Hot Shots: Matt Burkett

Hot Shots: Matt Burkett

In his career as a professional shooter, Matt Burkett has won more than 150 state, national and world titles, including an IDPA National Championship and five MGM Iron Man 3-Gun Championships, produced a highly regarded DVD series teaching practical shooting and currently hosts his own weekly internet radio show. He regularly teaches police and military the techniques he's learned through the years.

"My mom got me into shooting," Burkett says. "I shot my first handgun when I was three and we lived in North Dakota." Burkett came from a military family--his mother recently retired as a full colonel--and so guns were a part of growing up. "I had more of a gun collection when I was 13 than I do now," he says with a laugh, "but it wasn't worth as much."


When he was an up-and-coming shooter, Burkett says he spent two to three hours a day or more dry-firing, but his shooting really took off in college.


"I was taking golf, racquetball, and weightlifting all at the same time, and then shooting," he says. "You get some of the mental game from golf, racquetball gives you the quick speed hand/eye coordination, and you get some of the power from the weightlifting. It was a good combination of sports for the competition shooting arena."

Like every other person who has ever picked up a gun, Burkett has strengths and weaknesses in his shooting. "I know where my weaknesses are, and generally they're the things I don't like to do--strong- and weak-hand shooting. It does nothing for me. I've got two hands, so unless I'm carrying a baby to safety or something, I figure I can use both of these things."


As for his strengths, in the past few years Burkett has become one of the dominant forces in practical three-gun competition (pistol, rifle and shotgun). "I think I've figured out the three-gun game better than anyone else except perhaps Taran Butler," Burkett says. "I'm pretty well-rounded in my shooting now."


In response to the old argument whether competitive shooting sports are good training for police or civilians who carry a gun for self-defense, Burkett argues that there's nothing better for teaching people to shoot fast and accurately under stress than practical pistol competition. "The one thing that can't be argued with," Burkett insists, "is that the most tactical thing you can do in a gunfight is shoot the other guy first. Speed is tactical."

Burkett can think of nothing that will help a new or struggling shooter more than dry-firing practice. "Dry-firing is the most important thing you can do to improve your skill," he says. "You can't learn as much from live-firing as you can from dry-firing. Almost everything you can do with a gun you can do while dry-firing. The only thing you can't do is recoil control. That's it. You can work on target transitions, splits--you can run entire stages if you dry-fire realistically.

"You can work out all these detailed techniques, discover that you've never really seen all the annoying little things you do because you're paying so much attention to an end result instead of internal factors. Dry-firing helps you clean up all these things. Instead of focusing on the bang and the hit you get to actually see everything else that's going on. And it's free!"

The most important tip Burkett has for police officers is just as applicable to those civilians who carry a gun for self-defense, and that's dry-fire draws out of their unloaded duty rigs.

"If every officer did this, it would improve his survivability on the street," Burkett explains. "Every time they put their guns on, whether it's at home or at work (after making doubly sure the gun is unloaded, of course), they should do 20 dry-fire draws out of their rigs.

"It brings them back to the fact they have a gun on, and it beats a cup of coffee in the morning to wake you up. At the end of the month that's 500 draws. Just that familiarization alone is something they can do to help keep them alive."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

Going To The Range

Going To The Range

Jim and Scott show you how to make each trip to the shooting range a quality experience.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo with these 10 low-priced pistols. Compact

10 Cheap Guns Under $250

Evan Brune - September 24, 2015

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo...

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a terrific balance of weight, power and shootability. 1911

Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer SKU # 180023) is an easy-racking, soft-shooting pistol. Compact

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 Review

James Tarr - November 06, 2018

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer...

I don't have a distinct recollection of the first time I reloaded a cartridge – it's been a long Ammo

To Cast a Good Bullet

Bart Skelton - June 28, 2012

I don't have a distinct recollection of the first time I reloaded a cartridge — it's...

See More Trending Articles

More Training

Learn the keys to a successful one-handed draw. Training

Perfecting the One-Handed Draw

Richard Nance - July 02, 2019

Learn the keys to a successful one-handed draw.

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs. Training

Bring Some Pop Packs To The Range

Richard Nance - July 26, 2018

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs.

The best drills are the simplest, and it doesn't get any simpler than this one. Training

The 5x5x5 Drill

J. Scott Rupp - October 18, 2018

The best drills are the simplest, and it doesn't get any simpler than this one.

While there's no absolute correct way to manipulate a pistol, your technique of choice should be based on careful consideration and practice. Training

Discovering What Pistol Manipulation Techniques Work for You

Richard Nance - May 15, 2019

While there's no absolute correct way to manipulate a pistol, your technique of choice should...

See More Training

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now