By Tiger McKee [via tacticalwire.com]
Becoming efficient and effective with any tool relies on consistency; performing everything the same way, using proper technique regardless of the circumstances. This is especially true for defensive skills, when success or failure depends on your ability to perform under stress. Applying the Four Safety Rules consistently allows you to operate firearms safely. Let your mind wander for a fraction of a second, forget you’re holding a lethal weapon, and you make a mistake. Mistakes with firearms are embarrassing at best, but tend to be on the ugly side . . .
Not only do you have to focus on what you’re doing, you also have to pay attention to those around you. How many times has a friend offered to show you their newest pistol? Usually they’re asking the question while pulling it. The pistol flies out of the holster, their finger is probably on the trigger, and the muzzle is whipping about. Whenever someone starts with “Let me show you my new …” I immediately say “No thanks,” stepping to their side where I can control their hand and arm if necessary. Then I’ll follow up with the “some time later” explanation. Consistency is essential for safety.
Manipulating your weapon properly requires consistency. For every task you perform there are specific steps necessary to execute that action safely and properly. Look at loading, unloading or confirming the status of the weapon. This process, which should become a ritual, always begins with the magazine. You’re either inserting and locking it in, for loading, removing it from the weapon for unloading, or checking to confirm whether there is or isn’t a mag in the weapon. You cycle the action to load a round, unload, or confirm it’s unloaded. The sequence always ends by checking the chamber. Is it loaded or clear?
Now, imagine what happens when you deviate from this sequence, say while unloading. You cycle the slide, and see a round ejected. You remove the magazine and forget to check the chamber. Then, you begin treating it like an “unloaded” weapon, disregarding Rule I. Since the sequence was performed out of order all you did was eject one round, chamber another, and then removed the magazine. There’s still a round in the chamber. Consistency. Got it?
What about reloading an empty weapon? While opinions differ on the exact technique you should use, consistency is the key to success. Once you choose how to reload the weapon – a decision that should be based on application, i.e. competition vs. self-defense – that’s how you reload every time.
When these same skills, loading, unloading and reloading can be applied to clearing malfunctions then you’re consistently using the same techniques to perform every action required to manipulate your weapon safely and efficiently. This makes it easy to practice, learn, and apply.
A lot of guys that train have a wide range of different techniques. But under pressure you’ll see them use four different techniques to reload or clear a malfunction, and none of them will be exactly “right.” Consistency creates depth. I want a few skills that apply to a wide range of applications. I need to truly learn these skills so that I can perform everything I need to with my weapon safely, efficiently, and effectively, under any type circumstances.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of The Book of Two Guns writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD Fighting With The 1911.