There is a HUGE critical difference between training and practice. Training involves focused work to achieve a specific physical movement such as being able to draw your handgun and place it in the transition position in the fastest and smoothest manner. Practice is focused work that seeks to achieve a neural pathway programming (NPP), i.e. being able to perform the movement you trained in without consciously thinking about it. If you have not been shown (trained in) all of the subtle nuances of the move and perhaps have only seen the movement in its beginning and ending positions there is a good chance you have practiced that movement over and over, erroneously and have engrained NPP that will take way longer to correct than would have if you had only been trained or coached in the correct motions.
In 1983 Dennis Tuller wrote an article “How Close is Too Close”, the inspiration for the article was a question by a student on how close an attacker with a contact weapon could be before the use of lethal force was justified. Since that time this has morphed from the Tuller Drill to the 21-foot rule and so forth yet none of those descriptors are adequate in answering the question.
If you want to know the answer try this simple drill, stand motionless on the seven yard line and draw and fire two rounds into a 9” circle on a silhouette target. The time it takes to accomplish that is essentially the distance that is too close for you. If you can do this under 1.5 seconds 21 feet might be the right answer for you. If it takes you 7 seconds you would need 98 feet . . . and if you start shooting at people who are 98 feet away I am guessing you will find yourself in a court of law defending your actions.
So to add a touch of realism to this exercise, because we ALL know we should be training for real life events, do the same drill while moving off the line, either sideways or away from the target. The movement will to a small degree mimic the movement that would occur in real life. Again if you are still impacting good hits under 1.5 seconds consider yourself well trained and practiced . . . if not, consider taking some training, and then practicing this drill until you can do it because this is reality.
People do not seem to realize just how quickly things happen in a violent encounter, if you are one of them you are at risk. Coming to the realization that this can happen is your first step in awareness that can save your life.
So just how do you accomplish this drill in that amount of time?
First you have to be able to get your gun in the retention ready position in 0.5 seconds or less, muzzle on target, trigger at the hard spot and front sight in your peripheral field of sight. This is a dry practice exercise, do it in front of a mirror, do it a lot and do it until you can get the gun ready to drive out towards the threat. That means you have to be able to position the gun correctly, obtain a correct grip, go on trigger and be at the hard spot ready to fire. This is the first step. Going to the range and practicing this while missing the target or doing it sloppily and taking too much time is only going to engrain bad habits. Once you are at that point you are ready to go hot.
Step two is to learn to drive the gun from the transition position to the target while steering the front sight and at the end of this extension smoothly press the trigger straight to the rear without moving the front sight. In essence to be at this point you will have already mastered the fundamentals of trigger control in a double action mode of fire. To test this ability, stand 15 yards from an 8” circular target, we use steel plates for the instant feedback, and from the transition position ready to fire, extend smoothly towards target while performing a double action trigger press. When you can do this 10 times in a row without a miss, move back to 20 yards and work up to ten times consecutively at this distance. What you are learning to do is how to move the gun towards the target, steering the sights into the correct position while pressing the trigger to the rear.
Okay, so now we can get the gun to the transition position and are ready to fire in 0.5 seconds.
Next step, extend the gun smoothly and fire one round double action into that 9” circle in 0.75 seconds. When you are able to do this every time it is time to combine this with the draw stroke and put rounds on target in 1.25 seconds.
After that we will add in how to fire a double shot in 0.25 seconds . . . and then add movement from our position.
Training is fun. I love to learn new techniques. Practice can be boring because it is simply repeating the same movement perfectly over and over until the mind begins to take over and you can do it without even thinking about it . . . and this is how you will perform in a violent encounter, exactly as you have trained and practiced.