A shot timer is one of those indispensable tools that everyone who is serious about self-defense and concealed carry should own and use on a regular basis. One of the most misunderstood aspects about this, is that people have no clue how a shot timer will help them out in a defensive scenario–thinking that they're only suited for competition shooters.
This is far from the truth, as the only true way to understand how you can increase your skills as a defensive shooter is to be able to measure your abilities against something. If you have no way of knowing if you're getting better, all you're doing is slinging lead downrange.
Let's dive into 5 ways practicing with a shot timer will help you become more proficient as a defensive shooter.
It all comes down to time in a critical incident where you need to use for firearm to defend your life. If you take the recent Texas church shooting for example, that entire fight was over in under 10 seconds. The man who stopped the shooting from happening drew his gun and made a head shot in about six seconds.
Getting your gun out of your holster, quickly and with a proper grip, is very important. If you don't establish a proper grip it causes a host of problems. If you don't get your gun out quickly when speed is of the utmost importance, you'll have a host of other problems.
When you own a shot timer it allows you to see how fast you can draw to your first shot with real results. And, it also allows you to perform other drills with time constraints, which leads us to our next benefit of using a shot timer.
When you're involved in a critical incident where you need to use your firearm for defense of life, your body begins to experience a tremendous amount of stress. While this stress cannot be totally mimicked by anything, using one of these devices does help here.
I still remember the first time I used a shot timer. It was actually out at a quarterly meeting when the boss man flew me out to Denver about 3 years ago. Our meeting was at a local range and the shot timer added a different element of shooting that I'd never experienced before.
It was stressful and I missed the target a bunch of times feeling like an idiot.
The point isn't that I missed, it's that I missed because I was under stress where I normally would have hit the target on each shot. That's important, and the stress never really goes away when you use a shot timer, because you're continually trying to improve yourself.
I saw something once about shot timers that made me chuckle a bit, but is totally true. A shot timer won't lie to you. Where you may make excuses for yourself dropping shots or not improving, a shot timer won't lie to you. It'll always tell you the truth if you use it the right way.
And, when you use the timer in conjunction with your target, it'll really help you assess where you need to improve. For example, if you're attempting to get your draw to first shot in 1.5 seconds, which is a goal you should strive for, and you get it but your shot missed the target, you need to improve.
The way you may need to tackle this is to slow down a bit because the truth of the matter is that if you can make the shot in 1.7 seconds and hit the target, that's better than you doing it at 1.5 seconds and missing. At least you know, and can train to improve your speed and accuracy.
When you get to the range and start to train with a shot timer, making attempts at beating your old times as well as industry standard ones, it's actually fun. It will take your enjoyment of shooting up a notch, as well as make it so you're not just slinging lead downrange without measuring it at all.
And, we all know that when something is fun we want to do it more, which is sort of an indirect benefit of using a shot timer.
Finally we get to the reason why people think a timer is important, which is for competition. Of course people use these things in matches, but I'm talking about something that goes beyond your local USPSA match.
When you go to the range with your friends you can compete with each other to see who has the better time/more accurate shots. While this not only adds to the level of enjoyment as we talked about above, it also helps increase your abilities as a defensive shooter as you can see how well others do and can gain more insight into what you could be doing better, or what not to do.
A shot timer is one of the most important training tools you could ever buy. They're more important than any number of pistol upgrades, and they don't lie to you and tell you you're good at defending yourself when you suck.