A Sobering Reminder for Concealed Carry Training

Man with gun, gangster, focus on the gun

A co-worker of mine was recently in the building when this shooting happened on Black Friday: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/30/chicago-shooting-nordstrom/19696137/

It’s a sobering reminder when hearing a first-hand account like this, that at least 1% of the population walking around is mentally unstable and willing to harm innocents. And as everyone that has half a brain knows, the only way to stop a nut-job with a gun is . . . a good guy with a gun (unless of course the nut-job ends his own life first). Personally though, waiting to see if the active shooter is going to end his own life before he takes mine is not what I would consider a plan for longevity.

If you read this blog I’m guessing you already have taken on the responsibility to lawfully arm yourself as a citizen, get trained and protect your person and loved ones. Unfortunately, the requirement to stay trained never ceases. It would be nice if once you showed up to a tier-1 training center, took a class, you never had to worry about maintenance skill sets. But it doesn’t work like that. It absolutely amazes me the amount of people I come across that just don’t train with their personal protection firearm (let alone in a realistic capacity).

I’m not immune to this either with the holiday rush in full force; I find it easy to slack off on my armed self-defense training. But I have to fight the complacency bug. Because, complacency kills, and at a moment’s notice, sh . . . stuff happens, (as seen in the story linked above).

So how do I stay sharp and ready after I’ve motivated myself to not be a complacent and day-dream of Jason Bourne type heroics in the event of a criminal attack?

First off, I keep it simple. I train with my Personal Protection Pistol in a 3 pronged approach. Nothing listed below is earth shattering super-secret about my regimen either. It’s a collaboration of training I’ve received over the years and boiled down into a realistic approach for not only the tasks I’m likely to have to perform in a self-defense situation, but the level of proficiency required to complete my tasks given the level of stress and environmental factors that are present. I come across a lot of people that are new to carrying a gun for self-defense and this is how I suggest compartmentalizing training to get the big picture and at the same time keep it simple.

Fundamental Pistol Marksmanship : The 8 fundamentals – Stance, Grip, Trigger Control, Sight Alignment, Sight Picture, Breathing, Follow Through, and Recovery ( this last one was always a subset of follow through in my book, but I’ve seen this principle broken out with several instructors, and it doesn’t hurt to give ‘Recovery’ it’s very own spot in my training cognizance). I’ve had the benefit of having the fundamentals clubbed into my soul from this guy over the course of the last however many years. (I can hear him now over a cup of coffee “so . . .um . . . AJ, tell me exactly why you cannot out-shoot me yet?”) If I’m not being humbled in training, I’m not being challenged.

Anyway, I work this area with dry fire, several times a week. Post any old target across a room (no ammo present – safety first), and have some good “range time” at the low cost of whatever my time is worth. I go through the numbers, making sure my stance is correct and that I’m not dropping my head, etc. If done correctly, I can “call my shot”. If my front sight moves when the “shot” is fired, I can diagnose which marksmanship principle I violated and repeat the drill “until I can’t do it wrong”, (or at least that’s the level of proficiency I’m training for).

The tired argument of “you won’t use your sights in a REAL gunfight” is not an excuse for failing to train the fundamentals of marksmanship in my book. I know that only hits count, and that I, not the criminal, am responsible if I strike an innocent with rounds that were intended for the bad guy. But I digress.

Presentation & Manipulation: 4 Point Draw, Speed Reload, Malfunction clearing, etc. I like to practice slow, smooth draws from the concealment clothing that I actually wear day in and day out. If I’m wearing tucked in shirts in business casual attire most of time, I should also be practicing drawing from concealment in those clothes as well. If I wear coveralls because I’m working on vehicles all day, I’d better practice my draw from how I carry in that instance.

My draw is practiced as stated above, in 4 point form. Craig Douglas has a wonderful tutorial on the theory and application of the 4 point draw. In contact ranges I practice dry fire from the #2 and #3 positions (retention) and a heavybag dummy (I think they are called “Bob”). From anything further out than contact range I practice getting my sights on target from the #4 position.

The beauty of the 4 point draw is that it covers pistol employment for all engagement ranges in a self-defense fight.

The next thing I practice is actually moving while drawing and getting a sight picture. I might move to the right, or the left, forward, or rearward. Just like when training martial arts or combatives, I like training to move to a spot other than where I was when I decided I needed to draw my weapon and fire.

Fights whether armed or unarmed, do not happen in a static capacity. (Heck, hostile events even happen from moving vehicles with guys hanging pistols out of the window like some cheesy 80’s movie. Things get interesting when you’re behind a wheel of a moving vehicle and someone wants to kill you.)  So the point is, I practice moving in my routine. If nothing else movement creates an opportunity to get to cover and/or exit the fray.

I also like to practice clearing stove-pipes and double feeds with dummy rounds. I also practice the speed reload (dropping a mag without retention due to running dry or a malfunction, and quickly loading a new one). This skill can also be practiced with movement.

Entanglement Drilling:  Craig Douglas has an excellent tutorial out regarding extreme close quarters fighting. I use a modified version of this style of training incorporated into the DTG Finish It Now combatives program. The same concepts apply: Maintaining distance with a “guard up” stance. Some people use a “crash helmet” approach, which works. The meat and potatoes of the entanglement training is based off of Greco-Roman pummeling exercise. From this basic partner exercise, I can train to retain my weapon, mitigate a weapon used against me, use violence of action through headbutts, knee shots and elbow strikes to break contact and employ my weapon.

A partner is required for this portion of my training regimen, and some safety gear. I can incorporate air soft guns, “blue guns” and go as soft or as hard as I’d like to add stress to the situation. Of course I need to keep from seriously injuring my training partner.

Having someone keep constant forward pressure on me in training (even with light shoves and punches), really causes me to perfect my draw stroke, retention and firing from retention skills. There’s an urge to go full-bore-hard-core right off the bat with this kind of training. I suggest slowly applying more pressure with a good training partner, working at a pace that’s comfortable for both parties. It can be done even as a game at first with light slaps on the arms of the guy trying to defend himself in an effort to screw up his draw-stroke.

Eventually the biggest bang for the buck comes from more hard-core force training with entanglement. I’ve found when teaching combatives that going low and slow from time to time, in order to return to the basics and clean up technique is not a bad thing.

So really, it’s pretty easy to get a good deal of training for concealed carry done without live ammunition in the comfort of a basement, backyard or garage. Of course practice at a proper gun range with live rounds is a must, most of the ranges I know, won’t allow drawing from concealment or can’t facilitate movement while drawing and shooting. So this is my cost effective way to keep concealed carry skills that I ACTUALLY need, honed and ready for use.

Best Regards,


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