There are no advanced skills. Responding to a threat is a matter of being able to apply the fundamentals. The techniques used should be simple to understand, easy to learn – with the appropriate investment – and easy to apply. For example moving, communicating with the threat – issuing verbal commands, using cover, and shooting if necessary. Don’t forget to be thinking too, figuring out how to best solve your problem. These concepts are fairly simple. For some reason though, a lot of people like to look for secret or magic techniques. They try to make it a lot more complicated than it really is.
With most things you have to figure out what you’re trying to do before you can determine how to do it. Take the basic fundamental of pressing the trigger as an example. To fire an accurate shot you press the trigger smoothly, without disrupting the sight picture or anticipating the recoil. Hold as steady as possible, press and let the shot fire whenever the firearm decides it’s time to fire. You’re looking for a “surprise” break on the trigger. This is simple to understand, but if you don’t grasp the concept you’ll never learn how to press the trigger properly.
You start applying this concept with the basics, firing one accurate round at a time. Try to go too fast – for example pushing to see how quick you can dump the whole magazine on target – and you’ll never master the basics of a good trigger press. When you get to the point you can always fire one good shot then start working on firing two accurate hits. Eventually you get to the point that no matter how many you fire, they are all accurate. The same principle applies to drawing the pistol, acquiring a proper grip and every other skill needed to use the pistol safely and efficiently.
A lot of times we’ll read about the techniques a professional/competition shooter uses. It may be a new or different way they’ve come up with to press the trigger. Just keep in mind these guys have been shooting a long time, with thousands of hours racked up on the range. Their job is to shoot. After that much time they have modified the basics, changing them in order to create the best performance they can produce. But, they all started with the fundamentals just like everyone else. Then, over time, their techniques evolved to fit them personally. Often times you’ll hear them say, “This is what works best for me.” This doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. The only way to find out what works is to do it.
At some point you’ll begin modifying the way you do things. The way you acquire the grip on the pistol while still in the holster changes as you become more comfortable with drawing. You discover exactly where the support hand needs to be on the pistol. Over time the amount of pressure used to grip the pistol changes. This is good; you’re discovering what works best for you. Just don’t stray too far from the fundamental concepts.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. But keep in mind just because something is new or so and so does it doesn’t mean it’s better for you. When you change and then realize it’s not working go back to what you were doing before. Don’t try to force something to work. The techniques you use should be easy to understand, easy to learn, efficient and effective. Practice will make it all better.
This article originally appeared in the October 12, 2017 edition of The Tactical Wire (http://www.thetacticalwire.com/features/232097). That last paragraph is really a great one to take to heart.