Thursday, February 25, 2010

There's Training . . .

And then there's TRAINING.

While I can see both sides of the argument about whether training and qualification should be required for a concealed handgun permit, I absolutely believe anyone who carries a gun should get as much training as he or she can afford. I admit to being a training junkie, and try to get in at least three or four classes every year.

Practice also has training value, as do shooting sports such as IPSC and IDPA matches. But nothing shows you where you need to focus your self-improvement efforts like force-on-force. Everything changes when the targets are shooting back.

Even knowing in general terms what's coming doesn't change the adrenaline dump and its associated tunnel vision and loss of fine motor control. Airsoft pellets don't hurt as much as Sims, but they hurt enough that I don't want to get hit, and can sure tell when I am.

Accurate Airsoft replicas of most of the popular defensive handguns are available that fit everyday carry rigs. My KWA all-metal 1911 works especially well, since the thumb safety holds the slide in place while holstering. Airsoft recoil springs are far too weak to do that job on their own. I have two spare magazines, and can drop them without fear of breakage on thick grass, thick carpet, or dojo mats. Cement or gravel, not so much. Sure, the mags will hold more than eight rounds, but I only load eight for added realism.

Force-on-force is for more than just guns. I have drone versions of the blades I carry as well, and suiting up for a session involves wearing training versions of everything I normally wear, in the same places they'll be if I need the real thing.

I have to laugh when I hear range Rambos discussing which shooting stance is the "correct" one for a defensive gun use. When the fit hits the shan, your stance will be 100% whatever works. The more movement necessary, the less your shooting position will resemble anything you do standing at the line punching holes in paper. And movement will be necessary. Clint Smith wasn't kidding when he said, "If you’re not shootin', you should be loadin'. If you’re not loadin', you should be movin'. If you’re not movin', someone’s gonna cut your head off and put it on a stick."

So don't think standing at the line making one ragged hole in the middle of a sheet of paper at ten yards prepares you to fight for your life. That one ragged hole is to gunfighting the way school figures are to Olympic figure skating. A fundamental skill upon which to build the rest.

So punch that paper. Get some run-and-gun with practical shooting sports. But if at all possible, get some force-on-force training. It's a potentially life-saving eye-opener.