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.
- Load the pistol. This has two components.
- Load a magazine to full capacity.
- Load the fully charged magazine into the pistol and chamber a round.
- Manipulate the controls of the pistol.
- If the pistol has a decocker, decock the pistol after loading it.
- If the pistol has a safety, engage it, and then disengage it.
- Remove the loaded magazine from the pistol.
- Engage the slide stop while safely ejecting the round from the chamber. The muzzle must remain pointed downrange during the unload sequence.
- Inspect the chamber visually and physically (with a finger) to be sure it is unloaded.
- Let the slide go forward.
- Shoot the pistol.
- For new shooters or prospective purchasers, use a standard silhouette target.
- Experienced shooters should use a more meaningful target.
- An 8 inch circle at 3 yards.
- A sheet of paper in landscape orientation at 5 yards.
- Two sheets of paper stacked one above the other in landscape orientation at 7 yards and 10 yards.
- A suitable target can be downloaded here. Printable Silhouette drawn face
- 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.
- 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.
- Fire One shot
- Fire Two shots
- Fire Three shots
- If the pistol has a decocker, decock the pistol after each string and then disengage the decocker.
- If the pistol has a safety, start each string with the safety engaged.
- 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.
- 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.
- Start the next distance’s shooting by loading the pistol from a sterile condition.
- The 3 yard string should be fired with the Primary Hand Only, i.e., One Handed.
- 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.
- Evaluate your ability to reduce stoppages of the pistol.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
What is YOUR real world like? It’s different from everyone else’s real world, for sure.
Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com
Concealed Carry Skills and Drills http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com
Advanced Pistol Practice http://store.payloadz.com/go?id=2613612
Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com
This morning, I had an opportunity to do some work on putting my money where my mouth is. I’ve been haranguing about Negative Outcomes and wanted to come up with some actionable practice. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, as the saying goes.
Around 5 a.m., someone was loading a pickup in the parking lot outside my apartment. There was quite a bit of ‘bumping,’ which woke me up. Everything was still dark and otherwise quiet. I was satisfied that it was indeed a truck being loaded and what was being loaded wasn’t mine. While lying in bed, I realized I had been awakened by a ‘bump in the night.’ So, I decided to clear my apartment as a dry run.
First, I cleared my pistol and put an orange dummy round in the chamber. I then dryfired it once. If I hadn’t…
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It’s all hype by the media to boost their ratings. The active shooter possibility is so small it wouldn’t even be worth talking about if the media didn’t stir up such a (you-know-what) storm about it. Look at the breakout for 2017, the latest year exact numbers are available. Note that the mass shootings number for 2017 includes the Las Vegas concert incident so it’s higher than other years.
Source: CDC and Time
In comparison, how often do you hear about multiple fatality car crashes on the news? They rate one minute, once. Then they’re out of sight and out of mind. In 2017, the CDC figure for car fatalities is 40,231. Dead is dead, period. Run an internet search for “multiple fatality car crash” and limit the search period to the past month. The number you’ll find is shocking.
The Bill of Rights
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
There continues to be controversy about the meaning of the Second Amendment. Advocates of Gun Control maintain that it only refers to the National Guard. On occasion, even firearms owners will say that regulated means ‘trained.’
The Federalist Papers (#29 by Alexander Hamilton) gives this interpretation of a ‘well regulated militia.’
“Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; [emphasis mine] and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.”
I.e., everyone should own an assault rifle, a basic load of ammunition and be required to show up for an inspection thereof at least annually.
Hamilton alludes to the difficulty of having the entire citizenry participate in military maneuvers sufficient to develop proficiency at a unit level. Any soldier who has been on a Field Training Exercise (FTX) can understand this. But having military weapons in the hands of the People seems to be a viable solution to him. Maintaining individual proficiency with those weapons isn’t something he speaks about.
James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 46:
“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
Yet another reference to the value of citizens owning arms.
Madison also makes reference to “that the traitors [emphasis mine] should, throughout this period, uniformly and systematically pursue some fixed plan for the extension of the military establishment.” In a time when a member of Congress talks about using nuclear weapons against the American people, it’s even more important that the people at large possess military weapons.
Professor Eugene Volokh of the UCLA Law School provides some References to the Militia in The Federalist.
The Second Amendment has never been about hunting. That has always been a fiction. The intent of the Founding Fathers was for the people to able to resist a tyrannical central government.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finished my latest book – Shooting Your Black Rifle.
There are many books about how to shoot rifles in general, and Black Rifles in particular. This book focuses on applying the principles and techniques of those books to live fire and dry practice. The book contains numerous Courses of Fire applicable to training and practicing for Personal Protection, along with other useful information for Black Rifle owners. These Courses are drawn from POlice Patrol Rifle courses that involve shooting at 50 yards or less, so they are highly applicable to the needs of the Armed Private Citizen.
This book should be thought of as a guide for practicing the techniques that owners of AR-15s and other Black Rifles have learned or are interested in. Understanding a technique without repetitively practicing it will not yield particularly good results. The Courses of Fire provide a method for practicing what an owner has learned and evaluating what techniques work best for each individual.
Recognizing that many people do not have access to a readily available source of targets, Printable Targets that can be produced on any printer are included. Because many gunowners do not have access to a 50 yard range, reduced scale targets are included. These reduced scale targets can be used on ranges that are only 25 yards long to simulate longer distances.
Table of Contents
- Zeroing Your Rifle
- Patrol Rifle Qualification Courses
- Decisional Drills, Verbalization Drills, and Dry Practice
- Gun Safety, Serious Mistakes, and Negative Outcomes
This is an excellent guide for both new AR-15 owners and those who have owned one for a while but would like to practice with the rifle more effectively. For those who have taken a class about the AR-15, the book provides you with various shooting drills to help you maintain and sharpen the skills you learned. For those who have little or no training, the book gives you a structured way of learning and improving your skills.
It is available in downloadable format. The cost is only $7.99 and I think you will find it is well worth it.
I was the guest on another podcast last night. Knowing that many people like to listen to podcasts, I compiled a list of the podcasts and topics that the hosts have been so kind to invite me to join.
Eye On The Target – Book philosophy and Dry Practice drill, July 14, 2019
P(rimary) &S(econdary) 168 – Mouse Guns, October 14, 2018
Safety Solutions Academy – Decision Making, September 20, 2018
Ballistic Radio – The Neediest of Pre-Needs, July 8, 2018
Ballistic Radio – Dear Instructors, Get a Real Job, February 11, 2018
Civilian Carry Radio – December 28, 2017
Ballistic Radio – Whose Standards?, May 7, 2017)
Ballistic Radio – 50 Shades Of Werner, September 25, 2016
Ballistic Radio – The Boyd Part About The OODA Loop, February 7, 2016
Handgun Radio 118 – SHOT Show 2016 Handgun Preview, January 5, 2016
Gun Guy Radio 189 – LAPD Use of Force Reports, November 10, 2015
Handgun Radio 102 – Handgun Comparison Testing Protocols, – July 14, 2015
Ballistic Radio – Training, Practice, and Shooting Standards, May 10, 2015
Ballistic Radio – Negative Outcomes 101, Part 2, March 15, 2015
Ballistic Radio – Negative Outcomes 101, March 1, 2015
Ballistic Radio – The Rise of the Sentinel (Event), September 16, 2014
Ballistic Radio – Threat Management For The Armed Citizen, August 24, 2014
Ballistic Radio – Gunfight Analysis, Understanding the Threat YOU Are Most Likely To Face, April 20, 2014
Ballistic Radio – The Efficacy of Pocket Guns, Misconceptions, June 30, 2013
The ebook about Advanced Skills and how to practice them is now available. Recognizing the value of dry practice, the download also includes two MP3 files to easily guide your dry practice sessions.
A commonly heard statement in the firearms training community is “There are no such things as ‘advanced’ tasks, only ‘fundamental’ tasks done at greater speed.” While this statement is true to an extent, there is a broader perspective to be considered.
There are three components of Advanced tasks, all of which have equal importance.
- Performance Measurement
The ability to perform a given task in the same way and achieve the same results each time is a characteristic of advanced shooters. We have all experienced that day when we were ‘on’ and could do everything well. The difference between those days and our worst days is the measure of our consistency and what we are able to produce ‘on demand.’
Measuring our performance regularly and recording our results is the only way to know whether we are being at least consistent and hopefully improving our skill level. Performance measurement has two components: accuracy and time. Our personal perceptions of how competent we are at any given time are often flawed. The target and the timer, not our perceptions, tell us the true story of our competency. The ‘observer effect’ of performance measurement can also change a fundamental task into an advanced task.
The element of ‘context’ is a key component of ‘advanced’ tasks. Any fundamental task has to be applied in a certain way to different situations. Analyzing situations provides us with the context for a task. Studying incidents in detail over time can give us a broader view of the tasks and circumstances involved in using firearms for personal protection. This book had the input of an in-depth analysis of a database of over 5,000 Defensive Gun Uses (DGU) by Armed Citizens. From that analysis, the tasks involved in DGU were broken out along with the context in which the tasks were applied to a situation. Due to significant differences in Mission and Circumstances (METT-TC for Army veterans) between Armed Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers, on-duty law enforcement incidents were not included in the analysis. A few well documented off-duty incidents that paralleled incidents involving Armed Citizens were included
Another aspect of Advanced Practice is that some very common tasks in personal protection either physically cannot be practiced at indoor ranges or outdoor gun clubs, either due to rules or feasibility. Practicing drawing from the holster is the most obvious, because this is prohibited at most indoor ranges.
A less obvious personal protection task is shooting with innocent people downrange or in the midst of innocent people. This situation occurs much more frequently in real life than most gunowners realize. Think of how many times gunowners speak of ‘protecting their family.’ This statement implies that the family may be present during a Defensive Gun Use. However, the family members are often in between the criminal and the gunowner.
While it’s currently fashionable to talk about keeping a gun on one’s person at home, this isn’t the reality for most people. Among those who have Licenses To Carry, actual on-body carry is still rare. More likely, the gun is kept in some (hopefully secure) place of storage, either at home or in a vehicle. At home, this reality creates two implied tasks for personal protection; 1) access the pistol from a place of storage and 2) move safely from place to place with a loaded firearm. Since many people are uncomfortable with having a round in the chamber of an autoloading pistol, yet another implied task is possibly, 3) chamber a round and render the pistol safe for movement.
Note that in this book, the term ‘personal protection’ is used in place of ‘self-defense.’ The reason for this term substitution is that the person being protected is often not ourselves but rather other innocent parties. As an example, Armed Citizens often refer to ‘protecting their families’. We can refer to this relationship as The Myth of the Lone Gunman, which easily distorts the apparent relevance of both tasks and standards. This fact introduces a higher level of complexity into both the psychology and the tactics of the encounter, even when the technical marksmanship problem is the same as in a self-defense (Lone Gunman) situation.
As some of you know, I have had some very serious health problems this year. The near death experience has taken some time for me to recover from.
I’m doing much better now and I’ll be back to posting.
For those who ordered Advanced Pistol Practice, I completely rewrote it during my convalescence and turned it into a downloadable format. I think the 2.0 version is much better than 1.0.
Everyone who ordered it should have received the download link. If not, please let me know and I will resend it to you. For those who ordered the USB version, I will be refunding you the $3.00 surcharge shortly.
For anyone who didn’t order it but would like some instant gratification, the download is available here http://store.payloadz.com/go?id=2613612 .
Thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding. I’m looking forward to putting out some interesting material in the near future. As the Romulans said in The Neutral Zone, “We are back.”
I apologize for the delay in shipping the Advance Pistol Practice materials. I had a slight cardiac event the day after I made the APP announcement and it really slowed me down for a week. Then my apartment complex management breached my lease and I had to move on two days notice. By the time I got finished moving, it was time to leave for the 2019 Tactical Conference. It was a series of events I hadn’t anticipated.
I’m burning a special set of disks and USBs that include recordings of my presentations at the Tactical Conference as an apology for being so tardy with delivery. I’ll begin shipping them tomorrow or Wednesday. I hope that will be okay. If not, please let me know.
Because I’ve been asked for it so often, I’ve created a Skill Development practice program that goes far beyond my first two books, Concealed Carry Skills and Drills and Indoor Range Practice Sessions. CCSD and IRPS were intended for newer or inexperienced shooters.
The new Program is called Advanced Pistol Practice. It is intended for those shooters who are familiar with their handguns and are serious about taking their skills, both Technical and Decisional, to a much higher level. Although many people would like to take a high level training course, that’s often difficult or impossible because of resource constraints. While it can’t provide the practiced eye of a good instructor, Advanced Pistol Practice provides shooters with a practice approach similar to those used by many good trainers. It uses an integrated approach to Skills Development incorporating both Live Fire and Dry Practice that is found in many high level training courses.
The Live Fire component consists of Technical Drills, Decisional Drills, and Scenarios. While numerous technical shooting drills are widely available, drills that develop the skill of ‘thinking with a gun in hand’ are much less common. The Decisional Drills included in APP are intended to fill this gap. They consist of both Don’t Shoot/Shoot exercises and target identification/follow-up hit assessment exercises. Scenario shooting should be a part of every shooter’s practice but creating realistic scenarios isn’t always easy. The Live Fire Scenarios in APP are based on actual shootings, gunfights, and gunbattles involving both Private Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers, especially off-duty LE incidents.
Snub revolvers continue to maintain a healthy presence as backup and hideout gun among knowledgeable guncarriers. The Snub Revolver Program Of Instruction that I developed and used for many years is included in APP. Snubs are neither “arm’s length guns” nor “one-shot close range shotguns.” Given a structured practice regimen, shooters can learn to accomplish good work with a snub revolver. Dry Practice exercises for the snub are included in the Program, as well.
Dry Practice is often the most challenging practice component of Skill Development because it tends to be unstructured and boring, leading to unproductive “grabasstic gun-clicking.” To combat this, APP includes a series of different structured audio programs in different voices with different sound effects to keep dry practice focused and interesting. Since the space available for dry practice is usually limited, APP also includes reduced scale targets to facilitate the dry practice.
Proficient shooters are frequently asked by new or prospective gunowners to provide an introduction to shooting. To assist the proficient shooter in setting up a new shooter for success, APP includes a short training outline suitable for those with little experience with firearms. Setting up a new shooter for a productive and enjoyable session is an important part of growing our community. The New Shooter Outline can help a proficient shooter do that.
Recognizing that firearms are periodically involved in unfortunate situations, Advanced Pistol Practice also includes the entire Serious Mistakes and Negative Outcomes recording as MP3 files. The potential personal disasters that can result from poor decision-making and not thinking ahead are often overlooked among firearms owners. Serious Mistakes and Negative Outcomes challenges the gunowner to think ahead and avoid the pitfalls that can occur during ownership and incidents.
Advanced Pistol Practice is more than a book and contains many audio files and graphics. Consequently, it’s not feasible to offer it as a download. It’s available on my webstore in two formats; CD and USB flash drive. The CD version is $19.95, shipped. There’s a $3 additional charge for the USB flash drive option.
The Program is about the price of one box of ammunition and will pay for itself many times over by saving time, ammunition, and perhaps even lives.