Unknown from Known
No one – uniformed police officer, plainclothes detective or armed citizen knows what their armed encounter might look like. Time of day, lighting, distance, number of assailants, number of rounds fired, none of it. Indeed, the uniformed officer or detective may get involved in a shooting having nothing to do with work at all. Stopping to gas up on the way to or from work, off-duty going to the mall, the situations and circumstances are endless.
So how do you prepare for the unknown? By training with the known. We know that regardless of the circumstances we must avoid getting shot, while delivering fight stopping accurate fire. How to get there, that’s the rub.
Efficiency and effectiveness in combative firearms are not arrived at through happenstance. We must first and foremost develop the fundamentals. Platform or stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, breathing, trigger press, follow through and recovery must be learned properly and developed through practice to the point that no conscious thought must be required. Oftentimes overlooked, too many LEO’s and private citizens have not properly developed the “basics” and every time they grip the pistol and shoot it is like the first time. Consistent and proper application of the fundamentals must be attained through repetition. The fundamentals consistently applied during shooting means accurate fire on target. We don’t want to shoot at, toward or in the general direction of a threat. That doesn’t solve the problem and creates hazards for any law abiding subjects downrange. We never abandon or forget the fundamentals for they create the foundation on which all defensive shooting is built. For it is certainly true that you cannot shoot fast enough to make up for lack of hits on targets. The fundamentals, blocking and tackling, win football games on Friday nights and gunfights as well.
Then, we must develop our ability to “run the gun”, i.e. load, reload, clear stoppages and be able to access, present and employ the firearm. Once again, proper skill development is crucial here. Fortunately using dry fire, a Bluegun from Rings, a S.I.R.T. pistol from Next Level Training, inert training cartridges and other low cost training devices and tools are available to help you develop these skills and abilities. A little “sweat equity” paid here develops huge dividends! At least twice a week I take my S.I.R.T. (Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger) to a room at work which allows me to practice: drawing; shooting; moving – including movement prior to the draw such as pivots or facing movements, moving while shooting, moving to get to cover, and more; incorporating deadly force with empty hand skill; use of cover; reloads and more. Coming off a total knee replacement I try to improve my strength, flexibility and movement using skills that translate to my job and personal defense rather than meaningless exercises.
In order to progress from static training (standing in one spot and shooting), and to train my mind and body to react and respond under stress, I use a shot timer or app on my smartphone which places time constraints (stress) on myself. You don’t have all day in an armed encounter so why give yourself all day in your training. Unfortunately many indoor and outdoor ranges don’t allow quick rates of fire or draws from holsters. This is another reason to engage in this training while dry firing or using a “non-gun” such as a Bluegun or SIRT pistol. Another unknown which can be trained for is lack of light. During my SIRT practice sessions I’ll turn out the lights to force myself to use a flashlight or weapon mounted light.
Don’t head to the range or training session with no specific goals or ideas of what you’re going to be doing there for that is certainly a waste of time and ammunition. Rather, give some thought as to what drills you’ll be running to develop specific skills. Jot down some goals and the drills to get there. Work on specific exercises by yourself or with a shooting partner. After general practice sessions have concluded, put some stress on yourself by engaging in a test of skills and put some money on it or bragging rights. When I shoot on the same line as my fellow instructors there is always a little stress involved and more than a little chiding that the loser is forced to take.
All of these skills and training modalities are covered in my book Citizen’s Guide to Armed Defense.
The myriad of skills and situations in which you might find yourself in an armed encounter are endless. Skill development and training must be designed to properly prepare you with relevant and realistic skills. We may not know the circumstances or situation we’ll be in but we most assuredly won’t be standing in one spot at 21 feet and have all day to shoot.
By practicing and training in the known we can properly prepare ourselves for the unknown circumstances we may face. We can win!