I train with five calibers: 9mm and its baby brother .380, .223 and 5.56 (happily, my rifle is chambered in .223 Wylde so I can go back and forth), and, when I get to it, .308. I recently picked up a SIG 522 for a ridiculously cheap price and got it set up, but I doubt it’s going to be any more than an occasional range toy.
I used to own .22 pistols and bolt action guns including the iconic Ruger 10/22. Truth is: I rarely ever shot them. I bought them because everyone said I should own a .22 rifle and pistol, but in practice, I used each of them maybe ten times and that was the end of it.
All of my coursework in defensive shooting has been either in 9mm or in .223/5.56. Nine millimeter is the de facto standard caliber for all defensive training courses these days because, for most shooters, the advances in 9mm ammo mean that there really isn’t a compelling reason to carry another caliber.
The reason I train in the caliber that I shoot is that it performs in a way that shooting a .22 isn’t going to teach me. At least that’s my experience. There are also only so many things you can do with dry fire.
Some skills, such as managing the trigger skillfully with a larger caliber simply have to be learned by going through thousands of rounds with that caliber so that you learn the “feel” of the discharge when it’s perfect, the amount of recoil, the direction the gun moves.
I also do dry fire practice, but the truth is, things that are perfect in my dry fire practice break down when live rounds enter the picture. They wouldn’t as much with a .22, but that’s the whole point – I need those things to break down in order to be able to gain the skills to manage them. In order for that breakdown to be experienced and learned from in the optimal way, the actual rounds I’d be shooting with in a defensive situation are the ones that I need to train with.
My teacher, Jeff Gonzales at The Range Austin, emphasizes over and over the need to fail in order to grow and improve. You have to do badly at something in order to find out where the weak points are and strengthen them. Right now I’m working on the fast-slow sequence of draw to fire, multiple shot strings, and trigger control. Next year I plan to enter his once-a-month matches to gain a further level of challenge and fail in new ways in order to continue to improve.
The mastery of 9mm is my current goal and that will probably take me a couple more years of steady training and practice. As they say to me at the Range now and then, “Beware the woman with one gun.”