How Many Rounds?

Working part-time at a gun store gives you an opportunity to hear some really silly misconceptions. A couple came into the store and the woman wanted a little .380. I questioned her about her choice and she stated that her gun, Sig P320C, was too big to carry. I explained the various ways to deal with it but she would not consider anything other than the little gun. I explained about the lack of ammunition capacity and effectiveness of the round to which she pronounced six rounds were plenty. I asked how she would deal with three assailants, to which she walked off to go look at a shotgun.Don_Knotts_Barney_and_the_bullet_Andy_Griffith_Show

My initial thoughts were she did not know what she didn’t know, to effect unconsciously incompetent, believing she had all the answers in her mind. I don’t know everything, never will but I do know that I carry a gun and I want to be able to deal with the various possibilities that carrying may present me. In the end I realized she was not serious about self-defense, it was something that was cool to do and she did not want to put in the effort to carry safely. My question today is why bother, don’t carry if you’re lazy. No one said it would be easy and the gun manufacturers are certainly going to sell you a gun even if it is not going to provide that safety net you thought it would.

Honestly, your gun is not a magic talisman and the bad guys will not always run away when you show them your little .380.

In the headlines of shooting reports daily we hear; Two Deputies fire 33 rounds at suspect, A gun-toting Brooklyn bandit dodged more than 80 police bullets early Friday, Officers fired a total of 54 bullets, Two officers who confronted suspect fired 16 rounds injuring nine civilians. Not only did it take more than six rounds to stop the threat, it took more than one shooter. Clearly accuracy was an issue as well as ammunition capacity. And training and practice.beat the odds

Clearly when the bullets start flying your accuracy will diminish and in particular when you add in movement and stress. Most qualifying course of fire are designed for the lowest common denominator, so everyone passes the test but does that really insure competence? So how are you going to be able to shoot accurately, fast when the melee starts? No certain guarantees but if you want to shoot fast and accurate start with shooting accurately, essentially perfectly, on a square range with zero stress or movement until it is hard wired in your brain.

This is going to require your mind knowing exactly how to move the trigger without moving the gun, quickly evolving to where you can do this without conscious thought. There are two steps to accomplishing this, dry fire practice AND live fire measurement of the effectiveness of your practice.

How is your grip? Is it perfect? Do you have total control of the gun during the firing cycle? If not that is clearly a good starting point as your grip is the sole contact, you have with your gun. Weak grip equals inconsistent results and lack of control. Add your grip to your dry practice regime. Do it very slowly until it is perfect every time then increase your speed, constantly stretching your ability.Grip

So now we have worked on our perfect trigger press at home where every time we press that trigger the front sight does not move at all prior to the trigger breaking. We have picked up or drawn the gun repeatedly until our hands are in the perfect position every time and the required pressure comes from the strong support hand. Now let’s go test the effectiveness of our dry practice.

Print out a few of our LFT-QUAL1 targets and give it a shot. Take your time, focus on strong grip and sharp focus on the sight and press off your 25 rounds and see how you do. If you’re new to this strive for 75% hit ratio and then keep setting your goals higher. In the end you should be able to get 100% every time eventually working to a target with one large gaping hole in the middle. Our students call this the Circle Drill. We call it the One Hole Drill. You should be able to do this cold, on demand, every time you take your gun to the range. It is a test of accuracy, placing your shots in the desired place and precision, placing every shot in the same place. Precise and AccurateClearly this is not something you would strive for in the violent encounter but being able to do this on demand will greatly improve your accuracy under fire.

So now we are back to the premise of the article. How many times did you reload for the drill? If it was three or more, you have an ammunition capacity limitation. Now think about doing this under stress, with movement and the inherent inaccuracy that brings with it. Imagine three armed adversaries and none of them run in fear when you pull out your gun. You will have to reload your gun, of that there is no doubt.

If you are going to go armed don’t put the odds in the favor of the bad guy, know how to shoot accurately, know how to shoot fast and accurate, know how to reload fast and furious and know how to do this all while moving to a position of cover. When you have all of these committed to unconscious memory you now have the odds in your favor.Thumbs Up







Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


Open Carry in Texas


No retention device

Texas Governor Abbott just signed open carry into law in his state. Only a handful of states do not allow open carry but the question I have is why would you want to.
Law Enforcement open carry and even though they represent the law people still try to take their guns from them, thus they have for the most part ACTIVE retention holsters. That retention device will keep the gun in the holster while being physically active but passive retention would suffice. Seriously, a determined adversary who wants that cops gun is going to go for regardless of consequence. It is said that during the struggle in Furgeson MO the bad guy did in fact try to take the LEOs gun and received a wound in the hand during that process. SO . . .


No retention device


Passive retention will not stop a determined assailant.

Why would you want to walk around with your gun exposed with nothing more than a snap strap to prevent some person with evil intent from trying to take you gun. I would much prefer no one know I have a gun on my person. Why tempt some guy much bigger than me, who has the ability to literally rip my head off with his bare hands.

In looking at pictures of citizens carrying openly the majority have nothing but friction retention. The few I found with active retention were snap straps or trigger guard buttons. And the question is, how quickly can the owner of that gun be able to defeat the retention device and get the gun into play . . . assuming they even practice their drawstroke other than at the range. Are you ready for the Safariland ALS retention system? It seems like a high price to pay in terms of accessibility just so I don’t have to wear a cover garment.


This is silly. The gun is not even in Condition One.


How easy would it be to disarm this person?

There is the argument that carrying open would allow people to dress as they like and to carry a bigger gun. Well guess what, that just sounds lazy. I have many students who carry full size. Ron and I carry full size often. No one sees our guns and I really have not changed how I dress.

While I support the idea that every one should legally carry and wish more did I personally am not interested in carrying open. I do not see how it benefits society on a whole because I believe one armed concealed carrying person is a greater force multiplier than one open carrying person. If the bad guys know there are people armed out there why should we make it easy for them to identify us.

Your thoughts on open carry?






Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training – See more


What is Training?

There are a few universal drills, standards and qualifiers I use regularly. I go alone or with friends and students. As for training with others I’m not certain without an expert present that self-training can only lead to engrained habits of poor tactics and form.

There are a lot of terms used in firearms training, and often this can cause confusion. I like to think of training with four parts aligned with the Triad of Armed Self-Defense; knowledge, training, practice and measuring. Some of this can be done individually, some with friends but I’ve found it best to always have someone with expertise present.

12295317_1130868466932379_4071258422283863048_nKnowledge is learning about shooting. It’s a passive activity to a large extent. In a LCDT class this is where you will spend 75% or more of your time, being lectured on guns, technique and even to some degree tactics.

Training is where you take action and learn to apply the knowledge you’ve gathered. Ideally, you should have an expert who can make necessary corrections and instruct you on how to get to the point of competence more quickly. I’m not a fan of videoing my practice session but many use it to good benefit. Training is what you get from a professional instructor.

Practice is where the rubber meets the road. This is where you turn knowledge and training into actions you can execute unconsciously under stress. You can practice on your own or with a group using live fire and dry fire. But you want to make sure you’re disciplined about it. 10 minutes of perfect practice daily is way more effective than two hours of randomly throwing rounds downrange once a week/month.

IMG_1928Measuring your ability and the effectiveness of your training and practice is a critical element in learning, it is taking the test to see how well you perform over time and it will decidedly tell you what stage of learning you have reached. You can test yourself with a timer and a scored drill, with friends in informal competition and in formal competition like IDPA or USPSA.

There are four levels of competence in learning or mastering a physical skill; unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and unconscious competence. We tell our students that by the end of a class they will be consciously competent but will lose it quickly if they do not practice what they have learned. We often see students a year or two later who have zero skills, just like the day they first came to a class because they had not practiced. Shooting at the range is not practice, it is simply measuring the effectiveness of your practice.

Unconscious incompetence is what we see at public ranges on a daily basis, where people don’t know what they don’t know. They believe they are practicing but in most cases they are only engraining bad habits and celebrate openly when they make one hit out of a magazine. 10% effectiveness is not success.

Conscious incompetence is where our students generally come from, they know they don’t know but want the knowledge and education.

Conscious competence is where we hope to have our students by the end of the first day of training, they have knowledge, and understanding and now know how to do something. They may to a large degree still have to consciously think about the individual steps to perform successfully. This can become the most frustrating stage of learning, because they may know what you need to do but have yet to have practiced enough for the skill to be unconsciously performed and often their technique will fall apart under the stress of performing on command. When we have students come back for additional training this is when the wheels fall off the bus, they know what they should do but have not committed the skill to memory.

Unconscious competence is when you can perform a skill without consciously thinking about it, while your attention is elsewhere, or under extreme stress. Driving without having a wreck is to a large degree an example of unconscious competence. Once you start the engine and engage the transmission your unconscious drives the process. If you were to actually try to cognitively recognize each visual and audible input and conscious plan a reaction you would have multiple accidents in one trip. When someone reaches this phase with a particular skill, it is generally called mastery, you can drive without endangering yours or others’ lives, hopefully.

DSC00218If your technique falls apart under stress, it’s a sign that you’re in the conscious competence stage and you need a combination of better mental control and more practice. If your technique doesn’t fall apart under stress, then it’s an indication that you have achieved unconscious competence and will want to gradually increase your speed and difficulty to stretch your skills even further.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


Concealing a Gun

When we talk about concealing a handgun on our person often times people falsely believe the only gun they can hide are tiny sub-compacts when the reality is completely opposite. Yes on occasion based on how you are forced or desire to dress it is harder to conceal a larger gun but carrying a tiny gun that you cannot shoot well and that you do not practice with because it is uncomfortable limits your ability to use the gun effectively.

People falsely believe if their gun prints it is a violation of the law, aka brandishing, but that is not the case. Concealment means when a person observes you in a normal manner they do not see your gun.

During our class day of CCW Training I speak for an hour or so until the right time presents itself and I pull out a gun. I ask the class if they saw my gun. None of course did even though many say they were looking to see if I was carrying. I continue on with the class and in a few minutes I pull out another gun, then another, then another, another and even another. Often I will have six guns concealed on my person and do one say a single one and the class is shocked. The purpose of the exercise is that you can carry a gun and NO ONE will see it. Of the guns I carry, two are FULL size, two or three COMPACTS and a sub-compact or two.

I am trying to convince people to carry as large of gun as they can for the simple reasons, they will shoot it better, it will be more comfortable to shoot which means they will practice more and in the end they will perform better because no one wants to shoot more than a hundred rounds through a mouse gun because it hurts.

There is primarily one measurement when considering concealment and that is the height of the gun. Below is a list of several commonly carried guns with three measurements, height, width and height with extended magazine.

Gun SizesThe extended height is with magazine or finger extension. In all of the classes I’ve taught where these guns were brought by students ALL had installed extensions except for the Glock G26.

This is a graphical representation of the torso at the waist and the height and width of four guns, from sub-compact to full size. As you can see the guns in this representation are not significantly different in dimension as compared to when they are in your hand.

TorsoTorso 2













Many students who bring the little guns talk about conceal-ability yet in the end they are mostly looking at marketing material and what someone told them or sold them since what you are hiding is height, not length nor width.

In the end you will practice with what is comfortable and that you perform well with. If that is not your every day carry gun you should consider changing, one or the other.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


A Piece of Paper

Last week in a small town 25 miles north of Raleigh, North Carolina a woman was shot in the head by her ex-boyfriend. Sad to say but somewhat typical in domestic abuse cases. The sadder part to me was the woman was armed and it did not need to happen the way it did had she only spent some time on LEARNING to use the tool she selected and learned about the tactics of armed self-defense.

One Shot Almost Enough to Save Woman Whose Gun Jammed

In NC there is a minimal training requirement to obtain a CCW, eight hours with some live fire. Certainly not training but enough to provide political cover should something go awry as it did this time.  The courts and Law Enforcement were fully aware of the dangers the woman faced in fact the woman’s family said she spent hours on the phone talking with both parties in the Legal System that may have been better spent training and practicing. The court of course provided her with a bullet proof protection called a Domestic Violence Protective Order. We involved in armed self-defense call it a piece of paper.






The Legal System provided the woman with another piece of paper, a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit. Again just another piece of paper. 

The woman went out and obtained two handguns.

ruger-lc9-bWhile certainly at this point the majority of people believe the woman should be able to defend herself but they were wrong. When attacked the woman, who had little to no skills with the gun much less a solid defensive mindset, pulled out her little gun and fired one shot striking her assailant in the leg muscle and then the gun failed to eject because no one had taught her how to clear a malfunction. The woman ran with the assailant in pursuit ending it with a bullet to her head.

This is wrong on so many levels and it could have been perhaps avoided or perhaps she could have escaped and if need be been able to get the gun back into the fight quickly had there been a more serious level of training.

Just to be clear, a restraining order cannot protect you, a Concealed Carry permit cannot protect you, and even a gun cannot protect you. Only you can protect you and your loved ones and the only way that can be accomplished is to learn. You have to have the right mindset, you have to have the best skills and a reliable tool.

It all starts with the mind, that you will not be a victim and you will make it a priority in your life to ensure you have the skills needed should you be called on to defend yourself or others.

Minimal training is not training. It should start with taking a beginning class, learning about the gun, sampling many guns so you can make an informed purchase.

After your introduction to handguns and your purchase you should practice with the gun so you can manipulate it without any conscious thought through the use of dry practice, then go measure your ability with a narrow focused course of live fire.

At this point you are ready to take a class that will give you the needed skills both in mind and in armed self-defense and go further with obtaining your permit. Please, please, please . . . do not just take the minimum required by law. Do not assume because you were in the military 20 years ago you know what to do, nor assume because you punch holes in paper at the range monthly that you are now capable of defending your life.

Program your mind for success, take training regularly, dry practice daily, shoot and measure the effectiveness of your practice . . . and repeat. Only you can defend yourself and your loved ones and it takes more than a piece of paper.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


The Triad of Armed Self-Defense

Whenever we talk to new shooters or people who are looking at guns for the first time there is often a huge disconnect between what they’ve heard from the myriad of experts versus the reality. We often refer to a lot of those stories as ‘Old Guys Tales’. Much like the proverbial old wives tales, Old Guys Tales are perpetuated generation after generation, sworn to as if it were the Gospel but are almost always factually wrong. Go to any gun forum on the internet, walk into any gun store in America, heck even take a class from an amateur instructor and it is virtually guaranteed you will hear one of these misconceptions within the first 15 minutes.

Everyone seems to want to focus on the gun in their search for the Holy Grail of gun fighting. I taught a student a couple of months ago, former military, who had come in to requalify for his CCW, clearly a person you would believe knew how to operate a handgun. Time and life however marches on, as had the skills he had 30 years ago. During the qualifying course of fire he barely qualified with two guns and failed with a sub-compact .45 ACP. At the time he stated he wanted to get a different gun and come back so he could add his new gun to the permit. A month later he came back with a sub-compact 9mm 1911 with the belief that this new gun was the solution to the problems he had with the sub-compact DAO. We set up the 15 yard course of fire and he goes to work . . . and fails to qualify. You see it was not the gun, it was the shooter. Certainly some guns will be easier to manipulate incorrectly and still make hits but in the end, accuracy comes from the shooter, not the gun.

The bottom level of the triad is the tool. A real shooter should be able to pick up any gun and make the hits. They might not make a perfect first hit but the remaining shots fired will all be practically perfect. I shot the aforementioned gun before my student tried to qualify, put seven rounds inside a three inch circle at seven yards rapid fire. It wasn’t that hard to do with the action of the gun.

Poorly Shot Target

The caliber argument can simply be resolved with ballistic gelatin testing using the FBI Standard. With the new design in bullets today the 9mm is as effective if not more as the other common handgun calibers. Some bullet makers are more consistent in terms of penetration through different materials without over penetration. In terms of lethality the correctly placed 9mm will do the job. The myth that the larger the bullet the better is bunk. If you are going to stop the bad guy there are only two ways of doing that if when you present your gun he decides to stay a fight. You have to hit the Central Nervous System or the organs such as heart and lungs that will bleed rapidly leading to the loss of consciousness. All of the records show, there is no such thing as stopping power from a handgun so the bullet size is to a large degree irrelevant.

So in selecting the tool keep in mind two critical points, pick a gun that will function flawlessly every time you press the trigger and pick as large of a gun you can conceal. Any criteria beyond that is simply handicapping yourself.

Skills are certainly more important than the tool. carrygunsAs mentioned, a shooter should be able to pick up any gun and shoot it fast and accurately. The smaller the gun and the heavier the bullet your accuracy and speed WILL fall off, that is a simple fact. Little tiny 1911’s chambered in .45 ACP require constant attention to the condition of the gun and a perfect grip. Any failure in grip WILL cause a malfunction of the gun. Any failure in the grip WILL cause inaccuracies during rapid fire. That is not to say that a highly qualified shooter cannot shoot these guns, but the average shooter stands no chance of doing as well than they would with a full sized 9mm.

Full size guns are easier to quickly obtain a perfect grip. Full size guns will not muzzle flip as much as the tiny gun. Lighter bullets have less recoil and muzzle flip. Those are factual statements proven in testing. Should someone see your gun by accident, it is not against the law. You do not have to carry a wee, tiny sub gun to conceal a gun.

Train under stress, regularly, either in competition or under physical stress that will increase your heart and respiration rate. Demand accuracy from yourself. When you shoot your gun do so in a manner that scores your effectiveness. DO NOT just go to the range and throw bullets at a piece of paper. Aim for smaller and smaller target placed farther and farther away. Analyze your errors, have an instructor analyze your errors and then GO HOME and DRY PRACTICE.

We stress dry practice. It is pretty darn boring. You can do it wrong which in fact makes it worse on you if you didn’t do any practice. Practice dry VERY SLOWLY. Dry practice programs your neuro-pathways so you remember on a subconscious level, how to grip, where to place the gun, how many pounds of pressure on the trigger to fire the gun, where to place the gun on the target so you can make ACCURATE hits FAST.


How will you learn these skills? From the YouTube video? How about gun mag articles? While certainly you can pick up some tips but real training, really learning skills comes from taking professional instruction. There are a ton of instructors in America today, so which ones are professional? How do you pick an instructor? A professional instructor teaches full time, it is not a part-time job done on Saturday and Sunday. There are several really good schools out there but of course that requires travel and time but after all you are learning skills that you are literally betting your life on so you would think some expense would be appropriate. Far more instructors teach GROUP classes rather than individuals. In group instruction you reduce your cost but you also reduce the contact time with your instructor, which is why you went to take training, to spend time with an instructor. Schools will almost always teach groups. Group classes are going to a large degree minimize the amount of material they present due to the sheer size of people they have to watch.

Skills are important, they have to be committed to subconscious memory so during stress you will perform as you have trained and practiced.

The Mind is the Weapon. What is the best way to win the violent confrontation? Don’t get into one. This is accomplished in a myriad of ways. Situational awareness simply means knowing your surroundings, who is around you and how can you get out if you need to. It does not require you have your head on a swivel, it is a simple act of being focused and not being distracted. Give this a try, get on a busy freeway and try reading a blog article on your phone. Virtually guaranteed being distracted will cause you to get into a violent confrontation with another car.

Knowing the law is a must. If you cannot articulate the four basic requirements of when you can use deadly force most likely you should not be carrying a gun on the streets. In almost every state where I’ve reviewed their laws it boils down to four things, the bad guy has to have the ability to cause you or another grave bodily injury. The bad guy has to have the necessary proximity to the victim to employ that ability and it is imminent. The bad guy has to have shown the intent to cause said injury. You have no way out, all other options have been explored, using the gun is the last res AND a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstance would agree that deadly force was required to stop the threat. Not that difficult until we start running scenarios with photo realistic targets in a threat recognition exercise.

Just because you have to present your gun does not mean you have to shoot. It is not against the law to present the gun if you believe it is going to happen. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHOOT! Bear in mind however that should you present your gun the three criteria still have to be in place. Pulling your gun to get some guy to move away from your car is a guaranteed ride to the police station for brandishing.

We use threat recognition exercises, using photo realistic picture designed to force you to quickly make that Shoot/Don’t Shoot decision. We provide you with plenty of cover to get behind which could increase the time you could take to make those decisions. If you have to shoot we make certain your gun will fail. The entire intent of the exercise is to drill home, under great stress, when you can use deadly force. It is a mental exercise with some shooting involved because in the end the Mind is the Weapon and it is the most important aspect of the Armed Self-Defense Triad.


Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training




The Importance of Dry Practice

Last week I taught the CCW range day with a new student who had taken the class day a couple of months earlier. I had wondered to myself why he had taken so long to finish the class and was pleasantly surprised that he had taken those two months to dry practice . . . and it paid off for him perfectly. He shot well all day and scored very high on his qualification targets.

Dry practice is an integral part of the learning process of the use of firearms and for most shooters it is seldom if ever done. Almost every movement you would make with a gun can be dry practiced to increase your speed and your competency, from simply being able to acquire a correct grip to all of the physical manipulations you would ever need to do. It is in effect the fastest way to neural pathway programming and unconscious competence under stress.

Simply going to the range and throwing a couple of hundred rounds at a piece of paper will quite often do you more harm than good. That is not practice; that is wasting money and often engraining bad habits. It takes 300 to 500 repetitions to engrain a physical skill to memory. A skill that has been engrained poorly will often require 3000 – 5000 repetitions to eliminate and reprogram. Fortunately for the vast majority of amateur shooters they don’t have very many engrained habits, good, bad or indifferent.

For new and old shooters a great way to start dry practice is to reinforce the correct grip. Start with the gun laying on its left side (reverse for left handed shooters). Quickly pick the gun up with the right hand placed correctly on the back strap and place your left hand high on the side of the gun with your left thumb indexed towards the target. The higher the left hand the better control during recoil. The right thumb should essentially be inert and resting on top of the left hand.

This is best,

Not this,

The finished grip should look very similar to this,

When you look down on your grip the left thumb should look pretty much like your trigger finger. Practice this dry 25 to 50 times per session two or three days per week until it becomes second nature.

When we watch students shoot and we see seven o’clock misses it is almost always applying too much pressure to the trigger or shooting from off the hard spot. In fact you can almost point to trigger control as the cause of all misses. What we hope to accomplish in dry fire is to program the mind to know exactly where the hard spot on the trigger is and exactly how many pounds of pressure it takes to break the trigger. The hard spot is the place on the trigger where all play or slack has been removed. Firing from off the hard spot will almost always lead to a six o’clock miss.

Stand with the muzzle of the gun almost touching a wall so you can readily detect any movement as you press your trigger. Practice this 50 times or more a week, frequency of practice is always better than less frequent longer sessions. After you can do 50 presses with no visual movement begin to balance objects on the slide or front sight until your mind can apply just the correct amount of pressure to the trigger with no movement of the front sight. For those with DA/SA guns about 65% of your trigger presses should be done in the double action mode, ditto for any live fire shooting.

Once your mind knows how much pressure to apply it can do it instantaneously with virtually no movement of the gun, thus you are becoming unconsciously competent with this manipulation of the trigger.

The retention ready is the position where the gun is after you have drawn and rotated to target. The gun should be near your chest with the slide directly below your dominant eye. Once the muzzle is on the target you take the play out of the trigger and rest the trigger guard on the index finger of your support hand.

At this point you slowly extend the gun towards the target and press the trigger at the end of the extend. It’s important in dry practice to do this slowly so you can engrain the technique of steering the front sight to hide the desired point of impact.

This one thing will greatly improve your speed and accuracy on the range. Remember to place the gun in the correct position, do not worry about the left hand of the grip until you reach full extend. The left hand will fold correctly on the gun if the index finger is in the correct position before you extend. The right arm is accelerating forward and as you close in on full extend apply the brakes with the left hand and PRESS.

The object is as always tracking the front sight in your peripheral vision while steering it to the correct spot on the target. I practice this three or four days a week for about 10 minutes and attribute this skill to being able to get a round on the target from the holster in under 1 second.

The first step is to grip the gun while placing your left hand over your heart, as if the two movements are one. The grip on the gun should be a shooting grip, which is high on the back strap, three fingers around the grip, trigger finger alongside the slide and that pesky right thumb high and out of the way for when the left hand joins the gun.

The next step is to pull the gun high, as high as your heart if possible physically. The muzzle is still down and has not rotated to target as yet and the trigger finger is on the frame of the gun, not on the trigger guard. With many concealed holsters pulling slow will not work well so you should learn to snap the gun out of the holster in a rapid movement.

Once the gun is high enough rotate the muzzle onto the target and position the gun in front of your chest directly below your dominant eye. The left hand would then slide over with the left index finger resting in the correct position under the trigger guard. I do not try to grip the gun with the left hand this close to my chest at this position because it is awkward and normally you have to begin to extend the gun before the left hand can close onto the grip.

It will look similar to this but I prefer the gun directly below my right eye and obviously if you are left eye dominant the gun position will be even further over in front of your chest.

How fast should you be able to get the gun into the retention ready position? If you can do this is 0.5 seconds and can extend to target firing accurately in 0.75 seconds that means one round on target at 7 yards in 1.25 seconds . . . which is pretty quick.

Obviously you never practice at home with a loaded gun. In my practice areas there are never, EVER and live ammunition. I unload my gun in my office, as it is the only place where I keep live ammunition in the house and I tell myself out loud three time that “the gun is empty”.

I then take my gun in holster to where I am going to perform my dry practice drills. As I try to practice every day for 10 minutes I have found it is easiest in the morning right before I prepare to leave for work. Doing this the same time every day will make for a more dedicated practice session and makes it safer as it becomes a routine.

At the end of my practice session I take my gun back to my office and load it for the day. After loading the gun I announce loudly three times that “the gun is loaded”.

There are many other things you can practice dry but these are the basics. If you consider this that everything you would do in a training session at the range you can do dry your shooting will improve dramatically in a very short time.

Keep in mind that you are engraining in your mind habits that you will fall back to in a violent encounter, make your best effort in dry practice to do every step perfectly because once engrained it is very difficult to change. Even though we have neuroplasticity it can take months to change a bad habit.

Now I get to go put holes in paper, timed and scored to see how well my dry practice is working. While shooting is a lot of fun it is not really practice. It is simply measuring the effect of your practice.

When I get to the range I perform certain skills to warm up and then I start testing myself through a variety of drills. Generally speaking I shoot the same drills all the time as they are a measure of my progress. I normally end the practice session with a room scenario which requires all of the skills I work on during the day.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


Training versus Practice

There is a distinct difference between training and practice. Training is instruction you receive from another person showing you ways to do things. Practice is what you do on your own time, practicing what you received from the instructor.

DSC00112bingMany people believe that going to a range and firing the gun is practice. Without training what are you actually practicing? In far too many instances all that is accomplished is to engrain in your mind the wrong way to manipulate the gun. Some believe that they can watch YouTube videos and that is training however what are you going to do if you have a question about the technique being shown? Most often you surmise or assume something and then go out and engrain yet another bad habit.

Pretty much anything you are taught in training can be practiced dry at home. Practicing a physical activity is programming the neuro pathways so you can perform the action at full speed without consciously thinking about it. It’s much like learning to drive. If you were to attempt to consciously recognize every sensory input you receive while driving, then consciously think of the appropriate response you would have multiple accidents before you ever arrived at your destination. Learning to shoot a gun under stress is very similar and that is why dry practice at home is a great tool that unfortunately is seldom utilized.

Going to the range is great fun but in reality the purpose of actually shooting the gun is to measure the success of your practice. No one wants to go to the range and never hit what they want or are forced to aim off of the desired point of impact to compensate for the inability to manipulate the gun correctly. Try this, go to a busy public range on a busy day and watch the amateur instructors telling their family members or friends to aim a little high and right . . . it is shocking to me. Compensating for bad skills is never a good idea when learning to use a tool that might at one point be needed to save a life. Poorly Shot Target

Skills are taught and practiced, live fire drills are used to measure the effectiveness of the training and practice.

If you were to practice your skills just one hour a day that equates to only 2.3 days of practice per year. Is that enough practice to bet your life on? I know you probably have friends who you perceive to be really good with a gun but are they really good instructors? Good enough to bet your life on?

We recommend taking professional instruction from an instructor with credentials that mean more than Not Really Anything. An instructor who teaches for a living, not a hobby, an instructor who takes instruction from others on how to be a better instructor. We recommend that you take training at least annually. FireShot Screen Capture #001 - 'Instructor Development I SIG SAUER Academy' - www_sigsaueracademy_com_course_instructor-development

We recommend that you practice daily, dry at home and at least once a week or month you go measure the success of your practice. If you want to learn to shoot very fast and very accurate start with learning the Fundamentals perfectly, learn how to shoot very accurately under no pressure and then learn how to shoot fast. When you are there, fast and accurate, learn how to do it under extreme pressure because if you are going to rely on that tool to potentially save a life you will need to be accurate, and very fast AND it will be under extreme stress. If you’re not really willing to put in the effort stop kidding yourself about self-defense and put the gun away, only take it out to go play with at the range because if you do not have the skills to save a life you will not be able to safely perform when required.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


Self-Inflicted Injury from Negligent Discharges

We know it happens. What we don’t know are the specifics because there are no records of how many people shoot themselves accidentally each year.

What we do know is this; had the gun been pointed in the safest possible direction no injuries would have occurred and had something not pressed the trigger to the rear there would not have been a discharge. The Primary rule of Safety #1 is simple, point the gun in a direction where no one would be injured if the gun is discharged. So how many times have you pointed a gun at yourself or others, intentionally or not? If you say never I’d have to call BS because it happens, and the more you handle guns the greater the change you will. We never do it on purpose but it happens nonetheless.

glock_01[1]This man felt his gun rise in his holster as he sat down in the car so he gave it a good firm push to reseat it in the holster. He had oiled his holster so it was nice and flexible and soft. Holsters are not intended to be soft, they are meant to be firm so the trigger is guarded at all times. The gun discharged and hit his buttock/hip area and he was very lucky. Negligence? I would say so. As the story originated it was discovered that the man tried to sue the gun maker, Glock, for negligence.

Unfortunately for Glock they do have a feature that can place an inattentive operator at risk of the results of negligence . . . not Glocks negligence however. To field strip a Glock you have to uncock the gun first and the only way to uncock a Glock is to release the trigger, and this is when things can go crazily wrong even for the most experienced handler.

Glock Unintended Discharge
by a U. S. Marshal, author unknown.

Well….I’ve always heard it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”.

My number came up and I paid a hefty price.

Last Friday I was preparing to go shooting the next AM with a buddy of mine.

I had just put a new a-grip on my Glock, and was going to clean it after my wife and I finished our movie. Crash is an awesome movie BTW.

I put the weapon back together and inserted the mag. I did not pipe a round because I knew I was going to strip it later. I went upstairs and put the weapon in the tool box in the garage.

About and hour later (mid-night or so), I returned to the garage to finish cleaning and getting gear together for the morning. I picked up the Glock, dropped the mag and prepared to remove the slide. I done this literally thousands of times in the last fifteen years, but this times things were a little different. I grabbed the slide getting ready to push the take own pins and pulled the trigger……BANG!!!!!

Apparently I DID pipe a round an hour prior. My shooting bud attributes it to force of habit, but why the hell didn’t I check the chamber before pulling the trigger? Should that be force of habit too?

Not only did I set off a .45 in my garage, but it passed right through my left hand……Yep….I *******ing shot myself point blank. I’m still having a hard time getting my head around what I did. I was SO angry at myself.

I have always been uber safe with any firearm, but one lack of procedure changed everything. I’m really taking this hard, and all the “it could have been worse”, “accidents happen”, and “thank god you didn’t lose your hand statements really don’t help. I guess I’m getting over it, but it still seems very surreal to me.

Here are details….I know you all are morbidly curious, and I don’t mind telling…it’s kinda like therapy for me. I DID NOT hear the shot (nor did my ears ring afterwards), and it felt sorta like catching a fastball right in the palm of your glove. I have a very clear image, and suspect I always will, of the hole in my hand…perfect .45 diameter not bleeding….yet. I took a few seconds, and then the arterial arch in my palm cut loose.

Blood like you wouldn’t believe. I think the fact that I was a Paramedic in a former life helped me out here. I walked into the laundry room and grabbed a towel to wrap it up, call up the stairs for my wife to come down. I remember thinking “if I go get her, I’ll mess up the carpet on the stairs”. No lie.

She came down half asleep and kind of grumpy, and I told her “I just put a bullet in my hand”. Said she was calling 911 and according to her I responded “That would be a good idea..” My wife is neo-natal RN, and can remain cool as a cucumber. This helped me out too I think.

I went back into the garage, put my blasted hand on the floor kneeling on the towel and proceeded to open my ever present jump-bag with the other.

I opened a US issue trauma dressing with my teeth, and proceeded to wrap my hand. Those dressing are the schiz nit by the way. My wife later told me it was very “Die-Haredesque”……I do remember cussing at myself the entire time…I have never been that angry before…..

Four cops, the shift sup., a pumper truck and an ambulance later I was off to the ER. I didn’t feel any pain until I got in the ambulance. The endorphins shut down and it hurt like nothing you can imagine. No tickets from the cops, but did have to ask which weapon I did it with.  My garage looks like an arsenal pre-range trip.

The bullet (a Black Talon no less..) shattered my ring finger meta-tarsal, and ‘removed’ two others. It destroyed the flexor tendon of my ring finger, almost separated my pinky tendon, and exited the right side of my wrist just above my watch band. There was a definite exit hole, but the blast force blew the side of my palm WIDE open about three inches in length. I didn’t even see the exit wound until I removed my watch for the FD. Anyway, nine hours of surgery, three screws, a tendon graft from my forearm and about two-hundred sutures later I was put back together. My surgeon said if anyone has to get shot in the hand, this was how to do it. No nerve damage….whew. Physical therapy twice a week for God knows how long, and the surgeon expects at least 80% function back.

I’ve included a pic of the round. Snap-On tool boxes are quite literally bullet proof. The jacket separated from the slug when it hit the box, that’s why the slug is flat on one side. If the mods permit, I’ll post pics of my hand too…’s pretty burly, and will drive the point home.

Thanks for listening. My wife thinks I’m crazy to post this, but it really does help me feel better. Remember….check the chamber twice, then check it again.

And it continues to happen over and over, this one from 2009. Wound Exit Macro  332






Seriously people, how hard is Rule #1 to follow? This ER picture is from 2014.







Another ER pic, this one a Border Patrol agent stripping his gun in 2013. Exit







Glocks are good guns although this is a design weakness in that it assumes that the user will not be stupid, complacent or lazy about the Rules of Safety.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


Old Guys Tales (OGT) and Guns

I’ve been using this line for several years while teaching because it appears that many people still fall for the empirical statements about guns. For the most part when someone says this is the BEST, or the MOST ACCURATE gun ever or the MOST POWERFUL cartridge it is pretty much guaranteed they are giving an opinion and are most likely WRONG. Much of this wrong information is passed from those who write on forums/blogs on the internet and since they write on the internet they are self-pronounced experts. I teach the use of firearms, I do it a lot, almost four days a week all year long and I’m not an expert, just a well trained and practiced individual. With that experience I have seen a ton of guns, most chosen for all the wrong reasons and based solely on Old Guys Tales. There are literally hundreds of these OGTs and like most tales they need to be seen in the light of reality.

OGT: Women should carry tiny lightweight revolvers because they are light and simple and never, EVER fail.
Pink RevolverFACT: I find this OGT to be literally offensive to women because what the tale state is that women are weak and stupid. The fact is women can shoot pretty much any gun any man can with the proper knowledge and technique and as has been proven over and over in my classes the ladies are often much better students and shoot better than their male company. I can count on two hands the number of people I know who can perform defensive shooting drills effectively with a revolver. When the revolver fails, and eventually it will (Google “revolver cylinder lock failures”), you cannot fix it, the failure then becomes life or death if it happens when you need the gun to work. tap-stroke-200 It is a 200 year old design and the simple question you should ask yourself is, are there any 200 year old technologies you would bet your life on?

If you’re one of those OGT revolver believers try these drills and see how well you do.
Place one round in the gun. At 10 yards draw and fire three rounds into an 8” target in 6 seconds . . or if 10 yards is TOO much,
Place one round in the gun. At 7 yards draw and fire two rounds into an 8” target in 3.5 seconds.

Now tell us how a revolver is the best gun for women or for that matter anyone.

OGT: The .45 ACP is the BEST round and will literally knock people to the ground.
FACT: There are not ANY handgun rounds that will knock someone to the ground. It is a low pressure 100 year old designed cartridge. To be able to have enough energy to knock someone down the shooter would also be knocked down, simple laws of physics apply. The myth of the .45 was developed in WWI when it replaced the .38 Special and has been passed down for three generations. Due to the weight of the bullet it often has excessive recoil which hurts the shooter from getting subsequent rounds on target quickly. Put into a tiny, plastic semi-automatic it gets even worse. If you ask the ER Doc what caliber was the person shot with they will most likely tell you they have no idea because the damage is the same regardless of caliber. d722be689df41422f8e3d8cd3f34363e[1]

If you’re one of those OGT .45 ACP believers try this drill. At 7 yards draw and place two rounds in a 3” circle in 2.5 seconds. If you can do that on demand consider yourself in the top 5% of shooters in America.

OGT: Carry a gun you can hit with, even if it’s a .22 because a hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a larger caliber.
dsc03042FACT: This is a false argument often used by people who have had no training or real skills. Yes, certainly a hit is better than a miss however unless placed in the absolute perfect place the .22 is only going to really piss off that determined adversary. There are only two ways to stop the determined bad guy, a Central Nervous System hit or rapid blood loss. Unless you are in the top 1% of shooters in the world counting on a CNS hit is a lot like buying $20 worth of lottery tickets each week, it just never pays off. The best way to convince the BG to stop is to put as many rounds as possible, as fast as possible into the upper part of his/her chest and the bigger the wound the more rapid the blood loss. Generally speaking at some point the BG might decide to stop the aggression when they see blood spurting from their chest.

Get a gun of substantial caliber, 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP. Take regular training from a professional instructor and practice . . . a lot. To test your levels of expertise try the Bill Drill. At 7 yards draw and fire six rounds into an 8” target in less than 3.5 seconds. If you miss try it again and then reconsider the fallacy of Old Guys Tales.

In the violent encounter from first shot to last shot is most often 2.5 seconds or less.

If you miss the BG keep in mind you own that bullet and are financially if not criminally liable for any damage it may do. One shot will not guarantee your survival and the odds are more in your favor if you increase distance from the BG. Shoot fast, be accurate and win the fight.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training