Category Archives: gunhandling

Muzzle direction is the primary safety

Muzzle direction is the primary safety. Always has been and always will be.

–Bill Rogers of the elite Rogers Shooting School

“He told police he was oiling a handgun and had put a magazine in it and racked the slide when it fired, hitting his wife as she sat on a couch nearby.”

Man sentenced to probation in shooting of his wife

I absolutely despise the meme from Blackhawk Down that shows a trigger finger with the phrase “This is my safety.” Trigger finger discipline is a good thing but there’s a reason it’s Number 3 in the Four Rules of Gunhandling. Muzzle Direction is Number 2, as it should be in the scheme of things.

this is my safety no

Informal Instruction

A colleague of mine had the opportunity to give a short (15 minute) informal block of instruction to a friend of hers. Most firearms instruction in the US is informally done between friends or relatives.

Their session didn’t involve any live fire and was conducted in their office. It was simply a short briefing on basic safety rules, gun handling, and model specific instructions on how to operate her handgun.

An interesting comment came up in our discussion about the session. It’s worth keeping in mind any time we teach somebody something, whether the subject is firearms related or not.

I talked with her not at her.

When we teach an adult, it’s always worth remembering to approach it that way. Even if we are a Subject Matter Authority, the person is one of our peers and deserves to be treated respectfully. They should be treated like a client in an Adult-Adult relationship, not a grade school student in a Parent-Child relationship.

Mutual respect will garner the rapport necessary for the instruction to be effective and add value to the person’s life.

Defense in Depth

#Fridayfundamentals

Stolen pistol leads to reckless endangerment charge for Stamford man

By John Nickerson Published 4:28 pm EDT, Wednesday, October 2, 2019

https://www.nhregister.com/policereports/article/Stolen-pistol-leads-to-reckless-endangerment-14486880.php

When I posted the story on my Tactical Professor Facebook page as a Negative Outcome, the following question came up.

Which reminds me: this question is probably been addressed here before but for those of us who haven’t caught it are there any vehicle storage lock boxes that have good non shitty locks that we can buy on Amazon or a brick and mortar store?

I use a lockbox that I bought at Academy Sports for 10 bucks. Any defense can be defeated. Just as in the military, defense in depth is how we prevent a defense from being easily defeated. By using multiple barriers, we encourage a thief to move on before he gets our gun. It’s the opposite of leaving a gun in the door pocket of an unlocked car left outside at night. Here’s how I do it:

1. Think ‘be discreet.’ Visually inspect the area to see who is around.

2. Have your pistol box in the trunk, already secured by its cable to the hinge of the trunk lid. If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, place the box in some spot that is accessible to you and out of sight of casual passers-by and has a solid attachment point for the cable.

cable to hinge

3. Open the trunk.

4. Quickly palm your pistol and put your hand with the pistol into the trunk. This is where having a small pistol really helps.

gun in safe

5. Place pistol and any other weapons into the lockbox.

6. Lock the box.

7. If your holster doesn’t fit in the box, place it near the box.

8. Close the trunk.

9. Lock the car doors.

For years, I used a box with a combination lock but I’ve come to the conclusion that, for me, a key lock was faster and more convenient. The key is permanently on my keyring. I’m good at maintaining possession of my keys so I’m not concerned about not having the key to the box.

keys in box

I only leave my revolver in the car when I have a good reason to; going into my home at night is not a good reason. Going into non-permissive environments or perhaps to the doctor are good reasons.

My thanks to the gentleman who asked about the topic. That was a good suggestion for a blog post. He wins free copies of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make and Concealed Carry Skills and Drills.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com

Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

Concealed Carry Skills and Drills http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

Advanced Pistol Practice http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice

Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com

Evaluating handguns for YOU

Before you buy a gun, you should go to a range that rents guns and try different ones out to see which one is best for you.

What does “try them out” mean? How do we measure “which one is best for you?” Here is a list of worthwhile items to evaluate for you to make an informed decision about an autoloading pistol. For those who are helping a prospective purchaser, demonstrate the technique but then place the pistol in a sterile (unloaded with slide forward) condition and let them do their own evaluation without comment or coaching. You won’t be there to coach them if they need to use the pistol for real; that’s part of the evaluation.

  1. Load the pistol. This has two components.
    1. Load a magazine to full capacity.
    2. Load the fully charged magazine into the pistol and chamber a round.
  2. Manipulate the controls of the pistol.
    1. If the pistol has a decocker, decock the pistol after loading it.
    2. If the pistol has a safety, engage it, and then disengage it.
    3. Remove the loaded magazine from the pistol.
    4. Engage the slide stop while safely ejecting the round from the chamber. The muzzle must remain pointed downrange during the unload sequence.
    5. Inspect the chamber visually and physically (with a finger) to be sure it is unloaded.
    6. Let the slide go forward.
  3. Shoot the pistol.
    1. For new shooters or prospective purchasers, use a standard silhouette target.
    2. Experienced shooters should use a more meaningful target.
      1. An 8 inch circle at 3 yards.
      2. A sheet of paper in landscape orientation at 5 yards.
      3. Two sheets of paper stacked one above the other in landscape orientation at 7 yards and 10 yards.
      4. A suitable target can be downloaded here. Printable Silhouette drawn face
  1. Fire six shots at each of four distances (Stages); 3 yards, 5 yards, 7 yards, and 10 yards. This will replicate the difficulty level of most States’ Carry License Qualification Courses of Fire. A Carry License Qualification is the most likely shooting task the average purchaser will use their handgun for so you may as well evaluate the ability to pass it. This shooting evaluation consists of 24 rounds so two different pistols could be evaluated with one fifty round box of ammo.
    1. The six shots for each Stage should be fired in three Strings of Fire. The magazine should be loaded with six rounds only except when evaluating stoppage clearance.
      1. Fire One shot
      2. Fire Two shots
      3. Fire Three shots
      4. If the pistol has a decocker, decock the pistol after each string and then disengage the decocker.
      5. If the pistol has a safety, start each string with the safety engaged.
      6. After shooting at each distance, czech to make sure the pistol is unloaded, let the slide go forward, and decock, if the pistol has a decocker.
      7. Record how many hits were made on the target and then cover them with masking tape. You should bring a roll of masking tape with you to the range.
      8. Start the next distance’s shooting by loading the pistol from a sterile condition.
    2. The 3 yard string should be fired with the Primary Hand Only, i.e., One Handed.
  2. Evaluate your ability to reduce stoppages of the pistol.
    1. When shooting the 5 yard Stage, start with the chamber empty and a six round magazine inserted. Attempt to fire the first shot on an empty chamber. After the click, tap the base of the magazine, cycle the slide, and then fire one shot (Tap-Rack-Bang). This is a simulation of clearing a bad round or a partially unseated magazine.
    2. When shooting the 7 yard Stage, start with the slide locked open and a six round magazine in the pistol. Eject the magazine onto the table, pick it up, insert it into the pistol, release the slide, and then fire three shots. This is a simulation of an Emergency Reload because most rental pistols will only come with one magazine. After the three shot sequence, fire the two shot String and then the one shot String.
    3. When shooting the 10 yard Stage, start with the chamber empty and a six round magazine inserted. Attempt to fire the first shot on an empty chamber. After the click, remove the magazine, cycle the slide three times, re-insert the magazine, and then fire three shots. This simulates clearing a double feed. After the three shot sequence, fire the two shot String and then the one shot String.

This evaluation procedure will give you a good idea of two different aspects of how well the gun works for you or a prospective purchaser. The ability to shoot the gun to pass a possible standard for obtaining a Carry License and also manipulation tasks that are frequently overlooked.

Here is a downloadable checklist you can take to the range with you. Autoloading Pistol Suitability Checklist

Practicing under adverse conditions

Testing the effect of adverse weather on our shooting ability is useful. This year is already starting out with a colder winter than usual and it’s not even officially winter yet. That may be the ‘climate change’ trend for a while. The temperature today is 36 degrees and there’s a very light mist. Wearing a zipped up down jacket with a sweatshirt underneath and gloves may be the uniform for a while.

A good test for starters is the NRA Basics Of Pistol Shooting test. It consists of firing five shots into each of four circles, four inches in diameter at three increasing distances. Red Level is fired at 10 feet, White Level is shot at 15 feet, and Blue Level finishes the test at 20 feet for a total of 60 rounds. There is no time limit.

BOPS targets

Continue reading →

Consistency

Consistent. Merriam-Webster defines it as:

marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity: free from variation or contradiction

During his Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards class last weekend, John Johnston of Ballistic Radio commented to me that the class had been heavily influenced by two conversations he and I had. In one, I said

You’re a good shooter but your consistency sucks.

He took that to heart and developed a personal program to increase his consistency. Technical Handgun is his road show about how shooters can use a personal program to increase their consistency and competency. Good shooting, even decent shooting, is the result of consistency. By that I mean the ability to perform at some level with a high degree of regularity. As we develop our consistency, the level we are able to perform at ‘on demand’ increases. Many shooters are perfectly content with being incompetent. Many others are not but don’t know how to go about increasing their competency.

Continue reading →

Living with Guns

How do you forget you’re carrying a gun?

This question was posed in relation to a recent article about a former teacher leaving his pistol in the stall of a public restroom. The pistol was shortly thereafter fired ‘to see if it was loaded’ by the homeless man who found it. A spirited discussion ensued on my Facebook Tactical Professor page about the topic.

The discussion brought to mind something John Farnam spoke about at his class I attended 20 years ago. John wrote one of his published quips about the topic years later. It is well worth reading and considering. One of his points about competent gunhandlers is: “We don’t have accidents with guns.” Accidents is a category that includes more than Negligent Discharges by the homeless. It also includes losing control of your personally carried weapon, either by leaving it behind or by unintentionally allowing others to gain access to it.

Following is John’s commentary.

Living with Guns

By John S. Farnam

Many years ago, while attending The US Army Command and General Staff College at Ft Leavenworth, KS, I submitted a paper entitled, “Living With Guns”. In it, I described my sometimes exasperating experiences as an infantry second lieutenant, platoon commander in Vietnam in 1968. I observed that, during that War, although we all had been theoretically trained to operate small arms, nobody had ever taught us how to actually live with them!

I submitted that individual soldiers need experiences that prepare them, not only to operate, but to actually live with, loaded guns during prolonged periods of intermittent (and sometimes continuous) fighting. One may argue that such training is dangerous, but without it I contended, our soldiers will continue to accidentally shoot themselves and each other with distressing frequency the moment they enter an area of active fighting.

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What do you teach the students?

What do you teach the students in your classes, Claude?

That question was posed to me recently by an older gentleman at my gun club.

I teach them how to handle guns safely and how to hit the target, Ray.

He looked at me quizzically when I said that. He’s a competent shooter who can hit a six inch plate at 50 yards with a handgun. I could tell he didn’t understand so I told him a story.

I received a call a while ago from a range I used to teach at, which has subsequently burned down. The call was from the guy working the counter where they sign people into the range. “Can you come down right now and give a lady with a snub nose revolver a lesson right now? She will pay you and she’s willing to wait for you to get here.” It was 20 minutes away so I grabbed my gear and went.

The lady had a very nice 2 inch Model 15 Combat Masterpiece. She had purchased it at a gun shop when her husband died. This was her second visit to the range to ‘practice.’

13668367_1

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Friday Fundamentals – Progression (Part I)

I’ve been encouraged to restart the Friday Fundamentals series and I think that’s a good idea. My upcoming series of articles about the J Frame revolver and how to get the most of it will be a good platform since the J frame can be unforgiving of poor fundamentals. People who learn to shoot a J Frame adequately can usually learn to shoot other handguns well. But first, let’s have a philosophical discussion about learning the fundamentals.

Bottom line up front, as is often said in the business world.

Most training classes are a condensation of much more training, practice, and skill development on the instructor’s part than their students will ever experience or be able to make use of. Only a few instructors use the term “feeding them with a firehose” but that’s what most training usually turns into, whether the instructor understands it or not. That philosophy doesn’t reflect the way adults learn.

dot progression target

Distilling many hours, years, or decades of experience into a single half day, full day, or weekend class isn’t setting the students up for success. That’s especially true when at the end of the class, the instructor gives a certificate to the students and tells them they’re now ‘trained.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. ‘Indoctrinated’ would be a much better term. The lack of follow-on practice curricula is a major weakness in the training industry. It’s one of my major pet peeves about the way training is conducted.

The NRA Training Department progression of Basics Of Pistol Shooting, Personal Protection In The Home, Basic Personal Protection Outside The Home, and Advanced Personal Protection Outside The Home are really the only exception to this situation in the industry. Some instructors will contest this and say they offer a series of classes. My rebuttal is that if the first class requires a holster, the students have already been led to the hydrant and positioned in front of the firehose.

More on this next week.

The hardest part of the drawstroke

I had an interesting philosophical discussion during the Contextual Handgun, The Armed Parent/Guardian class this past weekend. The instructor, John Johnston, is very good about attributing his sources. One of his points was a comment by the late Paul Gomez.

The hardest part of the drawstroke is establishing grip.

I told John that I disagree with that. In my opinion, the hardest part of the drawstroke is gaining an adequate sight picture. Establishing grip is the most time-consuming part of the drawstroke.

A good instructor can usually get students to consistently establish grip in a relatively short period of training time. However, getting them to consistently get an adequate sight picture usually takes quite a while longer.

cw at rogers crop

Something to keep in mind during your live and dry practice.