According to Texas-based gun guru Ron Grobman, “home is where you master technique, the range is where you practice it.” Given the cost of ammo and the time and money required to get to a range, that’s just as well. But first, a quick word about safety . . .
Never practice with a loaded gun. Always unload and safety check your firearm before an in-house drill. Store ammunition away from the firearms.
1. Practice your trigger press
Shooting accuracy demands a perfect — and perfectly repeatable — trigger press. You have to pull the trigger straight back without moving the gun in any direction. Even the slightest variation — left, right, up or down — takes the bullet off course.
Mastering a smooth trigger press during live fire is extremely difficult. For one thing, there’s a natural tendency to anticipate recoil. For another, shooters focus on the results rather than the process. A target with widely spaced groups is extremely de-motivating. And again, ammo costs mount-up faster than a testosterone-crazed bull.
The answer: dry fire.
Begin by unloading your firearm completely. If you’re shooting a semi-automatic pistol, remove the magazine and make sure there chamber is empty. Rack the slide and check the chamber both visually and by touch. To prevent any damage to your handgun’s firing pin, purchase fuel line hose. Insert it into the gun through the barrel, down and out through the mag well (as above). Cut to suit.
Aim your handgun at a specific point on a wall (e.g., a light switch). Count down from 10 to one out loud, pressing the trigger slowly and evenly all the way to the rear of the gun. Keep the gun rock steady. The only thing that should move: your finger. Even after the trigger breaks, keep counting down. Keep the trigger pressed against the rear of the gun.
‘When you reach one, rack the slide. Put your sights back on target. Count down from 10 to one out loud releasing the trigger. Keep counting down even after the trigger resets. Then count down again from 10 to one, pulling the trigger. When you think you’ve got it down, you can stop counting. If the sights move at all, go back to counting.
This is where a weapon-mounted laser really comes into its own; you can see if your gun moves during your dry fire trigger press. Anyway, assuming you’re not completely ignoring your family or job, you can’t do this dry fire trigger press exercise too much.
2. Practice drawing your gun
It’s widely believed that the vast majority of defensive gun uses end without a shot fired. The bad guy sees the good guy’s gun and decides not to attack. If true, your ability to quickly and efficiently draw your firearm from concealment may be more important than your gun’s caliber or your accuracy. And even if it isn’t, it is. The first person to land bullets on target is most likely going to be the winner.
So you really need to practice your draw — to get ahead of the self-defense curve. Or at least keep up with events as they’re occurring. Unfortunately, most ranges don’t allow shooters to draw and shoot. So drawing at home it is. Again, begin by unloading and safety checking your firearm. Visually and physically inspect the chamber. Then practice your draw. Some recommendations:
– Wear your normal clothes, using your normal carry method
– Search YouTube for trusted videos on the proper technique
– Don’t worry about speed – you want to create the smoothest and most efficient draw possible
– MOVE! Always move when you draw, even if it’s one step to the right or left
– Practice drawing to threats on either side and behind you
– Put your sights on target and keep them there as you move
– Keep your finger OFF the trigger
– SPEAK! Yell a command as you draw, such as FREEZE, DROP YOUR WEAPON or LEAVE! (NB: I don’t recommend JWT’s DIE HIPPY!)
You might want to add dry firing to your practice draw. If you do, do not dry fire every time you draw. You don’t want to get into the habit of automatically drawing and firing. As mentioned above, the bad guy may see your gun, reconsider his options and stop the attack. If so, you are no longer legally allowed to use deadly force.
Practicing your trigger technique and gun handling skills at home will go a long way towards increasing your confidence. Expert self-defense training — especially force-on-force — takes you to the next level.
But if you can’t get that training, and even if you can, visualization gives you a mission-critical mental mindset. It can help keep you positive — and thus productive — in the direst or dire situations.
Find a quiet place, get comfortable. close your eyes and imagine a successful defensive gun use. See yourself defending life and limb against a range of threats, in a range of situations (one at a time).
Don’t make it easy. Create problems you have to solve to succeed: multiple attackers, gun malfunctions, a serious wound, etc. But always imagine a successful resolution. To paraphrase the poet Virgil, you can because you think you can.