It is encouraging to see so many Americans obtaining their concealed weapon permit. These new shooters are supporters of the Second Amendment and have taken steps to be responsible for their own safety and security. Yet, in many cases, there are people among them that are armed with a deadly weapon but unable to defend themselves well.
There are requirements in place, in most states, that demand a course in legal matters and another in safe gun handling. This is important, but there is only so much to be learned in an eight-hour course. Very often, a lively class with many questions resulted in my eight-hour classes running over to nine or ten hours, and there were a lot of groans. Consider the ramifications a poor decision could make on your life, and you really need a lot of personal study.
The safety part of the class was stressed, and since the National Rifle Association Handgun 101 is the base for this part of the class, it is a very good program. The marksmanship section is also very well done, and the NRA 101 course is excellent. This provides the student pays attention during the class. After successfully passing the course, the individual needs to expand his knowledge base.
I recommend beginners make a trip to the range once a month for a year or so, when beginning their practice with the handgun. Besides building proficiency, this regimen will reveal the deficiencies of an inaccurate, difficult to use, or unreliable handgun. Once the handgunner begins to achieve their initial goals, which is usually relatively speedy center hits at 7 yards, the practice regimen may be curtailed to five or six times a year. This is a realistic minimum for a moderately interested shooter. I realize many readers go to the range with a goal in mind on a weekly basis, and that is wonderful, but many shooters obtain the permit and that is the last time they see the range, which is both sad and potentially dangerous.
When carrying the handgun, a quality holster must be chosen. There are many holsters that are so poor, they allow the handgun to move about when carried, do not offer good retention, and collapse after the handgun is drawn. There are reasonably efficient holsters available from Tagua and Blackhawk!, and first class gear from Galco, and neither will break the bank.
Choose an appropriate holster that offers a good balance of retention and speed. Practice presentation from the holster. Speed comes from smoothness, repetition, and economy of motion. The elbow shoots to the rear, the hand comes from under the handgun, and the pistol is drawn from the holster. This may be practiced with dry fire. Using a triple-checked unloaded handgun, practice the presentation until you have a dozen repetitions done correctly. Advance to drawing from concealed carry, quickly and smoothly. Deficiencies in holsters will become evident as you move through these drills.
There are also drills that build proficiency. Controlling recoil and getting fast hits are important. The Bill Drill, firing six shots as quickly as possible at 7 yards, is one gauge of shooter development. The shooter should also practice gaining distance. Many personal defense situations begin with a short-range assault. The shooter should practice slapping the target and backing away by back pedaling to gain distance.
A strong slap, and then drawing the handgun and firing from the retention position, is known as the Speed Rock. This must be practiced dry fire. Executing such a drill live fire is a professional-level drill that should only be attempted when the shooter knows they are ready. You should also practice clearing malfunctions. Even with the most reliable handguns, a short cycle may be caused by poor ammunition or more likely by limp wristing the handgun and not maintaining a proper foundation for the handgun to cycle.
If you have a reliable handgun that has never malfunctioned, all the more reason to practice malfunction drills. Because it has never happened, you’ll be caught flatfooted and less able to respond when the pistol malfunctions. You should also practice firing with one hand and also the non-dominant hand. For many of us, firing with the non-dominant hand is difficult, but there are many reasons to do so. Practice at least every second or third range trip.
As a practical matter, you must consider the many things that might occur when you are called upon to defend yourself. After all, that is the reason you are armed, for the worst-case scenario. You must never draw the handgun if you are not justified. You must have other measures available to counter aggression. The open hand and an impact weapon are among these measures.
The handgun isn’t the answer to every threat. Practice the draw when seated and when at a disadvantage, not simply when standing in the open at the range, which is the least likely position you will be in if called upon to defense yourself. Engage in tactical thinking and give at least some practice time to retention training. Often enough, a personal defense situation may turn into a fight for the handgun. If you draw too soon, or too close, this may well happen to you. We have seen what happens when those without a background in fighting, or the will to fight, go to the gun too early.
Consider the worst-case scenario and train for it. Use service-grade gear and practice often.
What lessons learned can share with new to concealed carry? Share your answers in the comment section.
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