Train as you mean to fight. Problem: it’s simply not possible at a traditional or “square” gun range. Sure you can train yourself to load and handle your gun properly and hit that at which you’re aiming. But there’s no shoot/no shoot interaction. No movement. No cover or concealment. No stress. Most ranges won’t even let you draw from a holster or rapid fire. Unless you’re running through reality-based scenarios using your actual self-defense equipment against [role-playing] bad guys intent on doing you [pretend] harm in a [semi] realistic environment, you’re training is incomplete. To say the least. Because it’s entirely possible that it’s worse than that. You could be training yourself to fail . . .
Take a look at the target behind General Dynamics’ Simunition trainer Jeff Peltier. Recognize it? That’s the Advanced Silhouette SP-83A or B-60, commonly known as “the Thug.” Click here for The New York Times’ most excellent article on the target’s origins.
All we need to know is this: shooters have trained with this target for over 52 years. That and the fact that the bad guy’s gun is drawn and pointing at the shooter.
Hello? Never draw on a drawn gun.
If the bad guy has you in his sights before you have him in yours, you lose. Immediately and instinctively seek cover or concealment. Either do this before you extract your gun, or, if your gun’s already out, shoot while seeking cover.
Millions of shooters have brought their weapon to bear on the Thug from rest or their holster, doing so whilst standing flat-footed at a square range. Training themselves to draw on a drawn gun. How great is that?
There are other training routines which can create “training scars:” habits that may get you killed. How about the post-shooting scan-over-the-shoulder-left, scan-over-the-shoulder-right routine?
As we’ve discussed, a post-shooting scan is critical to survival. If you don’t break your Bad Guy (BG) focused tunnel vision—an extremely difficult process given the natural fascination with blood and guts—you could be taken out by the assailant’s amigos.
So, through endless repetition, shooters train themselves to bring their gun back towards their chest (for retention purposes and possible reloading) and then scan for threats over their shoulders. Uh-oh . . .
First of all, most shooters perform a perfunctory scan. Perfunctory’s not good. Second, they perform the check too soon after shooting. Another attack, either from BG1 or his/her friends, is likely to come from the same general direction. Are you really sure that BG1 is fully out of action and the area in front of you is clear?
Along the same [sight] lines, they pull the gun back to retention too quickly after shooting. If another fusillade is the order of the day, they’ll have to push the gun out again and get a new sight picture. That takes time.
Lastly, why scan over your shoulder with your gun pointing downrange? If there’s something outside of your peripheral vision (on either side) that requires investigation, why wouldn’t you bring your gun with you when you turn?
If you scan with your gun pointed forwards, you’ve turned a four-step process (turn head and body, ID new target, push out gun, shoot) into a five-step affair (turn head, ID new target, turn body, push out gun, shoot).
Of course, the over-the-shoulder scan is ideal for . . . square ranges. Where, sensibly enough, you cannot aim a loaded gun at the shooters on either side of you. But that’s not training the way you’d fight.
In the real world, in a real gunfight, there’s no one answer to the scanning thing. A threat in a narrow hallway in your home at o’ dark presents a far different post-shooting scanning challenge than a mall parking lot on a sunny Sunday afternoon. God forbid.
Depending on what’s going on, you can A) not worry too much about lasering people B) point the gun down as you turn and scan C) prioritize running to cover and concealment and look around as you book.
If you practice the left-right scan-over-the-shoulder-after-shooting thing a thousand times, by God that’s what you’ll do when criminal push comes to ballistic shove. Like I said, training scar.
The trick to avoid training scars is to question everything. Think about what you’re doing. Take nothing at face value. Not even the face of the Thug that’s trying to kill you.