These days, we “evil gun owners” are blamed for all sorts of despicable acts. Acts such as the horrible terrorist shooting/mass murder in California. Muslim extremists used legally purchased weapons that they had been given by a friend of theirs. Typical of our leftist, non-American former President and his liberal communist-minded minions, their message was to blame gun owners, the NRA, and the ease of availability of firearms for that senseless incident of terror. To their way of thinking, it couldn’t possibly be because some Muslim terrorist hated our culture and simply wanted to kill as many of us as he could.
Basic Handgun Marksmanship
Most Americans could benefit from some basic “firearms 101” education, if only to better understand firearms. Guns do not kill people; people kill people. And every firearm that I possess, combined, has been used to kill fewer people then Ted Kennedy’s car. Firearms are simply tools that are used for all sorts of sporting purposes as well as self defense and target shooting.
Like all tools, firearms need to be properly cleaned and maintained in order to work reliably and to give you good results. Becoming proficient with a firearm is a little bit science, a little bit art, and a whole lot of practice. Firearms proficiency is a diminishing skill that takes practice to acquire and to maintain. All firearms require practice handling and shooting to gain and maintain that proficiency. But handguns are the most critical and the most difficult to do this with.
Handguns have a very short sight radius when compared to a rifle or shotgun. Because of this, a handgun’s performance is easily affected by our breathing, our hold on the gun, body position, stance, and trigger control. In my opinion, it takes approximately 50 rounds per month to maintain your proficiency with a handgun once you have already acquired said proficiency. That equates to a lot of ammo. In fact, it requires 600 rounds per year times how ever many years you wish to remain proficient. If you wish to maintain your skill set for 10 years, that is 6,000 rounds of ammo that will be required.
Twenty years translates into 12,000 rounds of ammunition that you will need. At this rate, you haven’t even had to defend yourself or protect your family. I talk to lots of people about firearms who think that if they have two or three boxes of ammo, that they have all they need. That line of reasoning is completely misguided and dangerous. What if you are not able to obtain ammo in the future? Consider how long you will remain proficient with the amount of ammo you have on hand.
We Do What We Practice
We all do things like we practice. If you never practice, I can guarantee you that if you ever need to use that gun to defend your life or the lives of your loved ones, you will get a poor result. When you do practice, make sure you practice in a realistic fashion. Yes, that nice bench rest and set of sand bags are great for testing out new loads and getting your handgun zeroed, but you are probably not going to get jumped at the gun range. It is going to happen in some back alley somewhere or when you are minding your own business walking in the park. Practice engaging targets free hand, just like you might have to in the real world.
Right Eye or Left Eye Dominant
Do you know if you are right eye or left eye dominant? I am convinced that once upon a time a considerable amount of children who started out being left handed were corrected and made to do things right handed since this was considered to be normal. I even recall once as a first or second grader seeing one of my teachers correcting a little boy who was drawing left handed. The teacher made him color right handed. No doubt, he eventually learned how to color and write with his right hand. However, that probably also caused that young man some issues down the road, especially if he ever took up shooting.
I have taught many people to shoot who had the exact same problem. They were left eye dominant and right handed. That is generally a recipe for disaster, when it comes to handgun proficiency and accurate handgun shooting, unless the issue is correctly identified and proper training is received.
Finding the Dominate Eye
A good way to test yourself is to pick out an object 15 or 20 feet away from you, such as a light switch or door knob. Then extend your right index finger in front of you. Keeping both your eyes open, superimpose your finger over the object you are looking at. It might take you a time or two to get the hang of this, but once you have it figured out where your finger is covering the object then close your left eye.
If nothing perceptible happens and your right index finger is still covering your target, then you are in fact right eye dominant. If your finger seems to suddenly jump off of your target then you are left eye dominant. You can still shoot proficiently right handed, if you are left eye dominant, you just need to make sure you close your left eye and teach yourself to use your right eye.
Using your dominant left eye while shooting your handgun right handed is going to seriously impact your ability to shoot accurately. No doubt there are people out there who have mastered this technique; however, the other 99 out of a hundred of you are going to need to know this and make the appropriate adjustments. Another option is to shoot left handed and take advantage of your being left eye dominant. I have successfully instructed people to switch over; however, as a general rule, it is way easier to simply close your left eye, since you already have lots of experience being right handed.
Bone Support and Stance
Two of the most overlooked aspects of basic handgun marksmanship are bone support and stance. Simply put, this is the way you support and hold your handgun and your shooting platform. There are several different positions that all seem to work reasonably well depending on your body mechanics and preferences. They all utilize the concept of bone support in stabilizing your shooting platform so you can aim and fire consistently.
I know numerous shooters who all use different positions effectively so you will need to try them all to see what you like the best. Isosceles stance is where you keep both your feet shoulder width apart with both your hands extended gripping your handgun. Your feet are both equidistant to your target. Your elbows, wrists and shoulders are in the locked out position to stabilize your grip and aim. Legs are slightly bent at the knees making your shooting position very solid.
The other common positions are referred to as the Weaver stance and the modified Weaver or fighting stance. These positions differ from the isosceles stance. It will more closely resemble a fighting stance with one foot further toward your point of aim/target. Your weak arm or support arm/hand will be slightly bent at the elbow. This provides you greater forward and back support with slightly less side to side flexibility. I prefer the modified Weaver stance. I find it much more stable on uneven terrain and much easier for beginning shooters to master.
Safety, Safety, Safety
If every single person who ever handled a firearm should keep this statement in mind. There would never be any accidental shootings. I have always taught all of my students to consider every firearm they ever see or handle to be loaded. Then, there are some other general rules that go right along with this idea of the firearm being loaded:
- Do not point any firearm at anyone. Be conscious of your muzzle and the direction that it is pointing at all times.
- Never simply pull the trigger to find out if it the gun is loaded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you have unloaded the firearm. Check to see if it is in fact unloaded.
- Get yourself into the habit of always checking the chamber of any firearm after removing the magazine from the gun. Swing out the cylinder on a revolver, or break open a single shot. As Forest Gump probably said, “Safety is as Safety does.”
In Part Two of this article, we will take a look at choosing a handgun. We will also get comfortable and proficient with it. Finally we will train under pressure.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part two of a two part entry for Round 71 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
- Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
Round 71 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.