Chance favors the prepared!

Firearms Training – It is a MUST!

20150320_152831A few weeks ago, I answered an email to Prepper Pam about firearms practice and training. I got a few more emails in response, so I thought the topic important enough to write an article on it.

Her initial question was:

I recently just bought a new pistol. I’ve shot it some and it’s a lot of fun. What sort of training do you recommend? – Prepper Pam

This was my response:

Congratulations! It is always fun when you purchase a new gun. I’m always excited when I shoot that very first round through it.

When it comes to firearms training, I would say train as often as you can. Make time if you have to. And not just range time. At home, I would practice (with your firearm unloaded of course) things like drawing it from where you carry it, (purse, concealed on hip, etc), sight alignment, trigger pull, etc. If your pistol has a safety, I would practice switching it off while drawing it. Practice those things all in conjunction.

Doctor Richard Schmidt wrote a book called Performance and Motor Control And Learning. In it, he states that it takes around 300-500 repetitions to develop a new motor pattern. However, once a bad or inadequate habit is already in place, it takes about 3,000-5,000 repetitions to erase and correct that bad motor pattern. (So train right the first time.)

When you go to the range, vary the length of your target from yourself. Shoot at 5 yards, 10 yards, and 15 yards for example. (Much longer ranges with a long gun of course.) Don’t lock yourself in to the same distance from your target every time.

As your experience grows, change things up. Give yourself time limits, ie 3 shots center mass from a holstered position in 3 seconds. Try to put a bit of pressure on yourself. If you ever find yourself in a life or death situation, your physiological reactions to the stressful event can alter the way you shoot, ie elevated heart rate, tunnel vision, etc. So putting a little bit of stress on your body now will begin to prepare you should that ever happen.

If you can, try shooting at more than one target. You might have to engage multiple bad guys. Adding moving targets to your repertoire will also help. (If you can.) Work on accuracy first. Once you are comfortable with accuracy, then work on speed. But remember, accuracy ALWAYS trumps speed!

While you are building your experience (and confidence), I would begin learning about your gun. Each gun is a little different. For example, many guns out there are picky about ammo. I had a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard that did not like steel cased ammo. I guess the striker sometimes did not hit the primer hard enough, and I would have a “No fire.” I’d pull the trigger a second time and the bullet would go off. (My brother had a Taurus TCP738 that HATED steel cased. He had to send the pistol back to the manufacturer for repair after trying to shoot steel case.)

On a box of Monarch steel cased 50 rounds; I probably had 4 or 5 “No fires”. So I quit using that type of ammo. But I experiment with different types of ammo. So find out if your gun is finicky. If it is, find out which types and brands of ammo does your firearm does not like.

I would also practice re-loading. How quickly and efficiently can you reload and re-engage your target? I would also work on malfunction drills. Instead of spending paragraph after paragraph explaining how it is done, I thought I would put this video on instead. Be sure to watch Part II and III of this series.


I found this to be a great series on teaching some malfunction drills.

Now if you look at the top picture of the paper target, you will see the target I used to qualify with my off-duty carry weapon, the Sig Sauer P238. Before qualifying, I had shot maybe 5 rounds through it, making sure it was sighted properly.

The qualification course is a 25 round course, each round counting 4 points. I qualified with a 96.

My first three rounds, from a holstered position at 15 yards in 4 seconds, hit below his right hand, right above this hand, and the third round in his arm. I was letting the pistol ride up a little in my hand. So I made adjustments.

Because the third round broke the outer circle, it was counted. I felt like I could have done better. But for only 8 shots through a new firearm, I’d take it.

Know your gun!

After that I settled down, and placed every round center mass EXCEPT one. See the one just on the outside of his shirt on the left? I missed that at ONE freakin yard!

The course of fire at that point was at the one yard line. From a holstered position, I drew and fired 3 rounds center chest in 2 seconds. My first shot I fired just a hair too fast and missed at the one yard line. The next two were dead on. But that first one…it eats at me.

I was under a time limit, so there was a bit of stress. But paper targets don’t shoot back. Imagine the stress level if that had been real. The missed first round, in a real life or death situation, could have been fatal.

Even with training and practice, sometimes you miss. Sometimes you are a hair off or a half second too slow. Carlos Hathcock didn’t make every shot. Chris Kyle missed sometimes. I train regularly and I’m not even in the same ballpark to those guys. Not even close!

Now imagine if you never train….if you never practice. What if you don’t know your gun?

I took a picture of that target, and it is posted in my office. Underneath is a saying I like….”It is better to sweat in training than to bleed in battle”. I look at it every day and remind myself, I haven’t trained or practiced enough.

Have you?


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