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Basics

I wanted to talk a little today about the basics. If folks would focus on the basics thy could save themselves a lot of grief in almost any human endeavor.  When w talk about defensive shooting we can break it down to equipment and technique.  Let’s start with technique. The modern technique of the Pistol was defined by Col Jeff Cooper in the 1970s at his school, Gunsite.  Gunsite was a place where civilians could come and learn defensive shooting.  There are guns schools everywhere now.  Some of them prey good and some pretty bad.  One of the ways you can judge them is how close they stick to the basics.  Col Cooper didn’t invent a lot of the techniques he taught, he was the first person to write down and canonize many of them, though.  He helped NRA work on the defensive pistol classes that they publish curriculums for.  Most of the well thought of trainers in business today have been students or instructors at Gunsite at one time or the other.

SO, what are the basics?  First, if you are going to be effective with  handgun, you are going to have to hit your target. You have to get multiple effective hits, and do it rapidly. Everything should be centered around this one basic goal.  If you are going to get hits, you must exercise many of the same fundamentals any other shooter does.  You must learn to carry the handgun so it can be accessed quickly, easily and in as many situations as possible.  If you have it buried in a pocket or a purse you aren’t going to be able to get it when you need it.  Second, you must establish a good grip with your strong hand.  the NRA Basic Pistol book goes into quite a bit of detail on this.  The next step is to pull the gun from the holster.  Sounds easy, but if you don’t clear the holster, or if you blur this step into another step you can fail to set uop for the next steps.  Fourth, rotate the gun to the target.  the muzzle should go to a position so that if you were to discharge the gun it would hit the target somewhere.  Fifth, center the handgun with your body.  Sixth, join your weak hand to the gun and establish a two handed grip.  Seventh, present the gun. this means ” punch out” , or “extend” your arms into the two handed firing position. Eight, SHOOT! Nine, Shoot again.  Repeat as necessary until the threat is over.  Immediately scan both ways and access the situation.  Is the threat over ( down and out of the fight or  retreated) are there an more threats?  Bring the handgun back to a High ready position.  Holster If it is safe to do so.  

WOW.  Lots of stuff to do, and about a second to get them done.  And I left out some little, picky stuff like AIMING, proper trigger press, follow through, and trigger reset. If you choose a semi auto pistol you also need to earn how to clear a malfunction.   Pretty simple, isn’t it?  Just go get a gun that is easy to hide in your pocket and you are safe from any and all deadly threats.  Oh, did I mention that a single handgun wound is fatal around 15% of the time?  Most shootings involve around 3 shots fired by the good guy.  Law enforcement has a really good hit ratio, 15- 20 % of the time they hit what they are shooting at.  The average LE involved shooting takes place at seven feet.  Add the fact that you are never going to be justified in shooting another human being unless another reasonable person would agree that you were about to be killed or seriously injured ( read scared to death)  and you see why I harp on basics so much.  You have to be able do these things without thinking. If you blink, you lose. 

A good way to stir a whole pile of stinky stuff is to talk about equipment.  I had rather insult a man’s wife, or a woman’s husband than I had his or her choice of a gun.  The problem is  it is a lot like a life partner.  You will live or die by what you carry. If what I wrote above didn’t go right over your head, if you actually believe what I wrote, can you see how you will have to practice, practice, practice? And you need to practice with the same gun.  I saw a story by a fellow the other day.  He talked about his battery of handguns.  I can’t live in his head.  I don’t know about his dexterity level, his ability to adapt his muscle memory to different tools, but as for me, I want one gun, and I want to wear it out and go get another one just like it.  People accuse me of being a 1911 snob.  Not true.  I am, however, a duty pistol snob.  I just don’t want a pistol I can’t use good from with.  If I can’t get all my fingers on the grip, if I can’t get a good sight picture, if I can not manipulate the safety lever, if there is one, if I can’t make rapid magazine changes, if I can’t quickly clear a malfunction, if I can’t get a good holster for it, if I can’t get spare parts, and install them or have them installed, if I can’t count on the gun to make hits on targets and game while I am in the woods, I just don’t want it.  I went to our local police academy  a while back.  Some of the kids were talking and snickering about my ” rusty old gun”.  Well, I will admit the finish is about 50% gone on my favorite 1911. I have carried it daily for about 4 years now.  I think about any weapon that a police department or military unit finds to be reliable , accurate, and dependable will probably work.  Holsters are lot different for civilians, but the basics apply. They should be easy to get to, durable, and simple.  There is a lot of pure stupidity out there that is supposed to be  something new .  Hey, thugs use tape to hold their guns to them. Holsters really need another whole blog post.  Just rest assured that good holsters are not cheap, they are not gimmicky, and they are easy to get to and fairly secure from a fall out or gun grab.

There is a lot to it, isn’t there?  That is why it is vital to get good training to start with and some good coaching as a follow up. Carrying  loaded deadly weapon in public is a big responsibility. it is not out of the average person’s ability to learn to do it safely and effectively.  It does seem to be out of the average person’s priorities.