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If You Carry a Gun, Make Practice Count

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This past week, I was talking to my neighbor, a doctor, who told me about one of his patients. His story was a good reminder for regular firearms practice. The man had been hiking in a wilderness area in Central Florida when some wild hogs suddenly burst out of the woods. Naturally, he went to draw his gun.

However, in his heightened emotional state, he unintentionally pressed the trigger just as the gun was clearing the holster. Fortunately for him, the result was a grazing wound with little tissue damage and only minor bleeding that required some antibiotic cream and a bandage.

However, doctors are required to report to police any wound that is or even appears to be firearm-related, which my neighbor did. Given the circumstances, and since the patient was legally carrying, the officer simply took his statement and didn’t file charges.

But cases like this remind us why the time to learn how to properly draw your gun is long before you find yourself in the chaos of a confrontation, whether with wild animals or deranged humans.

Practice What Matters

It’s simply a fact that most of us should be going to the gun range more often. And we certainly encourage you to invest the time and money in learning to shoot quickly and accurately enough for the typical defensive scenario — around 10 feet.

Too many people fail to regularly practice drawing their guns. But developing a rapid and safe draw is in many ways more important than your shooting skills. After all, if you don’t get your gun out fast enough, accuracy may not matter. You’ll be dead.

Trigger Discipline

Many of us were around when the first striker-fired pistols came on the market. We remember what happened at numerous police departments during the changeover from revolvers and traditional hammer-fired guns like Berettas and SIG Sauers.

More than a few officers allowed their fingers to enter the trigger guards as they drew their guns, leading to negligent discharges. For many, the result was minor grazing wounds as described above. However, an unlucky few managed to shoot themselves in the foot … literally.

In either case, the pain of the injuries were sometimes amplified by the merciless teasing from their fellow officers! Those of you with a background in law enforcement (or the military) will relate only too well.

No Excuses Not to Practice

Regardless of the weather, dry-fire exercises at home are a great way to stay in shape. Unloaded guns only, please! Virtually all top competitive shooters do it religiously. It’s convenient, it’s free, and whether using your own gun or a SIRT (laser) pistol, it works.

Above all, spend significant time practicing your draw. Here again, make sure your gun is unloaded. Also, remember to dress just as you will be while carrying, which can vary considerably depending on the season and the weather where you live. Clothing will affect your technique.

Then, practice smoothly and safely drawing your gun so that it will be an almost reflexive reaction when you are under stress. And remember, “safely” means keeping your finger off the trigger until you are pointing the gun downrange!

Finally, whether doing live-fire exercises at the range, working on dry-fire drills at home or practicing drawing your gun from concealment, strive to become fast but smooth enough to maintain accuracy — in other words, what Wyatt Earp called “deliberate haste.”

Be smart. Practice often.

About John Caile

NRA Certified Instructor John Caile has more than 35 years of experience in the firearms industry, including training others in concealed carry and practical handgun shooting skills. As the communications director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, he was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. John has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is a contributing writer for Concealed Carry Magazine. He continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida.


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