Just 2 weeks ago, T3 hosted its third edition of Pistol Essentials this year and we had a great time meeting 11 new students, shooters and personalities. Of the 11 students, several had taken formal classes from us prior to this, but most were new to the defensive shooting world.
Before we begin, we would like to thank all of the students for participating in this class. Below you will find several photos, drills, and home work items you can take away from this blog and use in your every day training package.
The student experience ranged from almost new shooters to professionally instructed concealed carry users. We hope you all learned several new things at this class, and we will highlight a few of those items below:
The Basics of Marksmanship:
Aiming: Aiming is the first of the "three" fundamentals of marksmanship. Aiming includes two items we have to pay attention to; Sight picture and sight alignment. Sight Picture, remember, is the way a shooter focuses on the rear sight, front sight and target. It is IMPERATIVE the shooter focuses on the front sight to gain excellent sight picture. Essentially, the target and rear sight should be blurry while shooting. Sight Alignment is the relation between the front sight and rear sight. Remember, we want to ensure the rear site and front site are aligned on top and have equal space to the left and right as it appears. Take a look at the photo below as an example.
Breathing: The second rule to the ABC's is breathing. Although breathing generally doesn't have a huge effect on marksmanship inside of 15 yards, it is a fundamental that needs to be practiced properly. Breathing while shooting is very easy to do, the difficulty lies in remembering to do it. Here is how breathing works.
Every human breathes about 10 - 12 times a minute. Between each inhalation and exhalation is something called "Natural Respiratory Pause." This is the time we try to take our shot. You breath in, you breath out, and you have a natural pause...Boom! The issue is, this doesn't always time up to when we want to take a shot or a threat needs to be taken out. Because of this, we teach combat breathing. This simple technique can be used every time you take a shot, or a sequence of shots.
To do this breathing technique, start with your gun in the holster and stand ready. When you decide to take a shot, simply exhale a normal amount of air out of your lungs rapidly while drawing the gun. This should give you about 3 - 5 seconds to find the sight picture and pull the trigger. If you need to take 2 or three shots, no big deal. If your shooting a lot of rounds, you make sure to take another breath, forcefully exhale and do it again. This simple combat breathing exercise will increase accuracy and decrease many of the cardiovascular effects that hurt us as shooters while under stress.
Trigger Control: Trigger control is arguably the most important part of the ABC's. There are 5 components to the trigger package that we should all understand prior to honing our marksmanship skills: Take up (slack), creep, break, over-travel and reset. In a future video, which will be linked here, we will discuss those in detail. Trigger Control needs to be consistent, both in mechanics and employment.
Start by picking a trigger finger location that is somewhere between your first finger joint and the center of your nail bed. After that, continue to mount the gun and keep the same finger location the same every time. You can also put an ink dot on your finger and then look at your trigger to be sure of correct placement. Remember, often times, adding too much finger will cause the gun to pull away from the center of the body and adding too little will push the gun to the center of the body.
Next, practice taking all of the slack out of your trigger, or at least until you meet resistance. This should be done EVERY time you pull the trigger. Pulling the slack out will shorten the overall pull of the trigger, and reduce slop while shooting fast. Next, slowly pull the trigger to the rear until the gun goes off. When it does, watch your sights and make sure you keep the trigger pulled to the rear. Once the gun settles back on target, release the trigger back out until you feel a tactile/audible click (Reset). This will remind you the gun has reset and it can be fired again. Do not let the trigger out any further if you plan on taking another shot.
Additionally, if you shoot a double action pistol, remember the same steps apply to a DA firearm as mentioned above. While training, don't forget to practice that heavy double action trigger pull often. The DA trigger pull will generally be the weight of the trigger during a deadly encounter.
Stoppages are generally shooter induced but may also be caused by equipment or improper maintenance. Stoppages can be complex, but on the most basic level, they cause the firearm to stop working.
The two stoppages we discuss in this class include type I and type II stoppages. Type I stoppages
on the most basic level, indicate the gun has failed to feed or fire. We typically see this when shooters do not insert the magazine all the way into the magazine well and the slide barrel skims over the top of the first round. A second reason we see type I stoppages is due to shooters forgetting to rack the slide or charge the gun. Either way, the same "fix it" can be done to get the gun back into the fight. We do this with three steps: Tap, Rack, Re-Assess. Here's how we do it. First, you identify the gun is down and needs to get back into the fight.
1.) Get the gun up to eye level! Make sure the gun is between you and the target and not down by your waist or gun table. Now, tap the bottom of the magazine, make sure it is seated properly in the mag well and locked into the pistol.
2.) Rack the slide. Aggressively rack the slide to the rear and let the slide go home on its own spring tension
3.) Get the gun back up on target, but reassess the situation. In the time it took you to get your gun fixed, the complex environment you were in could have rapidly changed.
Type II stoppages occur for several reasons but the most common has to do with extractors and ejectors. A type II stoppage is commonly known as a double feed. A double feed in a gun fight is a bad situation to be in. This stoppage can take even skilled shooters 5 to 10 seconds to fix and that is a very long time. A double feed will generally have a case stuck in the chamber or locked between the new round and the slide and will result with the slide staying to the rear.
To fix this stoppage we need to understand it will take time to fix and will result in a down gun. This means that we need to find cover or get low. Whenever training for a type II stoppage, try to take a knee or use cover to build habit into your mind. Once you have cover, lets begin.
L.) Lock - With your finger off the trigger and keeping the gun as safe as possible, Lock the slide to the rear.
R.) Rip - Rip the magazine out of the pistol. Notice we say RIP. You must aggressively pull the mag out. Most of the time it will be stuck in the pistol until you do so.
R.) Rack - Rack, Rack, Rack - Rack the slide 3 times to get out any rounds that may be stuck in the chamber. If the rounds remain in the chamber, go ahead and reach in and finger sweep them out.
R.) Reload - Replace the firearm with a NEW source of ammunition. Not the magazine that didn't work. Chances are that may be a defective magazine.
R.) Reassess - As stated earlier, make sure to reassess the situation as it could have changed drastically
*We will be posting a video shortly on our youtube page that will show how to set a type II stoppage up for practice.
Dry firing - Dry fire shooting is the key to success, most competition shooters and professionals will tell you dry fire is where your "Money" is made. In a safe area of your home or at the range, making sure you have a clear gun, clear magazines and clear area, conduct some trigger presses every day. If you conduct 25 draw strokes and trigger presses a day, that's near 10,000 repetitions a year! While doing your dry fire, pretend you are under the microscope by your favorite instructor. Everything from the draw to the sight picture, and even your scan and assess should be expert.
The front sight case drill - Place a spent case on the top of your front site. With a friend, conduct an expert trigger pull all the way until the trigger breaks. The case should not fall or jump off the sight. Do this 100 times a month and watch your trigger break become much more proficient.
Slow fire x 5 drill - At 3, 5 or 7 yards, find a 1" or 2" square and take 5 well aimed shots in under 1 minute. The objective is to get all 5 shots in the same hole. Try not to aim for the center of the square, but more importantly, get a consistent group.
Mark is the Chief trainer at TTGC and T3. With over 8 years in the security industry as a US Marine, Professional Instructor and constant student, Mark has a passion for assisting others with Training and Equipment. We hope to hear from you here on the T3 blog and look forward to some good conversations.