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Thursday, September 11, 2014
On The Range #97: Shootrite Firearms Academy Defensive Handgun, Day 2
Day 2 of Shootrite's Defensive Handgun course began at 8;30AM on the Shootrite range.
We started out with a discussion of the importance of practice, and specifically dry practice. Practice does not have to be shooting. You can practice draws, dry reloads, sight alignment, and trigger control without ever sending a round down range. You can learn more from dry practice because you will focus on the details and performing every action as close to perfect as you are capable of doing it. As Tiger McKee said, "You'll never be perfect, but you can strive to be excellent."
On the firing line Tiger had us do a mental exercise with the goal being to come up with an instant response. First he asked us to answer a difficult math problem. When no one answered but instead started to think about it he told us we didn't need a perfect answer, but an immediate one. He then started asking us individually a rapid fire list of questions with the goal of getting an instant appropriate response. For example, if asked your favorite color, movie, or food he was expecting an instant response in the correct category. Blue should not be your favorite food, nor pizza your favorite color.
The idea here is that when presented with a threat you want to act in such a way as to force that threat to react to you, instead of reacting to the threat yourself. This was a recurring theme of the course.
We picked up where we had left off on Day 1 with movement. Starting dry we practiced moving to the right and left on the firing line. When moving right or left, the right leg leads right and the left leg leads left.
After we had moving dry down we added in the draw. As we moved either right or left we would draw our pistols out to either low ready or on target to the threat. We were encouraged to do this very slowly, focusing on doing everything consistently and correctly.
Next we moved into live fire. On command we would step left or right while completing a draw, give commands to the threat, and if not obeyed (cardboard just won't listen!) we would 'gain compliance with accurate shots.' We would then scan our surrounding for additional threats while slowing working our pistols back into our holsters.
While scanning it was very important to actually see, not just glance around. The details matter. The instructors would ask us questions about things they had been doing with their hands or objects they had been holding to make sure we were actually paying attention as we scanned around.
We continued live fire for a while, taking breaks to reload. We worked on transitioning our fire to places other than center mass like the pelvic zone or head.
We took a morning break and afterwards moved into a discussion of malfunctions and malfunction clearances.
Malfunction clearances are a part of functional (combative) manipulations. They need to be performed immediately. It is important to practice them slowly and consistently, so that you will do them correctly in a fight.
Tiger likes to put malfunction clearances in simple terms. To handle them you either need to load the gun or unload then load the gun. "If I press the trigger and it doesn't go bang I need to load the pistol. If that doesn't work I need to unload it and then load it." This makes sense if you remember his method for both loading and unloading a pistol.
He explained clearing the three common malfunctions:
Type 1 Malfunction:
You press the trigger and the gun does not fire, you get a click
1. Finger off the trigger
2. Tap the magazine to ensure it is properly seated
3. Aggressively cycle the slide to load
Type 2 Malfunction/Stovepipe:
You press the trigger and the gun does not fire, trigger may or may not be reset, you'll generally see the brass or round that failed to eject.
1. Finger off the trigger
2. Tap the magazine
3. Cycle slide aggressively to clear the brass and load a round
Type 3 Malfunction/Double Feed
You press the trigger and get a dead trigger
1. Finger off the trigger
2. Tap the magazine
3. Cycle the slide aggressively AND IT WILL NOT CYCLE
4. Strip the magazine and retain it in the pinky finger of the strong hand
5. Cycle the slide three times very aggressively
6. Load the magazine and cycle the slide to load a round
We practiced clearing all three types of malfunctions live. For Type 1 malfunctions we used dummy rounds. We broke up into pairs for Type 2 and 3 malfunctions and had the non-shooter either place spent brass in the ejection port or drop a live round into the chamber to set up a double feed.
I've never practiced malfunctions clearances much so this was fairly new to me. I think it was well worth the time and I plan on working on it in my own practice.
After this we took a lunch break, again at the South Sauty Cafe. Again, the bacon cheeseburger. Because it IS that good.
After lunch Tiger told us that things had gone very well so far and as a result we were going to get into some things that normally aren't covered in this particular course.
We broke up into two groups. Half of us (my group) went with Tiger to another part of the range set up with a long wall of different types of cover and some steel torso targets. The other half went with Tiger's co-instructor to the area where we had been doing our shooting so far.
With Tiger we worked on using cover while shooting. The big thing here for me was learning to slow down. Everything in IDPA is done using cover but also in a rush. The idea here was to shoot the threat, scan the environment, then move looking for other threats along the wall we were using. This was where I had the most fun in the course because it was very similar to the run and gun games I like.
Early on when we started on the live fire I asked if I should shoot on the move, or move and then shoot. Tiger said that if cover is just a few steps away that it would, in his opinion, generally be better to get behind cover and shoot from a stable stance than to potentially have a miss just to get a shot off quickly.
One thing that Tiger teaches that I had been told to do in IDPA but ignored was to reload while keeping your gun and eyes on your target rather than to get back behind cover. I had figured that the IDPA way was a good way to catch a bullet. Tiger pointed out that keeping your eyes on the target was a good idea because then they could not move without you knowing where they were going. There was a caveat, "Incoming rounds always have the right of way."
When using cover we were taught to expose the least amount of our body as possible to locate, identify, and if necessary engage the threat. Tiger recommended using mirrors to practice this in the home.
Next the two groups switched and my group went with Tiger's co-instructor, Matt. With Matt we worked on two things, moving backwards and blind malfunctions clearances.
First we worked on moving back dry. We started with a step, and then two to three steps at a time. Matt had us move over a lot of different terrain, even into brush and up a slope just so we could see out obstacles that you can't see can be very difficult to handle and tend to seem larger than they actually are when you have only your feet to sense them. We also worked on moving while keeping our sights on target. This is probably one of the more difficult things to do. I've actually got a lot of practice shooting while moving back thanks to IDPA and Frank Proctor's Performance Handgun course.
We culminated our live fire by starting close and then shooting while moving back about 15-20 yards. The goal here was to show us that our shooting would start fast, but that as we moved further back we would have to slow down to keep getting good hits and eventually we would reach a point where we would have to stop shooting. The stop point would be different for everyone but it's a good thing to know about yourself.
After finishing up with moving back we took a short break for a drink and ammo, then moved back to the firing line for blind malfunction clearances. Matt had us draw and deck our pistols. Then we would take a few steps and turn our backs while he set up a malfunction on each of our guns. He asked that even if it were obvious to treat it as if we didn't know what the issue was.
On command we turned, retrieved our gun from the ground, and then engaged a threat target with 2-3 rounds. I had to clear every type of malfunction, and even a new one. One time when I picked up my pistol everything seemed fine, but when I fired the magazine fell out. This required a reload and was to simulate not seating a magazine correctly and it getting jarred out when firing. Good times.
Finally, we wrapped up our range time and headed back to the classroom for a discussion on tactics and the legality of armed self defense.
Tiger told us it is important to pay attention to what is going on around us and that if faced with a threat we should first try to get away, second maximize our distance between ourselves and the threat, and third minimize ourselves as targets and use cover. He again emphasized making our threat respond to us by taking immediate action.
Then he got into the legalities. In general, in order to defend yourself with lethal force the threat you are faced with must display the intent, have the ability, means, and opportunity to cause grave bodily harm or death to you or anyone you have the right to defend.
For instance, a person with a bat threatening your life at 50 yards probably is not an immediate threat justifying lethal force. The same person at 20 feet, however, is because they can close that distance in less than 2 seconds.
Normally, for a person to be considered a lethal threat they must be armed. However, disparity of force comes into play if a person or person's can bring enough force to be a lethal threat even if they are unarmed. Large, muscular man vs. smaller man or woman, group vs. a single person, etc.
Again, Tiger said what we had to do was problem solving at high speed. He recommended that we ask ourselves, "If I don't use my gun now is myself, my family, or my friends facing serious bodily harm or death?"
We moved from here into a discussion of the aftermath of using lethal force in self defense. He encouraged us to be able to articulate that we were attacked and defended ourselves and that when LEOs arrived we should immediately identify ourselves if possible and comply with all of their orders.
He recommended that when asked what happened to say "I was in fear for my life(or another's)." Don't get into a detailed discussion right after because the details can be fuzzy because of the stress of the situation. You might experience Critical Incident Amnesia and you usually won't have complete, or as complete as possible, recall until you've gone through at least two sleep cycles.
Keep conversations with any and all authorities simple. "That person attacked me. I want him arrested. I will fully cooperate but I need to speak with my attorney first." You may get questioned by multiple officers. Always, and only, reiterate the above until you speak with your attorney.
He also said we should seriously consider consulting with an attorney and having one picked out now before any kind of incident happens.
After this discussion and some question and answer Tiger thanked us all for attending and said it was a really great class and that that was not something every class heard. He presented us with our certificates for the course and that was that.
I really enjoyed the course. It's a great course for anyone who wants to learn how to defend themselves with a handgun. This is a basic defensive course, but it is not for the new shooter. An NRA First Steps Pistol course is the minimum requirement for attending but I would definitely recommend Basic Pistol. You really need to know how to safely handle your pistol on the range with some confidence.
I plan on taking more of Shootrite's handgun courses and I hope to take some carbine courses there as well. I will definitely be heading back!
My name is Robert McDonald. I've been shooting and handling firearms for over 20 years. Over the last few years I've focused on seriously developing my skills in firearm self defense and competitive shooting. I've reached the skill level at which I can competently begin giving individuals training in the basics of firearms safety and use. Visit Taptraining.us for more info.