Nearly the end of October . . . where the heck did the Summer go?? And, to add insult to injury, we had a significant and measurable amount of snow. Really?? Last year – 2012 – our first measurable snow was December 20th. This year – 2013 – October 22nd, nearly TWO MONTHS EARLIER!! We are all going to die due to global warming . . . . the end is near! Ah well – it’s weather in the Midwest. The purpose for this post – you either choose to pay attention to it or you may well pay a heavy price for it.
A few reminders:
You are going to be wearing significantly more clothing shortly and it will affect everything about using a handgun, knife or most other defensive tools. I would encourage you to NOT change your carry position to make it “easier” – if you have been working throughout the warmer months with your draw and engagement, that is how your body is going to respond, even with more layers of clothing on. Instead, practice your draw with your cold weather gear on. For me, the clearing process of getting my clothing out of the way simply becomes more pronounced so that when I grasp the bottom of my clothing on my dominant side I make sure my hand is completely under all layers when I lift and clear the grip. My process doesn’t change much at all – I just make sure all layers are included.
The consideration is the same when you reach for your spare magazine while exchanging a full mag for an empty one – more clothing equals added focus on clearing all layers when you reach for your spare.
Gloves, while wonderful inventions for keeping your pinkies warm and toasty are a real pain when operating your defensive weapon effectively. What works for me is that I seldom wear gloves, even on prolonged classes on the range. However, if you feel you must wear them, find some of the thinner versions that provide enough comfort to take the edge off but do not add much bulk to your hand and get in the way. Blackhawk has a number of pairs that I have used over the years and yes – I have worn them for some of the classes I’ve taken in the winter months. I try not to, but I too fall prey to comfort as well. Work with your gloves, practice with dry fire draws and don’t wait until you are mid-winter and suddenly have need of a skill that is sadly lacking.
Cold weather will probably dampen your enthusiasm for range trips . . . fight this. Your risks, your vulnerabilities change little during the winter months. Do your best to continue your range training throughout the year.
Loose the damn hoodie . . . or the hood on your winter jacket. Consider a watch cap and scarf instead. I assisted with a training a few weeks ago and the morning began “chilly” – very low 40s and pretty breezy. One of the shooters was a young woman who was just beginning to work on her draw and engagement. As our time on the range continued, she became chilled and stood at the line just rattling . . . literally. One of the instructors had a couple extra jackets in his car and loaned her one which got her through the day. But, one thing she began to do was to put the hood up on the hoodie she was wearing. Instantly her ability to see the world around her was reduced to about 60 degrees straight ahead, substantially increasing her vulnerability. We moved her to a watch cap instead and her situational awareness returned to “normal”.
She also provided another lesson – throw your winter bag in the car . . . TODAY!! For us – my wife and I – it includes spare clothing, extra gloves, a sleeping bag, a couple spare Clif Bars, boots . . . . things we may well need if we find ourselves spinning off the road in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere. This is easy to do, costs little or nothing and can save your butt . . . you have all the time in the world to do this NOW . . . .
Adjust your “time”. Trips that normally take 30 minutes could easily expand to 60 . . . or perhaps should not be done at all. Dial this into your response as you check the time, throw on your coat and rush to the car because you’re “running late”. That’s a great use for your cell, just give a quick call and let folks know you’re running behind and the weather isn’t helping! Adjust your stopping distance, your max speed, change your wipers, fill the cleaning fluid . . . . geezz I sound like a dad warning his kid . . . . which reminds me I need to call Chrissy today! J
Winter is winter . . . it’s just weather. It’s coming and all the man-made CO2 is not going to stop it. Adjust your training, refine your skills, adjust your clothing, take proper precautions . . . . and then bitch about the cold all you want because you will be prepared . . . and spring is coming – it’s only 5 months away!