Good evening fellow bikers, American patriots and Second Amendment freedom lovers! I hope that you have been getting a lot of riding in this spring. Soon, we will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend – a solemn weekend to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Hopefully, you will come out and see me at Smoky Mountain Thunder – over Memorial Day Weekend. I will be with the great folks from Thunder Roads Magazine and should be easy to find.
For the past four years, you have counted on me for information on firearms, self-defense, politics, Second Amendment news and concealed carry. This month’s article is about proper training and pistol drills. If you carry concealed, for self-defense, you must practice. Unfortunately, I have talked to many individuals with Handgun Carry Permits (HCP) who went through the process of buying a pistol, applying for their HCP, getting fingerprinted, going through the background check and passing their live fire qualification – only to never practice again. These individuals might actually be safer without carrying a firearm than with it. Inevitably, if you are ever in a situation where you need to protect yourself, you will be under severe stress and your actions need to happen from muscle memory – not stress. That muscle memory is only developed by practice.
Dry Fire Drills
Living within the city limits, I cannot practice with live fire at home. My preferred range is a 45-minute ride – which is something I do not do every week. But, as I have learned over the years, the best practice routine is dry fire drills. The are simple, and because you are not firing live ammunition, they are free.
My practice routine is very simple. I practice with all of my different carry pistols. I start by removing the magazine and ejecting the round in the barrel (if you do not carry your pistol with a cartridge in the barrel, you have a paperweight – not a self-defense firearm). Double-check that the pistol is in fact cleared and then triple-check. We all know that many deaths and injuries have come from unloaded guns, correct? Remove all ammunition from the area you will be drilling in. Yes, go overboard. Be safe. Stay alive.
First, I practice drawing from my holster. I dress the way I would in public, with a shirt over my holstered pistol. I swipe my shirt away, draw, bring my pistol to low-ready, re-holster. I repeat this for a total of ten repetitions. Then I will repeat the drill, swiping the shirt away, draw to low-ready, bring the pistol up to high-ready and squeeze the trigger. Re-holster and repeat for a total of ten repetitions. This builds your muscle memory around drawing, coming to low-ready, high-ready and squeezing off a shot.
Next, I use my MANTISX System with my smart phone to practice trigger control. The Mantis system tracks barrel movement before the trigger pull, and afterwards. Practicing with the MantisX is actually better for me than live range fire. With instantaneous feedback, you can actually learn better trigger control, waste less ammunition and improve your live fire groupings. I practice with my dry-fire techniques way more often than I go to the range.
Live Fire Drills
While I do practice what I preach with dry fire training, there is still something special about the smell of cordite in the morning – in other words sending lead downrange. I like to feel the recoil and to see the physical evidence of where my shots are going. When I go to the range, I will typically start with shooting 50 – 100 rounds at paper. During this time, I am not looking to blast the bullseye out but to make sure my groupings are consistent, and my pistols are all functioning properly. Those of you that are only concerned about tearing the 10-ring up are missing the purpose of practicing for self-defense: a well placed first shot followed by an equally well-placed follow up shot. In a real-life situation, you are not trying to literally shoot out the eye of an attacker, but to incapacitate them quickly. This is done through ventilating their center-mass, making it impossible for them to breathe.
From the paper target range, I go to the tactical pistol training area. At most ranges this is the only area you can practice drawing, rapid fire shooting and tactical firing positions. I load five rounds in each of two magazines so I can practice a quick magazine change. With my pistol holstered, I walk up to the area I plan to fire from, get set in my isosceles stance, deliberately draw, concentrating on technique, take aim and fire the five shots quickly – concentrating on follow up shots on different targets. I do a quick magazine change, pull the slide back to put the pistol in battery, and fire the next five shots. I will typically run through about 100 rounds of ammunition at the tactical range. The benefit of tactical pistol practice is the instant feedback the metal plates provide.
After years of training in self-defense, there is no substitute for practice. But you must practice smart. You must do a lot of dry fire practice – at least five times as much as live fire practice. Your muscle memory and trigger control will become much better ingrained from the dry fire drills. And remember, without continual practice, you will not be prepared if the unthinkable happens.
Until next month, #LIVEtoRide and #RIDEtoLIVE. I hope to see you at Smoky Mountain Thunder over Memorial Day Weekend.