Linear Range Training Scars

You’ve probably heard the saying before, “Train the way you want to fight because you’ll fight the way you trained.”

This is wisdom that you can take to the bank.  When your stress level gets so high that your mid-brain takes over control from your frontal lobe, you lose most of your critical thinking ability.

Thinking on your feet goes out the window and you end up fleeing, freezing, or repeating whatever “fighting” actions you’ve practiced the most.

You might be familiar with some of the more popular “training scar” stories, like the California Highway Patrolman who was in a gunfight with his revolver and was taking the time to “save” his empty brass and put them in his pocket during his reloads.  He died.  I’m not sure if the empty brass played a role, but I KNOW he could have spent his time doing something better than cleaning up his brass.

Or the story about the officer who confronted an armed robber in a convenience store, did a perfect disarm, and then handed the gun back to the robber, like he did in practice, to get another turn.

It even happened to a friend of mine during a home invasion.  The robber had a Beretta 92FS and my friend did a 1 handed disarm and even released the slide and removed it in the process.  The only problem was that, as soon as the disarm was done, both he and the robber went back and forth between looking at the gun parts and each other in complete confusion about what to do next.

Which gets me to “linear range training scars”

Essentially, they are the scars that you get when you spend the majority, or all of your training and practice time on a linear range…a range where you can only shoot “downrange”, can’t shoot the walls, and can’t even point your muzzle towards the ceiling or over the berm.

Here are some “linear range training scars” examples that have popped up during force on force training  at the SEALed Mindset training center:

  • In one example, Larry (a medically retired SEAL from Team 3) had come out of a doorway, demanding the wallet of a newer student. The student drew his sim gun and engaged Larry, but he never conducted a 360 check…

    …and another instructor came up behind him and “killed” him with a training knife.

  • In another example, an experienced shooter got out of a training car and pretended to fill it with gas when an instructor came up from the shadows with a firearm already exposed.

    The student pulled his gun… half dropped to a knee and fired… the instructor fell down… and then the student simply stood there for more than 2 minutes in total “brain freeze” and never looked behind him to see if there was another threat.

There are literally dozens of examples of these training scars that shooters develop when they only train on linear ranges.

Some other quick examples:

  • Not knowing how to safely transition between targets that are more than 45 degrees apart—Your transition between targets needs to be different, including your footwork and how you physically move your gun, depending on whether your attackers are close to each other, 90 degrees apart, or 180 degrees apart.
  • Ox’s pet peeve, the “silly scan”.  The silly scan is when people engage a target in front of them and simply pay lip service to looking over their shoulders for other threats.  Their feet remain firmly planted, and if they never actually find additional threats, they’re training themselves to go through the motions and don’t “see” additional threats when they’re actually there.  Just to be clear…360 degree checks and checking your “6” are good, but they become “silly scans” when you train your mind to simply go through the motion and not actually see something in the process.
  • Always keeping your firearm pointed towards the backstop, regardless of what you’re doing or what direction you’re moving.  In the real world, you might actually have to turn your body in a fight.  And while it looks kind of funny to see competitive shooters turned to the side and running with their pistol still pointed downrange, it’s an incredibly ineffective habit to develop for a real life encounter.
  • Footwork and technique to draw and engage targets that don’t happen to be directly in front of you.

And many, many, more.

Don’t get me wrong, range training is valuable, but if you think you might ever need to use a pistol in self defense, you also need to practice techniques that will work in the real-360 degree-world.

Here’s how.

Get a blue (or red) inert training gun or even a SIRT laser training gun and practice real life scenarios in your home that include sitting, laying, light, dark, turning, and moving.  It doesn’t have to be fast…just focus on good, solid technique.

For breaking the “silly scan” habit, work with a training partner and a red, blue, or SIRT inert training platform (or even a stick or finger gun, if you have to) and have them stand behind you while you’re training and have them alternate holding a weapon and showing malicious intent and acting like someone who’s in shock at just seeing a shooting.

As you do your scan, don’t be afraid to rotate your body in addition to your head.  Still maintain muzzle discipline…even with an inert training platform, but practice the muzzle discipline that you’d practice on a 360 degree range instead of a linear range.  That might mean pointing your gun up in the air or it might mean holding your pistol in sul position (pointed down, tight against your chest).

This is the kind of stuff that you don’t want to be doing for the first time when you find yourself in the middle of an attack.

Practice it now, and when/if an attack happens, your brain will recognize the practice that’s closest to the situation that you’re in and fire off the same technique that you practiced.

Many people will want to figure out the best techniques and drills to do on their own, but if you’re interested in plugging into ultra high-speed, low-drag, accelerated firearms learning techniques developed by a retired Navy SEAL from Team 3, I want to strongly suggest that you check out  It’s firearms training, and results, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

What have others who have gone through the course said?

“This has improved my shooting and techniques dramatically. Just when you thought you knew what your doing a great video compilation comes along and makes it better”

“Since beginning working on fundamentals and dry fire drills, my accuracy at the range has markedly improved.”

“My performance has become markedly better and continues to improve.”

When you go there, make sure you read about the 4 officers who are alive, in part, due to the training as well as the 3 big reasons why their training methods are so much more effective than traditional firearms training.

If you’ve got any “linear range training scars”, other “training scars” or training techniques that you’ve used to overcome them, please share them by commenting below…

About David Morris

David Morris is the creator of the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course, the Fastest Way To Prepare Course, Urban Survival Playing Cards, Tactical Firearms Training Secrets, and other books, courses, and articles on preparedness, survival, firearms, and other tactical topics. He lives with his wife, 2 boys, and 2 dogs.


  1. On another site I mentioned shooting prone it was like herisy!!

  2. David Eberhardt says:

    After reading this article, I am strongly considering laying out the dollars to purchase this course.

  3. Middleagedmama says:

    A smidgen off topic–but good advice–get a gun now and get trained with quality training–I work in a gun store and the guy who delivers our local order of pizza for lunch told me yesterday that he was going to get a gun next paycheck due to the fact that last weekend he was carjacked at 11 pm. After a delivery he stopped at a gas station to fill up. He had gotten out of the car when he realized the station was closed. A man “appeared” (no situational awareness) at his side and put a gun to his head demanding phone, car, & wallet. He gave his phone (bad guy smashed it to stop him from calling 911), and wallet plus tips. He refused to give up his car and got back in it, the bad guy shot into the car just missing him. He gave up the car & bad guy drove off. He was a lucky man. The BG was caught an hour later, car returned but no wallet. Our delivery guy will be packing heat after Friday’s paycheck and will be getting his concealed carry license and carrying (no matter what employer says regarding firearms). He knows he got a freebie that night but he said he’ll never have a gun pointed at his head again. My advice is to get a gun, get trained with quality training – don’t spend all your time shooting downrange at a static target. BGs show up when you least expect it and you need to be ready with the proper response.

  4. My example comes from when I decided to use an airsoft pistol to do training in my house. I had one of the cheaper models that requires you to manually pull the slide back each time to reload the pellets. That was a lot of fun, and I think very useful.

    My problem came when I next went to the range. I found that I had trained myself to pull the slide back after every shot, ejecting the next round onto the ground!

    • I would recommend a gas blow back pistol. It costs a little more than the spring one. It uses propane and silicon oil/green gas and the slide goes back every time. That way you don’t have to manually pull the slide back and it is still safe around the house because it is airsoft.

    • I second that! I’m looking at a CO2 blow-back BB pistol as my trainer exactly for that reason. Money spent on GOOD training is money well spent.

  5. Chuck, that works on someone who just wants to vent anger or looking for an easy target. Not likely to be effective in the scenario described with a homicidal nut that already has his gun drawn. I happened to have participated in that scenario and the two most successful options were to run away without hesitation and hoped the perp. missed (maybe your best option in CA where armed self defense isn’t allowed), or to have positioned yourself when getting out of the car to have options on moving and fighting. My suggestion to all is that when you hear a news story, to imagine yourself in the situation and practice what your options are. I HAVE DONE THIS TRAINING AND HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. Don’t let the first time you think about or practice these skills be when your life is at stake.

    • ++ Dale. Thanks

    • left coast chuck says:

      Situational awareness. See Col. Cooper’s writings regarding situational awareness.

      • You’re right, Chuck, but I want to add to what you’re saying. I have a pretty good indication that you’re to this point, but not everyone is…

        Knowing about situational awareness is one thing.

        Being able to be consciously situational aware is another thing.

        Being unconsciously situationally aware and having it be a conditional response is something altogether different that goes beyond being able to recite the color codes.

        People THINK they’re practicing situational awareness by throwing their gaze over their shoulders after shooting. More often than not, they don’t have the visual acuity to see anything with as fast as they’re scanning. They don’t want to hold up the line, they want to get back to shooting, it’s a skill to be able to switch modes back and forth between fast and slow, AND, they’ve been conditioned to the fact that since there has never been a threat behind them when they’ve scanned before, why would there be now?

    • Wholeheartedly agree. I always quiz my girls and wife “What would you have done” when we read or hear about an event.

  6. Lwft Coast Chuck says:

    If you are in a gas station pumping gas you don’t need to draw your weapon. You have a powerful weapon right there in your hands already drawn. Just make sure you draw back the rubber vapor seal. (*a few sentences were removed by the editor to protect the commenter*) For those of you lucky enough to not have the rubber vapor seal pumps as we do here in SoCal, just point and shoot. If the perp has a weapon a sharp strike with the nozzle on his wrist should cause him to drop his weapon, then seriously play whack-a-mole on his face and head. If you cause a cut, a little more gas on the cut will burn like a mother.

    I didn’t see a motorcyclist and inadvertently cut him off. I pulled into a gas station to gas up. He had seen me pull into the station and came racing back to discuss my poor driving and perhaps demonstrate to me his superior MMA skills. I just turned to face him with the nozzle pointing at his face, but held close to me. He skidded to a stop and pointed out my lack of driving skills. I replied that I knew after I turned that I had cut him off, that I hadn’t seen him prior to turning and that I was sorry, that I was a biker myself and had also experienced that when I was on a bike. He said I should watch my driving in the future and stalked off. I knew from the way he was approaching a discussion was not his intent. The sight of the nozzle pointing at him caused him to have a sudden flash of common sense. Use what is at hand, people. Keep alert to what is going on around you. Also, try not to run down bikers, both motorized and pedal-powered.

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