Letter Re: Marksmanship Training

My name is Kent, I’m an 11 year veteran of the Active Army and National Guard, and I’m currently serving my third overseas tour, in Iraq. I have been in the Infantry for the entire time in the military, and I’ve taken it upon myself to seek outside training where available. I have been reading your blog off and on for the past year.

One of the things that firearms proponents and enthusiast fail to mention a lot of is alternate shooting positions. Something I learned in Sniper school (even though I did not pass the course) is that the lower to the ground one gets, the more steady the shot will be. However, in an up close and personal gunfight, mobility is more of an issue than stability. Moving to cover, between cover, advancing, retreating, all of these are issues that the sniper rarely has to deal with, but most cops and civilians will. In the Army, I learned a “special walk” to use to enable one to move and shoot at the same time. However, this takes into account that the soldier is wearing body armor. If body armor is on, then by all means, advance so as to present the armored portion of the body to the enemy. If body armor is not worn, then just walk. One NCO describes it as a careful hurry. As Hock Hocheim likes to say, “We’ve been walking for years, nothing could be more natural.” Don’t over-think it.

Drawing the weapon is another subject that is often overlooked. Many people have expounded on the wisdom of bringing a knife to a gunfight. The knife, however large or small, has incredibly deadly potential if the person being attacked does not already have their weapon drawn and at the ready. As such, location and ease of access for pistols and rifles should be of the utmost concern. If you can’t bring the greatest weapon into play, it ain’t doing you any good. Many people start their ranges with the assumption that they already have their firearm of choice already out. While I realize there are a multitude of courses that teach about quick draws and presenting the weapon, few of them that I’ve seen have dealt with trying to draw a pistol while on the ground. Or, even worse, trying to unsling a rifle while on the ground. Gunfights in a space the size of a closet do not seem to be taught that often either. A firearm will not always be at the ready, no matter how vigilant a person is. Unslinging a rifle and bringing it to bear on the target should be a large part of everyone’s training doctrine. Learning to recognize when an attacker is reaching for a weapon is also an important part of drawing and firing. In addition, weapons retention should be included for all those serious about firearms training. An enormous percentage of police officers are killed with their own guns every year. When the SHTF, that could easily be an enormous amount of civilians trying to survive. Slings and lanyards are one way to combat this problem, but also simple martial arts techniques of strikes and eye gouges can help in weapons retention.

“Teacher’s Pet” mentions Airsoft, of which I am a huge fan for training purposes. Nothing better replicates the feel of getting a shot at while trying to draw. The low cost, $20, battery operated Airsoft pistols are good for this. The velocities of the pellets are relatively low, though eye protection is still required, and a hit will sting a bit. Many otherwise dangerous scenarios can be replicated with Airsoft pistols. Examples are gunfights around cars, multiple attackers, being grappled from behind while shooting someone to the front, room-to-room clearing, and a host of others. Pellets are cheap, batteries are cheap. The training and experience provided are invaluable.

Just thought I’d throw in a couple things, I hope it helps. – Kent