you a crap master. Get some training and then practice until you are good at what you trained to do . . . then get some more training and practice more . . . I am certain you do not walk through life wanting to be just average.
“Training is great but training only teaches you what to practice. If you don’t practice, guess what? You’re never going to be very good!” – Ken Hackathorn