By David Morris, Tactical Firearms Training Secrets author
Today we’re going to cover a few quick tips on firearms training techniques that you can use to get your mind and body ready to use a firearm in a high-stress defensive situation that won’t cost you a small fortune in ammo.
One axiom of firearms training is that you will perform half as well under stress as you do on your best day of training.
Another is that if you shoot 8 inch groups (aka: Combat Accurate) in training, you’ll shoot 16-24 inch groups under stress.
They’re both accurate, albeit optimistic, and are based in large part on the fact that most people’s minds/bodies are SO far out of their comfort zone when shooting under stress that shooting performance becomes erratic and unpredictable.
You might fumble with your cover garment, your retention, your grip, your safety, or you might even think that your front sight is so hard to find that you swear it must have fallen off. Then, when you have a malfunction or your slide locks back after emptying a magazine, you feel like you’ve got mittens on as you’re trying to manipulate your firearm and get back in the fight. This can happen even after firing thousands of rounds at the range.
You’re not alone. I’ve talked with dozens, if not hundreds, of career operators and door kickers and they all say that the best way to prepare for high-stress life or death situations is to repeatedly and successfully go through high-stress life or death situations–which are a little different than shooting at a range.
Realistically, you’re probably not going to be able to go through that kind of stress indoctrination on a regular basis, but what you CAN do is run your current firearms handling skills and self-talk through the at-home “crucible” that I’m going to share with you that will quickly and easily refine your current techniques so that they’ll have a MUCH better chance of working in high stress situations.
This refinement process is based on trying to replicate some of the different stresses that you’re likely to experience in a self-defense situation, and do so in your living room without bothering relatives, roommates, or neighbors.
This means, unfortunately, that you won’t have anyone screaming at you, shooting near you, or have sirens and flashing lights going, but you can STILL get some high quality training in at home.
One thing that I’ve covered before, but that’s worth repeating is that I usually combine calisthenics, heavy bag work, and weights with my dry fire and/or airsoft training. I do interval training where I workout for 20-60 seconds (wearing my firearm) and switch to firearms training during the “rest” periods. I’ll repeat this cycle for my entire workout and really like the combination of high intensity physical activity and firearms training.
I have to remind you to ask your doctor before doing anything strenuous AND to get qualified expert instruction in proper dry fire techniques so that you don’t hurt or kill yourself or someone else.
Here’s an example training session (all with my Glock in an in-waistband holster):
- 4 sets of jumping lunges firing 3-6 rounds (with an airsoft platform or other training platform) between sets while drawing from concealment and moving side to side, changing mags when necessary.
- 4 sets of kettlebell clean & presses engaging 2 targets with 3-6 rounds between sets while drawing from concealment and moving to cover, changing mags when necessary.
- 4 sets of pushups firing 3-6 precision headshots between sets, changing mags when necessary.
- 4 rounds on the heavy bag, firing 3-6 rounds at both the heavy bag and a paper target between sets, changing mags when necessary. (The purpose of this is to practice transitioning from fighting with my hands to fighting with my firearm.)
- 10 SLOW dry fire repetitions of drawing, acquiring my sight picture, trigger press, and follow through with my sidearm. (I’ve visually and physically confirmed that my sidearm is unloaded, removed any live ammo from the room, and only practice dry firing in a direction that has a solid backstop that could absorb a negligent discharge, if applicable.)
- 10 dry fire repetitions of drawing, acquiring my sight picture, trigger press, and follow through with my sidearm.
- 10 dry fire repetitions of drawing, acquiring my sight picture, trigger press, and follow through with my sidearm, while moving to cover.
- 39 SLOW dry fire repetitions of drawing, acquiring my sight picture, trigger press, follow through, (rack the slide) and repeat with my sidearm and snap caps. (39 rounds because I have 2 15 round mags and one 8+1 mag set aside for dry fire with snap caps.)
It’s not that long…a couple hundred reps with different muscle groups, 50-100 rounds of airsoft, and 69 dry fire repetitions. The key is that if you do something similar every day, it adds up to thousands of repetitions per month. And don’t worry about doing any specific exercise. I usually do additional sets of fighting-based calisthenics where the movements focus on the core and recovery after being knocked down, but you can do any kind of exercise you want or none at all. It should go without saying, you should adjust this to fit your fitness level and physical abilities.
When I’m splitting wood, I sometimes do sets of “interval” splitting where I split at a hectic pace and then switch over to dry firing.
When I’m in a hotel, I’ll switch back and forth between exercises with my luggage or furniture in the room and dry fire practice.
When I’m doing heavy bag work, I’ll alternate between striking and shooting.
Occasionally, I’ll fill 2 bowls with ice water, hold my hands in them until they hurt, then alternate back and forth between doing pushups with my hands in the bowls and practicing dry fire drills.
Why the ice?
Because one of the things that happens in high stress situations is that your fine motor skills disappear and your fingers feel like and respond similarly to when your hands are ice cold.
There are two ways to combat this…first, repeated exposure to stress so that your heart rate doesn’t go out of control when you get into a high stress situation and second, practicing techniques that will still work when your body doesn’t want to.
When you go through the ice drill and add a little elevated heart rate and maybe a little light headedness, you’ll be able to quickly and easily see which of your gun handling techniques have a chance of working under stress and which are disasters waiting to happen.
If you’ve got other at-home stress drills that you do, please share them by commenting below.
Editor’s note: I’m pleased to welcome David Morris as a contributor to the Daily Caller. His book “Urban Survival Guide” is a favorite of mine and the book I take with me when I travel. David’s advice is always well tested and actionable. He can take you as far as you want to go for personal preparedness.
His newest book is “Tactical Firearms Training Secrets“ is an incredible resource for all levels of shooters. Take a moment to explore what it offers you.