Can Women Shoot Handguns?

I just received another call from a woman who is interested in learning about handguns but she is concerned her hands or wrists are too weak. We get this far too often and most often it stems from a perception that you have to be this great, big strong person to quickly and accurately shoot a handgun of substantial caliber.

Also far too often we find this carries over to the gun store “salesmen” who immediately point the poor lady to a ultra lightweight five shot revolver in a substandard .38 special caliber, who then proudly announce to the poor woman that this is just what she needs because it is light and simple to operate. What in fact the person just told her is that she is weak and mentally incapable of operating a semi-automatic. LADIES, what they just said is an insult. Women with the correct training can shoot any gun a man can and more often than not better than men when working on improving their skills.

Here at Liberty Firearms Training our focus has been since inception on teaching women to shoot. Approximately 45% of our business today is women. Our experience in teaching women has shown that ANY woman can shoot ANY gun with proper training and practice using correct technique. Our youngest lady student was nine; our oldest so far has been eighty-three, both took to it like they were born to shoot. Our youngest ended the day shooting a Sig P226 in .40 S&W and did great, our oldest with her horrific arthritis ended up purchasing a Sig P226 in .40 S&W and before she fell and broke her hip she was going to the range monthly to keep up her skill set.

Some limitations talked of are the inability to hold up the weight of the gun, racking the slide of a semi-automatic, the trigger reach and the trigger pull weight as well as the recoil. I would like to offer up some opinions on these items that in fact do not have to be a deterrent to women interested in shooting and self-defense.

The weight of a gun decidedly affects the amount of felt recoil. SIG P226 SpecsThere is a reason the Desert Eagle .50AE weighs 4.75#, that weight helps absorb some of the terrific recoil that follows when the .50 bullet leaves the barrel with 1230 foot pounds of energy. When shooting a gun you bring it up Gen4_Glock_Specson target, fire the number of shots you want and then bring it back down. You do not stand there for four hours with your arms extended fully holding up that gun. If you have the strength to place a five pound bag of sugar on your pantry shelf you have the strength to hold a gun weighing 2.0# for the ten seconds it might take you to fire five rounds. I recommend to women for home protection a full size gun for a variety of reasons, the weight helps with the felt recoil and the barrel length helps with the muzzle flip.Muzzle Flip

Muzzle flip can be a problem but with a good, firm thumb forward grip muzzle flip can easily be controlled as my 83 year old arthritic student DSC00148bingproved. If you place the grip of any gun in the bench vise and fire it the muzzle will flip up. However if you place it so the vise is pressing against the front and back strap it will not move. In essence with a proper grip you are creating an isometric vise on the gun pushing forward with the heel of your shooting hand and pulling back hard against the gun with your support hand.

As for racking the slide, it is simply a matter of correct technique. While holding the gun in a shooting grip simply grasp the rear of the slide between the heel and finger tips of your support hand, bring the gun close to your chest for leverage and with burst muscle shove the gun forward with your shooting hand until the slide reaches its furthest most rearward point of travel and let the slide go. In over 950 classes so far, not a single woman I have taught has not been able to accomplish this. If the burning sensation of your support hand fingertips bothers you as you practice this, simply put on a lightweight leather shooting glove. When you go to the range to shoot you will need to rack the slide most often no more than twice, once to load the gun the first time and once to empty the gun when you are finished for the day. Good article from Suzanne at CTD Blog

Guns come in essentially three types of actions; single action (SA) such as the 1911 style gun that employs a manual safety, a double action single action (DASA) such as Sigs and Berettas and double action only (DAO). The term simply means what the trigger does. In a Single Action gun the trigger will release a cocked hammer but the hammer must be cocked in some manner either by manipulating it with your thumb or with the slide of a semi-automatic handgun. In a DASA gun the trigger can perform two separate functions in its double action mode, it will cock the hammer as you pull the trigger rearward and it will release the hammer at some point, thus two actions. The DASA can also be manually cocked with either thumb or slide as when shooting subsequent shots the slide cocks the hammer after each shot is fired. A DAO like a Glock, S&W M&P or Springfield XD cocks the firing mechanism to some degree and then releases the striker (similar to a hammer hitting the firing pin). It is not a true double action like the DASA as the firing mechanism is to some degree already partially cocked.

Trigger pull weights are dependent on the type of action of the gun. A single action gun nominally will require somewhere between 2.5# and 4.5# of pressure on the trigger to release the firing mechanism. A double action gun will require 10# to 12# of pressure to cock and release the hammer. A DAO gun will require 5.5# to 6.5# to release the firing mechanism. People with unusually short fingers will have a problem with double action trigger presses in that their finger is not long enough to really reach the face of the trigger and that is where trigger reach comes in.

Trigger reach is the distance from the back strap of the gun to the face of the trigger when it has met resistance. Out of 950 plus classes I have only found one student who was not able to reach the DA trigger but there are many other guns of reliable manufacturer that can accommodate this. Both Sig and Glock have recently come out with new designs that have reduced the length of the trigger reach.

Although many in sales at gun stores have yet to embrace the female market segment the gun manufacturers are and we are going to continue to see more guns designed with women in mind.

With quality instruction and practice ANY woman can shoot ANY handgun.

Remember, failing to train is training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


Schools, Schools, Schools

Today in America it seems that there are firearms instructors everywhere so the question one always asks is who is the best. Well that is clearly a subjective opinion and perhaps has as much to do with ambiance as does a fine restaurant. Also it is hard to make a comparison of training if you’ve only been to one place.

I try to go annually with the hopes I will learn something new I can share with my students and I encourage people to take training annually and to take it with different schools/instructors but often picking an instructor is difficult because you don’t know what you are looking for. I wrote a short article on that awhile ago, 7 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Firearms Instructor.  You have to keep in mind that today there are no barriers to entry in the instruction business, any  person can go hang out a shingle and are now a real-life firearm instructor.

Having been to some of these I have my favorite and there is one in particular I really, really want to attend but in the end my questions are; what do I hope to gain from the particular school.

Some of the High Level Training schools in the USA
I.C.E. Training
Lethal Force Institute
Liberty Firearms Training
Rogers Shooting School
Sig Sauer Academy
Suarez International
Thunder Ranch
U.S. Shooting Academy
Vickers Tactical

Sig-Sauer-Academy[1]My favorite of all time . . . Sig Sauer Academy. Outstanding facility, outstanding instructors and curriculum

School I most want to attend . . . . Rogers Shooting School.

My questions . . . have you attended one or more of these? Which ones? What do you feel you got out of it? Would you recommend it to your loved ones? Would you go back? Which one do you have the most interest in attending? and Why?

Liberty Firearms Training


What is the perfect gun for your EDC?

What is your first decision factor in choosing a Concealed Handgun?

What is your first consideration when selecting a concealed carry handgun?
Action type
Trigger Reach

Poll Maker

Liberty Firearms Training


The Defensive Use of Guns and Training

Before discussing the use of guns in self-defense it is important to try and put things into perspective. There are 300,000,000 guns in America owned by some 100,000,000 million plus law abiding citizens and despite would some would think, you will never be able to eliminate that and this means bad people will always have access to guns.

It is important to note that for many in the media today they honestly believe that guns can be eliminated and that only law enforcement and military should have ACCESS to guns. This ideological position inevitably leads to a bias in the news reporting.  What this means to you is when you hear about someone being sued by the criminals family that this is a statistical anomaly, it just never happens. When you hear on the news about someone killing a large number of children in a school that it is a statistical anomaly, it just does not happen. These fear tactics are intentionally put out to the public to foster fear of the gun in the hopes of legislation that will restrict a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. Pretty much anything you hear in the news about guns will be slanted in a gun negative manner, which is a statistical certainty. Not to start a debate in this post but, the Second Amendment is the shortest in terms of words, is the clearest written with no ambiguity AND is the Second only after the First for a very specific reason.

Depending on your sources, the governments or independent investigation there are somewhere between 110,000 to 2,000,000 plus defensive use of guns (DUGs) in the USA annually. Since there is such a large disparity in those numbers please consider the sources, one is a government study, one is by a professor who is arguably a 2nd Amendment supporter. So, for the sake of argument let’s split the difference and say there are 1.1 million DUGs annually. In those numbers the people who would talk about their experience state that they believe the gun saved their lives. These are significant numbers when you consider the criminal use of guns, so I believe the argument that guns save lives is valid and easily proven.

Given the millions of DUGs you have to wonder why there are no criminals left standing. The reason is simply this, criminals fear citizens with guns more than they fear Law Enforcement or the Court system which of course could lead to the debate that the latter two entities have failed to stop crime. The reality of this numbers is however much simpler to explain and understand. Criminals are easily defeated psychologically.

In 92% to 98% of the times a citizen presents a gun, armed or not the predator often screams in fear and runs away. This is a great thing, it means that criminals can easily be stopped statistically speaking. This is a bad thing however because it means that many Americans falsely believe the gun to be a magic talisman against evil, that you merely show your gun and the criminals quiver in fear. Subsequently the majority of American gun owners do not feel the necessity of taking training and practice in the defensive use of a gun (please note Range Shooting is marksmanship practice, not defensive use practice).

The hardest number to find is the actual number of times a citizens fires their gun in self-defense. Records of these are not kept or at least not compiled in a manner accessible. In 2010 there were 326 deaths from the justified use of a gun in self-defense. This does not mean that people were prosecuted, it does not mean that is how many times guns were fired, it simply means that is how many aggressors were shot and succumbed to their wounds. By simple extrapolation you can see that there had to be MANY more times that shots were fired. When the shots were fired did the wound stop the aggressor or did the aggressor give up psychologically?

In the 2% to 8% of the time the aggressor fails to flee when a victim presents a gun the victim is going to have to shoot. At some point one of two things will quickly happen, a violent gunfight will ensue to the end of one of the other participants, or the aggressor gives up and runs. We just have no way of knowing the numbers but it is easy to draw the correlation between miles driven and the rate of lethal accidents. The odds of you having to shoot are very similar to the odds of you having a fatal injury accident in your life.

In those instances when you do have to shoot and the aggressor does not run in fear after you fire the gun what is going to happen next? You are going to have to shoot until the aggressor is defeated physiologically; meaning until he is paralyzed by a hit to the Central Nervous System or he loses oxygenated blood to the brain. How many rounds does it take to stop this type of aggressor? This is what we call the determined adversary. Who knows; which of course makes magazine size restrictions one of the most ridiculous laws in this country.

In our training programs we focus on the aggressor who will have to be stopped physiologically and the analogy we draw to emphasize the importance of that type of training is like not putting your seatbelt on in the morning after deciding today you will not be injured in a traffic accident. We emphasize the importance of being able to shoot very fast with an acceptable degree of accuracy while moving. It requires someone to teach you the skills and it requires you to practice regularly to maintain on a subconscious level those skills. DSC00234

If you believe you do not need these skills I would offer up the test, you are good driver therefore quit wearing your seatbelt. I kind of doubt anyone would stop wearing their seatbelt, I just cannot grasp why a gun owner would choose to not take training and practice.

Liberty Firearms Training


We are at the SHOT Show

We are at SHOT Show this week, first time but was not sure what to expect but it in the end it is exactly like every other industry convention and show I have been to in the past, tons of companies trying to convince buyers they need what they are selling. I am very glad I have most of the guns I want . . . ‘cepting all those cool NFA guns. So I am here, looking for some ideas to ramp up our training curriculum and thought I would throw out some ideas and see what floats.

The first idea I had was a simulator so to speak. A company, Laser Shot offers a firearms training simulator. Basically a projector, program and videos you can use with a laser activated firearms to help you make decisions on when to shoot and where. It can obviously be used to strengthen your trigger skills but what I liked best was the shoot/no shoot scenarios. It comes with about 60 scenarios, the instructor can change the path based on your tendencies, and it allows you to make the decision when to shoot and if your hits were accurate. Donna and I tried it out, it was a lot of fun and can certainly get your heart rate up. From the standpoint of helping you learn it is excellent but it is purely a class room tool used in conjunction with live fire on range days. I really liked it and it is still in the running. They offer a CCW PSATS series of videos for citizens so you can test your skills against a variety of situations.

Idea #2 is that in a dynamic situation there is always movement. In a square range situation the only movement we can get is the shooter movement as the target is stationary. I’ve been looking at this concept for a couple of years now where the target is moving, in Bill Rogers book Be Fast, Be Accurate, Be the Best, the targets are moving, his first moving target was a rolling sheet of butcher paper moving from side to side with targets you were to hit based on threat, non-threat. I found a couple of years ago a little tractor that moved by remote control with a target mounted above. The Northern Lights Tactical system provides this but still it is just a rolling target. One of the new concepts to this system is a reactive target, the Hannibal Reactive System that actually moves and has sounds when hit. While certainly cool to use I am uncertain if it actually accomplishes the goal of dealing with a real threat while amping up your fear and stress level.

Finally there is the Simunition Force on Force methodology. In this method there is an actual bad guy, with a real gun, firing real “ammuntion” at you and you have to negate the threat before you take a “real” hit. There are several companies using Simunition in CQB training scenarios. The realism of this is there are impacting marking round that really stink and you have to deal with the threat before you are “injured” in the fight. Watch the video,

From our perspective real life training with real stress improves the shooters capabilities far more than you will ever get on a square range practice session.

So, if you were given the three options which would you prefer to take;
A laser fired handgun dealing with a video threat, no live fire.
A moving target you use live fire to negate,
Or a real live threat who will shoot you with a round that will significantly sting if you FAIL to neutralize the threat?

Ten Failures in CCW continued – Substantial Caliber

In the first part of this blog I addressed some points made by a firearms instructor on the failures people make in CCW, they were addressed to some degree by importance; what I see happening most often.

#2-Failure to carry a gun of substantial caliber.

I have for the past month or so been working on one of my days off at a friend’s gun store and there have been many interesting observations that have come of that. Most of the people who work in gun stores are what we might be call gun cranks; they like to shoot, have shot for most of their lives, know a lot about what they like and view themselves as experts in all facets of guns. Now this will most likely piss off any of those types who are reading this but being a very busy firearms instructor I know one thing to be a fact, being a gun crank does not make one an expert in anything except their hobby and it most definitely does not qualify them as a firearms instructor. Where I am going with this is simply this, when a woman comes into a store and the “guy”, it’s always a man, tells the woman she needs a revolver or a striker fired gun because they are simple . . . they have just seriously insulted that woman by effectively telling her she is stupid. Secondly that “guy” never asks what is the purpose of the gun and instead leads her to the tiny, lightweight guns in a sub-caliber like a .38 or .380, perhaps even venturing up to the 9mm. I call them sub-calibers because they are, but will defer that discussion to later in this post.

Can a BB gun kill you? Absolutely, when the projectile is placed in the correct place you can die from almost anything. How about a rimfire .22? Again the answer is absolutely. Where we are going is this, the purpose of the gun used in self-defense is to stop an imminent lethal threat; TO STOP A THREAT.

How that is achieved occurs in a few ways. Predators come in several forms, most are gutless cowards looking for an easy target but in the end they are cowards and once a person presents a gun those cowards hike up their skirts and run off crying for Mommy. They have been psychologically defeated by an armed person, all of sudden that easy target just became deadly. There are some, still cowards, that have actually been shot at and so the sight of the gun does not make them turn and flee and you as the potential victim may have to actually fire a shot. Normally once that shot is fired the coward realizes he is being shot at and does exactly what the first example did, turn tail and run off.

Finally there is the predator that has been shot at and hit and little things like bullet holes do not frighten them. They are determined. That determination may be targeted at you, like wanting to kill you for whatever reason and the sight of your gun and even the sound of gunfire are not going to deter them. This type of predator can only be stopped physiologically, either by a central nervous system (CNS) injury or through rapid blood loss leading to the loss of consciousness.

So here we are we have to present our gun in self-defense, the predator continues in their attack and we fire a shot . . . and nothing happens, the attack presses on. We quickly come to the realization that perhaps we missed and need to shoot more or you could find yourself thinking about all those invites to take training that you skipped for whatever reason. You are facing a deadly predator whose intent is to end your life and you now are going to have to physiologically stop this person. This person may have on a leather coat and leather vest, your projectiles are going to have to penetrate all of that with enough energy left to penetrate deeply enough to cause major injuries.

You could then try to put your little pea shooter round in his eye or ear in the hopes he drops like a sack of rocks but of course you are shaking like a leaf so your aim is a little off and all you have done is bounce rounds off his skull and in the process turning him into a raging lunatic who is going to make you hurt a lot before he kills you . . . or you could proceed to pour round after round into his boilermaker, that imaginary 9” circle on his upper chest where if you have a substantial caliber in your gun you know you will be hitting vital organs that will cause him to lose blood rapidly.

Which leads to a great question to ponder? If you sever someone’s aorta with a bullet how long will it take for the blood loss to cause him to cease to be a threat? Depending on the Doctor you ask the answer will be 30 seconds or more, clearly more than enough time to do you some serious damage before he finally ceases his attack.

So what is a substantial caliber? For us it begins with a .4 . . . either a .40 S&W or a .45 ACP. There are subtle differences between the two and statistically in the OIS (Officer Involved Shooting) database the .40 S&W is statistically better in persuading bad guys to stop. In selecting a caliber it becomes a dance between mass (weight) of the projectile, velocity and the ability of the bullet design to penetrate and expand to significant diameter. With the exception of the .357 Magnum, none of the calibers smaller give me a margin of error I am willing to bet my life on. The .357 has its own problems such as the platform it comes in that makes fast effective rounds down range an issue . . . and then there is the reloading issue.

There are a million arguments against what I just said, after all everyone who owns a gun is a firearms expert. We have heard all of them, more than a few times but before I move on I want to address just a couple of them, particularly as it applies to women.

Many women have been exposed to shooting by going to a range with a friend/relative who shoved a .44/.45 in their hands, told them to point it that way and squeeze the trigger. When that round ignites all hell breaks loose, there is a loud roar, the muzzle jumps up violently into the air almost hitting the poor lady in the noggin and she almost drops the gun. What a great way to develop a sense of confidence in a new shooter, scare the crap out of them and then laugh hysterically.

If you know a woman who shows interest in shooting or one you feel needs the ability to protect herself do her a real favor, do not take her to the range and instead find a DSC00112bingprofessional firearms instructor who will show her the correct way to shoot and will introduce her to the effective calibers in a sensible manner.

In our beginning class we talk a lot before we shoot; Rules of Safety, revolvers, ammunition, semi-automatics and Fundamentals of Marksmanship, during which the student is handling all sorts of gun sizes and action types. They load and unload them, learn the correct method for manipulating the slide, and most importantly perfect trigger control. After all of this we begin shooting starting with a .22 barrel and slide mounted on a full size DASA gun, moving gradually up by caliber, firing several different action types (SA, DAO, DASA from sub-compacts to full size) in the same calibers all the way to the S&W 629 in .44 Magnum. When that beginner finds they can put round after round into the head of the target from 30 and 45 feet away with the hand cannon the .40 seems like a .22. In the end the student gets it, they know on a conscious level what to do and they know exactly what gun works best for them before they ever consider going to the store to make their first purchase. Bottom line, any woman can shoot ANY gun a man can and often better.


Ten Failures in Concealed Carry

I read a post by an instructor who has an online radio show, he titled his post the Top 10 Failures of the Concealed Carry Crowd and I want to comment on a few of his points.

#5-Failure to understand the fundamentals of marksmanship and firearms safety.

This is a biggie. If you do not have these basic concepts committed to memory on an unconscious level I’m really not all that comfortable with you walking the public streets carrying a loaded gun. I watched a video this morning of a shooting in Oakland where they mentioned that a 7 year old boy was wounded in the crossfire. A man walking down the street was shot at by some others in a car, he drew a gun and returned fire (although carrying illegally he is still justified in using lethal force in self-defense regardless of his criminality). The video did not state who fired the shot that wounded the child but had either party been trained and knew the fundamentals of marksmanship and safety there is a much better chance that the kid would not have been wounded.

Now before you get up in arms about criminals being trained, WE DO NOT PROVIDE TRAINING TO CRIMINALS, my point is that if the person who returned fire was carrying legally and had been trained the chances of an innocent being injured goes down to essentially none. People who are trained and practice would have either not taken the shot or would have hit what they intended.

If you cannot quote verse and line the Rules of Safety and the Fundamentals of Marksmanship YOU need to go take a basic class.


#7-Failure to Train.

Another BIGGIE in my book. I was self-taught for most of my adult life and until I made the decision to become a professional firearms instructor I had essential no formal training. Keep in mind, the defensive use of a handgun is not remotely similar to what you learned in the military with the exception that there are guns involved.

We hear from people on a daily basis that they want to take a CCW class or an Advanced CCW class but they have had no formal training. In other words they are self-taught in the basics and because they spend days on the public range standing motionless, shooting at a fixed target that somehow that makes them trained. All you accomplish in this is to commit to memory poor skills and fundamentals. These people when willing to accept professional training are often the hardest to work with because they have SO many bad habits that must be corrected first before moving on to more difficult skills.

This is going to hurt . . .

Bottom line on this one, you cannot train yourself correctly in the defensive use of a handgun.


#8-Failing to Practice.

Like #7 we see this far too often. Students who have made the serious investment of time and money to take our training classes fail to practice so that what they learned becomes unconscious competence.

Shooting like many things in life is a perishable skill. Navy Seal Operators fire thousands of rounds monthly to insure their learned skills can be performed under high stress situations like incoming fire so they will not have to think how to respond, it just happens on an unconscious level.DSC00210

Poorly Shot Target

If your target looks like this consider professional instruction . . . you need it.

All of the instructors at LFT take continuing training annually. We want to have the latest and best knowledge available that we can impart to our students. With that annual training comes the follow up practice so we can perform without thinking. Perfect practice makes perfect . . . and practicing crap makes you a Crap Master.

With each class we teach we always follow up with some practice suggestions, ways the shooter can go off on their own and commit to memory the skills they have been shown. So know the question . . . how many rounds do I need to shoot to maintain my skills? It is not necessarily the number of rounds you shoot, it is the perfect repetitive action of a physical activity of a very specific physical action and depending on your level of competence much of the practice can be done dry in the comfort of your own home.

Drawing from a holster does not have to be practiced with live fire, in fact you will become better if you do not have the distraction of target, gun and recoil impacting your mind. Performing a perfect trigger press can be developed at home with an empty gun and often those who do this greatly improve their learning curve. Clearing a malfunction . . . at home. Emergency reloads . . . at home.

Live fire is just a measurement of the success of your practice. You have learned at home how to hold the gun steady while moving and pressing the trigger smoothly to the rear without moving the front sight from your intended point of impact.

In the end, I think 200 or 300 rounds once a month of live fire is enough for a person who carries a gun on their person, assuming that live fire was performed with the whole package and that means YOU MUST practice in a place where you can draw from the holster, engage multiple targets, move while shooting and rapid fire. If you do not have a place like this GO FIND ONE now because public range practice will only help you learn to move the trigger. In a defensive use of the gun that skill is important but you must also do other things physically at the same time and this is much like rubbing your tummy while patting your head. In the gunfight there are a few absolutes . . . you must always be shooting, running for cover or reloading until the fight is over . . . and time, distance and cover are your friends, you want as much of these as you can possible get.

One of my instructors told me that he did not teach THE WAY, he taught A WAY and I have tried to keep that in mind throughout this career as a professional full time firearms instructor . . . and just like this blog, it is one person’s opinion . . . the opinion of a very busy firearms instructor.


How You Train is How You Will Perform, Reviewing Tuller

There is a HUGE critical difference between training and practice. Training involves focused work to achieve a specific physical movement such as being able to draw your handgun and place it in the transition position in the fastest and smoothest manner.  Practice is focused work that seeks to achieve a neural pathway programming (NPP), i.e. being able to perform the movement you trained in without consciously thinking about it. If you have not been shown (trained in) all of the subtle nuances of the move and perhaps have only seen the movement in its beginning and ending positions there is a good chance you have practiced that movement over and over, erroneously and have engrained NPP that will take way longer to correct than would have if you had only been trained or coached in the correct motions.

In 1983 Dennis Tuller wrote an article “How Close is Too Close”, the inspiration for the article was a question by a student on how close an attacker with a contact weapon could be before the use of lethal force was justified. Since that time this has morphed from the Tuller Drill to the 21-foot rule and so forth yet none of those descriptors are adequate in answering the question.

If you want to know the answer try this simple drill, stand motionless on the seven yard line and draw and fire two rounds into a 9” circle on a silhouette target. The time it takes to accomplish that is essentially the distance that is too close for you. If you can do this under 1.5 seconds 21 feet might be the right answer for you. If it takes you 7 seconds you would need 98 feet . . . and if you start shooting at people who are 98 feet away I am guessing you will find yourself in a court of law defending your actions.

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

So to add a touch of realism to this exercise, because we ALL know we should be training for real life events, do the same drill while moving off the line, either sideways or away from the target. The movement will to a small degree mimic the movement that would occur in real life. Again if you are still impacting good hits under 1.5 seconds consider yourself well trained and practiced . . . if not, consider taking some training, and then practicing this drill until you can do it because this is reality.

People do not seem to realize just how quickly things happen in a violent encounter, if you are one of them you are at risk. Coming to the realization that this can happen is your first step in awareness that can save your life.

So just how do you accomplish this drill in that amount of time?

First you have to be able to get your gun in the retention ready position in 0.5 seconds or less, muzzle on target, trigger at the hard spot and front sight in your peripheral field of sight. This is a dry practice exercise, do it in front of a mirror, do it a lot and do it until you can get the gun ready to drive out towards the threat. That means you have to be able to position the gun correctly, obtain a correct grip, go on trigger and be at the hard spot ready to fire. This is the first step. Going to the range and practicing this while missing the target or doing it sloppily and taking too much time is only going to engrain bad habits. Once you are at that point you are ready to go hot.

Step two is to learn to drive the gun from the transition position to the target while steering the front sight and at the end of this extension smoothly press the trigger straight to the rear without moving the front sight. In essence to be at this point you will have already mastered the fundamentals of trigger control in a double action mode of fire. To test this ability, stand 15 yards from an 8” circular target, we use steel plates for the instant feedback, and from the transition position ready to fire, extend smoothly towards target while performing a double action trigger press. When you can do this 10 times in a row without a miss, move back to 20 yards and work up to ten times consecutively at this distance. What you are learning to do is how to move the gun towards the target, steering the sights into the correct position while pressing the trigger to the rear.

Okay, so now we can get the gun to the transition position and are ready to fire in 0.5 seconds.

Next step, extend the gun smoothly and fire one round double action into that 9” circle in 0.75 seconds. When you are able to do this every time it is time to combine this with the draw stroke and put rounds on target in 1.25 seconds.

After that we will add in how to fire a double shot in 0.25 seconds . . . and then add movement from our position.

564730_10150662883331139_1054759514_n Training is fun. I love to learn new techniques. Practice can be boring because it is simply repeating the same movement perfectly over and over until the mind begins to take over and you can do it without even thinking about it . . . and this is how you will perform in a violent encounter, exactly as you have trained and practiced.



Measuring your Firearm Proficiency and Progress

Everyone who enjoys shooting firearms at some point or another will want to know how they are doing. Often that simply means going to a range, standing motionless and see how many holes they can punch into a paper target. Their observations as to proficiency are what we call anecdotal, as they have no record of what they did last time and the measurement of how well they did that day is purely a guess.

Practicing what you have trained to be able to do is an important part of learning skills. To measure your progress over time we suggest finding a drill, which you can shoot at some frequency to monitor if you are improving or failing. There is no such thing in shooting proficiency as staying the same, you are always either improving or declining. The definitions I use are skills; actions such as just drawing the gun and firing a shot on target. A drill is a skill or series of skills with measurements of success attached such as time and score.

At the end of my class yesterday I decided to test myself since it was still early and I was not too exhausted from teaching and the heat. Having lately had a few students fail to qualify on their first try of CCW Q-Course I decided to fire that one first just to see if my proficiency in that drill was up to my standards.

Our CCW Q-Course is copied from a state LE Agency, our reasoning for selecting it is that should you ever have to use your gun we will be able to attest that you qualified during training equivalent to what the States LE arm does. Makes perfect sense to me.

It is shot on a silhouette target, we are now using the LFT – PH1 target. The scoring is pretty simple; a shot inside the 9” ring on center of mass is 10 points, a hit on the torso is 5 points.

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

The Course of Fire;

15 yards with cover, 70 seconds is the allotted time.
6 rounds from knee(s) drawing from holster and with shooting hand only in the open to slide lock,
go to cover and reload, 6 rounds standing two hands from the non-shooting side of cover to slide lock,
reload, 6 rounds standing two hands from the shooting side of cover.

7 yards,
Draw and fire one round, two hands, 2 seconds allotted time – repeat for a total of 6 rounds
Draw and fire two rounds, two hands, 3 seconds allotted time – repeat for a total of 6 rounds
Draw and fire six rounds to slide lock, reload and fire six rounds, two hands, 30 seconds allotted time – for a total of 12 rounds.

3 yards,
Draw and fire two rounds, two hands, 3 seconds allotted time – repeat for a total of 6 rounds
Draw and fire six rounds to slide lock, shooting hand only, reload and fire six rounds with non-shooting hand only, 25 seconds allotted time – for a total of 12 rounds.

A passing score would be 450 points or 75%, shots fired after the time has expired do not count. A proficient shooter should be around 540 points consistently.

Give it a try, see how you do.


7 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Firearms Instructor

Most responsible people who shoot regularly know that the learning curve can be greatly improved when you take training from a qualified instructor rather than trying to teach themselves from youtube videos and articles on gun forums.DSC00112bing And hopefully most people realize that we can certainly practice, practice, practice what we know but cannot train ourselves since practice is nothing more than repeating perfectly what you have been trained to do.

When it comes to self-defense training is even more important in that during a violent encounter you will sink to your lowest level of training, and if you have had none, that will be your lowest level.

Selecting an Instructor

Finding a quality instructor is not that easy really since in the firearms instruction business there are no barriers to entry and anyone can get a rudimentary certification and hang out a shingle. When you have come to the level of learning where you are consciously incompetent, meaning you know you don’t know and you want to learn it is wise to determine what your training goals are and what you hope to obtain in training. Different instructors offer different areas of expertise for instance let’s say you want to compete, you might seek an instructor who is or has been a national level competitor. On the other hand let’s say you want to go to work with a LE agency, you might seek an instructor who has been a LEO or still is. There is a decided difference in study and expertise between competition shooting, law enforcement, military and self-defense. When you look at the four different realms keep in mind your purpose and objective, if you want to be able to defend yourself in a violent encounter you should probably seek instruction from those whose sole focus and experience comes from that field. And now, the sort of defining factor, the instructor has to be able to quickly communicate to you those skills you are seeking for regardless of the instructors’ background and experience, if they cannot quickly teach you are only going to have a “range master” barking commands at you.

What is the Instructor/Schools level of experience as an Instructor?

DSC00041If you found that you needed surgery would you select a Doctor that does 20 or 30 surgeries a year? Probably not because you know two things, the more someone does something generally speaking the better they do it over time and secondly, your life may depend on that persons success. The same really holds true to firearms Instructors. As mentioned earlier anyone can become an instructor, post a class listing and voila, I is an Instructor . . . and they may actually hold 20 to 40 group classes a year. When I personally seek instruction I look for a specific instructor who teaches 150 to 200 days a year because I know he is good at what he does, imparting knowledge to the student. I look for an instructor who is more interested in my learning than the number of bodies (read that as fees) that they are able to generate over a certain time period. The busier the instructor is, who is working with individuals rather than groups the better my chance of achieving my learning goals.

What is the stated focus of the School/Instructor?

For me, I am looking to learn how to be a better teacher so that is my focus and I look specifically to Instructors/Schools that train Instructors. When I started these learning process years ago I looked for Instructors who focused primarily on the area of expertise I was looking to learn. If you wish to play Spec Ops you might look for an Instructor/School that focuses on teaching military. If your objective is to become a better IDPA competitive shooter you might look for that kind of school.  If you want to be able to defend yourself in a violent encounter I suggest you find an Instructor/School that focuses on that specific goal because one size does not fit all and all of the different shooting disciplines have distinctly different ways of doing things with firearms. If the Instructor does not state specifically there is a good chance they are a one size fits all mindset, that all types of shooting activities are the same.

What is the satisfaction level of former students?

Almost all Instructors receive good reviews; I mean after all who is going to demean publicly a person who knows how to shoot well. So how do you determine what the students think about the value they received? You could ask for a list of names to contact from say the last 10 to 15 classes they taught. If an Instructor would not be willing to do that for me I would wonder what it is they are trying to hide. You can always check their testimonials online but you have to be able to read between the lines and realize no one is going to outright bash a bad firearms Instructor, at least not publicly. You can also check with local ranges and gun stores, these people do not mind being honest because a quality instructor is beneficial to all in the business, if they know of a dirt bag they will not hesitate to tell you and most will steer you to Instructors they know the reputation of.

What class size are you willing to suffer?

Suffer? What does he mean suffer? Class size will determine how many strangers with guns you are going to have to interact with. Class size will determine based on the student/instructor ratio how much of the instructors’ actual time you will receive.IMG_0415 As an example, there are 15 people in the class, it lasts eight hours and there is only one REAL instructor . . . you will receive in actuality less than one half an hour of that instructors attention and time during that day. I took a four day class once at a nationally known school, there were 50 shooters in my class and each day there was one Instructor and one assistant and on two days there were two assistants. So for those four days I received a total of less than one hour of the Instructors time, and I paid top dollar for the class . . . not the best return on my training investment. So in the end, you have to ask yourself how much of the Instructors attention do you want and that will help determine the class size you are willing to suffer,

What is the flexibility in terms of scheduling and location that you require?

Are you able to pick the day of the week that you want to take training? What about the week or month of the year? Most Instructors post a class date and that is it, you go that day or you don’t go. I’m not sure about you but my life requires just a bit more flexibility and unless I MUST have instruction from that ONE particular instructor, I have a hard time being tied down to their schedule. For me that means my selections become limited. I don’t like limited, do you?

What is the specific Instructors background as it relates specifically to teaching?

The objective to taking training is to learn and subsequently the Instructor must be able to teach. Because a person performed a firearms related job most of their lives does not mean they know how to teach. Teaching requires modifying your method of communication with each individual student to ensure the students understands the instruction and accomplishes the stated goals of the lesson. Sitting in a chair off to the side of the range barking Range Master orders through a megaphone to a line of shooters is not instructing. And just because the instructor explains something thoroughly does not necessarily mean the student understands. No student fails, only instructors fail. This means in essence that the quality instructor will have had in his background a proven level of success in training people in complicated tasks. But this does not imply in any way that the Instructor does not have to have a level of proficiency in the field they are teaching as it is a fine balancing act. A teacher/instructor succeeds the greatest when the students can surpass the Instructors personal ability. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to have a student out shoot me in an exercise or drill because it simply means I did my job well.

What is this going to cost?

I mentioned earlier in class size how much of the Instructors time do I receive. Firearms instruction is not a Walmart item, cheaper in bulk is not going to give you the best learning ability if your life is potentially on the line based on what you learn. There has to be a way to compare the value of different instructors/schools. Let’s use this as an example. You are going to pay $250 for a 16 hour course, and there will be two instructors and 20 students. That is the same as having one instructor for 10 students. Essentially you are going to receive 1.6 hours of the instructors dedicated time for $250, which means if you had the full dedicated attention of one instructor for 16 hours your real cost of instruction is $156.25 per hour of instructors’ time, or in reality you are receiving only 1.6 hours of individualized training. There is a reason Instructors like doing large classes, they make more money. If your instructor is more interested in how much money they make versus the amount of real instruction you receive, they might not be the best pick because in the end, YOU DO GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR and if your life could be on the line I for one am not going to make my decision based on purely cost.


This list is not in order of importance to me; it is just my thought process when I look to take firearms training for myself. I hope no one takes this post as an attack on some instructors, it is not meant in that manner but it is given in the same intent as we do our teaching, to ensure that the student gets the best possible, up to date training in personal self-defense because in the end, it is all about the student.