Tag Archives: gun training

Studying is a Necessary Part of Self-Defense

15 Jan

booksMention studying to most gun owners and images of target shot groupings or the latest issue of Guns and Ammo spring to mind.

However for the serious concealed carry practitioner, intent on honing their skills, studying is more than visiting the shooting range and leisure reading.

Developing a proficiency in situational awareness and conflict avoidance, as well as learning to recognize alternative options in potentially dangerous situations, all require a certain amount of diligence.

In his article “Are You Studying Enough”, author Kevin Michalowski reiterates the importance of devoting time to the academic side of self-defense and preservation at USConcealedCarry.com:

“If things go as far as a fight, well, that’s a problem.  It is of course a problem you need to solve and a situation in which you need to prevail, but I would still call participation in a gunfight something of a failure.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Michalowski recommends several books that are beneficial for people who carry concealed.  The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker is high on his list.  This book concentrates on helping the reader understand personal limitations, fears, and likely reactions in order to overcome, or at least recognize said fears when a dangerous situation presents itself.

Another book on Michalowski’s recommended reading list is In the Gravest Extreme by Masaad Ayoob.  This book is a guide to legal and ethical issues that may arise from gun ownership.  For the concealed carry community, these issues are particularly relevant.

Going to the shooting range to practice is a great idea, but it becomes less productive if you don’t know which body parts and organs you should fire at in order to neutralize a threat.  Michalowski recommends purchasing an inexpensive wall chart showing the human anatomy.

By taking a few minutes now and then to study the chart, you will soon get a feel for where to aim.  In an actual firefight, the goal is to bring the subject down as quickly as possible, not to aim for a good grouping.

A little more time spent studying will result in improved confidence and preparation not only on the range, but on the street as well.

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Who Killed Tamir Rice?

29 Dec

If you’re not familiar with the story about Tamir Rice, there’s enough information buzzing on the Internet to start a fire right about now. With the holiday season coming up, this unfortunateshiny toy gun situation of a 12-year-old child being killed by a policeman may even get a bit more complicated.

Due to the holiday season, there will be a lot of people giving gifts.

One thing that you know for sure is that some of these gifts will be given to children and teenagers.

Some of these gifts might be handgun replicas, very similar to the toy handgun that Tamir Rice was playing with.

Rice’s toy was replicated to look identical to a real .45. Lately, toy handgun models have been specifically marking these fake weapons to let law enforcement officers know that the replica is a toy.

These markers were created to communicate in a very strong visual way so that no one would be confused and react to a perceived threat.

The markers are there for protection purposes in order to avoid another Tamir Rice incident. By placing a loud orange color on the tip of the muzzle, the toy manufacturers are doing their part to communicate that their products aren’t real guns. However in Rice’s case, the orange part of the toy had been removed, making it harder for police to see the difference.

Author Rick Sapp goes in depth about the dangers of replica guns manufactured to look real and why they could be dangerous in his article “Who Killed Tamir Rice?” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“The audio of that call is available online. ‘There is a guy with a pistol,’ the caller says. ‘It’s probably fake, but he’s pointing it at everybody.’” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

If you do buy a toy handgun for a family member or friend this holiday season, you should be sure to take out time and explain to the children the importance of these additional features and why they shouldn’t be removed.

You should also stress that the toy is something that kids shouldn’t go around pointing at everyone. Teach them to treat the toy as if it were not a toy, and you’re providing a great lesson, maybe one that will lead them to be responsibly armed Americans later on down the line.

Have a face-to-face conversation so that you can be absolutely sure that the child or teenager completely understands what you’re saying. Of course, if you can’t be there in person, it might be smart for you to consult the child’s parents first to see if the gift is really a wise idea in the first place. Many parents don’t want their children to have guns, toy or not.

The important issue is that of using the tragedy of Rice’s situation to make sure that no more children die. Police should never have to encounter a child with what they believe to be a handgun so that they’re forced to respond. Make sure that all safety features remain intact and that kids understand that you should NEVER point a weapon, even a toy, at an officer of the law.

Shooting Stances for Those with Physical Limitations

2 Oct

Like many other physical disciplines, there is a commonly accepted way to stand and perform. For basic shooting stances, the most commonly used examples are the Isosceles or Weaver positions to aim and fire.

men aiming guns

These so-called standardized movements are taught to almost everyone initially.

The trouble many shooters run into with these common stances is that the instructor may be teaching with the assumption that the shooter is fully-functional physically and has few or no joint or muscle problems.

Few people have perfect bodies without any physical issues and as a result, some people become frustrated with trying to learn the basic positions exactly as they are taught. Some shooters are bent over or have a limited range of motion. Others have arthritis or weak grip strength or something else wrong with them.

Naturally, if you aren’t able to draw, aim, and fire your handgun using the basic techniques comfortably, then it’s time to find a method that works for you.

As author Bruce N. Eimer, PH.D. says in his article “What’s Your Stance?” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“The basic goal of any stance is to put your handgun up into the position where it does the most good. Your stance functions to align your point of aim, your front sight, your rear sight, your dominant eye, and to get all four points into a straight line.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Receiving professional instruction or learning from videos and magazines are great ways to start, but then it’s up to you to figure out a way to use your weapon as effectively as possible with the body you currently have.

You have to begin somewhere, so there is no harm in starting to learn standardized shooting stances. Yet, if it becomes apparent that these shooting positions aren’t working, the next step is to try variations on what you’re doing until you find something that works for you.

Do the best you can with what you have and focus on continuing to improve. The more familiar you become with yourself and your gun, the easier it will become to see better ways to work around any issues you may have.

And as always, the basics like having good balance, a solid stance, and good control over the gun are paramount concerns. Otherwise, you run a much higher risk of losing some control.

Self-Defense: How to Rapidly Assess a Situation

18 Sep

The act of defending oneself with a firearm is not a skill you are born with or taught as a kid. Since it doesn’t come naturally, self-defense must be learned by conscious repetition and instruction.

hand holding gun

Drawing, aiming, and firing a handgun is a motor skill.

Like other actions requiring coordination such as bicycling or swimming, skills related to shooting can be learned and honed through repetitive practice.

Repeating the same movements over and over helps solidify the muscle-to-mind connections and partially automates the process.

With enough practice, gun handling movements can become almost unconscious. Have you ever automatically put on your seatbelt to move your car across the yard a few feet? It wasn’t necessary, but the automatic part of your brain took over from habit.

This type of automatic mind response can be dangerous if you allow it to take over your perception of self-defense situations.

Unlike motor skills, you don’t want your mental assessment of threats and self-defense situations to become inflexible. If you train as though you’ll always be approached and threatened in the same manner, you’ll seriously limit your ability to act in real time to a legitimate threat.

Any preconceived notions of how things “should be” will add several seconds to your response time. You’ll have to first realize that events aren’t going according to your preconceived model and then adjust yourself in order to respond to reality. This lag in response time can give an attacker an advantage.

Author Bruce N. Eimer, PH.D. discusses this in his article “Mental Rehearsal in Combat and Firearm Training” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“The most common delay is when a conflict develops between what one observes and one’s expectations upon orienting the information. Thus, one of Boyd’s rules was: ‘Reality’ always trumps expectation! Reality is always ‘right.’” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Self-defense training is mostly action, usually involving reactions to threats. Inaction can be deadly, but so can taking an incorrect action. It would be a mistake to train yourself to draw on a threat no matter what because some threats are far enough away or simply don’t warrant deadly force.
Fine-tuning your ability to quickly assess threats in real time and responding appropriate by calling on your learned motor skills is something that takes dedication and practice. Learning these skills will allow you to respond appropriately to threats without losing ground or reacting too aggressively.

Concealed Carry Handguns: You Can’t Just Have One!

31 Jul

Being able to mix up your regular carrying routing without sacrificing safety is a great way to stay sharp and on top of things. This means varying your carry style, holster, and even the gun you carry.

revolver

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut if you only carry the same gun with the same carry method, day in — day out.

Your brain can get so used to this routine that if any part of it changes, you are at a loss.

Failing to change up your routine can lead to complacency, which is dangerous.

In the grand scheme of things, good pistols for self-defense aren’t all that expensive. Their cost is miniscule in comparison to many other things you buy multiples of, such as vehicles. 

Often the gun buying process is approached with the mentality that the gun you ultimately end up buying is the Holy Grail. This will be the one gun you own and the only one you will ever carry. 

Unfortunately, this can pigeonhole your thinking. Some guns are better for certain situations and it is nice to have options when you’re buckling a weapon into place for the day.

Generally speaking, your choices are either some form of semi-automatic or a revolver. Before you discount the capability of revolvers as effective self-defense weapons for the 21st century, read what author Duane A. Daiker has to say about them in his article “Thunder Ranch Model 22: A Serious Carry Gun, Retro-Style!” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“Revolvers have come a long way from the fixed sight, carbon steel, square-butt revolvers of years gone by. New offerings from Smith & Wesson offer high-tech, lightweight frame and cylinder materials, recoil-absorbing soft rubber grips, bright, fiber-optic front sights, and even laser sights.” (Read more about revolvers at USConcealedCarry.com)

If you can afford to purchase one handgun for self-defense, then at some point down the road, you’ll probably be able to buy another one without breaking the bank. It’s sensible to have a few guns to choose from. Much like a selection of apparel, you can pick up the gun that suits you for any occasion on any given day.

And remember that like any other possession, handguns can be bought, sold, and traded for other weapons. This is often the most effective way to learn what guns you like the most since you’ve actually been able to own them for a time and have seen how they work in your day-to-day life.

Winning a Gunfight Means Getting the Most Accurate Shot Off First

9 Jul

For the sake of argument, imagine what it would be like if you learned to dguy aiming at targetsraw and fire concealed handguns from a very early age. At the same time you learned how to use silverware, button your shirt, and open doors, you would also be practicing and learning basic gun presentation skills.

Those acquired firearms skills would become a part of you. These skills would be as automatic as tying shoelaces.

Think about it — when was the last time you broke tying your shoelaces down into small steps and bit your tongue as you tried to remember the right knots? Probably not since you were very young.

Anyone who learned how to draw a concealed firearm at a young age would have a significant advantage in an armed encounter over someone who didn’t learn. For the early learner, the process would become second nature and require very little conscious thinking about the draw, aim, and firing of the weapon.

The point of this theoretical scenario is to illustrate the benefits of practicing your draw and firing skills until they become so automatic that you don’t have to consciously think about the acts themselves, leaving you free to focus on the threat.

Since almost no one has learned these skills as children, the good news is that you can pick them up as an adult with the proper application of practice and instruction.

Draw speed, fluidity, and smoothness all go hand-in-hand. Be careful of focusing only on getting your gun out quickly. The person who draws their weapon first is not always the winner.

The winner is the person who squeezes off the most accurate shot first. Your holster, carry style, and the smoothness of your draw all lay the foundation for that final accurate aim and shot.

Author Bruce N. Eimer, PH.D. talks about the theory of speeding up your draw in his article “The Need for Speed” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“Just because it happens to be a gun that you are pointing, [it] does not change the fact that the fastest path between two points is a fluid, smooth line. Drawing a gun just happens to be a natural human ability that does not have to be and should not be overcomplicated.” (Read more about speed and accuracy at USConcealedCarry.com)

As you are training and working on speeding up your draw? Try reversing your thinking on the process. Instead of thinking about how you can draw faster, try to identify what is slowing you down.

By removing things that slow you down, you can just as effectively speed up your draw.

Managing Your Increased Responsibility While Carrying Firearms

22 May

When you consciously make the decision to carry a concealed firearm, you are entering a new state of existence that is quite different from normal non-concealed carrying life. Image

On one hand, being in possession of a firearm leaves you better prepared to successfully defend your own life.

On the flipside, you are not even close to having military or police levels of backup, training, and engagement.

Soldiers and officers are trained and carry weapons for their jobs and as a result, the jobs come with all sorts of protection. They are allowed to do things that civilians are not.

Police are paid to engage, chase, and apprehend dangerous people. They are trained to do these things and hardly ever operate alone. As concealed carrying civilians, it is rarely if ever legal or even a good idea for you to pursue someone.

In the course of their jobs, police officers are sometimes required to shoot people. There are reports on the news every week about a police shooting somewhere and details about the resulting investigation.

In the event of an investigation, officers involved are usually put on paid leave pending the outcome, given access to mental health counseling, and have legal representation courtesy of their police union.

They have far more assistance after a shooting than the common civilian, who can quickly find themselves paying thousands upon thousands of dollars in legal fees. This is before they even have to potentially post a sizable bail.

You cannot operate as a vigilante. Your primary reason to carry a gun in the first place is to stay alive. Focus on doing what keeps you alive and out of prison. Most of the time, this means running or getting away in some form or another.

It is also important to pay close attention to how being in possession of a firearm changes your attitude and perception of your place in the world. Author Cope Reynolds talks about this in his article “Ross Sporting Goods” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“… just because you’re carrying a gun, [it] doesn’t mean that you somehow have new-found powers or that you are any braver or tougher than you were before. If anything, it should probably make you a little more humble.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

This is an oft-mentioned point that bears repeating. Being in possession of a lethal weapon puts you into a much higher tier of responsibility. You must hold your ego in check and abandon all ideas of machismo and tough guy behavior.

Missing this critical step is nothing short of courting disaster.