Slimming Down, by Dan from Alaska

No, this is not an article on weight loss, though it should be; I need to take off a bunch of pounds. It’s more about how I readjusted my lifestyle and budget after a loss of a paycheck. Both my wife and I have been working steadily since our teens, and I consider us to not be rich, per se, but in the comfortably middle class. We have been married for the past 10 years, and we both met each other at work. That is when I first heard the moniker, DINK– Dual Income No Kids.

As I stated, we lived comfortable though it wasn’t lavish. We tried to just live off one paycheck, while the other one went into savings. We bought most items in full and tried not to get into more debt, as the mortgage is more than enough! That being said, I wasn’t out buying a new car every year or having caviar for lunch, but I was afflicted with the man disease of “if it’s sharp, shiny, or goes boom then I must have it”!

Then last year we got blessed with a baby girl. Now, by itself having a baby is a budget changer, but also having a spouse stay home and raise that baby is a different twist altogether. We made lists, rewrote budgets, prayed, and contemplated what we should do. We made the decision to have my wife stay home and raise our child instead of throwing money at a daycare. This was the best decision we have ever made, and my wife is absolutely loving her new job title of Mother!

Now comes the slimming down part. How does one cut back on a lifestyle that you are so use to? How does that effect your prepping? I did what most people probably have done many times before; I cut back on the most frivolous stuff first. I got a library card and cut out the hundreds of dollars going to Amazon for books and movies. I took more “brown bag” lunches to work, instead of going out to eat so much. Then I looked at one of my other big bills– ammo.

My current career field has me wearing a pistol, and within my career I worked my way into becoming a Firearms Instructor. So, needless to say, I shoot quite a bit. I’m a very firm believer that shooting is a perishable product; I can really see that when I compare all the people I qualify who take it seriously and practice versus the others who don’t take it serious and are just there to barely qualify in order to keep their job.

So, I crunched some numbers and figured that I shoot roughly a 1000 rounds a month through both my AR and Glock, which equates to about $600 a month. That being said, I don’t really feel that I’m practicing enough. So, a while back I purchased a SIRT pistol from Next Level Training and used it for dry fire practice at home. Pat did an excellent review of the SIRT and so I’m not going to try to elaborate more on the subject, but I want to reaffirm how the SIRT pistol and AR bolt are excellent training tools. Now that I’m looking at finances, it occurred to me that I really wasn’t using my SIRT pistol to its fullest potential. This is what I did.

I came up with drills that I did on the range and incorporated them into drills in my garage with targets taped on the back of the garage door. I now have a 7 yard, 4 lane, indoor range for my SIRT pistol. Here are just some of the pistol drills I did regularly on the range:

  • Hammer drill: Two rounds to center mass from the holster, scan for threats, reholster.
  • Body Armor drill: Two rounds to center mass, one to the head/pelvis from the holster, scan for threats, reholster.
  • Combat Reload drill: Load two rounds in all magazines, shoot one magazine until empty, reload pistol with fresh magazine focusing on techniques (elbows down, drop empty magazine with strong hand while support hand retrieves fresh magazine, keep pistol in your center line low, while keeping constant eye contact with threat, feed fresh magazine into mag well by indexing finger on front side of magazine, drop slide, reengage threat). On last magazine scan for threats, reholster.
  • Tactical Reload drill: Same as Combat Reloads except you retrieve fresh magazine first, drop a partially used magazine into support hand while loading fresh magazine into the pistol, put partial magazine in pocket (or dump pouch), reengage threat. (The thought behind this is that you may need partial magazine for the future, and Tactical Reloads are used during a lull in fight.)
  • Cover/Concealment drill: Move to cover/concealment and engage threat with two rounds standing along the strongside of cover/concealment and two rounds kneeling along the strong side of cover/concealment, scan for threats, reholster. Repeat same drill but utilizing support side of cover/concealment.

These were the core drills I would do, adding a few others when I can due to my limitations of using a public range. It seems that the old days of going down a forest service road and shooting at the old gravel pit are long gone. So, a lot of dynamic drills of moving and shooting, engaging from the ground, and shooting around awkward covers are not allowed on my range. These core drills I did on the range easily translated over to the SIRT, with some exceptions, like the SIRT pistol slide can’t be manipulated.

If you look at my core drills, you may see a pattern. I believe it was Clint Smith that said, “If you’re not shooting, you should be loading. If you’re not loading, you should be moving.” That has stuck with me, and I try to ingrain it into my training. Now, here is where I think the SIRT pistol shines. You can do these drills and more, without having local range limitations and safety issues. Speaking of safety, make sure all other weapons and ammo are locked up or inaccessible. You don’t want to pick up a live weapon when you are doing dry firing exercises in the house. Also, if you set up a “back yard range”, make sure to know who is watching. I’m lucky that I don’t live in an urban environment, where everyone can see my backyard. Just imagine what your neighbor would think, seeing you in your full battle rattle, running around your house like a Tier One Operator at Osama’s compound. You might end up meeting your local SWAT team in their full battle rattle!

Now that I have a pistol that fires just a laser, my training has expanded throughout the house and more. It’s not just a dry fire tool, it’s an active shooter trainer. I’m sure lots of people have thought of what they would do if someone was in the house. Well, with the SIRT you can! Have your spouse set up a target somewhere in the house and practice clearing room by room. Get intimately familiar with your home; it is where you spend most of your time, so you should know how to defend it. How would you react if, while you are sitting in your lazyboy watching football, someone kicks in your front door? Where is your weapon at? How do you approach the door? Where are your cover and/or concealment locations?

I’ve also added the SIRT AR bolt to my collection, and the nice part is that you get to use your own personal AR. It’s a drop in bolt that not only shoots a laser out your bore but auto resets your trigger. So, again not only am I using this as a dry fire trainer but also in active shooter drills. Putting this all together with two different components, you get to train with your rifle and incorporate pistol transitions. Again with my previous limitations, I couldn’t shoot my AR and do pistol transitions on the range.

I’ve just scratched the possibilities of what you can do with the SIRT line of products. During my lifetime I have always kept my eyes and ears open to new things to learn. I love going to YouTube and seeing if any good training ideas come up. One interesting trick came from the CEO of Next Level Training and inventor of the SIRT, Mike Hughes. On his video he talks about using the SIRT pistol and confirming your correct form by videotaping yourself. How about taking this a step further, setup your camera, iPhone, or whatever you have next to your target and see how you react or expose yourself while engaging it during your house clearing drills.

SIRT products are an awesome set of training tools, but they are not a replacement for live fire practice. Even Mike Hughes will mention this on his videos and website, be sure to look at his Next Level Training website and his videos on YouTube. He has lots of great training info for both civilians and police. I still go out a couple times a month to get in live fire time, but this had an affect on my budget. I saved about $400 to $500 a month, with an investment of about $600 in the SIRT products I purchased. The best part is that I have increased my training at least by ten fold.