By Ralph Mroz
1. They don’t zero their gun:
Most handguns come from the factory more or less zeroed for some kind of ammunition at 7 yards, and most will shoot close enough to point of aim at that distance most owners don’t care about any discrepancy — if they even notice it. But if your gun doesn’t shoot to point of aim, and you don’t know its group size from 7 to 25 yards, then you’ll never know — when you miss — if you missed or the gun missed. If you don’t know the gun’s accuracy (point of aim relative to point of impact, and group size) then you’ll never know what shots you can make, even if you are shooting well.
2. They don’t have a holster or work from concealment:
I can’t tell you how many times I see shooters at the range not working from their holster, or not having a holster to work from at all. And when I see someone working from concealment, it’s often downright startling how scary it can be. Yet these people feel prepared to defend themselves. Get some advice, and get some help.
3. They don’t have proper carry ammo:
We’ve come a long way from the days of needing to obsess over the exact carry load. Today almost any top load from a major manufacturer can be acceptable. But it does require some thought to make the best match to your situation. Just stocking it with what “the guy at the gun store suggested” is playing roulette.
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. The
book can be ordered from Branca’s website: http://lawofselfdefense.com/shop
4. They don’t know the law:
I recently taught a seminar on the law of deadly force. I asked the 30 people in the room how many carried a gun for self-defense and 90 percent raised their hands. I then asked how many had training in when, and under what circumstances, they were justified in using their gun in a defensive situation. No one raised their hand.
5. They confuse plinking with practice:
Just cranking off rounds does not prepare you for self-defense. You have to practice drawing from concealment, hitting a realisticly-sized target in reasonable times, from 3 to 25 yards. You also have to practice moving, tactics, verbalization and shoot/don’t-shoot judgment. There’s a reason trainers say: “If you don’t train, then when something happens and you revert to training — you revert to nothing.”
Our own Massad Ayoob’s new rewrite and update of his famous In The Gravest Extreme is now
available. Legal issues, myths, ethics, courts, preparation and mitigation and a hundred
other topics are covered. Get it. www.gundigeststore.com, (800) 258-0929.
6. They never train with a tactical instructor:
The number of shooters who train with even a local club instructor is quite small. That number diminishes as you move up to nationally known tactical instructors. Training with people like this is necessary if you’re going to get good at the complex set of activities composing armed self-defense competency. Competition-oriented instructors are great to train with — but aren’t enough. You’ll likely learn a lot from them about shooting, but there’s more to self-defense than just shooting.
7. They don’t do judgment training/scenarios:
You can be the best, fastest shot in the world, but if I needed someone to defend my family, I’d pick a merely good shot who had tactical and decision-making training over you any day.
A PACT Club timer: simple to use, reliable, provides all the functions you need. I’ve written
pocket-sized, bullet-point style instructions for it that I find easier to refer to than
the prose instructions included. My version can be downloaded for free at: www.spdtool.com
8. They don’t use a timer:
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. A lot of what’s involved in tactics and decision-making is not measurable by bullet placement or a timer. And while there’s more to self-defense than just shooting, shooting is a critical element of it, and you can’t improve — or even know how well you’re doing — without a timer. You need to achieve standards reflecting reality.
9.They don’t practice at distance:
The best competitive shooters will tell you one of the things setting the top people apart from those who can’t break through to the top tier is the fact the best shooters practice shooting at distance — for accuracy. There’s nothing else so critical to developing shooting fundamentals, and you can’t ever be good without fundamentals. Shooting slowly and accurately for groups is a foundational skill, one coming prior to, and much harder than shooting fast and tactically. Think of the French terrorist attack not long ago in Paris. What if it had happened in the US and you were there and a rifleman was 35 yards from you? Which brings us back to the first point above.
10. They don’t carry!
Do I really need to elaborate?