Experienced: having skill or knowledge from doing something
So before we dip our toes into a few resolutions, let’s ask the simple question . . . “Are you experienced?” Notice the definition . . . “having skill or knowledge from doing something”. Take this is a bit of a gut check . . . been to the range fairly frequently this year? Did you take new coursework? Do you have the knowledge and skill to properly care for all your firearms? As a test of skills . . . can you complete the Winchester Marksmanship Qualification for Defensive Pistol II at the Expert Level. (Yes . . . I know, lots of qualification shoots out there, but the Winchester program is a solid test of fundamentals. If you don’t like it – choose something different.) If you have done, and can do these things . . . nice! Congrats on your hard work. However, if you can’t . . . please stop kidding yourself and make THIS YEAR, right now – the year you take your personal protection serious. Honestly, I could give a crap less if you lie to yourself and end up in a ZipLoc . . . but I DO care if you’ve chosen to carry to defend your family . . . and then can’t when TSHTF! Don’t be that guy/gal. OK?
What to do, what to do. As with the previous post on this topic, I have a fondness for “3s” so let’s focus on three individual areas you can work on.
It should come as no surprise that I believe every individual who carries a defensive handgun should take coursework EVERY FRICKIN’ YEAR!! Take something. There are a whole host of “big name” trainers out there at very reasonable prices – they are surely an option. That said, every region is “that guy” or “that gal” who conducts training in their area, has a solid reputation, has good reviews, teaches skills you either don’t have or want to polish . . . don’t overlook them because they’re not “known”. Any instructor who can clearly articulate why they teach what they teach in a logical fashion, that can demonstrate what they teach and has no hesitation to shoot drills on the range as a way to demonstrate them . . . has things for you to learn. And, probably at greatly reduced costs.
DVD coursework is also a good supplemental way to go. While it is NOT the same as face time with a trainer, if you genuinely are a shooter who spends real range time working on your skills, video coursework can broaden your knowledge base on everything from the legal aspects of a defensive shooting to a new types of shooting drills and techniques. My only caution here is . . . youtube is NOT your friend! Purchase DVD coursework from solid, reputable instructors. Take your time to read the reviews, look at any preview material and then make a smart choice.
On-Line training fits a similar niche. I’ve been a member of the Personal Defense Network founded by Rob Pincus for a number of years. They are probably one of the best sources of on-line information on a broad range of topics. And, they have a very large video library as well.
Finally . . . READ! There are a number of authors out there who publish magazine articles, books, blogs that have good, solid information. Pick up something every day to read on the use of a defensive weapon, on drills, on how to use range time to your best advantage . . . and a whole host of other topics. Take advantage of them all!
Do a “Deep Dive” on your everyday carry gun
Do you really “know” your EDC defensive weapon? “Yeah . . . I carry a Glock . . . or a 1911 . . . or a Sig . . . or a FN . . . or a . . .” But . . . do you really know your gun? I pray you can do a quick field strip, clean and lubricate. Can you go past that? Can you change damaged firing pins, extractors, strikers . . . things that live in the rear of the slide but that the average shooter rarely – if ever – touches? Do you have a spare parts kit for your EDC gun? Do you know it’s history – and not just the history of your particular firearm but the history of it’s development. How did it get from a drafting board into your concealed carry holster at your side? Take some time and get to know the tool you have chosen to defend your life, the lives of your family and folks in your charge.
I’ll give you the same advice I gave to the new shooters . . . buy your 1,000 rounds of training ammo TODAY!! In fact, since you are going to be growing as an experienced shooter, you may what to bump that up to 1,500 or 2,000. For me personally I’ve already received 2,000 rounds of 9mm, 1,000 rounds of .45, 1,000 rounds of .223 and probably 3,000 rounds of .22 though to be fair that’s mostly for new shooters and some of the coursework they take from me. It takes live rounds to learn recoil management – and you simply must do the work.
Set some training goals. For me I’ve committed to complete the Winchester Defensive Pistol Qualification 1 and 2. Honestly, they’re not particularly hard but they go a long way towards demonstrating that you take your craft seriously and should you ever be involved in a defensive shooting, that time on the range may well help you win the second half of a gunfight – in the courtroom.
I am still a big fan of NextLevelTraining’s SIRT pistol. Actually I have 5 of them that I use in the classroom. That said, they’re in a Glock 17 (and now M&P) form factor which is the defensive weapon I carry. I probably spend a minimum of an hour a day on my dry fire range working on presentation, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger press. It DOES NOT help with recoil management . . . but it does a world of good for virtually every other aspect of defensive shooting. I would encourage you to see if this fits in your budget and pick one up.
A solid alternative is the LaserLyte Laser Round. I have one for 9MM and for .45 ACP. These allow an added level of safety in that they FILL the chamber in your carry gun when you use it insuring that a live round is not ever loaded in your gun. And, they provide first-round impact indication.
Solid work on a dry fire range can multiply many times over the value of live ammunition simply because a lot of the “grunt work” can be accomplished before you every hit the live fire range.
One final request . . . if you have chosen to carry a defensive handgun to defend yourself, your family or folks in your charge . . . then carry . . . every day . . . everywhere you legally can. When a bad guy presents themselves as a lethal threat there is no time to run to the car, to return to the office, to zip home, to open the safe, to load your defensive weapon . . . you have no time . . .
I DO NOT want you to look back on this year wishing you’d carried, wishing you’d taken coursework, wishing you’d truly learned how to run your gun . . .
So . . . get off your ass, do the work . . . and we’ll chat at the end of the year to see how it went. Have a GREAT and PRODUCTIVE 2016!