Usually the phrase “going through the motions” carries a negative connotation. Like feigning interest hearing about Uncle Stanislaw’s commemorative spoon collection. Exciting as that may be, some of us would have to gen up a bit of enthusiasm to inspect his most recent purchase from the International Tea Set and Doilie Museum.
When it comes to concealed carry, not going through the motions can be deadly.
What do I mean by going through the motions? The motions of practice! Practicing drawing your concealed gun. Practicing changing magazines. Practicing clearing malfunctions.
Most people assume they will rise to the occasion with relatively simple and basic skills like drawing a gun, changing magazines or clearing a jam. There’s a real easy way to disprove that notion. Enter a local shooting match. Steel Challenge, IDPA or USPSA – it doesn’t really matter. The first time you have to perform an action under the stress of a clock running and crowd watching, you’ll most likely see how quickly you fall right back to the level of your most frequent practice. And that’s with an infinitesimal level of stress compared to any real armed conflict. The first time you do that I can almost guarantee you’ll mess up at least a little. Heck, in one of the training classes I took, the instructor was hollering at me (just for fun and to try to induce a little pressure while I was shooting) and I managed to dump a full magazine on the ground, eject two live cartridges and inadvertently engage the safety before getting off a successful shot. He and the rest of the class had a great laugh from that experience. It wasn’t unprofessional or malicious – just the opposite. You see, I was feeling kind of cocky because I was the guy shooting awesome groups at a whopping range of 7 yards, so our opportunistic instructor saw a chance to teach us all a valuable lesson. By tormenting me, he showed the class how easy it is to revert to your lowest level of skill with only a little bit of induced stress.
Fortunately, developing some muscle and brain memory through practice is easy. And you can do it at home with your carry gun if you practice safe dry fire procedures. After all, dry firing is not as dirty as it sounds. Or, you can get fancy and invest in a practice gun like the S.I.R.T. training pistol. That’s money well spent as it provides visual feedback on where your practice shots hit.
Here are a few of the scenarios I like to practice in my home office and man cave.
Draw and evaluate
The most important part of draw practice at home, after observing ALL safe dry-fire procedures, is practicing with the exact type of clothing you wear when you carry. Practice with an exposed outside-the-waistband holster won’t do you much good if you’re an ankle or Flashbang bra holster carrier. Get used to sweeping your cover garment away, as appropriate to your holster choice, with every single draw motion until it becomes a habit. Experts say that you have to repeat an action 2,000 times for the movement to become habit. That sounds like a lot, but if you do 25 a day, it’s no big deal in the scope of life.
Draw and evaluate? Yes, evaluate. Remember how we talked about stress bringing out the lowest level of actual practice? There have been documented stories of police officers doing things like pocketing empty brass during shootouts with armed hoodlums, because that was their range practice regimen. I don’t believe you want to develop muscle and brain memory of pulling the trigger every time your draw your gun. After all, you may not need to shoot.
Draw and fire
Practice the full draw to shoot scenario too, because you might need that. By mixing draw and evaluate and draw and fire, you won’t be building a conditioned “fire every time” response.
Here’s one we don’t always think about practicing while at the shooting range. Again, using safe dry-fire practices, start with your gun open and slide-locked, and pretend to fire a shot to simulate the magazine going empty. Now you can practice dumping your magazine to the floor and loading a new (empty) magazine. Make sure to complete the action by racking the slide to simulate loading a fresh cartridge.
While you’re doing all this “normal operation” practice, why not practice the abnormal stuff too? While dry-firing, pretend there was no bang and go through a tap, rack, and evaluate sequence. You want to train your brain, eyes, and hands for that scenario too.
And the best way to practice running your concealed carry gun? Enter local shooting competitions! Such events won’t teach you beans about self-defense tactics, but they will teach you how to operate your gun under a little bit of stress. Granted, the stress of an audience, a running clock, and peer pressure is nothing like that of a life and death encounter, but it’s a start. Rather than optimize my rig, dress, and gun setup to “win” a Steel Challenge or IDPA match, I like to use my carry gun and carry clothes to get practice with the setup I use every day.
I might not beat those folks with Teflon rocket-assist holsters, one-pound triggers, and 47-round magazines, but I am getting valuable practice with the gear I bet my life on.
This article originally appeared at OutdoorHub.
If you need to practice mag changes for your CCW, you need to reevaluate where you live.
There’s a really, really long list of credible people who just might disagree with this comment…
Bill, I’d kinda have to agree with you. If you reside somewhere that at any time you may be in an armed conflict with enough goons that you need additional clips, it’s time to move. It doesn’t matter how many clips you have if that many folks are shooting at you – your odds of being hit before emptying the first clip is dreadful. At 17 I heard a terrified woman scream “Oh GOD somebody help me!”, I ran afoul of a group of 5 and suffered being shot. Fortunately it was a low left leg hit. Returning fire I hit the first 2 I shot at and the remainder disappeared. I moved. It’s amazing how a couple of well placed shots cleared the area and I still had 6 rounds for I missed the 3rd guy, I had been shot at 11 times.
Even the best most reliable magazines can have failures, carry the same magazine for a year or two every day with the spring under full load and over time alone that can flex out the metal edges at the top of the magazine that align the rounds and keep them feeding properly, not to mention the magazine spring itself can also corrode and fail over time, or drop a mag a few too many times and cause just enough damage to not notice visual but cause a feed error later. Alot of reasons to carry extra magazines, even if you are lucky enough to never encounter bad guys that are as tough as the kind law enforcement face regularly where it is not uncommon that lone methed up gunman takes that full 15 round magazine of duty issued .40 hollow points and is still returning shots at you.
Just do a quick google search of this scenario and you will find dozens of videos of a single perp taking full size pistol magazine loads and yet still being able to fire rounds back at the officer.
Sure you are clearly talking only civilian upper class suburban neighborhood types like yourself that carry but many law enforcement also are at risk off duty and need to protect themselves and family aswell as military members that are targeted more than ever these days while home and away from the fight, even out of uniform in civilian life.
Add to the fact that most people use a smaller pistol for concealed carry that probably only carries 10 rounds, so there is another reason for the need of a backup magazine other than the risk of a malfunctioning magazine.
I know most intelligent ccw owners would always prefer to have the extra mag or two and not need it, you always end up needing it when you least expect you will.