Tag Archives: defensive training

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.

 

SKILLS: Consistency Is King

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Finding yourself right smack in the middle of harm’s way can give pause even to the hardest of the hard. However, chance favors the prepared. READ MORE

steve tarani

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Tarani

Ask any real-world tier-one operator about preparation, and he will tell you that one of the most effective tactics in your personal defense arsenal is consistency.

Hailing from the operational world, none other than the granddaddy of soft skills — situational awareness — should remain paramount in your preparedness repertoire. Utilized more than any other soft skill, or hard skill for that matter, situational awareness is a staple to the seasoned operator.

SOFTWARE VS HARDWARE
Compare the last time you employed your situational awareness (SA) versus your firearm in a real-world scenario. The number of times you employ SA far outweighs the number of times you go to guns in a day, a month, a year, or a lifetime. Only by continual practice can you build that consistency over time. As useful as it is, the more you use it, the more comfortable you will be using it, and the less effort it takes to employ.

When it comes to hardware, you may want to consider which every day carry (EDC) tools best fit your personal profile. Best case scenario, your operational environment allows you handgun carry. If this is the case, then you would need a comfortable, quality holster, at least one spare magazine and a magazine pouch. The position on your body that this lifesaving equipment is carried should remain consistent.

In other words, don’t carry your blaster on your hip one day and then appendix the next day or change the position of your spare magazine(s). If you carry inside the waistband (IWB) appendix with a spare mag, then those same carry locations should remain consistent every time you strap them on.

DON’T BE LEFT IN THE DARK
Another important piece of gear, with or without a firearm, is a flashlight. It gets dark every single day. You could be in a building in the middle of the day and the power goes out, or you may need to go through a closet, attic, or basement with low or no ambient light.

Working on a protective services assignment, I was attached to a detail in charge of protecting a high-profile VIP at an equally high-profile televised event. Our team was directed to a holding area with several other protective teams, including the protectees.

Three protection teams, with their respective VIPs were moved to behind the filming stage in waiting for their entrance que. On the televised side of the stage it was brightly lit, but behind the stage curtain it was pitch black. Of all three teams, not one protective agent had a flashlight on them except for me. Flicking on my EDC hand-held flashlight I said, “Please watch your step, Sir,” as I directed our protectee up the backstage steps. The other teams flocked to my light like moths to a flame. Lesson learned: carry a flashlight and carry it in the same place every time so you can quickly access it without looking. Again, consistency reigns.

CARRY CONSISTENTLY
Carry your gun in the same position — as well as your knife, magazines, pen, glasses, flashlight, cell phone, first aid kit, and/or any medications — all in the same location on your limited personal real estate.

Extend this consistency practice to your personal training when you go to the range. Your eye and ear protection, sunscreen, cleaning kit, and the like, should always be in the same place so even at night, in complete darkness, you can find what you’re looking for without wasting any time.

Carrying the same gear in the same location every time ensures that you can get to it in complete darkness, in thick smoke, during a sandstorm (don’t think just the Middle East — there are places the likes of TX, NM, and AZ, where dust devils can impair your vision in broad daylight). The same applies to sleet, snow, and other natural or man-made causes of visual impairment. Consistency remains the “A” answer.

DEMAND RELIABILITY
Once you build consistency into your operational profile, like anything else, you can come to rely on it. What this can guarantee is, when you move your hand to that pocket, or that area on your body under duress and expect to find certain kit, there it will be waiting for you, accessible, available, when you need it — on demand.

When you train presenting your firearm, you practice clearing your cover garment(s), defeating any holster-retention devices and developing your draw stroke so that one day should you need it, that consistency will pay dividends on time invested. The same applies to reaching for that spare magazine, or pocket knife, or flashlight, all very useful EDC items. You purchased them because you need them — helpful tools for when the time comes. If you need one of them, there it is, right where you put it, ensuring accessibility and rapid deployment. You know you can rely on them, where they are, and that you can get to them in a timely manner. You are guaranteed this reliability, because you run your gear knowing that consistency is king.

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.