In my last post I discussed pistol training for self-defense-Phase 2. In this, the last of a three-part series let’s move up the scale of training to Phase-3. Understand, this is a baseline formula for teaching progressive skills to students who are serious about dedicated pistol training.
It may not be everyone’s approach, but it has worked well for me over the years with thousands of students. Your first choice, as always, is to avoid or escape a confrontation altogether if you can do so safely.
Inside your personal zone
This topic would initially seem to be very simple. However, in the event an attacker is already within arm’s reach (in your face out to three or four feet) it may not be feasible to draw to a two-handed shooting position.
Instead, we teach a weapon retention one-handed shooting position.
As the name “weapon retention” implies, this technique is also optimal for keeping your sidearm away from the attacker and still being able to utilize it. Essentially the pistol never leaves your side once it has been drawn and shots fired once the sights are oriented onto the target.
This technique obviously requires some slow and precise practice, preferably with a good instructor who is skilled at its use. Finger discipline is an absolute with this method as with all shooting.
Once you get the technique down you will find it quick and advantageous for any potential threat inside your personal space. As mentioned in the previous article adding movement into these drills will add to the realism and is likely in any close quarters confrontation.
Dim light Encounters
Over 50 percent of defensive encounters occur in reduced lighting, whether indoors or outside. I always encourage students to carry a quality flashlight all the time. My personal everyday carry light is the Streamlight Protac 2L.
Aside from the absolute must of identifying a threat there are many uses for a flashlight as an everyday carry item, as a defensive tool for blinding or striking, signaling, and finding your way in the dark.
Use of a handheld light and shooting at the same time requires structured training but the techniques are very simple and can be mastered with practice. The Harries, a back of hand to back of hand technique, and the neck or jawline index, a one-handed shooting method, are both easily learned.
(I go more in depth on this here.)
There are other techniques of course but these are two of the most widely used. Either way, dim light shooting needs to be a part of your pistol skills toolbox. I’m not opposed to a weapon mounted light but most folks are doing good to carry just the pistol secured and concealed day to day aside from adding a light onto the gun.
Additionally, I may need/want to use my light independent of the gun, so even if carrying my handgun with a light attached, I would still have a stand-alone light for separate use.
Multiple Threats and Decisional Shooting
Another unfortunate fact in deadly force encounters is that there are often multiple attackers. Criminals being who they are, are cowardly in nature and often must have their accomplices along to be emboldened.
Statistics indicate about 50% of the time, where there is one thug there is sure to be another. It should be standard practice to incorporate multiple threats and decisional shooting into your defensive pistol skills training. In other words, shoot and no-shoot targets.
You must be able to articulate the threat or threats before shooting, so incorporate this into your training. Generally, the closest and most immediate threat would be dealt with first. Once you are sure that the first threat is stopped, scan your environment for additional threats.
A hard scan in all directions also helps open up the tunnel vision you are sure to have developed in any life-threatening encounter.
How many shots on any given threat or target? Generally, a minimum of two shots, but realize additional shots may be necessary. Practice by mixing up the number of shots fired. In a real-world encounter and from a legal standpoint you are only trying to stop the action of the attacker, nothing more.
Reality Based Training or Force Decisions
Reality-based training, or as we like to call it “force decisions,” is without a doubt one of the best training methodologies that you can employ. It is best to seek out a trainer or company that provides this type of training in a safe environment with the proper equipment.
I have utilized it for years as both a student and instructor. Another appropriate title you could give this type of training is “stress inoculation training.”
The training would go something like this; you and perhaps a companion are filling up your car with gas, or maybe you’re coming out of the grocery store. You then are forced to make split second decisions based on an unforeseen encounter involving another live human being that has become threatening.
The scenario may only require good verbalization skills or moving away from the threat quickly if possible. Or it may require an immediate show and/or use of force.
Guns used in this type of training obviously cannot be capable of firing live ammunition; however, they do fire a projectile. Usually airsoft or a colored, soft projectile are used. In essence, you are coming as close to a real confrontation as possible without really being in one.
The scenarios can be based on your lifestyle, places of frequent visit (church, café, gas station, etc.) and may include indoor, outdoor and dim light settings. Wearing safety equipment for face and eyes is required.
Standard protocol would be after each scenario an instructor will discuss your reactions and offer constructive feedback. You will discover a lot about yourself, how you see things, and how you react while under duress.
Reality based training does another thing for you, it helps to develop a winning mindset. Being defiant and refusing to become a victim may in the end be the difference between living or dying.
I have heard arguments from other trainers that most concealed carry students will never pursue additional pistol skills and that the training regimen I have recommended over the last few weeks will fall on deaf ears.
I must admit there is some truth to that logic. That is ok, everyone has a right to defend themselves in any way possible if need be.
But there will be a few that want to take their skills to the next level while always praying they will never be forced to put them to use in the real world. Remember, good training and skills are priceless and are perishable. Be vigilant, train well and train often.