By Ralph Mroz
Recently I wrote a piece (“10 Tactics and Training Things Most Gun Owners Do Wrong,” Tactics & Training, May/June 2015). The list was:
This column elicited some strong responses, all in the same vein. One was: “How nice to be able to practice drawing from a holster. Every range (indoors or out) within 100 miles of where I live does not allow it. I am amazed by your elitist attitude. I do the best I can based on how much money I can afford from the family budget. It sounds to me that unless you’re well-heeled enough to be able to afford private training, state of the art equipment, enough ammo to be able to practice and get familiar with your gun’s operation, then I guess I should just go unarmed since I can’t check off the items I need to do — according to you. Try reading your article from a different point of view.”
1. They don’t zero their gun.
2. They don’t have a holster or work from concealment.
3. They don’t have proper carry ammo.
4. They don’t know the law.
5. They confuse plinking with practice.
6. They never train with a tactical instructor.
7. They don’t do judgment training/scenarios.
8. They don’t use a timer.
9.They don’t practice at distance.
10. They don’t carry!
nough ammo to be able to practice with and get familiar with your gun’s operation.” Actually, this is non-negotiable. Yes, you have to practice enough with your gun to be familiar with its operation. You can’t argue that. Just as you should do the same with your car or chain saw.
Let’s see how each of my original 10 practices can be accomplished within the constraints of that reader’s “just give up” attitude. Here’s how to do all 10 things — on a budget — and on restrictive ranges:
1. Zero your gun. This is done with slow, deliberate fire, which is something every practice session should include to reinforce the fundamentals. It consumes few rounds, and all ranges allow it.
2. Work from a holster and from concealment. You can practice concealment/holster work with dry-fire at home as much as you like for free. When you get to the range, simply lay your loaded gun down on the platform in front of you, and fire your string by quickly snatching it up, maybe with your hand starting from where your holster would be.
3. Carry proper defensive ammo. A box of good street ammo costs about $30. You only need a couple rounds to confirm zero with it and you want to choose carry ammo shooting to the same POA/POI as your cheap practice ammo.
If you don’t want to spend $100 on some sort of dedicated timer like this PACT Club
Timer, your smart phone can do double duty with a “timer” application that’s either
free or costing a couple of bucks. Do an internet search and you’ll find dozens.
4. Learn the law. What I said before: Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self-Defense is back in print with tables for all 50 states. This is the best resource on the market. You are, to be blunt, a fool if you don’t know this material. Hey, it’s a book which might keep you out of prison — figure out how to afford it.
5. Don’t confuse plinking with practice. You’re shooting anyway; it costs nothing to make each round count. There’s plenty of good advice and drills online that can be adapted to almost any range’s rules.
6. Train with a well-regarded tactical instructor. Okay, this is the hardest to do on a budget, but there’s two options. Set aside $10 a week for two years (that’s $1,000, which is what travel, lodging, meals, ammo and tuition will probably cost at many schools). This gives you two years to research what course you most want to go to. If you go to a great course every two years, you’re way, way ahead of most. You could also host a local course from a well-known instructor. Most instructors give one or two free slots to the organizer of the course. This takes initiative, effort and promotional skill, but all of these cost nothing and many local ranges would love to participate.
7. Do judgment training/scenarios. Use blue guns or water pistols and run them in your home. Cost — zip. Don’t use real guns, regardless of how much you’ve “unloaded” them!
8. Use a timer. A smart phone timer app is only a couple bucks.
9. Practice at distance. This is free to do on any range.
10. Carry! This is free, too. But, honestly, if you aren’t willing to do at
least some of the above, then you’re right — you shouldn’t carry!