Students from Parkland, Florida are organizing a series of protests and walkouts around the country to protest gun violence. The goal on March 14 is for students and staff across the country to walk out of their classrooms for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. "to protest Congress' inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods,” Women’s March EMPOWER branch said in a statement. "We need action," it said. "No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country."
In the spirit of these ideas, here are some ideas for tough federal gun laws:
For people convicted of any domestic violence, even a misdemeanor, lets enforce a lifetime ban on firearms possession?
A government license (FFL) should be required for anyone who wants to manufacture, import, or sell firearms. The FFL should be mandatory not only for formal businesses, but also for people who make repetitive transactions for the purpose of profit. This would cover people at gun shows. Anyone who engages in the firearms business without an FFL should be punished by up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Manufacturers, importers, and dealers who are granted an FFL should have to keep meticulous records of every transaction. Their records and inventory should be subject to random inspections by the ATF. If an FFL goes out of business, all the records of past sales should be delivered to the ATF.
Before an FFL can sell a firearm to a non-licensed citizen, the citizen should have to get government approval. This should apply not only to store sales, but also if the FFL sells at a gun show. Internet, retailers can be allowed to advertise and sell on the internet, but the actual transfer of a firearm should only be allowed at an FFL’s place of business: Properly logged in and out and with a background check. The internet gun seller must also be an FFL.
The purchaser should be required to answer detailed questions certifying their background information. The government should know the purchaser’s race, and whether or not they are Hispanic. Before the sale is finalized, the FBI or a state equivalent needs to be contacted by the FFL for a background check on the purchaser.
Anyone that purchases two or more handguns in a week should be automatically red-flagged and reported to the federal government and to local law enforcement. Their name should go on a Federal Form and be submitted to the FBI.
All handgun manufacturers should provide a safe storage device for every gun. Even if the buyer owns a gun safe, the buyer should always be provided a locking device.
Licensed manufacturers need to engrave a serial number on every firearm. If someone alters or removes a serial number, the person should face five years imprisonment.
Felons should be prohibited from owning guns. The lifetime prohibition should include non-violent felons who have been law-abiding for decades; anyone who was convicted of marijuana possession in 1971 should be presumed to be a continuing menace to society.
A lifetime ban on gun ownership should also apply to anyone who has ever been committed to a mental institution. Mental illness is not necessarily permanent, but the ban should be.
Patients prescribed medical marijuana should be banned, even in states where use is legal. All medical marijuana cardholders should be automatically banned, regardless of whether they are current users.
Only persons over 21 should be able to purchase a handgun. 18-to-20-year-olds that defend our country with automatic weapons cannot be trusted with handguns within our country. A law should prohibit rifle or shotgun purchases by anyone under 18.
Assault rifles must be virtually banned. Assault Rifles, according to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, are “short, compact, select-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power.” Two examples are the Russian AK-47 or the American M-16 rifles. No civilian should be able to transfer or possess any assault rifle that was not already in circulation by 1986.
Older assault rifles in citizen hands should be registered with the government. If someone wants to acquire one, both the buyer and seller should have to file an application with the ATF. The tax for a transfer should be $200, to discourage ownership. The ATF should require fingerprints and two recent photographs. Local law enforcement should be notified. The FBI should conduct a background investigation, and the registration process should take months.
If the purchaser is permitted to acquire the assault rifle, they should be required to maintain records proving that the rifle is registered, and notify the ATF of any change in address. In order to take the rifle out of state, the owner should need written permission from ATF in advance. If the owner dies, the government takes possession of the rifle if it not properly bequeathed to an estate.
There are many other types of automatics firearms. They all should be controlled just as strictly as assault rifles. A violation of the laws on these guns should be a felony with up to 10 years imprisonment—and longer in cases of multiple violations.
The previous idea list is just the baseline for federal laws. Individual states should be allowed to enact more restrictive laws.
Do you think the above would work? Do you think it would make firearms the most regulated item in the US? You would be correct. However, you should know that all of the above restrictions are already in place. Several are from the 1980’s or 1990’s. The majority are from the Gun Control Act of 1968. The tax stamps and laws on automatics are from the National Firearms Act of 1934.
Let’s enforce the laws on our books.
Aimed fire with a handgun is a skill we feel a student must master first before utilizing other types of engagement. Point shooting, using a visible laser, or utilizing optics should come after. Keeping one’s head is important in its relationship to the shooter’s surrounding but we do not necessarily believe that a student should hold their head high and bring their sights up for a perfect sight picture. “What,” you say?
What we mean is this: under stress, whether it be competition or defensive shooting, the human body naturally tenses up. This often equates to rolling your shoulders up and forward and scrunching down your neck. This position is often in stark contrast to the form that many hold in practice - which is a very upright position. When you are relaxed, practicing upright is natural. However, we preach practicing and training how you will shoot. This applies to defensive or competitive shooting. When I was becoming a certified instructor, the counselor kept asking why I crouched, punched my pistol out, rolled my shoulder forward, and shot a very brisk pace. I was told I had plenty of time and as such could achieve a higher score. That was true as I did not score the highest in the class. I was however certainly the fastest and my score was in the top 10th percentile. I explained to the counselor that this was how I trained and shot since I primarily teach defensive shooters. This isn’t to say that you can’t go slow and target shoot, but target shooting is an entirely different exercise.
The problem of hitting high on target when taking a training class or shooting a match occurs when the training doesn’t match the actual shooting conditions. Keep in mind if your groups are consistent but off center your trigger control and front sight focus is good. Now let’s work on your point of impact.
We know through training that our front sight needs to be in view for accurate shots. What tends to be forgotten is the rear sight must also appear, even if ever so briefly. Our eyes see the rear sight as an obstruction to viewing the front and we tend to put the front sight over the top of the rear in order to see it better. This brings your shots up on target. On most sights, your front sight must nestle in the rear notch. Put the front sight OVER what you want to hit. Problem solved, right?
Maybe. To make this sight picture easier, it makes sense to have the rear sight notch wider that the width of the front sight. Many factory sights are not. Replace the sight or sights or simply file the rear sight wider. Don’t worry much about how much wider as our eyes will automatically center the front sight thought the notch (.02 inches is typically enough). This difference will also help in low light and as our eyes get older.
Another “trick” is to have contrasting colors or completely different sights from front to rear. I prefer a black rear sight and an orange front sight. Having 3 of the same color dots can confuse our eyes as to which dot is the front sight. So if you have a 3-dot white set, try making the front sight yellow or orange. You may be surprised how suddenly the front sight “pops”. As much as we hate factory Glock sights, at least the rear is a white notch and the front is a white dot. Most people see them well.
So now we are getting a good flash sight picture. Back to the mechanics. If you shoot in competition or practice in defensive shooting, realize you are under stress when the chips are down. Everything changes when a clock and/or a crowd is involved. We naturally lower our head and roll our shoulders. Don’t fight it, use it! It doesn’t matter if you are at work as LE, enjoy bringing your defensive shooting to the highest levels, or compete against others while on the clock. If you fall under these categories, practice and train as such. Make your draw smooth and refined. Crouch the same amount every time. Feet same width apart. Shoulders up and forward. Punch out the same way from position 3 to full extension. Only then will you see consistency at a large class or at the next meet.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. This applies to defensive pistols, rifles, and shotguns. For today, let’s discuss shotguns. It is tempting to add the latest gadget to any platform. The question that the owner must ask is, “how will this help me?” and “is this necessary?” Much of what is available is truly fluff. You may believe your shotgun looks cooler but in fact it is detrimental to the functional operation.
Let’s start with the stock. A pistol grip stock is out! Take it off. Unless you have a legitimate reason to try to conceal a shotgun, get rid of it. They are good for bank robbers and shark fisherman: at that, a real stock would be more effective for the fisherman. They are not accurate and a shotgun has too much recoil to control the gun. Plus it hurts your hand! A full size stock allows you to point and aim if needed quickly and take a follow-up shot if required. Remember, you are accountable for every pellet that leaves your gun. We do prefer a shorter length of pull on a defensive shotgun that your clay gun for compactness and to run it more like a rifle. A pistol grip on a stock or a Magpul SGA stock is very practical. The combo is very controlled for defensive use or for turkey hunting as we use our shotty more like a rifle.
Collapsible stock require their own paragraph. They might look cool but bluntly, they suck. They absorb no recoil. They do not align your eye properly with the rib or rail and you typically need to lift your head to see a proper sight picture. Bottom line-they hurt! If you don’t want to take our word, go try one and shoot a box of 25 rounds of 00 buckshot. Be sure to post a picture of your bruised cheek and face on our Instagram account after!
Optics and sights are a question that often comes up. Your home defense shot gun does not need them unless you have a place in your home that is longer that 20 or so yards. Most people do not have such a space. Somewhere over 20 yards a slug might be preferred over buckshot and as such a small red dot would be handy. Home defense distance requires nothing more than a bead or two on your rib. An optic is just one more thing that will snag or get knocked out of zero. Ideally you are using the shotgun defensively with both eyes open and using a form of instinctual shooting. Beads are meant for this style. If you prefer no sight, try a fiber optic pipe on your gun. This item will be sure to break off on a door jamb or at some other inopportune moment. If you like being punched in the cheek (see above note on stocks) try a high mounted ghost ring set or a high mounted optic. This style will force your cheek off the stock and it will feel like a left cross from Mike Tyson. The only enhanced set of sights we have found to be an upgrade and practical is a set from XS Sights. They are made of steel with a tritium insert. If you have a rail on your receiver it is awesome paired with a small Ghost ring. They all mount low enough to ensure you keep your head down on the stock!
Extended choke tubes are an item that will just make your gun longer. You don’t need your XXX Full turkey tube or the latest shark tooth door breacher from hell. Unless you are breeching doors or actually know how to do so, a fixed cylinder or a flush fit choke is more than fine!
Slings can get caught on door knobs etc if you are not wearing them correctly. I keep a sling next to my gun and can install it in a spilt second if desired. If I’m in my boxers checking out a strange noise at night I do not want a sling. If you know how to use one to your advantage, it can be handy if you are dealing with a child or need to open a lot of doors.
Lights are paramount to identifying a potential threat. This is one item that should be mounted to your gun. You need both hands to run your shotgun and holding one in your teeth is not practical. It need not be super powerful. In fact there is too much of a good thing with light as the reflection or splash will blind you if it is too powerful. Somewhere around 100 lumens is plenty for residential interiors. I’m partial to Inforce weapon mounted lights these days. Robust and sturdy and easy to operate. Mount your light properly. Take the shotgun to the range and run 50 rounds through it to ensure your attachment is sturdy. Better to know now that when you actually need it. Duct tape is not a long-term solution by the way.
By the way, if you are getting the idea that less is more on an HD shotgun, you are correct! Get rid of the crap on your gun and get some training. We have defensive shotgun classes coming up this spring. Look for the dates! Cajunarms.com
Shooting a gun is not a natural human action. Even experienced shooters will often flinch trying a new gun or caliber. Recoil anticipation is the number one shooting error!
To add insult to injury, if you flinch and hit a bad first shot, your follow up shots will often be as bad, or worse as you do not have full control over your gun! For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton was right!
We are proponents of new shooters using larger and heavier hand guns to learn HOW to shoot. We are not saying it should be their carry gun, but larger guns are great to learn the mechanics on and gain confidence. We see far too many women shooters in our classes toting little micro pistols. Hubby isn’t even in class with her while their better half is getting punished by the latest cute little gun that he decided was appropriate! Ouch!
Recoil management is easier to learn on a larger gun. It helps soak up recoil with its mass. It later translates to a smaller one easily.
Grip has the largest impact on controlling recoil. We teach and utilize the thumbs forward grip. New shooters are easier to teach. Re-teaching older shooters and getting them to change their thumb-over-thumb or teacup grips is more difficult. We never “force” students to change but strongly encourage them to try “our” way for the duration of class. We have some good shooting students with funky grips. They are safe and perform well. No sense in force feeding them something that will not necessarily allow them to perform better. However, we do move them from their bladed stance to a square one.
The points of contact created by the thumbs-forward grip give most shooters better control of their sidearm. The heels of your palms should be in contact with the gun and with each other, the thumb of your non-dominant hand is pointing forward, resting against the frame below the other thumb. The result is skin covering just about 100% of the grip. No gaps. Think of driving your gun towards the target aggressively. Your thumbs-forward grip along with your locked wrists and elbows (elbows locked is optional) control recoil and allow follow-up shots more quickly. Many prefer to keep their elbows slightly bent which allows multiple shots more quickly. It also soaks some recoil up.
Your grip comes with a square-to-target stance, with your nose over your toes and knees bent. This is an athletic stance that allows easy movement in any direction. It also gives you less exposure to one single bullet from a bad guy taking out both lungs and your heart! Think of its as a fighter’s stance. Keep both of your eyes open and keep your pistol centered on your body. You are in a fight, fortunately you have a gun! A good fighting stance allows the shooter to drive the gun on target after each shot and to transition between multiple targets.
Your grip should be very firm. More firm than a brisk handshake. Keep relatively equal pressure with both hands and keep those thumbs forward. Your thumbs play a large role in mitigating recoil. This will cam your wrists forward as well, effectively locking them.
A right handed shooter’s left thumb ideally provides lateral pressure to the frame reducing the natural tendency for a righty to push the gun left when shooting rapidly.
Another element that is often overlooked is trigger control and reset. Keep your finger in constant contact with the trigger after firing the first shot. Release the trigger just far enough to feel and hear a click. Repeat as needed. Running your trigger in this fashion allows for faster shots and reduces the likelihood of jerking the trigger or other bad things to occur. Prepping and reseting the trigger is also a means of follow through. Driving your gun toward the target and having constant contact with your finger on the trigger is a main element of follow through. However, when transitioning between multiple targets we emphasis that your finger MUST come off the trigger and index high. Competition shooters game this to shave seconds off their time. In the real world you cannot have your finger on the trigger while possibly crossing an innocent bystander. In our higher level classes we also emphasize that the muzzle must also clear bystanders in conjunction with trigger finger index.
You can control recoil on any gun or caliber with proper grip, stance, trigger control, and follow through. Dry firing is great for many aspects of defensive shooting. To tame recoil though, you must get out and shoot! Join us in 2018 for a wide array of training courses!
If you are forced to employ your gun in defense of life, there is a very real chance that you may be injured. 80% of gun shoot shot wounds are survivable. There are ways to ensure that you are among that 80%. The biggest thing you can train is your brain. Your mindset to prevail and live another day is your best defense to a good offense. Once the fight for your life is on, you must believe that no matter what, you will prevail. It is important to interject here that the “end all” is not a dead bad guy. It is ensuring the bad guy stops doing bad things and that you and other “good guys” see tomorrow. You need to be willing and have the mindset that you will not give up.
All that being said, you may need to fight through a major injury to ensure the ending is how you’ve pictured it. Mastering various techniques to overcome injury is a great step in this process, but that cannot happen without the proper mindset. Having the will and the mental fortitude to beat your opponent is the strongest tool in your kit.
When you are hit, your resolve must grow stronger, not weaker. Your focus must shift to launching a counter attack so fierce that your opponent will be looking for a way out. It doesn’t matter what your hit with. The mindset is the same. A switch needs to be flicked from defensive to offensive. You cannot lose.
Air soft or simulation training can help foster the proper mindset. If you get hit, keep going acknowledging the fact you have sustained an injury. Our training with SIRT laser trainers can provide a similar experience. The laser down’t sting, however. If you have never been hit hard with a a fist or a kick, take some open hand self defense training. Know how it feels to be stuck hard, even knocked out. Fight your way through the pain. It is better to experience such in a controlled environment like a dojang or kick boxing ring for the first time rather than on the street!
When on the range, practice shooting with your non dominant eye. It is possible to sustain various injuries to it during a defensive struggle. You will quickly see that it is a skill that needs practice. Tape over your shooting glasses so you do not cheat! Remember, practicing any solution to an injury while using a gun could be very dangerous. Many scenarios can safely be practiced at home using safe dry fire methods.
Practice one handed draws. Both dominant and off hand. Present and shoot various strings. In our classes we review the draw with the weak hand. Can’t reach your gun? Many folks re-think their carry position after practicing this. You will need to either use your knees or the ground to assist you in getting a grip on the gun. Again, practice this without ammo.
Ever rack your gun one handed? How about a one handed mag change? Try it using dry fire. Find a solution that works for you. Many of these scenarios are taught in our classes; some with ammo, many without. If you are looking to round out your defensive skill, taking a class under the close supervision of a professional teacher is a great and safe idea.
Shooting from the ground and other awkward positions are another area to practice. What if you can’t get up from the ground? What will you do? Have you practiced it? Have you even thought about it?
How about a compromised grip or one that is slick with blood? Can you still run your gun?
The reality is, if you need to defend yourself with a gun it will not go like you imagined. The bad guy will not be perfectly square and perpendicular to you. There will be obstacles. There may be injuries - including your own. Train for reality. Contact us for more info. Or better yet, sign up for a class!
So you’ve taken a defensive class or two, can draw form the holster quickly, and your mag reloads are pretty solid. Are you good to go? If one compares themselves to other gun owners, they would find themselves “ahead” of the competition. Have you shot while moving, from cover, from awkward positions, while under stress? If not, you will revert to your basic training under stress and not have the skills to rise to the occasion. Shooting from the ground should be in your training repertoire if serious about self defense.
After you learn it, you will see that fighting from the ground is a critical skill if you’ve been knocked to the ground. It also has tactical advantages in some situations by purposely getting down.
Being grounded offers stability and accuracy in shooting. However, it comes at huge cost in mobility. Let’s run through some scenarios from the top down.
Kneeling can be done high or low and on one or two knees. There are teachers that advocate taking a knee for reloads. We do not. We prefer movement, keeping your feet and heading toward cover or advancing your position. Advocates say it makes one a smaller target. True, but it decreases mobility and potentially exposes your femoral artery. Kneeling has advantages if trying to work a doorway by changing elevation. It also is sound if working from behind low cover. If you want to take a very stable shot, you can use your knee as rest. Be sure to keep bones off of bones and instead press muscle against muscle for the most accuracy. As in all of these positions, they are important to master in order to get yourself off the ground and into a standing position!
The seated position is perhaps the worst combination of stability and mobility. However, if you extend your dominant hand with pistol with a locked elbow toward the threat, you can use your off hand and legs to “scoot” away from an attacker to move toward cover while shooting. You can move rather quickly, spider-like, laterally or backward.
Prone is the most stable and least mobile of the positions. Depending on your cover, prone can be a great option as you make yourself a very small target. Shooting from your belly while prone can provide awesome support for a steady shot and offers very little exposure to the threat. Shooting under a car is an example. Curled up in a fetal-like position can provide advantages also. If you bring your knees in close to your body, you can use your knees to provide support to your hands for a steady shot around or under cover. If you find yourself flat on your back with the threat in front of you, a shot from a slight sit up position may be required. Decide during training if you want to shoot between your bent knees or with your legs and feet flat. Much of that decision will be based on your ability to do sit ups.
If you find yourself down, it is imperative not to rush to your feet. It may not be safe. Check your back and scan 540 degrees before changing elevation! It may be prudent to stay down!
Practice these positions at the range if you allowed and have the training. If not, come get the training from Cajun Arms! We introduce many of these techniques in our level one classes. You can also practice dry fire at home. Remember, you already know how to shoot. What you are learning and practicing is taking what you know to the ground and in awkward positions. The bad guy doesn’t always come straight on at a 90 degree angle!
Remember with all of these positions, you are vulnerable to skipped rounds coming from the threat. Know this and the ground you are on. If it’s grass, you’ll be ok. If the surface is pavement or hard pack dirt, not so much.
Have you ever observed a really fast competition shooter? Did you ever wonder how they got that fast? The re-loads were so fast that you hardly saw them? They must have practiced a lot to achieve that speed. What kind of practice you may wonder? Well, let me save you time and ultimate frustration by advising against practicing your reloads as fast as you can. You will suck. You’ll be fine if you are static and in a controlled situation, but introduce stress and movement and decision making - you’ll suck.
I’ve watched competition shooters as well as some of our high level students in class “game” an exercise, drill or station. Once they fumble, they are done. Sometimes they induce malfunctions in their guns because they bringing the gun back too early and do not provide enough resistance to the springs. Introduce a stove pipe during a re-load and really watch a shooter fall apart.
If your motivation is self defense, not a trophy, how does one practice? Perfectly. As cliche as it may sound, smooth is fast. Smooth is how you change mags. Smooth is what can save your life.
You need to practice perfectly. Do it in the mirror. (As always, observe safe practices before dry fire.) Your two hands need to work independent of each other. Your strong hand brings your gun into your workspace where you can see it in your peripheral vision while ejecting the magazine. Your off hand needs sweep smoothly to your spare mag, indexing the mag so you know which way is the front. Strong hand rolls the gun so the magwell is easily found without looking. Insert mag. Seat it firmly. In one smooth motion, bring your off hand to the top of the slide and rack it. Re-establish your grip and get your gun back in the fight. Of course you did this while moving unless you were behind solid cover. If you spent less than six seconds doing all of the above, you performed it incorrectly. What you need to do is perform slowly and perfectly. Speed comes with repeated smooth motion.
Just like martial arts, practice for running a gun in a defensive situation calls for many, I mean many, slow perfect repetitions. A new student in martial arts does not take a few lessons and then jump into the sparring ring. Many perfect reps are required before that day comes. And guess what? The speed required will be there when the day does come. The speed of reloads will be there if practiced perfectly enough times. If you learn it wrong or practice it wrong you will be sloppy. Repetition ingrains and programs your brain so a re-load can happen without conscious thought and makes those motions fade resistant. Remember, what you repeat you learn. What you repeat you will do when under stress. Do it perfectly.
So, practice. Practice some more. When you arrive at a live fire class, the instructor will love what they see. Need some help? Contact us for a private lesson or to review the basics with you!
We try not to get political or get involved with social issue debate, but the incident last week is just too much to keep quiet about. The BS meter is going off the charts. It is a complicated situation. We understand that. However, some of it seems very black and white.
As a firearms instructor that teaches the prudent use of force, we advise if your car is surrounded by a group of hostile humans in the midst of exhibiting violent behavior and causing physical harm to others, you are justified to shoot them to save your life or the life of your passengers. You are also justified in putting your car in gear and driving slowly but decisively away. If the angry mob that is intent on harming you, block your way and go under vehicle, so be it. Their death is on them, not you. IF, however, you say that it’s ok to ram your car full speed into protestors that are not putting you in ANY imminent danger, you are a liar and/or hold some very serious myths and misconceptions to be true.
If your are a “southerner” and you believe in state’s rights preserving history though the use of statues and memorials, fine. I hear you. However, if you protest the removal of such while sporting Nazi or KKK shirts, you are a fraud and a liar.
Conversely, if you are an Antifa chanting violent slogans and use force and intimidation to shut down others, you are a fascist and a hypocrite. Antifa leaders admit they're willing to physically attack anyone who condones racism -- as long as force is used in the name of eradicating hatred.
It also seems fairly easy to have predicted something undesirable would happen in Charlottesville. Why not stay home or find something else to do that day unless you were looking for excitement or trouble? Whether you hate our president or love him, there was fault on both sides in Charlotte. The nazi and KKK types have been quiet for a long time now. Antifa just gave them the platform they’ve been looking for to crawl out from their rocks. Unfortunately, the good folks that came out to peacefully protest or counter-protest were sucked into a nasty maelstrom.
Students often ask us the above question, particularly after a lesson or a class. We give “homework” to our students, providing practice drills and suggest areas to work on at the range. Simply blasting holes in targets is not training. The most important skill for the defensive shooter to focus on is mindset: mindset with visualization. The shooter needs to enter the range and train as if his or her life depended on it. Think about why you are performing each action and ensure that it translates into the real world. Your training and practice must have a purpose that is worth reverting to when under stress. As your skills increase, you will begin building stress inoculation, even if by yourself.
Once the foundation is set, it is time to move on to mastering advanced techniques involving one hand, shoot-don’t-shoot, and moving and utilizing cover. Unfortunately, many ranges do not allow such practice. Seek out a competent instructor and class to practice such skills. A good instructor will ensure you understand the skills taught before putting the student under too much stress. The act of performing in front of a class and instructor is often plenty of stress for many students. Remember, you must crawl before you can walk, and walk before you run.
Back to the proper mindset: mentally prepare before shooting any exercise. Visualize and imagine a scenario that could happen to you at home or at work. Do not lose sight that you not only must survive, but also win the fight! Imagine the drill you are going to run, and visualize the simple things such as your draw and presentation, your gun manipulations, and checking your back after the engagement. If you do it correctly, you can put yourself under stress by imagining it beforehand to check your performance. You will remember these practice scenarios running through your head and can draw on them if needed in a real defensive situation.
Another aspect to proper training is the physical nature of self-defense. You do not have to be in triathlon shape, but possessing the ability to run and move is important. So is the knowledge of what your body’ natural reactions are to high stress and working around it or with it. Tunnel vision and threat focus is why we have our students scan after the threat is down. Auditory exclusion can help preserve our hearing later, but remember to shout commands to loved ones or innocent bystanders. Remembering to breath while in a fight might sound silly to the uninitiated, but our rates will climb and it will become difficult to make good decisions without oxygen. Our gross motor skills will deteriorate rapidly under high stress. This is why we stress the importance of using gross or large muscle groups as much as possible while running our guns.
When things go pear shaped, will you be ready? It’s not the “if” that you are prepping for, but the “when”. You will not have the luxury of learning how to fight when in a real confrontation. These skills do not occur after taking a couple of classes or training every other month. You must do something every day: Visualization, playing the “what if” game, dry fire, and live fire. Train as if your life depended on it. Train until it becomes second nature. Develop the mindset and techniques to deal with and overcome the threat.
Many of our students shoot or want to shoot competitively or casually in some sort of pistol discipline. It can be a great way to get rounds down range under stress (timer). Regarding shotgun, many shoot trap or related clay sports either competitively or casually also. We do point out to these students that there is a very large difference between the shooting sports and defensive shooting, particularly when drawing from a concealed location.
Mindset is the first consideration. Yes, running against a clock with an RSO breathing over your shoulder is stressful. What is more stressful is being out in the open with no cover while a bad guy is shooting at you or a knife wielding psycho is 7 seven yards and closing. In competition, the participant gets to see the stage and walk through it with their finger gun. One typically doesn’t have that luxury in the real world. In trap, the shooter is loaded, gun mounted, and safety off before yelling pull. In the real world, the shooter just woke up, the room is dark, safety is on, and a round may or may not be in the chamber. Think one of those scenarios is more stressful?
We are not insinuating that the shooting sports should not be enjoyed or that they are not challenging. What we are saying is that if you are serious about defensive shooting, the sports need to be taken in context. A literal “switch” needs to be thrown prior to sport shooting. The shooter should remind himself that this is for fun and it has no correlation between the day’s activities and how the shooter trains for life or death scenarios. Remember that you will lose some of your ability to visualize “reality”. You’ll be sucked into the round or match and it will be all that matters to you for a while. You’ll be told when it’s your turn, how many shots to fire at each target, and in what order. In the real world, you will need to judge for yourself who gets what where and how may times. Two shots often won’t do it. There is no bonus for headshots in the real world. You may, however, get to live another day.
In our level one classes, I encourage students to wear OWB holsters and have plenty of mags and ammo on them. It is much safer when learning the draw. Many of our shotgun and rifle students will wear chest rigs and be loaded up with a luxurious amount of full mags. The reality is that if your guns are needed in a life or death scenario, the likelihood of you having this gear is slim. Your pistol may be a subcompact, IWB. Hopefully, you’ve listened to us and have a least one spare mag on you. However, in close contact distance, you may not have time for a reload or be able to execute one unless you’ve trained for it!
We encourage our intermediate and advanced students to come class with their real life carry gun and wear street clothes. Drawing from concealment and wearing jeans is much more realistic than sporting a drop leg, tight fitting shirt, and “shoot-me-first” pants. Take classes and train personally for reality. Know that it is not a game. For example, unless you carry extended mags on you daily, leave them at home. Remember that reloading behind good cover is tactically sound versus reloading on the run to the next station. Remember that smooth is fast and it doesn’t matter what your time is when in a gun fight. What matters is that you are still standing as the good guy.
So if you shoot in matches or at the trap line, enjoy. Have fun. But if you are serious about self-protection, delicate a much larger percentage of your practice time to it. Perfect practice makes perfect. Under the stress of a crisis scenario, you do not want to resort to your most practiced techniques if they are not advantageous to saving your life or the life of someone you love.
Jim Benoit's thoughts on guns, gear, & training
CAJUN ARMS & TUSCARORA TACTICAL TRAINING
WEST CHESTER, THOMPSONTOWN, PA