Category Archives: Shooting Skills

SKILLS: Cut Your Reaction Time

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Speed is of the essence in any defensive situation, and in most any defensive situation, the fastest solid hit wins. Here’s how to get faster. READ MORE

speed drills

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life

The martial arts offer an age-old perspective on something critically important to your shooting performance — reaction time. Employing a punch, a round kick, an edged weapon, or a firearm in self-defense means that you’re reacting to a rapid and dynamic escalation of force.

Your objective is to stop or gain control of that escalation. The single most important factor in meeting that objective is time.

Tick Tock
In any self-defense situation with or without a firearm, TIME is a double-edged sword — it can be both your dearest friend (when in ample supply), and adamant foe (when turned against you).

Reactionary Gap is a term applied to the amount of space at your disposal in response to a real-world active threat. The greater the reactionary gap, the more time you have. The smaller gap, the less time.

Physical violence that causes you to go to guns in defense of life or limb, usually means a minimal reactionary gap. Relying on precision shooting when fighting for your life at extreme close quarters, may not be your very best bet. However, having true reactive shooting skills in your tool kit will help make optimal usage of time.

Reactive Shooting School
Founded (more than 40 years ago) by former FBI Special Agent and renowned professional competition shooter, Bill Rogers, is a reactive shooting school that trains you to do just that — shoot reactively.

If you’re a student of defensive handgun and you’ve never been, the Rogers Shooting School, located in Ellijay, GA, is a very worthwhile training investment. Reactive shooting is unlike any other, in that, just like the real world, you don’t have much time to react. The Rogers system demands alacrity in both effective gun handling and marksmanship.

According to Bill, we humans have an average “Unit of Human Reaction” (UHR) time measured to be approximately .25 seconds, that’s one quarter of a second. It’s the measurable amount of time your computer (brain) needs to process stimulus response. Although the aggregate may be about a quarter of a second, this is a very subjective measurement and can vary from shooter to shooter.

stopwatch

One way to find your UHR is to use your shot timer. At your next practice session, face down range. Load up. No target required. Point your muzzle into the berm and take up as much slack in the trigger (if any / as possible) without sending the round down range.

Beep, Boom
With the timer set to random (to provide more of an unknown variable — like the real world), have a buddy hold it to your ear. When you hear the beep, break the shot. Beep — boom, it’s that simple. The time registered between beep (stimulus — your sensory input followed by computer interpretation) and boom (response — signal from your brain box down the neural pathways leading to your trigger finger) is your approximate UHR. Run it several times to find your average.

Taking this average as your par time, you can use it to measure that initial critical step (interpretation and processing of life-threatening information) in making rapid and accurate round placement from concealment. Depending upon your skill level, running this drill repeatedly will better familiarize you with operating in fractions of a second and, in the long run, eventually lower your reaction time (UHR).

Reducing your UHR allows you to get to your gun faster because it lessens the amount of time required in decision making — which is a significant and contributing factor in the processing time from initial stimulus to response.

Given that the purpose of defensive shooting is to make combat-effective round placement in a timely manner when reacting to an active threat, time is not on your side. Reducing your UHR by even one tenth of a second shortens your overall time in placing a warranted first round on threat.

Other Opportunities
In addition to using a shot timer at the range, look for and run other “drills” or training opportunities in your day where you may be able to work on reduction of your UHR. Such innocuous training as opening the microwave door during the countdown just as you see the one-second display, but prior to the beep, is a good drill.

Another training opportunity is when driving and sitting first in line at a red light. With your foot on the brake and your eyes on the traffic light – not on your cell phone — the split second you see the light change from red to green, move your foot off the brake pedal, faster than you normally would, but with good control to not stomp on that gas pedal. In fact, you want to make very light placement on that gas pedal. This action is similar to getting on your trigger quickly from the holster, in rapid control, but without disturbing muzzle alignment with the target.

Using these and similar reactionary gap training drills can help you to continually be cognizant of and work on reducing your reaction times. After a couple of months of running these, remeasure your presentation times. You may be pleasantly surprised with the performance benefits of cutting your UHR.

Steve Tarani
Steve is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail. He is also the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) and others.

 

SKILLS: Verbal Skills During An Armed Encounter

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Managing an armed encounter successfully takes more than shooting skills. Put yourself in a better defensive position with these essential verbal skills. READ MORE

INTRUDER

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life

Verbal Strategy
Verbal skills tend to come in handy during an armed encounter. As a police officer, I’ve used the “gift of gab” to great effect on a number of occasions, but verbal skills aren’t just for cops. Saying the right thing at the right time — and with the right delivery — can prompt a would-be assailant to back down. Since voluntary compliance is always preferred to bloodshed, it’s important to give careful consideration to how you can communicate effectively in crisis.

The problem with many well-intended firearms instructors is they offer to their students little more than a few canned phrases such as “Don’t move!” “Drop the weapon!” or “I have a gun! If you come through the door, you will be shot!” While any of these directives could prompt a criminal to reconsider his plan, they could also backfire.

Rather than rely on these phrases, students of the gun must be trained to think before they speak. Let’s say you turn away from the ATM and are confronted by a thug who sticks a gun in your face. Clearly, you’re in no position to issue verbal commands, but the right words and tone could still be of tremendous benefit.

Saying something like this might work well. “Hey, buddy. Calm down. I’ll do whatever you say. Take my wallet, just please don’t hurt me.” This type of submissive verbal response is an excellent segue to you either cooperating or feinting cooperation until it’s more advantageous to counterattack.

Another good strategy when an assailant has the drop on you is to ask questions. While pretending to beg (or actually begging) for your life, ask what the assailant wants you to do. When you ask a question, the assailant will likely consider what you’re asking, and this will likely make him just a bit hesitant.

If you’re planning to counterattack, the time to make your move is when the assailant starts to answer. That’s because it’s hard to talk and shoot at the same time — which is a good thing to keep in mind when you are armed and giving verbal commands.

Body Language
Make sure your body language matches your spoken language. Your tucked chin and raised open hands appear to match your submissive speech, but this posturing actually prepares you to act, if that’s what you choose to do. Your chin down minimizes the likelihood of being knocked out if you are struck in the head, and your hands being up enables you to more efficiently fend or redirect and control the weapon.

So should you give verbal commands if you’re in a position to do so? There’s no right answer. If you catch a burglar attempting to pry open a window screen on your house with a knife, bellowing out clear, unconditional directives like those previously mentioned would make sense — especially if those orders were issued from behind cover. They would likely cause most criminals to either comply or flee.

Now, imagine walking around the corner of a building and seeing an assailant holding someone hostage with a weapon. Should you issue a forceful verbal command? If you’re thinking, you realize that by verbally challenging the assailant in this scenario, you may make an already highly volatile situation even worse.

At the very least, you will have forfeited the element of surprise and put the ball in the assailant’s court. Will he run away? Attack the person he was threatening? Attack you? If you’ve just barked orders at him, you’re about to find out.

Warning Obligations
As the good guy, are you obligated to give an assailant warning prior to using deadly force? Not necessarily. While such a warning may be required in some states, many statues are written so that a warning should be given prior to the use of deadly force “when feasible.”

Laws differ from state to state but typically deadly force is authorized to prevent the imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to yourself or someone else. When an assailant is pointing a gun at someone’s head, that criteria has certainly been met.

What about when someone shatters a window and you and your family move to your “safe room” where you barricade behind the locked door, arm yourself and call 911. Shouldn’t you shout verbal commands from inside the room to advise the intruder that you’re armed and that the police have been called? Not necessarily.

Giving a verbal command alerts the intruder to your location. Then, assuming he enters the room, he has an idea where you are. Heck, he may even shoot through the wall toward the sound of your voice.

Perhaps a more tactically sound plan would be to turn off the lights, get behind cover and watch the door. Should it fly open, you will have a clear view of the intruder because he must come through the doorway to get into the room.

In personal and home-defense situations, verbal skills can be important. But don’t assume yelling forceful commands is always the answer. Sometimes it’s better to speak softly or not at all. It’s up to you to gauge the situation and respond appropriately. You’ve got to think before you speak.

Originally appeared in Handguns Magazine.

SEE THE WHOLE ARTICLE HERE

 

SKILLS: Quick And Compact Drills For Your Carry Gun

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Here are some great tips and training tactics to help improve your skill with a sub-compact carry gun. READ MORE

Springfield Armory XD-S
Springfield Armory XD-S

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Ivan Gelo

One of the old mantras many of us continue to see and hear is that the sub-compact firearm is “Carried often, but shot little.” Let me go on the record stating that I TOTALLY DISAGREE with this old adage. Like many of you, my every-day carry companion is a sub-compact handgun (the dark-earth 9mm Springfield Armory XD-S), and I shoot it on a regular basis.

It seems this adage is often repeated by instructors because, in their experience, many of the subcompacts of the past were difficult to manage and the recoil was harsh. These “cons” resulted in little practice time with the firearm.

With the smaller versions of the Springfield XD series though, I do not find this to be the case at all. I actually enjoy practice sessions with these small pistols.

Special Concealment Assignment
Quite often I get requests from friends in the security business requiring assistance with multi-day protection details. A few days prior to receiving the Springfield XD-S Mod.2 for evaluation, I answered one of these calls. After obtaining some of the specifics related to this executive detail, it was clear that a suit and tie were the “uniform” of the day. Knowing that 1) dress belts are not the best rig when carrying full-sized firearms and 2) blending in and concealment were the high priority, I opted to carry my sub-compact 9mm Springfield Armory XD-S as my primary firearm. My Springfield Armory SAINT was relegated to the trunk of my transport vehicle as the “back-up” weapon. Good choice, I know…

Range Time Required
With the protection detail a short week out, I focused my range training specifically to the XD-S 9mm and the .45 caliber XD-S Mod.2 that I had not yet shot.

drawing from concealment

I decided to drill / practice three techniques:
Movement while drawing, with a concealment garment

Multiple round engagements, more than the traditional 2 shots per target

“Failure drills” – multiple rounds to the body, followed up by rounds fired to the head

1 – Drawing from Concealment with Movement
Practicing the draw, and specifically drawing from concealment if this is your EDC mode, is a MUST. Incorporating movement during a draw is an additional skill set that should be practiced and perfected. Movement makes you a more difficult-to-track target and is therefore worth the investment.

As with all new shooting skills, If you haven’t previously practiced concealment draws or concealment draws with movement, dry draws are HIGHLY recommended first.

When dry drawing / dry firing, the gun is UNLOADED and condition VERIFIED. NO ammo should be allowed in the practice area. And, find a SAFE backstop (that’s able to stop a potential negligent discharge). Dry practice can also be done at the range if your facility permits.

Back to my drill…

There are several methods of drawing from concealment. Some of the more popular are:

Sweeping the cover garment with your strong hand

Pulling back on the garment with your support hand

Pulling up on the garment with your support hand

I personally prefer the “sweep” method. This approach allows my support hand greater freedom to perform any of the numerous defensive empty hand responses, such as a palm heel strike, shielding technique or deflection.

The Sweep Draw
Sweeping the concealment or cover garment involves only your holster-side (strong) hand:

The hand starts with an open palm, similar to your normal draw, however, the fingers are spread apart more than normal and the pinky and ring fingers curve in slightly.

Use these two fingers to hook the front of the garment and sweep it to the rear and behind / past the holster and firearm. Some instructors teach that during this process the cover garment is also “flung” back (which might clear the gun and draw better). Try both approaches and see which is best you, your carry rig, and the concealment garment you most often use.

With the holster area clear of the garment, draw the firearm as you have trained.

Appendix note: If you prefer appendix carry, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to first practice just the draw portion of this with an unloaded gun! Get that down before you live fire and/or add concealment and movement.

shooting drill

2 – Multiple Round Engagement
This drill does not have to be complex. One target is all that’s needed. I most often use cardboard USPSA or IDPA targets, as I like the zone markings.

Start close — 3 yards — just beyond contact distance. Move the targets out, three yards at a time as your training progresses, and master each distance.

The goal is to draw and fire four rounds in quick succession. Keeping all hits in the “0” zone or top half of the A-zone is what I expect.

At this close range, even a shooter with a moderate skill level should be able to accomplish this with some practice.

Use a shot timer and start with 1 second splits (time between shots). Decrease your split times by .25 seconds when you can repeatedly put all shots in the “center zone” on demand.

Remember, at this close distance a perfect sight alignment is not required. The sight index, “flash sight picture” or whatever term you use, should deliver good hits on target as long as you do your job keeping the gun aligned with minimal grip pressure increase or hand/wrist movement.

When you make it to the .25 second split time speed, you will have to move the trigger FAST. To do this, you will most likely be “banging the trigger,” but that’s okay. Learn to work the gun at this speed in training, especially when the threat is CLOSE.

3 – “Failure Drill”
If you are justified in using deadly force on another human being and body shots are not stopping the lethal threat, then face or head shots could be one of the best ways to put an end to the problem.

Using the previous drills as a base, after firing 4 rounds in the body at 3 yards, move the shot placement to the face or head area and fire 2 more rounds.

Given the limited rounds in the magazines in your carry sub-compact gun, shot placement is even more critical. Work at speed, but have the discipline to hit the center of the head zone area. The A zone on a USPSA target and the “0” zone on the new IDPA target are a good go / no-go standard.

Again, once you have made improvements at three yards, move the target distance out three more yards.

Detail Drills Completed
In my several training sessions through the noted week, I fired over 300 rounds of .230 grain ball and 50 rounds of duty / self defense .230 grain jacketed hollow point .45 ACP ammunition. As I expected, the Springfield XD-S Mod.2 was enjoyable to shoot and had zero malfunctions!

So, “don’t be that guy” who carries regularly but practices irregularly, especially if your EDC is a sub-compact firearm. Practicing with a sub-compact firearm might even assist with your focus on the fundamentals of shooting.

Once practiced up and proficient with your sub-compact pistol, check your local ranges and their match schedules for International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) matches. The events are set up with defense-minded scenarios and drawing from concealment is required on most stages. Additionally, there has been an increase in the popularity of back-up gun (BUG) matches, directly designed for your carry gun. Either event, IDPA or BUG, is great for confirming your ability to shoot your sub-compact carry gun under a little pressure.

And what could be more perfect? Take advantage of someone else setting up a match, so you can practice your pistol skills, all while enjoying a variety of challenges and courses of fire.

As a matter of fact, I’m one of those “someone elses” (match directors). If you ever visit the Phoenix area, I’d be honored to have you attend one of my events — 2nd Wednesday night of every month at Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club.

See you and your sub-compact carry gun there.

IVAN GELO
Ivan served as a full time police officer with an Arizona agency for 26 years. He spent the majority of his career as a SWAT officer fulfilling 20 years as an operator. He is a Law Enforcement state certified Firearms, Rifle, Defensive Tactics, Active Shooter, and High Risk Stops Instructor. Additional duties with his agency included his work as a detective, Field Training Officer, police academy Recruit Training Officer and Lead Firearms Instructor, Rifle Instructor and Ballistic Shield Instructor.

SKILLS: COVER — A MISSING TRAINING ELEMENT

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When it comes to correct and comprehensive defensive training, nothing, no matter how simple it seems, can be taken for granted. This is a very good example. READ MORE

using cover

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Travis Pike

You would think something like using cover would be easy, and self-explanatory. Just get behind it and avoid getting shot — simple, right? Well, yes, but let’s look at the process of using cover and talk about how to use cover to its maximum potential.

Cover vs. Concealment
Concealment is a barrier that prevents an enemy from seeing you. Cover is a barrier that prevents an enemy from shooting you. Concealment is more common and bullets will often zip right through it. While your average car is mostly concealment, the engine area makes good cover. Things like walls, doors, and furniture are rarely suitable as cover. You need thick wood like a powerline pole, a concrete column, or something made of thick, layered metal.

If you are wondering how to find cover start looking now. Make it an exercise to find and identify effective cover when you are out and about in your normal everyday life. You’ll learn how to identify cover and you’ll be ready in case something pops off.

Step 1: Establish Proper Standoff
Standoff is the distance between you and the barrier you are using for cover. The rule of thumb is roughly two arm’s lengths from cover. There are a few reasons for this. First, the extra distance from the cover allows you to essentially pie the cover, and this keeps the maximum amount of cover between you and your target.

using cover
Establlish proper standoff. Not too close!

If you stick too close to your target you won’t maximize coverage. You could also run into issues with an opponent’s rounds striking the cover and causing splatter from their bullets as well as the cover itself. Catching some of that splatter can result in an easily preventable injury. Additionally, if you are too close and start firing you could send debris and dirt up in the air that can distract and potentially blind you.

Having the proper standoff from your target will also allow you to maintain better situational awareness and to have better peripheral vision. You’ll also have more room to reload and fix potential malfunctions. Using cover to rest your weapon is not advised and works better in three gun competition than a gunfight. Unless your weapon is belt felt you might want to keep it from resting on cover.

In a situation where an opponent is above you, it’s advised to get closer to your cover. This allows you to present less of a target to your opponent.

Step 2: Maximize Your Cover
Cover saves lives, so make use of it. When engaging your opponent expose as little of your body as necessary. You should lean out from the waist, and only lean out far enough from cover to put your front sight on your target. Hide whatever you can possibly hide when trying to take your shot.

using cover
Good use of cover.
using cover
Coming too far out from cover.

If possible, lean out and shoot from around your cover. Shooting over your cover exposes more of your head and makes you a bigger target.

Step 3: Be Unpredictable
Predictability and complacency go hand in hand with each other. If you are dipping behind cover, try to present yourself from a different angle the next time you break cover. Being predictable allows your opponent to simply wait and play whack the gunfighter. Break cover from a lower position, or from a higher position, or from the complete opposite side.

Step 4: Account for Sight Offset
Look at your gun. How high are the sights above the bore? With a handgun it’s just a little above, while with an AR, it’s quite a bit. Regardless, you have to account for your sights being taller than your bore. Ensure your barrel is clearing cover before you fire. This was something we ran into with new Marines quite a bit when teaching the basics of battleground micro cover. Many would be striking something nearly directly in front of them because their ACOG was higher than the barrel.

using cover
This can create splatter, potentially poking your own eye out in a gunfight.

Staying Covered
This is the basics of using cover and from here the next step is getting out and practicing the basics. Your cell phone and its front-facing camera is an excellent tool you can use to see if you are using cover effectively. You can see yourself and obtain real-time feedback. As you utilize that feedback and continue training, you’ll find yourself becoming more comfortable and using cover to its maximum effect.

See the complete article here, plus VIDEO

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

TRAVIS PIKE is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.

 

SKILLS: Recommendations, Rules, and Essential Skills For All New Shooters, Part 2

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Team Springfield Armory’s Kippi Leatham shares her firearms education experiences. There’s a lot here to learn from! KEEP READING

kippi leatham

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kippi Leatham

[This is part two of an article started on last edition. Last time talked about the importance of technical and safety education. See it HERE.]

STUDY TECHNIQUE
Being taught the right techniques from the get-go can make learning to shoot so much more enjoyable. Good technique also increases the likelihood that you will progress more quickly. Once you develop bad habits, they can be difficult to break, leading to poor results and possibly frustration.

FIND YOUR NATURAL SHOOTING STANCE
There are many opinions on stance, and what works for one may not feel right for you. What’s most important when you begin learning to shoot is that your balance is forward and you don’t lean back (or get pushed back) as you are firing the gun.

My natural (right-handed) shooting stance is:

Standing with my feet hip-width apart
Left foot positioned slightly forward
Knees slightly bent
Relaxed shoulders, forward of my hip bones
Both arms extended fully toward the target
Wrists firmly locked

GET A GRIP
I cannot stress the importance of a good grip enough. As you’ve heard from me before, I always grip a gun the same way, whether I’m picking it up out of the safe, drawing from my holster or shopping for a new addition to my family of firearms. I am always reinforcing my good shooting grip. If you are not properly gripping the gun, you cannot control the shot or recoil as well as you can with a perfect grip.

For more detailed info on how to achieve the perfect grip, check out our blog Mastering Grip: 5 Ways You’re Holding Your Gun Wrong.

And one more gripping tidbit for you newbies – train yourself to hold onto the gun more tightly with your support hand, as it is the hand that will likely move out of position or loosen as you shoot.

EYE DOMINANCE
Do you know if you are right-eye-dominant or left-eye-dominant? This matters, especially when shooting a pistol with iron sights. You most likely will have to close one eye to see a proper sight picture on the target. Knowing your eye dominance will help you determine which eye to close (your non-dominant eye), if needed.

Note that if you are cross-eye-dominant (i.e., right-handed but left-eye-dominant), you may need to make a slight adjustment when aligning the gun, as it will naturally point under your right eye.

SIGHT ALIGNMENT
You know where your front and rear sights are on the slide, but do you understand how to properly align them? Here is where a picture is worth a thousand words…

sight alignment

When learning to align your sights, this is what you should see:

Front sight centered in the rear sight notch with equal space on each side of the front sight
Top of the front sight level with the top of the rear sight

SIGHT PICTURE AND TRIGGER PRESS
Now, all you have to do is place that perfect alignment of sights on the target where you would like the bullet to impact (that combination is what I refer to as the “sight picture”) and press the trigger without moving the gun/sights out of position. Simple as that, right?

Actually, this is one of the more challenging parts about shooting and the technique that you will probably spend the most time on once you’ve got a good, basic foundation.

 

Recommendations, Rules, and Essential Skills For All New Shooters, Part 1

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Team Springfield Armory’s Kippi Leatham shares her firearms education experiences. There’s a lot here to learn! KEEP READING

kippi leatham

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kippi Leatham

I wasn’t introduced to firearms until I was 23 years young. But even as a new shooter, I always viewed my pistol as another tool in my toolbox of life skills. It’s a piece of equipment, like my 9 iron, that I want to have the utmost ability and confidence with when it comes to taking that shot, whether onto the green of the first hole or to knock down that 25-yard steel pepper popper during an IPSC World Championship.

Learning to shoot pistols and getting into competitions completely changed my life for the better.

Dedicating an enormous number of my adult years trying to master proper shooting techniques in combination with speed and accuracy has been a challenge and a thrill with highs, some lows and wonderful opportunities for travel and life-long friendships. And, as another bonus, I’ve also learned a skill that could one day save my life, Heaven forbid the need ever arises.

Making the decision to enter the world of firearm ownership and learning how to shoot, whether as a hobby, for hunting or home or self-defense, should not be taken lightly, as it comes with huge responsibility and a commitment requirement. To quote the great Jeff Cooper, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”

As with any new hobby, craft or martial art, there are rules and essential skills every new shooter must learn. Let’s start with the most important aspect – safety.

SAFETY FIRST
Learn the universal firearm safety rules. And make a commitment to follow them from this day forward:

Treat all firearms as if loaded.

Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction — never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to destroy.

Keep your finger off of the trigger and out of the trigger guard until pointed at the target and you have made the decision to shoot.

Know your target, what’s beyond your target and what is in the line of sight.

Always securely store your firearms, keeping them inaccessible to children and other unauthorized users.

GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of new shooters over the past decade and have witnessed first-hand the challenges that newbies face. Which is why I highly recommend that first-time shooters take a class from a competent fellow shooter or professional firearms instructor as their first step.

There is so much to learn and a lot to actively think about, and the process can be downright overwhelming. So get a recommendation for a good instructor or Google “pistol classes” or “firearms instruction” to get your journey started. (Just try to avoid those Groupon deals with the picture of the woman with the low-cut shirt and improper grip.)

LEGAL UP
The legalities that accompany owning a firearm are complex, are constantly changing and vary by state. As a firearm owner, it is your responsibility to know the laws regarding purchasing, selling, possession, usage, licensing, carrying, self-defense, etc., that are in effect federally, locally (where you reside) and where you travel with your firearm.

A few good resources include:

NRA Gun Laws Map
NRA’s Citizen’s Guide to Federal Firearms Laws
Handgun Laws Website

MASTER THE LINGO
Before you attend your first class, take time to understand the terminology as it relates to your pistol and peripherals. Learning to shoot is a process, and part of the process is learning the nomenclature. You can reference your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website if you’re not already familiar with the proper terminology.

OPERATION
It’s also extremely important to understand how your semi-automatic pistol operates:

How to properly load and safe/decock it (if applicable)

How to properly unload it and check that it is empty

Next time, experiences and wisdom about getting to the shooting itself.

 

Scoop: New Hornady A-Tip MATCH Bullets! Part 1

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Witness the creation of the ultimate low-drag, high performance match bullet!

Hornady A-Tip Bullets Now At Midsouth Shooters!

After weeks of teasers, we’re finally able to talk about the new projectile from the folks at Hornady. We actually got to visit Grand Island, Nebraska to tour the facility, and get a first-hand look at the new milled aluminum tipped bullets. This thing is beautiful!

“New to Midsouth Shooters and Hornady, the A-Tip MATCH bullets are the latest and greatest from the Hornady Ballistic Development Group! After years of research, testing, and a new advanced manufacturing process with state-of-the-art quality control measures, Hornady has created an all new Aluminum Tipped projectile. This precision machined tip is longer than polymer tips which moves the center of gravity, thus enhancing inflight stability. The aeroballistically advanced tip design results in tighter groups, and reduced drag variability.”

By using some of the most sophisticated tools in projectile development, Hornady created a bullet with a milled tip, 99% repeatable, and a Doppler Radar verified low-drag coefficient (super-high Ballistic Coefficient) with a winning blend of ogive, tip length, bearing surface, and optimized boat-tail within each caliber.

“We wanted to incorporate aluminum tips in a full line of match bullets for years because we can make longer tips than we can with polymer materials,” said Joe Thielen, Assistant Director of Engineering. “This longer tip is a key component that helps move the center of gravity of the bullet rearward, thus enhancing in-flight stability and reducing dispersion. The problem has always been the cost to produce a tip like this, but we’ve developed a cost-effective process for manufacturing these aluminum tips while staying affordable for serious match shooters. The longer aluminum tips are machined to be caliber-specific, and when coupled with highly refined AMP® bullet jackets, aggressive profiles and optimized boattails, the result is enhanced drag efficiency (high BC) across the board. Each bullet design is carefully crafted for minimal drag variability for the utmost in shot-to-shot consistent downrange accuracy.The materials, design and manufacturing techniques combine for the most consistent and accurate match bullets available.”

– Hornady

Right off the press, the projectiles are sequentially packed, for ultimate consistent performance, from lot to lot, ensuring your projectiles are truly YOURS every step of the way. Think of it like shooting clones of your load every time (100 in each box)! Minimal handling throughout the process means there’s less of a chance of YOUR bullet being marred, scuffed, or altered, which is why each box is packaged with a Polishing Bag for you to give the final buff to your beautiful new projectiles!

Hornady A-Tip MATCH Bullets:

6MM 110gr Hornady A-Tip6.5MM 135gr Hornady A-Tip 6.5MM 153gr Hornady A-Tip  30CAL 230gr Hornady A-Tip 30CAL 250gr Hornady A-Tip

Part 2 is forthcoming, with more in-depth analysis from Hornady’s lead technicians. Get ready for graphs, charts, and more! To read the press release, CLICK HERE!

SKILLS: Priority One With A New Concealed Carry Gun

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New gun? Here are some pro tips on getting it ready to go right off the bat. READ MORE

priority one article

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kyle Schmidt

Recently I had the chance to field test the new Springfield Armory 9mm XD-S Mod.2. I was pretty excited when I received the gun, as my 9mm XD-S is already my go-to concealment gun. After checking out some of the cool new features, like the extended grip safety, the improved grip profile and the Pro-Glo Tritium sights, I immediately took the gun to the range.

PRIORITY ONE
Whenever I get a new gun, my top priority is to get the gun zeroed and shoot some groups with different ammunition:

First and foremost, I need to make sure the gun is zeroed with my primary ammunition.

Second, I like to see how the gun shoots with my practice ammo.

Call me weird, but I like shooting groups; it gives me a chance to practice some fundamental marksmanship skills while I am testing other important criteria. And shooting groups / zeroing a firearm is a skill; one that I find challenging, rewarding and beneficial.

Since this is a gun I would plan to carry concealed while off-duty, I needed to zero the gun using some self-defense type ammo. In this case it is old duty ammo, as that is what I would be required to carry in an off-duty gun.

kyle schmidt

SIGHT-IN SESSION
When I am testing ammo, or zeroing the gun, I always try to get the gun as stable as possible. How I do this may change depending on the gun and the range configuration.

TABLE & CHAIR:
If I have a chair and a high table available, I will shoot off the table while seated in the chair. This allows me to relax into a comfortable position, while stabilizing the gun on the table.

PRONE POSITION:
Most of the time, I just shoot from the prone position because I consider it the most stable. If I am shooting a full-sized gun, I will rest the frame (magazine base pad) on the ground to help stabilize the gun. In this case though, the frame of the gun is so compact that I can’t comfortably get the frame on the ground from the prone position. So, while I was prone, I used a sandbag to both elevate the gun and stabilize my hands while shooting.

TARGET CHOICE:
I prefer to use a USPSA target at 25 yards to shoot my groups. “A” zone hits at 25 yards with a sub-compact gun like the XD-S Mod.2 9mm is a reasonable test of accuracy.

Before shooting the groups, I attach a 4-in. black circle in the middle of the target to give me a consistent aiming point.

DEFENSE AMMO:

kyle schmidt
Kyle Defense Ammo Group

I shot a group of 6 shots with the self-defense ammo first, just to see what zero adjustments I might need to make. The zero was perfect! The group I shot was about 2-in. and all in the black circle. That is far better than what my expectations are for a concealment gun, especially right out of the box.

PRACTICE AMMO:

kyle schmidt target
Kyle 115 Practice Ammo Group

I then shot a group of 6 with some cheap 9mm 115-grain FMJ ammo that I bought online. This ammo had virtually the same impact location as my self defense ammo, although the group wasn’t quite as tight, but it was definitely still acceptable.

MATCH AMMO:

kyle schmidt group
Kyle 147 Grain Ammo Group

Lastly, I shot 6 extremely soft-kicking 147-grain ammo that I would typically use for fast-paced competition matches. I know from experience that this ammo doesn’t typically group as well. It is designed to have a softer feeling recoil, but since I had some in my truck, I wanted to try it out. As expected, the 147s did not group as well as the self-defense ammo, but it felt really soft, and the gun functioned perfectly. All but one of the shots were in the “A” zone.

REPETITION & RESULTS:
After repeating the grouping session with all 3 types of ammo a couple more times, I now know that the gun shoots both the self defense ammo and the less-expensive practice 115-grain ball ammo extremely well and with the same zero. This is important to me because it allows me to do most of my practice with the cheaper stuff and save the expensive ammo for when I carry.

I encourage you to take the time to check your zero with your carry ammo. As responsible, safe gun owners, we need to be 100% certain the ammunition we are using impacts the target where we expect it to. You may not be able to shoot really tight groups at 25 yards initially, but keep working on the fundamentals for accuracy and you should see your group size shrink. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn something about your ammunition and gun, while practicing fundamental skill building.

And you may even grow to enjoy it.

 

SKILLS: Your Best Defense

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Personal defense is not all or only about having a handgun! Steve Tarani discusses developing your own broad-spectrum skill set. Important! READ MORE

steve tarani

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Tarani

As a professional instructor and keynote speaker throughout the public and private sectors, my courses range from awareness-based training (preventative measures) to empty hand defense, to non-ballistic weapons defense (edged, impact, flexible), to defensive firearms.

At the very end of each course delivery, time is allotted for participant’s questions. In a year’s time I deliver training to about 1,500 attendees. Over the past 30 years (yup, do the math), that’s lots of folks asking me the very same question that plagues any defense-minded individual seeking viable solutions to tactical problems.

THE QUESTION IS: WHAT’S MY BEST DEFENSE?
At the risk of sounding pedantic, personal defense is, well, personal. To provide an appropriate answer to such a broad-spectrum question, one must consider that each of us have certain physical and mental attributes that make us better at one thing or another than the person standing behind us in line at the store. Given this consideration, there are three things you can do to build your very best personal defense against a real-world active threat:

Be Prepared
Be Aware
Be Trained
BE PREPARED

Success favors the prepared. Referencing personal defense against an active threat, it’s my conviction that there are only two types of people walking the earth today, the prepared and the unprepared.

What does it mean to be prepared? It means to take responsibility for your own personal security and that of those you protect. During a violent physical threat, you don’t have the time to wait for the cavalry to ride over the hill. You need to handle it, and now. AKA mindset, you must decide that you’re going to take defensive action before an event occurs or you will be left far behind the action-reaction power curve when it does.

You must accept the fact the bad things can and do happen to good people. It can happen not at some far-off imaginary date, but the split second you step out of your car, walk into a shopping mall or step into a restaurant.

You must have the will to do whatever it takes to get yourself and your protectee off that fateful “X” and to safety. If you do not have the will to take action against another human being, then when the time comes, you most certainly will not take action. If you do not have this will, then you can forget about any personal defense as you will not be able to act.

Lastly, there is a stark difference between preparedness and paranoia. If you’re paranoid — you are looking around every corner, behind every tree and under every table for some imagined threat — it’s hard to live like that.

Being prepared is simply adopting the mindset that it’s your responsibility. Having the will to take defensive action, and knowing that bad things can happen and that they could happen at any time gives you the advantage. If you’re waiting at a red light and the light turns green and you look left and then right before moving, is that being paranoid or prepared?

BE AWARE
Being aware of your immediate environment solves more potential problems than you can imagine. Situational awareness can defuse a situation before it even starts. Using input from your senses, can make you aware of fire (if you smell something burning), screeching tires, gunshots, etc., which provide you with the earliest defensive warnings. Having your face buried in your phone like a cow eating grass, can attenuate or even eliminate this critical input.

Your ability to read body language and recognize threat indicators are two important skills that are part and parcel of being aware. Much more information on threat recognition and how to raise your awareness, can be found in my latest book Your Most Powerful Weapon: Using Your Mind to Stay Safe.

Think about how many times you’ve been in a knock-down, drag-out, face-in-the-dirt street fight or have had to use your firearm in a defensive situation. Compare that to how many times you’ve used your situational awareness so that you didn’t need to go to hands, knives or guns. Odds are you will continue to utilize your awareness far more often than your hand-to-hand or defensive firearms skills.

BE TRAINED
According to the seventh century BC Greek author Archilochus “We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” Looking at it from a personal defense perspective, you have only two choices: remain untrained or get yourself some training. Which of these two choices will better prepare you to defend yourself and or your protectees in the event of a violent physical altercation?

THE QUESTION THAT USUALLY FOLLOWS IS: GET TRAINED IN WHAT?
There’s an endless list of hand-to-hand options, such as:

Muay Thai
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Karate
Aikido
Tae Kwon Do
Western Boxing
Krav Maga, etc.

And many options for ballistic weapons and non-ballistic training :

Handgun
Shotgun
Carbine
Filipino Martial Arts

It truly doesn’t matter which one(s) you choose. My recommendation is to match your natural attributes with the art designed to best fit your personal profile and available time. Either way it’s time and money well spent. Far better to have and not need, then to need and not have.

Being prepared gives you the right mindset. It makes you accountable, which provides you the motivation, or will, to take action against another human being if need be.

Using your awareness affords you the opportunity to see it, hear it or smell it coming — a tremendous tactical advantage, so be aware.
Get trained — any type of physical skills are better to have in your tool kit than standing there holding your fruit basket when it hits the fan.

Be prepared, be aware and be trained. You can choose one, all of these (your best defense), or none of the above. The choice is yours.

To learn more about training conducted by Steve Tarani, go to Steve’s websites:

HandToGun.com

SteveTarani.com

About the author: Steve Tarani is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail and is the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), and others.

SKILLS: Dry-Fire Practice With Lasers, Part Three

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This is the third and final installment of this series by Team Springfield Armory’s Kyle Schmidt. It really works wonders! READ ON

laser practice three

EDITOR’S NOTE: I ran Part 1 of this installment a spell ago. Find it HERE to refresh your memory. Part 2 is HERE. Good stuff! And it really works.

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kyle Schmidt

In Part II of Dry Fire Practice With Lasers, I focused on Acceptable Sight Picture Drills. Let’s move forward now to some more-advanced laser drills.

REFINED TRIGGER PRESS — DRY PRACTICE DRILL
Once a shooter has identified (and hopefully improved) how well they are able to hold or keep the gun aimed on the desired target area — and they understand what an “acceptable sight picture” is, the next obstacle is to determine if they have the ability to press the trigger without moving the gun out of the intended target area.

To practice this technique, try my “Refined Trigger Press” (RTP) dry-practice drill.

laser target 1
LASER TARGET 1

RTP DRY-PRACTICE DRILL — PART I:
Place Laser Target 1 (with C-Zone side of the dry practice target facing you, above photo), at your desired distance.

Make sure the laser and sights are zeroed for this distance.

Aim the [unloaded] gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser.

While watching the laser, start pressing the trigger.

Watch the dot closely as you press the trigger.

Does the act of pressing the trigger move the dot outside of the C-Zone? If it does, then while you are pressing the trigger, you are also moving the gun. Ideally when you press the trigger, you do NOT also move, push, pull, jerk the gun out of the intended scoring zone. You must learn to isolate the trigger finger so that the act of pressing the trigger does NOT move the gun out of the intended scoring zone. Repeat this drill until you see a noticeable improvement in the movement of the “dot”.

Once you have mastered the C-Zone, repeat and master the RTP Dry Practice Drill on:
The body A-Zone (Laser Target 2)
The entire, head (Laser Target 2)
The A-Zone head (Laser Target 1)
Finally the black 1-inch square

Once you have mastered each of the above zones, move back from the target, re-zero the laser for the new distance and start all over with the C-Zone, eventually going through each of the zones.

You can gradually increase the difficulty at one distance by reducing the target size, and then increase the difficulty again by increasing the distance.

laser target 2
LASER TARGET 2

Ultimately you are trying to find the level that is difficult for YOU and learn to master that.

Continue to experiment at different distances to see how well you can press the trigger while keeping the gun aimed in the desired scoring zone.

INSTANT TRIGGER PRESS — DRY PRACTICE DRILL
Once you have mastered the refined trigger press (RTP), you cannot stop there. That type of trigger press is rarely ever used, but it’s a great starting point for you to learn what is happening to the gun as you are moving the trigger.

If you want to shoot fast, some shots require that you develop the ability to instantly move the trigger from its at-rest position all the way to the rear position to fire the gun.

Try my “Instant Trigger Press” (ITP) dry practice drills to hone this skill.

ITP DRY PRACTICE DRILL — PART I:
Place Laser Target I (with the C- Zone side of the dry practice target facing you), at your desired distance.

Aim the gun in the center of the C-Zone using the laser.

While watching the laser, press the trigger as quickly as you can.

Watch the dot closely as you move the trigger.

Does the act of moving the trigger quickly move the dot outside of the C-Zone? If it does, it’s because you are also moving the gun. Ideally when you press the trigger you should not also move the gun out of the intended scoring zone, regardless of the pace you pull the trigger.

You may have to practice this drill hundreds of times before the movement diminishes on a consistent basis.

When you can easily pull the trigger quickly without moving the gun, move on to ITP Part II dry practice drill.

Once you have mastered the Instant Trigger Press in the C-Zone, repeat and master the ITP Dry Practice Drill on:

The body A-Zone (Laser Target 2)
The entire, head (Laser Target 2)
The A-Zone head (Laser Target 1)
Finally the black 1-inch square

Once you have mastered each of the above zones, move back from the target, re-zero the laser for the new distance and start all over with the C-Zone, eventually going through each of the above zones.

Continue to experiment at different distances to see how well you can quickly move the trigger while keeping the gun aimed in the desired scoring zone. It’s not as easy as it may seem, so I recommend practicing these drills on a regular basis.