Target practice is a great way to build familiarity with your concealed carry firearm. But, it’s only one piece of the pie. Your brain is instinctive by nature. How you train is how you will respond in a high stress environment. Making that training as useful as possible is important.
In this article, we’re going to discuss three ways you can build the skills necessary to respond to a live fire hostile scenario. If you’re already doing these things – great! You’re moving in the right direction.
The three major components of concealed carry preparedness are:
- Reaction Time
- Accuracy And Precision
- Familiarity With Firearm And Holster
Situational Awareness Reaction Drills
Not all of us live next door to a live simulation range. But there are ways we can do non-live fire training during our downtime.
Many of the drills you’re about to see can be done as “games”. Games can sometimes insert a competitive or fun aspect to a particular challenge – making it more exciting. Safety is always the number one priority, so no matter how fun a drill is – ensure that you always follow the fundamental principles of firearm safety.
- Treat every weapon as if it is loaded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
- Do not point your pistol at anything you do not intend to shoot.
- Know what is in front and behind your target.
Before doing any dry-fire drills, always unload and clear your firearm.
Improve Your Overall Reaction Speed And Control
There are a lot of fun, competitive games out there that not only improve your reflexes but hone your situational awareness. One of the best ones is simply playing team paintball. While paintball is never a substitute for range time, it does help give you an idea of using both cover and concealment. Cover and concealment are fundamental in any live-fire self-defense scenario.
There is also Archery Combat – which is sort of gaining popularity and undoubtedly fun. Here’s a video making the rounds to give you an idea. It’s all about fast reaction, risk assessment, and using cover and concealment to your advantage.
Fun Twist: With paintball, you’re able to simulate a lot of environmental factors in a safe, fun environment. If you’ve got a local paintball field with any building structures, you can use this to develop necessary home defense skills such as “slice the pie”.
React To Targets In A Room (Non-Live Fire)
Preparation: This drill is best done in cooperation with someone else. Put up two different varieties of poster-board targets. Have the other person walk into a room and conspicuously place a random assortment of one or the other. The person will designate a target as “hostile” and the other as “friendly” with either a colored post-it note or other tag. Your friend or helper knows the location of these targets. You should not.
You can play this as a “game” and compete against your partner to a specific score – like first to 10.
Step 1: Use a plastic or non-firing training gun.
Step 2: Holster your firearm in your inside the waistband (IWB) holster or however you normally carry your concealed firearm.
Step 3: Standing outside the room (and no peeking!), walk in as if you were expecting no trouble.
Step 4: The second you open the door, you have 10 seconds to draw and react to hostile targets. Your partner can walk behind you and keep track of your progress. Each target your muzzle crosses, say “bang” so your partner can keep track.
Step 5: When your time is up, your partner will call “time” and then confirm the number of hostile targets that were in the room. For each hostile target, you get 1 point.
CAVEAT: If your partner sees you shoot a “friendly”, you automatically lose.
Why post-it notes? Because they’re easy to reposition and the target space requires attention to detail. If the post-it notes are too hard, switch to larger targets. It’s recommended you start off with 2-3 “hostile targets” and 2 “non-hostile targets” so you build up a sense of being visually aware of what constitutes hostile versus non-hostile. You’re not just locking on to the first target that pops up but you’re actively scanning for a specific target.
Advanced: Practice the “slice the pie” method of clearing corridors and rooms by having your friend position targets at random intervals throughout the house.
Change Magazines Drill (Live Fire)
At an indoor or outdoor range, practice removing a magazine from either a magazine pouch or pocket to build familiarity with changing magazines.
Target distance: 5 yds
Step 1: Load 2 magazines with 3 bullets respectively.
Step 2: Secure second magazine on your person.
Step 3: (Optional, recommended) Holster your loaded pistol in your concealed carry holster.
Step 4: On “Go”, draw and place 3 rounds onto target.
Step 5: Eject magazine, load new magazine.
Step 6: Place remaining 3 rounds on target.
Step 7: Retrieve target (once range is safe)
Did you notice a distinct difference in your shot groupings between magazine A and B? Which magazine did you perform best with?
An added bonus to this round would be to track your time from start to finish. There’s no set standard for reality but generally the faster you can get all 6 rounds on target – safely – the better.