Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pistol Muzzling

     I started shooting paper targets in about 1969. It is now 2014. Lots of years have passed. Shooting at the range kind of bores me now after all the years. Through them, in the Army and police, I have qualified expert many times with handguns and rifles and at one time was even on a police pistol shooting team; so I have passed through some level of understanding for the process of shooting paper targets.

     For me, regular range shooting is just a bit like going to the dentist these last few years. Or maybe I have an attention span problem? I trudge out and do it, but I find it another chore in life; and it still kind of surprises me how very quickly I become bored once I start shooting at the range. I must also add that shooting is a very serious business to me. Except for maybe skeet shooting, the routine pistol, shotgun, and rifle training is as serious as a heart attack; and the word "fun" doesn't quite fit. I think that in 26 years, my job took all the fun out of it.

     But since shooting skills are, as they say, perishable and there are many different kinds of firearms to learn, there is no better way to stay fresh yet invented than to run some real bullets through real guns at the range. Must do. This simply has to be done periodically. Yes.

     Occasionally, I get cornered into teaching live fire. For me, teaching people to shoot or refreshing their target-shooting skills is even a higher level of discontent and discomfort. Just not my thing, as they say. That is why I pair up with good live-fire instructors, and they do their thing; and then I do my simulated ammo thing.

     Unlike paper target shooting, I get totally excited and motivated about interactive shooting with various levels of simulated ammo. Learn to run the gun at the range. Return to the range and re-familiarize with it periodically; but if you are in the combat business, get on to shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you in various real-world environments with simulated ammo. I am all in!

     I have come to believe in the 15/45 split. After you fully familiarize on a weapon, however long that takes, then you return for re-familiarization. Spend 15 minutes doing that and then 45 minutes with safe, simulated ammo in scenario training. Obviously the ratios/percentages change with 2, 4, 8, … whatever … hours in training. I’ll even go 30/30 with you. This concept is a slow growing trend but never forget that you are not really learning to gunfight unless moving, thinking people are shooting back at you.

     These last 17 years, I stayed away from teaching live fire on the range as much as possible. I leave that to the “experts,” plus I get to avoid all the anal retention debates involved in that subject matter. But once in a very rare while, I get myself roped into doing some live fire instruction by some training groups at odd-ball times when we are trying to organize certain training missions and there are just no other options for me. I can do it, but don't want or like to.

     One of the things I do was something I picked up decades ago in a police course - a test run on the range. First event on the line with empty weapons or replica weapons, I have everyone stand on the firing line and we run through the commands. Watch and see what they do (especially new shooters) with their unloaded weapons. They draw. They stand in their various  positions. They change empty magazines. They holster. You might spot dangerous moves and quirks and correct them before the real explosions start.

     And a big problem on the range and in real life is muzzling or lasering themselves and/or each other. Here are some of the common problems.

Muzzling Your Own Thigh and Foot – Standing
     During that “quick draw process,” the barrel of your weapon might cross some part of your holster-side leg and even foot.

Muzzling Your Thigh While Dropping

     Loud explosions and sudden gunfire often make combatants drop to a knee while drawing their pistols, as shown below. It is often a reflexive move, in which case reflex is reflex. The drawn pistol will often muzzle your thigh as shown in the photo. One solution is to practice dropping to the weak knee, thus limiting exposure.

Muzzling Your Support Hand

     In the haste to shoot with two hands, you may muzzle your support hand as it moves into position.

Malfunctions and Reloading

     When a shooter has a malfunction or when he reloads under stress, he may accidentally point the barrel at himself or anyone near him. Take care when clearing malfunctions and reloading.

Shooting Your Own Arm

     In the course of very close quarter combat, a large percentage of the time you are engaged in battling an enemy. Your arm is placed or pulled in the way of your line of fire. You have a choice to shoot high (over your arm) or low (under your arm). But it is a chaotic moment of motion. Take care not to shoot your arm.

Fickle Flight Muzzling - Accidentally Shooting Yourself in Very Close Quarters

     The flight path of bullets is fickle when they hit your opponent. If you are extremely close, these rounds may bang around inside his body and exit back into you somewhere down the line.

The Unsafe Re-Holstering (Or ... Just "Holstering" As They Say)

     When the shooting segment is over, careless shooters with their eyes glued to the targets down range, "scoring from a distance," and those who take little regard when re-holstering, often muzzle themselves; and this can be dangerous be it a belt line or shoulder holster. There is a case on record of a man who shot himself in his own heart when holstering his semi-automatic into a shoulder holster, all the while walking down range and squinting to see his shots on the target.

     Veteran range instructors have probably seen these and many more. Start your own list.


Pistol Retention Training Film

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