I love me some Tiger McKee. thetacticalwire.com‘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.
DO NOT DRY FIRE
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!
DO NOT DRY FIRE
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.