Becoming a Better Shooter

This is going to be quick and on point. If you want to shoot better, you first must know how well you shoot and then you must know how to improve on where you’re at. Precise and AccurateYou cannot go from having never shot a gun to gun fighter overnight so don’t expect instantaneous success.

Other than a drill you shot with score and time do you really know how well you shoot? Probably not, most of the people I know just want to get better, they haven’t a clue on what and how to improve. Here’s the big secret, eat the elephant. maxresdefaultThe very simple act of drawing the gun and firing a shot is comprised of several linked skills not one giant movement and the only way you can improve is if you improve on each of those linked skills.

You might find that the simple act of gripping the gun in the holster with your shooting hand is beneath your level of concern because . . . well it is so very simple how could that be wrong. If so then you would be wrong. If not done perfectly, repeatable, and subconscious it can always be much better and you know what happens when you get the gun out there and shooting hand is in the wrong spot. You miss. over-compensating-over-small-penis-ever-gun-demotivational-posters-13337522591

Does your shot cleanly break at the exact moment your arms hit full extension or just before OR do you then start trying to find your sight picture? You should have your sight picture complete in those last few milliseconds as the gun is approaching full extension and the shot should fire as soon as it is on target whether you’ve hit full extension or not.

At the compressed ready position where is your muzzle pointing? As you begin to push the gun towards the target if you need to make major adjustments to your wrist angle it will cost you time and often we see a corresponding miss in the direction of the angular change. The muzzle of the gun really should be on the desired point of impact at the retention ready position. Angular misalignment at the start is a problem that will only create more problems when you’re under pressure.

So how you figure this all out is to take slow-motion videos of your timed draw stroke. Place the target at least 5 yards away. You want the shot to be long enough so you must make a good solid hit. If you miss, erase it, and start over with the next video. Take video of at least five shots, more is better and then watch.

Do they look identical? It should look like you are watching the same shot over and over. If you see variation in each movement it simply means you have not practiced it sufficiently for it to be in your long-term memory and your neural pathways are poorly defined if at all. dbcgp

Are there extraneous movements? The fastest way to do something is to eliminate unneeded movement. If you see the gun moving up and down all that is doing is slowing down the time needed to make the shot.

Is the slide right on your line of sight for the last three to six inches of the extend motion? If not, you must make an adjustment at the end of the extend which will cost you time and/or accuracy. Those last inches are critical in making that last final micro-adjustment to your sight picture.

Now if you wish to see what your draw stroke really looks like have someone video it while you are going as fast you can and still make the hit. Videoing your movements while going very slowly will not give you a lot of useful information, going slow was what you should have been doing during your dry fire practice. If you want to improve you must learn what you don’t know, in this case your draw stroke.

The next step, share the video with your coach or your instructor, dissect it to look for the large, obvious areas of opportunity and then go dry practice those changes and measure your progress with video and live fire monthly. dsc00233Keep in mind it only takes about 300 perfect repetitions to ingrain a motor skill but it can take more than 3000 perfect repetitions to correct a bad, range habit.

Regardless of skill level, if you want to get better it will not happen in a vacuum, come see us and let us help you get there faster.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training
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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


Training to Fail

In our instruction we often refer to the level of learning/training of people we train as Consciously Incompetent, they know they don’t know and come to us to learn. Most have been to ranges or have seen others shooting and observing the Unconsciously Incompetent in those venues often prompts them to take training. As a student of shooting and armed self-defense I seem to live in a constant state of Conscious Incompetence but striving for progress always keeps me moving forward to learn something I don’t know.

If your target resembles this . . . get some training.

Where are you on the scale with your shooting?

Unfortunately those we see at the range who are not taking classes suffer from the Dunning Kruger effect.

“The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias manifesting in two principal ways: unskilled individuals tend to suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate, while highly skilled individuals tend to rate their ability lower than is accurate. In unskilled individuals, this bias is attributed to their meta-cognitive inability to recognize their ineptitude. Skilled individuals tend to underestimate their relative competence, erroneously assuming that tasks that are easy for them are also easy for others.”

Dunning had read an article about a bank robber who scrubbed his face with lemon juice BELIEVING it would make him invisible to surveillance cameras.

“When psychologist David Dunning read about Wheeler’s story, he was intrigued by one facet: Wheeler was so confident in his abilities, despite his stupidity. Could other people have similar blind spots about their incompetence? Dunning and his colleague Justin Kruger conducted some experiments: they tested their students on humour, grammar and logic, then asked them to estimate how well they had done. The pair found that, like Wheeler, the poorest of performers were also the worst at judging their own abilities accurately.

This became known as the Dunning-Kruger effect: in short, incompetence shields our self-knowledge of incompetence. Or more bluntly, the stupidest person in the room doesn’t feel that stupid, because their ignorance also dampens their awareness.” – Stupidity for Dummies

Often in firearms training we observe unconscious incompetence and when you talk with these people you realize they seem to actively practice the Dunning-Kruger effect, and most likely live their lives oblivious in many areas yet believe they are on top of their game.

Do you know what you don’t know? Are you actively seeking training to learn what you don’t know? Or are you of the belief that you are a great shooter even though it is never tested? If you come into a situation such as crossing the path of the Methed-out Samoan will you perform at the level needed to survive this monster or will you perform at the level you falsely believe you have?

Failing to train IS training to fail.


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


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

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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.