Aaron Little makes some compelling arguments in favor of making a flashlight part of your daily carry in this video- check it out:
Quite a bit of trouble can be avoided if you can:
- Avoid going places victims go
- Avoid doing things victims do
- Avoid acting like victims act
The flashlight is a handy accoutrement for avoiding these behaviors – and a quality, high-lumen flashlight can do wonders to incapacitate a bad guy long enough for you to escape a situation. You should seriously consider one for daily carry if your lifestyle is conducive to doing so. So many options exist today that you should be able to find something that is conveniently sized and powerful at the same time.
Sometimes situational awareness doesn’t equate to identifying a threat. By not acting like a victim you can often disqualify yourself from becoming a target for a crime. And it doesn’t matter if you have a flashlight or not in that case.
Have a safe weekend.
There are a few fundamental concepts everyone should understand about engaging a threat in their home. Your strategy for handling the situation will differ depending on if you live alone or with loved ones. Let’s start with the basics of handling a doorway.
The infamous Fatal Funnel is the grey area depicted above. Any bad guys who are expecting you are going to focus their attacks on the doorway since that is the way you are most likely to enter. Therefore not respecting the funnel is an easy way to get shot or otherwise injured. Note that the funnel runs in both directions from the doorway. Managing the Fatal Funnel is actually pretty simple:
- avoid this area around any doorway
- if you must move through it do so as quickly as you can
The blue lines show the progression of movement you can use to look for threats in a room while minimizing your exposure. You should step laterally to follow the path and could start from the left side and move right if you came up to the doorway from the left. This technique is called Slicing the Pie.
- be sure to move fast as you cross the Funnel
- visually scan from floor to ceiling as you clear each slice – but don’t linger in the Funnel
- note that you need to leave space between you and the doorway (at least an arm’s length) when you’re at the start/finish positions- it’s dangerous to crowd the doorway but many people want to do this
- don’t hug or lean on the walls- that’s another common beginner mistake. Staying quiet is critical and stepping out gives you a better field of vision
All this is great if you live alone. But what about a situation where a loved one is in the house? When this happens you have a new priority- getting to your spouse/child. Spend 2:50 on this video and get some advice from Asymmetric Solutions on how to navigate a hallway and a few points on managing a defensive situation if your children are home:
Got all that? If you are defending loved ones the key concepts are:
- get to them as quickly as possible
- cover the point of egress from the deep corner
- call the police. It’s ideal if someone else can handle the call while you worry about your firearm and that point of egress
Using your AR-15, a shotgun or any long gun for home defense requires some different techniques than those used with a pistol. If you have an AR platform rifle (or any other long gun) as your designated home defense weapon you need to be absolutely certain to use proper defensive ammo and pay close attention to Coopers 4th law. That is, always be certain of your target and what lies beyond it. Many of us have neighbors close enough to our homes–always remember that when a projectile leaves your gun you own it until it stops moving.
There are two weapon-ready carry techniques the US Army teaches for close-quarters combat: low ready and high ready. High ready looks like this:
- Butt stock under the armpit
- Front sights under direct line of sight but within peripheral vision
- Barrel pointed slightly upward
- Eyes forward- keep your visual focus downrange
Low ready rifle carry is nearly the opposite (hopefully that’s not a surprise) and looks like this:
- Butt stock resting firmly on shoulder
- Barrel pointing downward at about a 45-degree angle
- Eyes forward- keep your visual focus downrange
To engage a threat from this position: raise the front of the weapon to acquire a close quarters sight picture.
Low ready is the most commonly used carry method and is the safest way to carry a rifle while remaining ready to take a reflexive shot if a threat is encountered. There are a couple other notable advantages to low ready for home defense:
- You can fire as you bring the rifle up to your sight picture and get rounds on target
- The rifle is in a more stable position offering a greater level of control and stability
- Fewer steps required to get your rifle into the fight
- The muzzle is pointed in a safer direction for most situations (unless you have loved ones or neighbors below you)
Unload your rifle and remove any mags or ammo from the immediate area at home and double check the chamber to ensure it is clear. Practice both methods a few times and you will quickly realize which is more comfortable- at the -15 residence it’s low ready all the way.
Recently I was perusing the latest catalog from HiViz and discovered that they offer a wide range of shooting tips from a wide range of contributors. One tip from retired SEAL Mark Hotaling stood out- a technique for aiming your pistol in close quarters.
At ranges of 3 yards or less it is not optimal to extend your arms forward into a full isosceles stance. Doing so costs precious time and puts you in a bad position for weapon retention. In these situations you should:
- Extend your arms
- Keep both eyes open
- Look over the sights while using the front sight to use for aiming reference
This isn’t the only close range pistol technique being taught today and is not a hard and fast solution to every situation- I’m not saying that this is the only way to defend yourself. However I am a proponent of learning many techniques–who complains about having too many tools in their toolbox? Practice this a little bit at the range and at home (double or triple check to confirm the pistol is empty) to see how it works for you and your style of carry.
If you read the headlines you may have seen the press this week on Kentucky State Representative Leslie Combs. Combs was responsible for a negligent discharge of her Ruger LCP pistol while in the Kentucky State Captiol Annex. She was unloading the pistol and did not follow the proper safety procedure – which is the typical procedure for any semi-auto handgun:
- Remove the magazine
- Rack the slide
- Verify that the chamber is clear
Instead of following those simple and repeatable safety protocols she chose to pull the trigger without clearing the chamber and the result was a negligent discharge. It didn’t take long for the #bullymoms to call for Combs’ resignation– it’s a bit surprising considering the fact that Combs is a Democrat, but this is a reminder of the endless determination that the Civilian Disarmament complex has to accomplish its goals. This is NOT a partisan issue. This incident is only one example of the risks of negligent handling of firearms.
It should be a sobering reminder to everyone who carries in today’s America: whether you like it or not you are an ambassador of the 2A every time you carry a gun. If you act in a negligent manner with a firearm you are helping the Antis build their narrative. After the past 12 months of mainstream media (journolist) propaganda there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that reporters will gleefully seize every opportunity they can to attack the 2A. Everyone who carries a firearm can do a few simple things to prevent negligent discharges and all the bad consequences that come with them:
- Always follow the proper safe handling and unloading protocols. This should be obvious but it’s so absolutely vital that it must be repeated. Follow Coopers Laws of firearm safety to the absolute letter
- Check for safety recalls on your firearms. Even the popular Ruger LCP had a problem where some models could discharge if dropped not too long ago
- Use high quality holsters and never carry without a proper holster that covers the trigger guard
- Inspect your carry holsters for wear and replace them as needed
- If you plan to drop the hammer or striker on a pistol when it’s unloaded, double-check the chamber before you press the trigger
These are simple steps we all need to take – for safety and for Liberty.
It seems logical that anyone who keeps a firearm handy for defensive use would practice with that weapon to ensure that if they have to use it there are no surprises. This means practicing at close range (3 yds or less)- not 7 yds, not 25 yds and certainly not 50 yds. If you have an AR platform rifle or pistol as your primary home defense weapon or even as a potential option for home defense you owe it to your loved ones and yourself to practice close quarters handling and firing.
Bullet trajectory is an interesting phenomenon. Some good background on trajectory is here. If you want to be good at using your rifle in places other than a square range with targets at fixed distances take a few minutes to learn about what happens when you press the trigger.
The photo above illustrates a traditional sight picture (what is used for a typical range shot at a target 25 or more yds downrange). The chart in the trajectory article referenced above illustrates where a close quarters shot will go with pretty much any zero – you’re going to hit high low (thanks to D. Russell for catching and pointing this out) if you aim the way the photo above depicts. In fact you may miss the target entriely or fail to neutralize the threat- and neither result is acceptable when the safety of you and your loved ones is at risk.
This problem has a pretty easy solution- one that is reliable and repeatable enough for a wide range of people that the US Army teaches it. The proper method of aiming close quarters shots is to maintain the typical rifle shooting position (cheek weld, nose touching the charging handle, etc.) but to look over the rear sight and use the front sight the same way you always do.
The photo above illustrates this close quarters sight picture. Basically you want to position the base of the front sight on top of the ghost ring. The technique is reliable up to about 13 yards (12 meters) and allows you to engage threats quickly with the sort of accuracy required for self defense. In other words this should cover most home defense situations.
Be sure to get out to a place you can practice this- that’s one key to deliberate action in a life threatening situation. Also be certain that you are using ammo that is safe for home defense- Range ammo (FMJs), Most frangible ammo and even Defensive ammo like Hornaday TAP can easily exit the walls of your home and keep traveling. Be responsible and stay safe out there.
It’s great to be back at the keyboard- that holiday respite was badly needed. Count on kR-15.com resuming new posts on a regular basis now as 2014 gets rolling. Over the break I spent some serious time on improving my pistol groups to get closer to my goal of qualifying for NRA Instructor training.
To reach a training goal as efficiently as possible requires maximizing the quality of your training reps. One important piece of maximizing your quality reps is to be able to recognize bad reps (ex. Checking your target is one method but even better if you observe something wrong like the front sight jerking downward). Once you can do that, how do you refocus your mind and body on good reps? Here are some techniques that help me regain focus when I shoot a bad split:
- Stop your reps. Be deliberate about the stop and relax. Take a deep breath. Walk off the firing line if you have to. The goal here is to clear your mind
- Slow it down – so many problems happen when we rush. Perform the next set of reps at 1/10 normal speed and see if you can pinpoint the breakdown in your technique. If the bad shots don’t persist simply increase your speed slowly as you continue
- Consider a few dry fire reps- if my trigger press is awry I can tell really quickly with a dry fire rep
- Use training rounds on a regular basis – mixing training rounds in as you load practice mags has really helped identify areas for improvement. Seeing what happens to the front sight as you break on a training round (particularly an unexpected one) is excellent feedback on your live fire technique
- Focus your frustration – if you’re a competitive person like me you know that you can’t simply ‘de-frustrate’ yourself. A good way to focus that energy is into slow, deliberate execution of each fundamental. For me it goes like this: Grip, sight picture, trigger finger position, breathe in, trigger press, breathe out, follow through, repeat. Take a deep breath at each step and relax your mind (not your grip)
Marksmanship is not an easy skill to attain and even then it must be maintained to be useful. Stay positive and keep working at it- remember the FUN in fundamentals.
Follow- through gets lots of attention from some pistol instructors and very little from others. If you query enough sources you will find that many people don’t really know what follow-through is. Follow-through should not be confused with recovery. Recovery should be defined as bringing the pistol back down and getting a post-shot sight picture. Situations where both come on handy include:
Follow-through technique can be gauged by seeing the front sight rise as the shot breaks. That should be your goal with every rep. Remember to keep your visual focus sharp on the front sight:
If your grip and trigger control are solid you are good to go if you see the front sight rise.
Dot Torture is a popular accuracy drill that you can use at any speed and keep using to help progress your speed without losing accuracy. Maintaining the balance for this is pretty easy- set your goal for speed around where you can maintain 90-95% accuracy on each stage of the target. Try starting at 3 yds. When you regularly achieve that goal it’s time to either decrease time or increase distance.
It takes 50 rounds to complete the exercises. When you do a good job on the target it looks something like this (which is something I’m using to gauge my accuracy training results- and that target isn’t my work…yet).
Directions are under each dot and 1,2,5 and 8 are stand-alone segments while the rest of the dots function as pairs. There is a great printable target on pistol-training.com you can use to print a couple (preferably on the office printer) and try it out.
Remember that Fast is Fine, but Accuracy is Final. Your personal training goals should reflect this too because you need both but speed without accuracy typically won’t win a fight.
The accuracy drills are coming along nicely. It seems like a plateau has been reached though- I’m throwing up to 15% of the shots with sloppy technique and it’s pretty frustrating. After looking for some tips some content worth sharing was discovered.
When doing accuracy drills like these you can really maximize your technique by doing these things:
1. …align the sights on the center of the target and bring your focus back to the top center of the front sight blade and hold it there until the shot breaks. Adopt your normal stance and shoot a group using the same process, relax and lower the gun between shots.
This is a good way to really maximize every rep. Consistency is the foundation of accuracy and it results in tight, consistent groups. Relaxing your arms also helps minimize your fatigue, further reinforcing the quality of each practice rep.
2. Develop a pre-shot routine to help give you focus. Breathe and relax between shots. Brian Enos says “Don’t be in a hurry. Just be.” Some people try to focus on their heartbeat. There are many ways to accomplish this but the result is all that matters- you’re focused but not hung up on the mechanics of breaking a shot. To start your checklist may be a rundown of your fundamentals focus points (ex. high grip, support thumb resting on frame, focus on front sight, breathe, press the trigger, see the flash- or whatever works for your own mind). Maybe your checklist is as simple as “grip, sight, trigger press”- it’s whatever mantra you can live with. Most people evolve them as they progress and that’s ok.
3. Recognize bad habits creeping in. With experience you will be able to feel a bad shot and a good shot- it’s your recognition of a mistake in the fundamentals that you may have perceived by feel instead of sight. Stop and reset yourself when this happens- another benefit of using tip #1. Do you have a way to verify that you’re relaxed? I like testing to see if I can wiggle my big toe. The sural nerve is a main nerve that runs through most of your leg and is a core part of the nervous system- if you can wiggle your big toe you confirm it’s relaxed. That also means you are relaxed, which is key to a good performance.