Having been a firearms and tactics trainer for decades now, you might imagine that many defensive firearms training topics and techniques have changed over the years; some are even downright controversial.
Interestingly there are a few concepts and techniques that continue to stir much debate and controversy. Some of these I referenced to in the above listed articles and some I did not.
Most times, it’s other industry experts (trainers) insisting that a certain training technique has no place in real work training. In some instances, it is the student themselves that dig in their heels and say, no that is not a valid gun training technique.
In one such case I had an armed security student refuse to demonstrate a tactical reload, which the mandated security qualifying course calls for. Asking why the response was, “I only fight like I train”.
I respect every student/instructor’s opinion and have a firm belief that my way and techniques are not the only way. In fact, I go to great lengths to keep gaining new knowledge. Old dogs can learn new tricks!
While the following list of “debatable” pistol training is nothing new really, I continue to hear much discussion when it comes to these training topics in relation to defensive shooting. Where definitions may be unclear, I’ll define what action I associate with each term, its purpose, and my current approach to its integration in defensive pistol training.
Since I just mentioned the tactical (tac) reload let’s address this concept. Without any doubt it has been the victim of great controversy. If it’s the term, “tactical reload” that concerns you then think of it like this, keeping your firearm fully loaded at all times, WHEN it is safe and practical to do so.
The premise behind this skill is simply to exchange a partial magazine with a full one while keeping the partial magazine for use later if needed. I believe the tac reload has a place in both training and in the real world.
It goes without saying that a person would not attempt a tac load or magazine exchange while under fire, only if the threat is down or has left the area and you have the luxury of a bit of time to perform a magazine exchange while no immediate threat is present.
Still there are those who are adamant this is not a viable option. Nevertheless, it is an accepted and continued training skill set taught among law enforcement and military units.
You will never feel comfortable with this tactic, unless you practice it. An efficient tac reload (topping off the gun) should take about one or two seconds. Enough said.
This is another highly debated training concept. The intent of doing a scan after engaging a threat is to visually identify additional threats. It is well-documented that about 50 percent of violent encounters involve two or more attackers.
Despite that statistical evidence, many folks argue that the scan is a waste of time and more for show and will never be carried out in the real world under high stress. I believe it is a function of training.
If you never practice it, you will never perform this tactic if the day comes when you really need it.
I clarify with students they should not take their eyes off a valid threat unless the subject is neutralized, and that includes the bad guy having done a hasty retreat upon realizing you were not an easy victim.
In that case just like in everyday living, you should remain aware of your complete surroundings to the extent possible which means you have to look around, AKA scan.
To incorporate this into training, the scan should be done with a purpose. I recommend when students come off target that they find an object to the left and to the right and even over their shoulder that they actually look at and identify. In other words, go visually hunting for other possible threats. Essentially a continuation of seeing what’s going on around you.
Small target zone accuracy
A head shot is commonly defined as a shot aimed at the soft-tissue region of the skull. Really this describes any precision shot intended to land in a target area about the size of a fist, whether in the head or elsewhere.
After the church shooting in White Settlement, Texas, there can be little doubt as to the potential need of making a head shot. Still, some view this aspect of training as unnecessary. I could not disagree more.
It is interesting to watch someone make consistent center mass shots and then flub the shot to the head zone in training. It requires continued training and good trigger presses to make consistent small zone hits.
It should absolutely be a part of your defensive handgun training regimen, if for no other reason than a small target area may be the only one available to you. In the event of another person in front of the threat or that same threat wearing body armor or simply that is the only clear and reasonable shot, small target zone accuracy may be a critical skillset.
Keep in mind once you have articulated a fear of death or great bodily harm against yourself or another, shot placement from a legal standpoint matters not. You are doing what is needed to stop the threat.
Distance shooting with a handgun
Statistics show that about 95 percent of all defensive encounters occur from about seven yards or less. This does not mean you get a pass on training out to 25 yards and beyond.
Again, the recent shooting in White Settlement, Texas church required about a 12-yard shot.
Providing law enforcement and security qualifications on a regular basis, I see on average 40 to 50 percent of shots from 15 yards to 25 yards missed during qualification standards, yet we continue to enforce the majority of training at seven yards and closer.
This standard needs to change for both officers and civilian concealed carry holders.
No matter the distance, if you are forced to respond to a deadly threat with gunfire, you are responsible for where your shots land.
Alternate Shooting Positions
The most common go to alternate shooting position is probably kneeling. We indoctrinate it into almost all of our training including concealed carry. The one position that seems to have gone to the way side is prone.
Even in law enforcement circles the prone position has been minimized. Logic for this trend is based in statistics. It is almost un heard of for an officer or a civilian to utilize a prone, or supine (on the flat of your back) in a real-world encounter … until you find yourself in that position.
All alternate shooting positions, which are really just a modification of your upright stance, should be practiced in case you find yourself in one of these, intentional or not. Additionally, going to an alternate position makes you a smaller target and may allow for better use of cover.
Without any doubt there are other pistol training skills and techniques that are hotly criticized. The above listed are some of the most consistently griped about in my experience. In the end you must remember that good training leads to confidence and positive results, do not take it for granted.