Dear Fellow Survivalist;
Ever since I began shooting, oh so many years ago, I’ve had a dream of being an expert shot. I was convinced that I too could sign my name with a six shooter… or at least with a semi-automatic pistol, just like Wild Bill Hickock.
Well, that has never happened. I just don’t have that steady a hand. But I still practice, working towards a more realistic goal; that of being the best that I can be, regardless of how good that might end up being. While I’m convinced I will never be able to sign my name with any of my pistols, I can always improve. Not only can my shooting improve, but my gun manipulation skills can too.
Many shooters forget about practicing their gun manipulation skills, but those are important too. What I mean by that, in case you’re unsure, is the ability to do a variety of non-shooting tasks with your sidearm, all of which could be necessary, if you are ever caught in an active shooter incident. While your shooting will be important at that time, so will your ability to do things like draw your weapon, change magazines and maybe even switch hands if you get injured.
The nice thing is that a lot of this can be practiced as dry fire, which means that it doesn’t cost you anything more than your time. You can even do these drills while you’re watching the TV, so that you don’t waste so much time. Besides, the distraction of the TV means that you’re going to be doing them by muscle memory, which is really what you’re trying to train.
As part of this, I highly recommend working on doing things with your off-hand too. You can’t just quit and ask for a rematch if you get hit in your gun hand. Unless you’re ready to go knocking on the pearly gates, you’re going to have to switch hands and keep on shooting; trying to save the day. Yet few people bother training at all with their off-hand.
Drawing your gun is probably the single most important non-shooting skill you can have with a gun. This ability doesn’t just include drawing it when you’re standing in the open, behind the firing line, at the gun range; but drawing it in a variety of circumstances. Have you ever tried drawing it while sitting in your car? That one’s not easy.
There are two important parts to consider, when practicing your draw. One is removing your gun from its place of concealment. If you carry your pistol in a waist holster, with your shirt covering it, your draw has to include uncovering your gun, so that you can draw it. If you’re not used to that, it can slow you considerably.
The other thing you need to be concerned about is where your draw ends. To me, the draw ends when I am looking over the sights, with the muzzle pointed at the target. So one of the things I’ve practiced is drawing in such a way that I end up that way, without looking. I actually close my eyes, and try to end up with the sights aligned with the target.
But as I already said, what if your gun hand is already injured. How can you draw with your off hand. That’s possible, but it’s a whole lot harder and slower to do. Yet, if that’s your only option, then you want to know that you can do it. Try going behind your back and across your belly, and then decide which one works best for you. Then practice doing that one until you can do it comfortably.
Fast magazine changes are essential in a gunfight. Any experienced shooter knows to wait until their opponent is out of ammo, and then use that moment’s break to either attack or move to a more advantageous position. So you want to be able to make that moment as short as possible. That’s why mag change drills are so valuable.
Start out by doing the drills with a loose magazine on your lap. Pop the one in the gun and slap in the new one, while watching the TV. Do this over and over again, until you can do it in one second or less, in your sleep. Then step it up a bit; starting with the magazines in your mag holder.
Many people carry their spare mags with the bullets pointed forward, but I carry mine bullets facing back. The reason for this is that it makes for a smoother load, without having to change the direction of the magazine. Simply rotating it to the up (load) position, will point the bullets forward, with no other movement.
Once again, we have to consider the idea of being injured and still reloading our guns. This is much harder, as this is designed to be a two-handed operation. But if you drop your mag, then either lay the gun down or hold it on the inside of your knee, you can then use your hand to draw out a fresh mag and load it. It’s not easy, but it keeps you in the fight.
Just like doing that with your shooting hand, work on doing it with your off hand as well. that will make you long for the days when you were practicing doing it with your shooting hand, because it’s really going to be challenging.
Finally, work on jam drills. You know the mantra, “tap, rack and shoot.” That’s tap the bottom of the magazine to make sure it’s seated. Rack the slide to clear the jammed round and load a new one. Then go on to try to fire once again. Just like the mag drills, the idea here is to be able to do it in one second, so that you can get back in the fight. This has to become so automatic, that anytime your pistol doesn’t fire correctly, you automatically tap, rack and shoot. Work on those drills and you’ll be a whole lot more ready for that day when you have to use your gun for real. In the mean time, make sure to keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.