A Guide: How Far Away Do You Shoot for Concealed Carry?

If you’re ready to start training for concealed carry, there’s a good chance you’re wondering about just how close you should be standing from your target. A trip to the range won’t necessarily give you a clear-cut answer because every hobbyist and competitive shooter will use their own formula.

What is considered the right pistol range distance for concealed carry? The answer is actually a bit nuanced. Let’s talk about the factors to consider when coming up with your formula for the perfect pistol range distance. 

First, it’s important to keep in mind that the purpose of training is to increase skills while also mentally and physically rehearsing for a real-world scenario. That means that it’s in your best interest to stretch yourself a bit to build up skills for both accuracy and distance. However, there’s no need to put focus on becoming an all-around master if you’re just taking your first step to being a competitive shooter. Let’s cover the process.

How Far Do You Shoot For Concealed Carry

Breaking Down the Numbers

It’s widely known that the average self-defense encounter involves shots taken at a distance of three to five yards. That means 9 feet to 15 feet is the basic window for people training for self-defense purposes. It’s okay if 9 feet feels intimidating at first. Generally, the “introductory” distance to train at falls between 6 feet and 10 feet (2 yard to 3 yards). It’s really recommended that you not hang a paper target any closer than 6 feet because the blast jostles the paper a little too much at a closer distance.

When starting at 6 feet to 10 feet, you’re focused on mastering breathing, stance and grip while training on how to follow through. In addition, this is the phase for focusing on muzzle alignment and trigger press to really start drilling some holes. 

Once you’re drilling holes consistently within this distance window, you can be confident that you’re properly aligning the muzzle and controlling the trigger while maintaining stance and following through. There’s no need to move on to longer distances until you feel confident in your skills. The groundwork that you’re laying here will carry over regardless of the distance, speed or gun involved if you’ve truly built up the tolerance and intuition needed through practice.

What Happens After You’re Confident at 10 Feet?

You may be content to continue upping your skill set at the tighter distance for the foreseeable future. However, it makes sense to at least get in a decent number of reps at longer shooting range distances simply for practical purposes. You should be willing to challenge yourself instead of being content to be good at one distance. Here’s a rundown of how to stay challenged before moving on to longer distances:

Consistently try different distances within your “comfort zone” range to test your skills of perception and resiliency.

Focus on timing. This can be done using a shot timer that allows you to track your timing on each group. Challenge yourself to decrease your time with each rep.

Use cognitive training to see how you perform “under pressure.”

When building skill, trying to jump into distances too quickly can actually hinder you. It makes sense when you think of learning to shoot just like you would view training for any type of competitive sport. Find the window that gives you a consistent success rate between 75 percent and 90 percent if you want to be able to focus on the finer details. 

You should also be focusing on building your mastery of the fundamentals into a comprehensive training plan. For instance, incorporating concealment into your methods, working with decision-making scenarios and cognitive load, integrating odd angles and focusing on accuracy while moving can all make you a more practical, agile shooter who is effective outside of the range.

What’s Next?

Yes, you should feel free to take a little time to pat yourself on the back once you’re up at 90-percent accuracy. However, it’s also important to test yourself at wider shooting range distances to expand your comfort and confidence with your pistol. Your mastery of muzzle alignment and trigger press will carry over as you cover more yards. However, assuming that you’ll be able to hit a long-range target just based on our short-range skills alone in a real-world scenario is naive.

Remember that statistic that most self-defense encounters involve shots fired at 3 to 5 yards? That means you’re falling short of the 15-foot threshold of that statistic if you’re stopping at 10 feet during training. That means that the bare minimum that should be done at a longer range is 15 feet (5 yards). The sky is really the limit after that when it comes to your comfort zone. 

Generally, getting comfortable at 50 (150 feet) is optimal because that gives you a great deal of distance in a real-world scenario where you need to stop someone who is rapid firing. The way to look at it is that every yard you’re able to master is one more yard between you and a potential assailant or mass shooter. Going “into the arena” unprepared to truly handle distance by relying on your short-distance skills alone unfortunately means you may have just made a lot of noise while dwindling your ammo.

Some Final Thoughts on Starting With the Right Concealed Carry Distance

Don’t expect to get an answer for what the appropriate distance is just by watching others at the range. As you can see, each shooter in training has their own technique. What may look like a beginner training at close range may be an expert focusing on precision and accuracy while performing under cognitive-load scenarios.

What may look like an expert shooting at a long distance may actually be someone who is rushing forward with distance because they’re insecure about looking like an amateur by putting the time into mastering muzzle and trigger control.

The bottom line is that you have to put the time in at a close distance to master the muzzle and trigger if you want to be an effective, helpful carrier. An effective shooter should always be going back and forth between expansion and refinement. 

Yes, that means the answer to how to find the right pistol range distance may not be as glamorous or exciting as people envision when they make plans to visit a range for the first time. However, this is the answer that will help you to become proficient enough to do the “hero” moves that take skill and training at both the physical and cognitive levels.

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