Training to Shoot Under Stress

Training to Shoot Under Stress
Training to Shoot Under Stress
Training to Shoot Under Stress
Training to Shoot Under Stress

When learning to shoot a defensive pistol for personal protection it is important students learn to shoot under stress. At Schlueter Firearms Instruction we use the “Tueller Drill” to put our students under a moderate amount of stress similar to that they could experience if ever faced with a violent attacker.

This drill requires three people to conduct, one will be a shooter, the second will be a runner, and the third will be an observer to track where the first round hits or misses the paper. I recommend picking someone who is the fastest runner you know to help you practice this drill. The third person’s job is to stand behind the shooter in a safe location, watching where the rounds hit the target as the drill is conducted, & mentally note if the first round hits or misses the paper during the drill.

“Before I go much further I want to clarify the shooter will not be shooting at the runner, but at a paper target located 7 yards down range.”

  • The shooter will load their pistol with 2-5 rounds of ammunition once at the firing point and facing down range.
  • Once loaded the shooter will be ether in the ready gun position or have their loaded pistol in their holster with the retention devices secured. “Note for safety reasons anyone who plans on practicing from the holster needs to make sure their skill level is at a level they can safely work with a defensive pistol from a holster.”
  • The shooter will be facing down range with their pistol loaded and ether in the ready gun position or holstered depending on what skill level the shooter is at when working form a holster.
  • The runner will be behind the shooter and slightly off the shooters no shooting side, with their back facing the back of the shooter (facing up-range). The runner will have one of their hands on the shooters non-shooting side shoulder. In the runners other hand they will have a weighted object to drop.
  • After waiting a few moments so to take the shooter by surprise, with out any warning the runner will run away from the shooter as fast as possible towards a safe direction.
  • When the runners hand leaves the shooters shoulder the shooter may engage the target as fast as they can.
  • The runner will drop the weighted object upon hearing the first shot, but keep running till they hear the last shot.
  • Once the shooter is done firing they should show an unloaded pistol securing it ether on the shooting bench or in their holster.
  • At this point the shooter may turn around and look to see how far they are from the weighted object is lying on the ground in relationship to where their first round hit the target.

Lessons to be learned:

  • How did the shooters defensive accuracy measure up to the NRA Standard of being able to put five rounds into a nine inch circle?
    • Did the first round hit the target?
  • The distance/time it took the runner to travel to where the first & last shots were fired.
    • Did the runner cover more than 21 feet before the shooter fired their first shot?
  • The amount of distance the runner covered could be the same amount of distance a determined violent attacker could cover if charging at a shooter/defender.
  • This distance/time is same amount an attacker could use to assault and possibly disarm the shooter/defender.
  • If the shooter/defender had some form of cover between them and the attacker would it give them more time to react to the attack?

If you have any doubts about your ability to conduct this type of shooting drill on your own in a safe manner. I recommend you consult with an Instructor who is certified in conducting Personal Protection training. In later articles we will be discussing counter measures if ever faced with a charging assailant and no cover between your self and the attacker.

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Matt Schlueter is a retired Deputy Sheriff from South Dakota with over 19 years of combined experience in corrections and law enforcement, and held the position of Firearms Instructor and DARE officer with the Sheriffs Office he worked at till his retirement. He is also a NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, and owner/chief instructor of Schlueter Firearms Instruction. Matt’s goal is to provide the best information possible for those who want to further their knowledge and skills in shooting handguns. Matt’s goals also include providing the best training courses possible for students who attended courses he is offering. For those wishing to contact him please visit his website at, or or you can join him on Facebook at
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Edward Stafford

The setup is interesting but I think not necessary to have the “runner”. So some cardio such as jumping jacks or push-ups to simulate a stressful situation then shoot. The “21 foot rule” is not a rule nor should you expect that someone couldn’t hurt you from a farther distance. The police academy I attended definitely stressed this fact and the FBI statistics show that most shootings occur within 6 feet. That being said be comfortable with your draw, be able to place rounds on target both from a comfortable and “stressed” level and you will be fine.