Throw the Fundamentals Out

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

If you’re anything like me, you had the seven fundamentals of good marksmanship hammered into you when you learned to shoot. Most of us were taught that sight picture is paramount, followed by sight alignment. You couldn’t shoot if you didn’t have a good stance and a good grip and whatever you do, don’t jerk that trigger.

There’s just one problem with all that – when it comes to an active shooting situation, you’re not going to have time to make sure your grip is perfect and your stance is just so. You’ll be lucky to get your gun out and pointed in the right direction. The adrenalin pumping through your system is going to make it hard to control the trigger at all and may even cause your hands to shake, making it impossible to get a decent sight picture.

That’s reality. So, why don’t we train for it?

The seven fundamentals of good marksmanship were developed for the shooting range. They’re important if we want to hit the X-ring and we should practice them whenever we can. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to use them when it counts. Chances are, we’ll be off-balance, have a lousy grip, and won’t be able to get a good sight picture. But even with all that, all is not lost.

It has been discovered that the single most important part of accurate shooting is trigger control, not sight picture. Think about it for a moment, if your sight picture is off, it can throw your shot off to one side four or five inches. But if you jerk your trigger, you’ll likely pull your shot down and to the left (assuming you are right-handed) about seven inches. That’s almost twice as far off the mark.

The big problem here is that most of us practice as if an active shooter situation is going to be like range shooting. We don’t have anything happening to raise our adrenalin level and we are able to take as long as we want to get ready to shoot. Even shooting rapid fire, we can take a considerable amount of time getting ready, before taking that first shot.

If we want some realistic practice, we should try shooting with poor stance, drawing our pistol from concealment as quickly as possible, and getting that first shot off in two seconds. That will give us a much better picture of how we’ll shoot, when we really have to.

While I have nothing against target shooting and using the fundamentals of shooting for that target shooting, that isn’t my defensive practice. For that, I go to an outdoor range, where I’m alone and I can shoot without having to worry so much about range rules. There I can draw and fire from a variety of positions and stances, working on seeing how quickly I can get my first shot off, while still maintaining accuracy.

The other thing I do a lot of is dry-fire practice. That’s the best and cheapest way I know to overcome the problem of jerking the trigger. I want to be able to draw and fire quickly, without that jerk. So, I’ll use a bunch of different scenarios, with timers, responding to unexpected noise like thunder and even practicing along with the shooting on movies. I can’t create the stress of an active shooting situation; but those provide me with a way of mimicking the need to draw and fire on a moment’s notice, even when you’re not quite ready for it.

Do I still worry about sight picture? Yes; but not as much as before. While I still want to get that tight group in the X-ring, I’m depending more and more on instinctive shooting to get it for me. What I mean by that is developing the muscle memory necessary, so that I can make sure that when my pistol comes level, I have a good sight picture, even without looking for it. That way, I can pull the trigger as soon as the sights are superimposed over the target, rather than taking the time to fine-tune my sight picture. It’s not perfect; but nothing in an active shooter situation is.

I still work on maintaining my one-inch group for target shooting; but that’s not all my practice. When I’m shooting for self-defense, it’s about putting the bad guy down, not seeing how close together my shots are.

All of the tools are necessary; that includes the fundamentals of shooting. But we need to know when to set them aside and make sure we get sour shots downrange, where they can do some good. Otherwise, why bother carrying, keeping our powder dry our keeping our survival gear close at hand?

Dr. Rich

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