Safety and Training

Throwback Thursday: Thinking (and Practicing) Outside Of The Box – Defensive Handgun Deployment, Part II

Last week, I talked about putting three tools to work to increase your survivability in a gunfight: Those ideas were movement, combatives, and proper weapon deployment timing. This week, in Part II, I want to show you three set ups to drill movement, combatives, and proper weapon deployment timing in your own training. Don’t forget, these drills can all be done dry-fire or with some sort of training handgun like a S.I.R.T. or airsoft gun to ingrain the skills without shooting live ammo.

Guest post by Mike Seeklander, owner of Shooting-Performance LLC.

Drill One: Very Close Range Threat/No Cover or Obstacles Available

Stimulus: Threat at close range

Response: Use combatives and create distance, then draw.

Target: IDPA or similar cardboard target. I suggest mounting two targets as securely as possible for striking. Set them one yard away from your starting position.

Goal: To ingrain the stimulus of responding with strikes and movements before creating distance and drawing the handgun. At this range, the habit of just reaching for the gun first is a bad one, as the threat will often reach for the gun as well. Learn that always drawing right away is not always the best option.

Actions: Load and make ready. Start one large step (one yard) away from the target, but make sure it is within striking distance or “one-step” striking distance. Practice throwing several palm strikes to the target head, then stepping largely (two or more steps) to the rear, left, or right, and then draw and engage with several rounds. Make sure you get just outside of arms length! Scan your area and re-holster. Reset and repeat.

Drill Two: Medium Range Threat/No Cover

Stimulus: Threat at medium range, no cover to move to.

Response: Move offline while drawing

Target: IDPA or similar cardboard target set five yards away from your starting position.

Goal: To ingrain the stimulus of movement offline during drawing the handgun. If you imagine yourself in the center of a clock, moving offline means traversing to 2, 3, 4 and 8, 9, 10 o’clock angles. At this range, the threat is too close to strike, and there is no cover available. Moving offline (left or right) aggressively might buy you a second or two and increase your survivability. The key is to move aggressively and get the gun out as fast as possible.

Actions: Load and make ready. Start five yards away from the target. Practice moving aggressively to the left or right while drawing. Engage the target as fast as possible while making hits.

Drill Three: Medium Range Threat/ Sprint to Cover

Stimulus: Threat at medium range, with cover to move to available.

Response: Sprint offline, then draw from cover.

Target: IDPA or similar cardboard target set five yards away from your starting position.

Cover: Set up two barricades or something that can simulate a piece of cover. Set each barricade four yards to the left and right of your starting position.

Goal: To ingrain the stimulus of sprinting offline to get to cover, and then drawing the handgun. At this range, with cover several steps away and available, you increase your survivability by moving aggressively first. Aggressive offline sprinting gets you ahead of the action cycle the threat is going through. If you try to draw and move at the same time, you slow your movement and compromise this technique. This movement should be an aggressive sprint left or right to the cover.

Actions: Load and make ready. Start five yards away from the target. Practice sprinting aggressively offline to the left or right to the cover you set up. Once behind the cover, draw and engage the target with as little exposure from behind the cover as possible.

There you have it, three separate drills that work a stimulus/response pattern that are different than you might be used to. Add these drills to your practice sessions to ingrain proper responses that will increase your survival chances in a dynamic fight for your life!

Which drill or drills would you recommend for other readers to add to their training? Share your answers int he comment section.

Mike Seeklander is owner of Shooting-Performance LLC, a full-service training company, and the co-host of “The Best Defense,” the Outdoor Channel’s leading self-defense and firearms instruction show. Previously, Seeklander was Chief Operating Officer, Director of Training, and a Senior Instructor at the U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was directly responsible for the development of more than 50 firearm-training programs. Prior to that, as an employee of the federal government, Seeklander served as the Branch Chief and Lead Instructor for the Firearms division with the Federal Air Marshal Service as well as a Senior Instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training. He’s currently a nationally ranked competitor on the practical-handgun competition circuit, and the author and producer of several instructional books, DVDs, and lesson plans specifically related to both basic and advanced firearms training. Seeklander is the current I.D.P.A. BUG (Back up Gun) national champion and winner of the 2011 Steel Challenge World Speed Shooting Championships production division title. The United States Practical Shooting Association currently ranks Mike as a Grandmaster.

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Comments (5)

  1. In my military training, we were taught to make the sprint for cover and the drawing of the weapon simultaneous. Depending on the distance to cover, this gives you an opportunity to lay in some suppressive fire, giving your attacker something else to think about, besides trying to hit the moving target. You’ll either score hits, or send them scurrying for cover themselves. My entire family trains this way. Even the granddaughters are putting rounds on target, while in a crouched sprint.
    Several great comments about cover vs concealment. A very distinct and potentially deadly difference.
    Look its like this, sometimes training to “ingrain” a response, can be as bad as not training. What if your attacker deviates from your practiced scenario. The momentary hesitation to reassess and alter your actions, may be all they need to get off that shot. That’s why we vary our scenarios as well as responses. You may well HAVE to draw and fire, or dive to cover, or sprint to cover, we try to change as many of the variables as we can, as often as we can. Usually, one of us tells a story as one responds. That way we get a more diverse group of scenarios. It works great, the kids have fun making up stories to try to trip you up. They throw in bystanders, baby carriages, all manner of obstacles. Its a great group or family way to learn to defend yourself, family, friends, or innocent bystanders.
    Try it, you’d be surprised how different it is when it changes as you go.

    As always
    Carry on

  2. Advice to the readers: learn the difference between concealment (wooden door, drywall, furniture) and true cover (concrete walls, an engine block, an armored vehicle). Concealment only obscures the view of the bad guy to you. Cover protects you from the bad guy’s fire. Knowing the difference and using each effectively is important to your survival. When moving from behind cover or concealment, learn how to “slice the pie,” And PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

    1. Galaxie_Man, great comment. Damned few people know this difference.
      Then, with movies and TV, they see bullets bouncing off of doors, walls and such, they get the (incorrect and very stupid) idea that they can hide behind a kitchen table or such and bullets will just bounce off of it.

    2. Roy, quite true, altho some tables flipped over would stop some bullets. Almost any cover is better than none, and if hit at an angle, it may deflect some bullets. The main thing NOT to do is stand facing the threat head-on like in the old western movie shoot-outs!
      I have spent considerable time over the years shooting different guns at various objects just to see what the bullets penetrated. It’s hard to guess sometimes, especially with something like a car which is made up of so many parts.

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