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Tiger McKee doing something with a magazine (courtesy

I love me some Tiger McKee.‘s go-to gun guy forgot more about gun fighting than I can remember. I think. I’m sure Tiger’s got an excellent explanation for why a gun owner would want to hold a full ammunition magazine between their pinky and the next-over finger (I bet Tiger knows what that finger’s called). But I feel obliged to point out that neither you nor I are Tiger McKee. We are not high-speed, low-drag operators. We do not spend more time on the range than Jessica-Jane Clement spends on hair and makeup. So, for us, keeping it simple means keeping it real means staying alive. Maybe. Anyway, with apologies to Mr. McKee, here are my top three training basics . . .

Practice Your Draw

The best gun to have in a gunfight is the gun you have. So . . . have a gun. In your hand. Sounds simple. It isn’t. Especially if you’re wearing all the clobber you wear in real life. You have to get the stuff out of the way, get a good grip (start as you mean to finish) and present your gun.

Most square ranges don’t allow shooters to draw and fire. That’s no biggie; you can’t practice drawing enough and you can’t get to the range often enough to practice drawing often enough. Do it at home.

Draw the curtains. Remove the magazine from your firearm, unload the chamber, put all the ammo in a safe, separate location, rack the slide three times (as per Mr. McKee’s instruction), press check the gun and draw your gun. Do this at least a hundred times a week.

If you re-insert an empty magazine—as I do ’cause the mag on my Glock 30SF has a pinky rest—check that the mag is empty, insert, rack the slide, safety check the gun again, visually inspect the chamber, release the slide and press check the gun.

Make sure you turn the gun towards the target immediately after drawing, so you can shoot from the hip if needs be. THEN bring it up to your chest, then press it forwards.


I reckon the importance of a good smooth trigger pull is over-rated; in a gunfight, adrenalin will remove a lot of that motion’s subtlety. And even if trigger pull is critical to combat accuracy, it’s a secondary skill compared to not shooting until you decide to shoot.

A skill best practiced at the range. If you dry fire every time you draw you dramatically increase the chances of a negligent discharge. And you train yourself to shoot every time you draw. And you train yourself to rack the slide after each trigger press.

Don’t do it. Simply practice drawing your gun from concealment and bringing it to bear on a target with your finger off the trigger.

Get Off the X

As someone who had a front row seat to England’s Ecstasy epidemic I love that expression. It goes perfectly with the old adage “The only gunfight you’re guaranteed to win is the one you never have.”

Put ’em together and there you have it: it’s more important to train yourself to move away from danger—and/or towards cover/concealment—than it is to know how to run/shoot your gun.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a range where we can shoot and move. That’s OK. I’m talking about moving, not shooting. Again, it’s an at-home enterprise.

Draw the curtains. Unload your gun, put the ammo in a safe, separate location, triple safety check your gun, draw the curtains, draw your gun and move!


Don’t dry fire during this at-home exercise for all the reasons described above. And practice getting off the X after practicing your draw a few dozen times.

Mentally Rehearse DGUs

Never mind multi-tasking. The human mind can’t contemplate more than one thing at a time. It can ping-pong between ideas in seconds, but it does so sequentially.

Bottom line: no one can—or should—maintain high-level situational awareness 24/7. At some point, you will “lose” yourself in your conversation, club sandwich, movie, sleep, etc.

That’s why it’s important to mentally rehearse a “surprise” defensive gun use scenario from time to time. How many attackers might there be? Where would I go? What would I do? What would I tell my family to do? When would I dial 911? What would I say?

While some gun guys develop a response plan whenever they enter a new space, I reckon an armed self-defender should imagine a “what would I do if?” situation at least once a day. After all, there are plenty of similarities between spaces (stores, gas stations, restaurants). A general strategy is a lot better than no strategy.

None of these three training exercises are physically complicated when compared to, say, combat reloads or close-quarter combat drills. Exactly my point. They are the basics that the average armed self-defender can and should completely master so that the skills survive the inevitable degradation caused by conflict.

Everything else is icing on the cake. Or, if you prefer, advanced training for people who have the eye of the Tiger.

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  1. Nice basics, RF. I always need more prodding to drill my presentation, movement and what-ifs. Completely seperating the gross movements from the trigger pull is something I hadn’t thought much about, but I like it.

    PS, Photo looks like a tactical reload, but I doubt those are Tiger’s hands (rollover caption).

  2. Unlike Feinstein in legislative heat, we like debate, yes? I disagree completely with the recommended no-dry-fire advice. I agree with Walter Bell (African rifles) and almost everyone (defensive pistols) that there is no substitute for dry-fire snap shooting to groove the entire sequence. It’s an even better practice with a laser grip so that you can determine whether you got to, and stayed on, target. A friend looking over your shoulder now and then can keep you honest. If a person can’t set up to dry-fire safely how on earth can they carry safely. I’m nonplussed on that one. With a heavy rifle it is even more important. Speed counts equally as with a pistol, but no one can take the pounding of range firing a .375 or .416 much.

    • +1

      You can practice to dry fire or not all in the same drill. but by all means dry fire most of the time. If I ever pull a gun I’m firing. That’s what I was taught and I’m sticking to it. I am not the police. Gun intimidation is not on my menu.

      • You might want to reconsider that. Things can change between the moment you go to draw and the moment your sights are on target. For example, you might realize that the attacker is a plainclothes cop (d’oh) or someone playing a joke.

        Hesitation kills. Not hesitating kills. You pay’s your money . . .

        • True, there aren’t any easy answers. “Know yourself.” I’ve nothing against two exercises. One can be “from draw through to aim” and the other can be “low ready to complete dry fire.” I’m not worried about pulling the trigger once aimed at a target. I don’t plan on (and haven’t) drawing through to aim on target unless I have to immediately shoot. If not, its ‘draw to high or low ready, depending.” That’s actually the law where I live.

        • As per my training I have to disagree, but that’s training for you. You can show the gun in the holster and that might work. I didn’t mention that. Though as per my Sheriff’s SWAT instructor, you pull it, you shoot. If you had to pull it then there was an immediate need for the shoot. That is how they see us legally. This applies to regular folk, does not apply to police officers, who might call for a stop to the action. Most often though they (officers) will shoot as well. Again, all this after some serious training. Exceptions of course are in “the moment” which I pray never to be in.

        • JAS, just to reinforce your statement about different training and Ropeingdown’s no easy answers. My CCL instructor (retired City PD knife and pistol instructor) did recomend brandishing before you absolutely HAVE to shoot. TTAG is great for theory, but everyone needs to make sure they know their own local laws and police “climate”.

        • Exactly! Brandishing is a big no-no in my neck of the woods. The last thing you want is for the bad guy to press charges.

        • You play as you practice. If you don’t pull the trigger in practice, you won’t when it counts. If you practice as if it’s real, you will instinctively do the same. You learn to hesitate and not pull, you’ll be the second one to pull and be the loser.

    • I don’t think the argument is to eliminate all dry-fire from the draw, but to generally seperate it from when you are drilling your draw only. I owe my last deer to days of dry snapshooting my rifle, but before that I practiced getting into my fireing positions fast without fireing. I see pistol the same way, practice your smooth draw-and-fire AFTER fully training your draw-and-don’t.

  3. I do believe that’s called the “ring finger,” as seen in the photo.

    If you have a place to do so, jump-shooting rabbits with your gun holstered is not bad practice.

  4. TO: All
    RE: What He Said

    it’s more important to train yourself to move away from danger—and/or towards cover/concealment—than it is to know how to run/shoot your gun. — Robert Farago

    If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly. — Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting


    [Be Prepared…..]

    • That’s the beauty of Bell’s advice to practice dry-fire snap shooting on the long walk to your quarry (or through your basement, laugh). If targets chosen are at least scattered 180º, your position won’t be optimal most of the time and staying on target through fire will test all of your mental/physical adjustments. I think of it much like tennis, actually. You have to hit the ball on the run, often stretched out, and doing nothing but base-lining isn’t going to develop much of a game.

  5. Sorry for the question, but can anybody tell me what the point of concealed carry is when you cant actually have it on your person, such as in SC?

    • You can have the weapon on your person in SC(assuming you mean South Carolina.) If you are driving in SC without a Concealed Carry permit you are unable to have a weapon on your person(you can still have it in a closed container that is fixed to your car IE glovebox or center console) but if you have the permit you are able to have the gun concealed on your person.

  6. I think the perfect tactical movement was displayed by Danny DeVito in Romancing the Stone when he was running from the bad guys on horses and shooting his revolver. He was definitely “off the X”.

  7. Great synopsis. It sounds cliche but I always stood in front of
    a mirror trying to outdraw myself.

    I’d also add that you should practice with whatever level of
    carry you use. I’ve known a few ex IDF guys as well as a few
    trappers that carry level three (i.e. loaded mag, not chambered).
    Whenever I put a firearm in a pack it’s also level three.

    However you carry, practice drawing with your opposite hand.
    Also, consider getting a holster for your weaker side. You’ll
    save yourself a lot of aggravation if your strong side becomes
    incapacitated (shoulder surgery, broken bone or whatever).

  8. Thank you for that Mr. Farago.

    All excellent recommendations and well worth the read and PRACTICE particularly for gun owners without L/E time or experience.

    Muscle memory, equipment functionality, considering different scenarios in advance and how to best cope with them, plus the morality and consequences of a shoot / don’t shoot situation are too often given little thought before actually encountering such a situation. Be prepared as best possible!

    Practicing some likely situations and solutions in advance in ones environment will leave anyone who does so better equipped to recognize it and react if they ever face a must take down incident. Too many people talk the talk but when the 5h1t hits the fan, they don’t know how to react and just pee themselves.

    Practicing scenarios may also help gun owners learn to think tactically and defensively so as to avoid doing something they will have to carry with themselves the rest of their lives. It’s not always the best solution to shoot; bad actors facing armed confrontation with cover almost invariably beet feet.

    When people don’t prepare they are imminently more likely be forced to live with any collateral damage, the law, and the relatives.

  9. “I’m sure Tiger’s got an excellent explanation for why a gun owner would want to hold a full ammunition magazine between their pinky and the next-over finger (I bet Tiger knows what that finger’s called).”

    From wiki, “The ring finger is the fourth proximal digit of the human hand, and the second most ulnar finger, located between the middle finger and the little finger. It’s also called digitus medicinalis, the fourth finger, digitus annularis, digitus quartus, or digitus IV in anatomy. It may also be referred to as the third finger.”

  10. As for the picture, that’s part of the remedial action for malfunctions. If tap-rack-bang doesn’t work (for whatever reason), you do lock-rip-work-tap-rack-bang. Since you need your off hand free for the manipulations, what do you do with the mag after the “rip” step? It may be the only one you have, so you can’t train to just grab a fresh one. The solution is what’s shown in the picture.

  11. Obvious tip. If you use one, don’t turn on your laser sight before you need it. Lasers travel…far, and they will lead hostile perp right to your excellent cover position.

  12. I’m thinking of attending concealed carry classes, and I find this article extremely helpful! I like your tip on simply practicing drawing my gun from concealment and bringing it to bear on a target with my finger off the trigger. Doing so, there will be no increased chances of a negligent discharge. Thanks for the tip!


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