5 Reasons Concealed Carry Laws Are Ridiculous

5 Reasons Concealed Carry Laws Are Ridiculous Posted by Tom McHale on December 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Every day there’s something in the news about someone or other campaigning to restrict concealed carry.

For example, the newly-formed group MDASININE (Moms Demand Action Supporting Irrelevant Nonsensical Insane Nanny-like Edicts) is frequently on the warpath to shame businesses, who want nothing more than to just sell stuff, into the gun debate.

And they’re not the only ones. Federal and state officials – you may know them as bamboozlers in training – are constantly dreaming up new restrictions, laws and public proclamations. All these rules are just as ‘guaranteed’ to make us safer as the rock-solid ‘guarantees’ that health insurance will be cheaper and we can keep our own doctors.

Restrictions vary by geography. If you have a fast enough computer, you can calculate the number of restrictions by multiplying the number of politicians by the number of media microphones within a radius of 97 miles. Some examples of “no carry” restrictions include…

Restaurants. Churches. Public bathrooms. Sporting events. New York City. Political conventions (think about the number of criminals per square foot there!) Medical facilities (even though doctors kill far more innocent people than guns.) Post offices. Buffalo Wild Wings. Staples – or maybe not Staples. Schools. Movie theaters. The St. Louis Mass Transit System that delivered most people to the NRA Annual Meeting. 7-11 stores? Canada. Military bases. My house. Ha! Just kidding with ya.

I can’t for the life of me understand the logic behind restricting concealed carry to reduce crime. To believe that, you also have to believe that those who carry concealed are the root cause of crime. There’s no other way around the logic.

Not surprisingly, the concealed carry community has been proven over and over again to be the safest measurable population group around. More so than priests, active duty police officers, Hollywood intelligentsia, politicians and Amanda Bynes. The crime rate of Mayors Against Illegal Guns membership (sorry, I meant Mayors Against Legal Governing) is orders of magnitude more than that of concealed carry citizens. I can’t prove this, but I hear you have to provide photographic evidence of extortion, fraud or preschool fight club gambling to become initiated into the exclusive MAIG crime syndicate.

A number of states have compiled data on the lawfulness of concealed carry holsters. For example, in Texas, the average citizen is 7.7 times more likely to commit a violent crime than a concealed carry holder, and 18 times more likely to commit a non-violent crime than a concealed permit holder.

One more time. Concealed carry permit holders are approximately 8 to 18 TIMES LESS LIKELY TO COMMIT A CRIME than the average person. Thinking about committing rape? If you aren’t a concealed carry permit holder, you’re 87 TIMES more likely to follow through on that crime.

While I can’t back this up, I suspect that concealed carry permit holders are 312 times less likely to commit a crime than the average uniformed voter. But that’s just a guess – I can only back up that assertion by watching the shocked reactions to the implosion of Obamacare.

All of this got me to thinking. If you believe that restricting the most law abiding group of citizens will help reduce crime, you might also believe…

We can reduce the drunk driving problem by banning preschool glee clubs, LDS members, Baptists, Muslims, monks, other general purpose teetotalers and Mothers Against Drunk Driving board members from doing keg stands We can fight lung cancer by outlawing smoking by ill-tempered llamas.
We can permanently end the conflict in the middle east by promoting spaghetti Wednesdays.
We can lower incidence of teenage pregnancy by showing the Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” video to nursery school kids every day at nap time.
We can reduce the national deficit by creating an IRS task force to make sure Financial Peace University guru Dave Ramsey really does use cash instead of credit.
Makes sense to me.

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition
Tags: 2nd Amendment, Anti-Gun Hysteria, Concealed Carry, Gun Control, My Gun Culture, Tom McHale

Author: Tom McHale
Tom McHale was born helpless, hungry and shooting-deprived. He later discovered the joys of collecting and shooting guns, reloading ammunition and writing about his adventures with a healthy dose of fun. Tom’s career has been diverse, bordering on dysfunctional, with most of it spent leading marketing teams for a variety of technology companies including Microsoft and more than a couple of high-tech startups. He’s finally seen the light and given up the corporate life to pursue his passion of creating slightly crazy, but educational, content related to guns, shooting, concealed carry and self defense. Tom runs a somewhat irreverent website focusing on the shooting industry, products, interesting people and shooting tips at MyGunCulture.com. His most recent project is publishing a series of informative books under the Insanely Practical Guides brand. You can learn more at InsanelyPracticalGuides.com.

Women and Conceal Carry

How Can Women Conceal Carry? Let Me Count The Ways!

My new favorite conceal carry holster. The Femme Fatale lace thigh holster

I only started handling handguns about 3 years ago. I was in the same boat most women are. Where do I begin? I was fortunate however to have started a part-time job at a gun range near Seattle called West Coast Armory. The range had an extensive collection of rental handguns and revolvers. Once I got felt comfortable with firearm safety and handling my next project was figuring out how to carry concealed. With that question comes the question of which gun is best for that as well. But that is an entirely different blog. My choice of gun may not be yours. For now I wanted to share with you my trial and errors of many many forms of carrying a gun concealed. Let’s face it. Women have different requirements than men when it comes to concealing. All of the women I know in this industry and those that I have met coming through the range still want to be feminine when dressing to conceal. Is this possible? Why yes it is.

Let me start by stating that over time I have narrowed down my carry pistols of choice to the SigP238 and 938. They are small but I can actually fire them without my hand getting snapped off. Again this is not the time I am discussing “stopping power” with my choice of pistol caliber. Having a smaller framed gun allows for more ways to

conceal and allows me to wear fitted clothing. Sorry but you won’t catch me dead in that horrible “conceal carry vest” that screams “I am carrying”. Or worse yet, a fanny pack! I never wear blazers or baggy clothes. Women wear dresses and skirts as well. Most women think it is not possible to carry concealed when dressed up. How times have changed! The following holsters I am going to mention are ones I have bought myself and have worn many times. I have not been given any of these. I really like these products. In fact I have fun planning outfits since I am not concerned how I will carry for the day.

The newest item I have purchased is something I have wanted to develop for a long time. Obviously not getting around to it I was super happy to see this company make the first thigh holster I have been able to use! Femme Fatale came out a few months ago with this fabulous lace thigh holster. It is elastic with an extremely sticky inside that grabs on to your thighs like a suction cup. You can wear it so that the holster is on the outside of your thigh or the inside. The outside seems silly to me since that would put a big bulge on your thigh and would be very noticeable. The holster fits on my upper left thigh with the gun pocket on the inside. (My right hand can reach down to that spot) *Photo shown is not my thigh but taken off Femme’s Web site. The photo of me in the skirt, I am wearing the thigh holster. Invisible!! Not to mention that my husband thinks it is pretty darn sexy. And yours will too! That is if you are a woman reading this. If this is a man reading this than you know now what to get your wife or girlfriend for Christmas. I have worn the holster with a gun at least a dozen times now and was wondering if the sticky stuff would lose its stick. Nope. Still sticky.  This is my go-to holster when wearing any skirt or dress. The one caveat to this holster is that it does take getting used to. At first I thought it would chafe the heck out of my right leg. It did not. But you do need to fuss with perfect placement of the holster with the gun in the pocket. If you are not careful and put the holster up to high on your thigh you will have a pistol grip poking you in your privates. This is another reason to use a small framed gun. A gun the size of a Glock would make you walk funny and I don’t want to think about what it feels like way up in the crotch! Or maybe one might like that. To each her own! The thigh holster can be found at www.gungoddess.com for $70. Yes, pricey but worth it. Femme Fatale also makes an ankle and a corset holster. I have not tried these yet but they look pretty awesome.  Another skirt option holster which also works with pants and when I go on my hikes is the Undertech Undercover Concealment Shorts.

No this photo is not me. But from Undertech’s site. Compression shorts by Undertech Undercover

I have seen ads for these forever. I finally bought a pair and then bought a second pair. They are awesome. They are like wearing a compression bike short. The gun pockets are placed for right or left hands at the back of the shorts. I especially wear these every morning when I walk my dog. I can even go running and the gun never seems to slip from the pockets. Make sure you have your gun coated in FrogLube. When I get home after a run/walk my pistol has condensation all over it. Froglube will keep it from rusting. I do wear these shorts with a skirt sometimes as long as my top is not tucked in. The shorts are compressed so it’s like wearing a girdle. No bulges! I forget I am wearing a gun. Great for any size gun these are really awesome.  Found at www.undertechundercover.com for $49.99. Colors available are white, nude and black.

One of the most talked about holsters I have is from Lisa Looper of Looper Law Enforcement. The Flash

Flash Bang Bra Holster by Looper Law Enforcement.

Bang Holster. The Flash Bang is yes, a bra holster. Again, this is for the little gun. It is meant for small framed guns and revolvers. As you can see in the photo (Again, not me!) the gun rests right between the breasts. Only to be used if you are wearing a shirt that is not tucked in. I only say that because if you have a tucked shirt there is an extra obstacle of accessing the gun if needed quickly. So this is the only way I would wear it. It is easy and fast to reach under the shirt and grab the gun and bring out to a ready position. Because it is called the flash bang does not mean you have to flash the world. You can if you want but really it is not necessary. I have worn this with even snug fitting tees and tanks and you can’t tell there is a gun there. This holster also takes getting used to. It is not terribly comfortable. You know it is there. But I do love wearing it and having this option to carry. The Flash Bang can be found at www.gungoddess.com for $49.99. My other favorite holster is also from Looper.

The Ava holster is an inside the waistband holster made of beautiful leather and lined with colorful, soft suede. The clips are so strong that I do not have to wear a belt in order to hold the holster on. I don’t always wear belts so I love this one. The shape of the holster is such that I can

The Ava Holster also by Looper Law Enforcement.

wear it at the front as an appendix carry. Most holsters for that are made for men and don’t fit comfortable on a woman’s body shape. This holster is truly comfortable. If you are wearing a tight fitting shirt there is going to be a print. Try to have a top with a pattern on it if tight fitting. It really makes it less noticeable. Otherwise any shirt will conceal it well. The Ava is can be found at www.gungoddess.com. Retail price is $49.

As I have done I highly suggest you try out various holsters for yourself. Everyone has a unique way of dressing daily so some of what I like may not be perfect for you. I also suggest training with your new holster. With an unloaded firearm, practice in front of the mirror at home over and over again drawing from your holster. You want a muscle memory of all of your holster choices. Christmas is around the corner. These fit in the Christmas stocking perfectly.


“Why do you carry a gun?”

The question is constantly asked: Why do you want to carry a gun? Here are Massad Ayoob’s 7 proven answers vindicating concealed carry.

1. “Why do you carry a gun?”

Kathy Jackson said it best on her website (www.corneredcat.com): “I carry a gun because I can’t carry a policeman.”

2. “But aren’t you worried that if more people carry guns, more arguments will escalate into people being shot and killed?”

No. Responsible gun owners are too practical to worry about things that don’t happen.

Ankle holsters allow business-casual dressers to be prepared at all times. Who could be against that?

3. “Why should a person who lives in a low crime area feel they had to carry a gun?”

Famed combat small arms instructor John Farnam said it best. He was teaching an officer survival class to rural police when one officer asked him, “Hey, how often do you think cops get killed around here, anyway?” Farnam’s reply was classic: “Same as anywhere. Just once.”

4. “Why can’t you face the fact that a study has proven that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a member of the household than a burglar?”

Probably because, being logical people, most of us who carry guns detest having to look at such fact-twisting exercises in sophistry.

5. “A review of strategy discussions on Internet gun boards reveals the fact that many people who are licensed to carry guns carry more than one. If this is not an indication of two-gun cowboy mentality, how else can it be explained?”

Firearms instructor and author David Kenik was once asked, “Why do you carry three guns?” He calmly replied, “Because four would be ostentatious.”

6. “You bloodthirsty gun people only carry weapons because you want a chance to hurt or kill someone!”

On the contrary, we carry guns so we will be less likely to have to kill or cripple someone. It’s called “Peace Through Superior Firepower.”

7. “You don’t have any right to carry guns anyway! The Second Amendment is about the National Guard, not personal protection!”

The Bill of Rights was framed shortly after the American Revolution. A “National Guard” in the time of the revolution would have been Tories loyal to King George and duty-bound to crush the American patriots. Do you really think this was what the framers intended to empower and enable?


Where to Start?

Where to Start?

by TCinVA

Recently, I went to renew my concealed carry permit in Virginia and I arrived at the local courthouse to find a line of people almost out the door to apply for a permit. Because I had all of my paperwork in proper order I was moved to the front of the line. I walked into the office to find that they had four people working full time just to process permits. This stood in stark contrast to my previous renewal when most of the employees I dealt with hadn’t ever dealt with an application or a renewal before. I was encouraged to see more people availing themselves of the opportunity to carry a reasonable means of personal defense. While the clerk was processing my paperwork, someone going through the process at another station asked me if I was renewing or applying for my first time. After I explained I was there to renew, he asked me if I had ever attended any formal training with firearms. I responded in the affirmative and gave a very brief list of some of the training I’ve had.

“Wow, you’ve done quite a bit…” he said. …so can you tell me where to go? Where to start? I haven’t really done anything with handguns since I left The Corps ten years ago. I don’t know much about concealed carry and I’d really like to learn.”

I’ve found that lately I’m answering that sort of question a lot. There seems, at least in my observation, to be a significant number of people from a number of different backgrounds who have figured out that they really would like to be more competent with firearms but they aren’t sure where they should start or how to go about obtaining the kind of training that is most applicable to their situation. Since I’ve done a little bit of training I’ll try and share a bit of what I’ve figured out during my training journey.

Where do I start?

The key to answering this question is to ask yourself another question: What are you trying to accomplish? Where you should start depends a great deal on what your ultimate goal is in seeking out training. Some deliberate thought about exactly what you are trying to get out of the experience can provide significant guidance in developing a training plan that, if followed, will allow you to accomplish the goals you have in mind. The training plan for someone considering daily concealed carry will look considerably different than for the individual who wishes to advance in IPSC or USPSA, and probably considerably different than the SWAT officer looking to learn more about low light team-based CQB. There may be some overlap for those three individuals, but there will also be some significant differences.


Once you have a good idea of your learning objectives it is critical to realistically assess where you are in relation to your end objective. This means taking a long look in the mirror and asking yourself some hard questions. Let’s use the example of the Marine I spoke to at the courthouse. During his time in The Corps he served as an infantryman, which means he had significant training on a number of small arms and in infantry and small unit tactics on the battlefield.

Our Marine concluded, however, that his expert marksmanship with an M-16 and his knowledge of how to effectively employ a squad automatic weapon in an engagement didn’t give him a lot of useful insight into carrying a concealed handgun for personal defense as a civilian on the streets of Virginia. The same would be true for many others who are similarly situated. The military in general doesn’t really spend much time training personnel with handguns, and the training they do receive is usually very basic. It doesn’t really deal with concealed carry unless that Soldier/Sailor/Airman/Marine/Coastie went through specialized training courses like the USMC’s High Risk Personnel course. Even if they were fortunate enough to go through that type of training, odds are it was probably a while ago and they more than likely haven’t had the time to really practice a lot of what they learned.

Performing that kind of honest inventory of knowledge, skills, and abilities is really the only way to achieve any real progress in your stated goals. It is extremely easy to overestimate KSA’s, especially if someone has a significant background in the military, law enforcement, or even in competition. Someone who is a master or grand master in shooting disciplines like USPSA or IPSC has tremendous skill with a handgun, but skill with a handgun even at that level doesn’t make someone competent at concealed carry or personal defense. Their skill with a handgun will definitely be a significant asset just as the Marine’s training in warrior mindset and perseverance will be significant assets, but each has some deficits in the realm of daily concealed carry that quality training and careful research can eliminate.

By realistically assessing your current state and honestly identifying your deficiencies you are also identifying the kind of courses that you’ll need to take. If time and money are limited resources for you, it would be unwise to take just any course you see advertised. There are a number of reasons why you want to be picky.


If a course does not address your identified deficiencies, then it is of limited utility to you. There are a number of fantastic trainers these days offering great courses that teach a wide array of skills and applications ranging from basic personal defense all the way up to low light/no light team-based CQB using NVG’s and IR lasers. Some courses focus primarily on weapons skill, some focus on close range personal defense, some focus on street survival tips and tactics, and some focus on the legal guidelines and ramifications of using force up to and including lethal force. Some courses touch on multiple topics.

While the team-based CQB course may be an excellent course taught by an outstanding instructor, it’s probably going to be of very little relevance to a person whose ultimate goal is competence in concealed carry and personal defense. Our hypothetical concealed carry holder can certainly learn some things in that kind of course, but overall the applicability of it for his daily life is going to be minimal. Knowing how to handle an M4 and an IR laser used in concert with a PVS-14 isn’t going to be terribly useful when facing a mugger at the ATM.




All training is not created equal. Some of the training available today is superb…and some of it is really, really goofy. The difference between the good and the goofy can be hard to discern, especially for the person who is a brand new training consumer. So how does a fellow figure out whether something is good or goofy? Here are some hints:

  1. Instructor’s background – Take a long hard look at the background of the instructor for clues about what he/she is capable of teaching. If, for instance, someone is offering a course on improving your performance on IDPA stages and that person doesn’t actually have any discernible accomplishment in IDPA, that would certainly be a legitimate cause for concern. Similarly, if a dude is putting on a team-based CQB course without ever having done it at a professional level it would be ample cause for concern. Additionally, keep in mind that sometimes resumes are…um…artificially enhanced…which makes it incredibly important to:
  2. Check reviews and AAR’s from classes – Course reviews are a potential goldmine for the prospective student. A well-written review or AAR (After Action Report) can give an excellent idea of the course’s content, the demeanor of the instructor, as well as gear tips for the potential student. There is, however, a catch: Whenever you are reading an AAR, be aware that trainers and companies understand the potential marketing value of AAR’s, so don’t necessarily take the AAR at face value. Beware the guy who seems to have trained primarily with one particular trainer or school, as he might be more of a groupie than a customer. The most useful reviews are generally produced by individuals who have a significant training background with a number of different instructors, especially armed professionals who have been at it a while.
  3. Find some knowledgeable people and ask questions – The difficulty here can be finding knowledgeable people. Web forums can be good sources of information, but they can also be filled to overflowing with stupidity. Find a good forum (some are better than others), take note of the screen names that seem to make sense, and then ask some questions. I’ll also point out that if you are reading this, you’ve already stumbled across a site that has a lot of good information. Take a look around and ask Todd some questions. If nothing else, responding to your e-mail will keep Todd out of trouble.

If you get enough input from enough sensible people, combine that with a sane look at what an instructor brings to the table, and you do your homework in reviewing and sanity checking AARs, you’ll likely form a good idea of whether or not a particular course/trainer/school/etc. is worth the investment of your hard earned training dollar. Keep in mind that the ability to teach is a skill unto itself, one that everybody doesn’t have. When you are looking through the reviews and you’re asking questions, determine whether or not the instructor is capable of effectively communicating material to his/her students as well as whether or not the material itself is worthwhile and germane to your particular learning goals.



Concealed Carry

Because there are a lot of folks who are obtaining concealed carry permits these days I think it warrants some extra attention. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on the topic, but I have figured a few things out over the years that the person new to concealed carry might find helpful.

The first is to understand exactly what concealed carry is about: You are presumably carrying a firearm concealed on your person to defend yourself and/or your family from the violent predators that for whatever reason elude the grasp of our justice system and find their way into your life. Most people who are obtaining permits these days don’t have much experience dealing with genuine sociopaths and don’t really know how they function. It would be good, then, for the person interested in concealed carry to find out how to spot bad guys, to understand how they operate, and to learn to avoid that horrible moment when some third striker is waving a gun in their face. Again I’ll say that I’m not an expert, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that being on the wrong end of a gun really sucks. While I encourage everyone who carries concealed to do all they can to develop the weapon skills that will help them prevail in a gunfight, I strongly encourage people to learn how to avoid the gunfight in the first place. Now that may not seem like the advice John Wayne would give, but think about it for a minute:

You’ve been dragged to some movie about some effeminate looking “vampires” battling similarly effeminate looking “werewolves” by the lady of the house and possibly also the young ladies of the house. So after suffering through over two hours of sheer torture without suck-starting your concealed handgun to end the pain, you’re on your way back to the car while the ladies are busy discussing which foppish yahoo from the movie was dreamiest…and you notice that there are some shady looking dudes with a special interest to your car.

There are two of them and only one of you…and you have a wife and kids in tow. Wouldn’t it be good to see the problem early and avoid it rather than to try and shoot your way out of the middle of it?

Terms like “situational awareness” and “defensive mindset” are thrown around in discussions about self-defense, but understanding what they really mean and why they are important should be a priority for the individual looking to carry for self-defense.

It’s also extremely important to understand the laws and jurisprudence that govern the use of force and self-defense in your area. If you use force against somebody…lethal force, a punch in the nose, or even just hurting their feelings…you will probably have to answer for it at some point. In the movies when the bad guy has been felled by gunfire the music swells, the credit rolls, and the good guy rides off into the sunset. Suffice it to say that in real life it can be a bit more complicated than that. Understanding the laws governing the use of force before you are facing some felon who wants to hurt you, and how to handle the moment where the police ask you to explain why your hollow points are in that dude’s chest ahead of time would be wise.

If self-defense is your core motivation for seeking out training I’d strongly encourage you to make sure these things appear as high priorities on your training plan.



by Gabriel “OragamiAK” White

This describes how vision works for me personally. I am terribly nearsighted and wear normal, single-vision eyeglasses. I do not have any formal training in the study of the eyes or vision. I have simply sought to understand visual processes to better practice and enjoy shooting. Some of what I describe here may not apply to a person with vision issues that I have not experienced, such as astigmatism, vision corrected with mono vision prescriptions (one eye corrected to see near and one to see far), etc. None of the following is new information. This is simply how I organize and execute these visual processes in my own shooting. I am right handed and right eye dominant and I shoot an iron-sighted pistol with both eyes open.

Preliminary Definitions and Discussion

There is a lot of confusion in the shooting world as a result of imprecise language and misapplication of terms. ‘Look at’ and ‘focus on’ (the front sight) are often used interchangeably, but that is not a precise way to refer to the relevant visual processes.

There are two separate visual processes we are dealing with in this discussion: the spot your eyes are pointed at, and the distance that is in sharp and clear visual focus.

The spot your eyes are pointed at is called ‘convergence’. The depth of visual focus is called ‘accommodation’. I will try stick with those terms from here forward.

The following illustration shows convergence only. Accommodation is not addressed yet.

In the left pic, Ludovici Armstrong the Argentinian Assassin (who, like me, is right handed, right eye dominant, and shoots with both eyes open), directs his convergence the way I do – both eyes are converged on the target spot. In the right pic, Ludovici directs his convergence in what I guardedly call ‘the wrong way.’ His eyes are converged on the front sight.

An essential aspect of convergence is that there is only a single image of the spot/area being converged on. All other objects/depths will have a double image. The double image can be very hard to notice when the brain is primarily or exclusively paying attention to what your eyes are converged on, but the double image is there. This is simply the nature of binocular vision.

In the left pic, Ludovici’s eyes are converged on the target spot. He sees one target. He sees two guns. The inner (left) gun is the image coming from his dominant right eye. That’s the image he needs to align with the target. The outer (right) gun is the image coming from his non-dominant left eye. That image needs to be ignored when aligning the gun with the target.

In the right pic, Ludovici’s eyes are converged on the front sight. He sees one gun. He sees two targets. The right target is the image coming from his dominant right eye. That’s the target that would need to be aligned with the gun if a person shot this way. The left target is the image coming from his non-dominant left eye. That image would need to be ignored if shooting this way.

Convergence of the eyes on the front sight is often the culprit when a person finds visual confusion in target transitions and they find that the targets double. When I try to run my vision this way, I find additional difficulty in seeing the front sight through the rear sight notch. Because of the tight double image of the rear sight when convergence is on the very near front sight, it makes the rear notch image slightly doubled and it makes it difficult for me to perceive the light bars on both sides of the front sight. This is not an issue when converged on the target spot because the angles are wide enough that the non-dominant gun image is far enough off to the side that it can easily be ignored.

Closing one eye eliminates the double image, which is a valid method when there is insurmountable visual confusion in the double image (wherever that is) for a given shooter.

As a related side note, convergence is what must be manipulated to see Magic Eye 3D pictures. The two eyes have to get pointed at different parts of the picture, which allows the separated image to reassemble and the 3D image ‘appears’.

Convergence and accommodation are naturally linked. They both move together in normal, non-shooting activities. There is normally no reason to separate convergence from accommodation. Whatever you look at (convergence) is normally what you want to see sharp and clear (accommodation.)

In shooting with iron sights, it is very useful to be able to separate convergence from accommodation and exert control over those two processes separately and independent of each other. It is also useful to be able to shift accommodation back to front sight depth, but before the front sight and gun get to their final shooting position at full extension.

Standard Use of Vision in Shooting

This is my execution of the standard, accepted process for vision in sight-focused shooting with iron sights:

Convergence and accommodation start out unified and on the target spot. There is one target spot and it is sharp and clear.

Once the decision to fire is made and as the gun is brought from wherever it was (holster, ready position, previous target) to its final shooting position, convergence stays on the target spot but accommodation shifts back to where the front sight is about to be. There is still one target spot but it is now blurry, because accommodation is at front sight depth. When the gun arrives in its final firing position, the front sight is immediately sharp and clear since accommodation is already at front sight depth. There are two guns since convergence is on the target spot. Use the dominant eye image (the inner of the two images) to align with the target spot. Disregard the non-dominant eye image (the outer of the two images.)

The shooting commences and shots are called without moving either convergence or accommodation.

When the sharp and clear front sight lifts on the last shot on a given target, convergence and accommodation both snap to the next target spot and are again unified (one sharp and clear target spot.) As the gun is driven toward alignment with the new target spot, accommodation is pulled back to front sight depth before the front sight is there. When the gun arrives in its final shooting position, there should again be one blurry target spot and two sharp and clear guns.

This process continues until the shooting is done.

By learning to shift accommodation back to where the front sight is going to be but before it is there, we either save time by concurrently moving the gun and our accommodation, and not having to wait for the front sight to get to its final position before shifting accommodation to it, or we increase certainty by immediately seeing the most precise and certain sight picture at the earliest opportunity. If we must wait for the gun and front sight to get to their final position before shifting accommodation back to front sight depth, we either lose time by moving the gun and accommodation consecutively rather than concurrently, or we fire the first shot or shots when still target-focused and with a lesser degree of certainty. Target-focusing works on many shots. There are also many shots where the precision and certainty allowed by target-focusing are insufficient for the difficulty of the shot.

The at-will focal shift allows us to get the most precise and certain information from our sight picture at the earliest possible time.

Learning the At-Will Accommodation Shift

So now the question is, how can we unhinge accommodation from convergence and commit accommodation to our conscious control so that we can get the most certain information from our sights at the earliest possible time?

Some time ago, I read somewhere on the internet about this exercise and it worked for me. I don’t know who deserves credit for this method.

This is how I learned the at-will accommodation shift:

Pick a distant target spot or object (at least significantly further than the length of your arm) and put your vision on it. Lasers focus your eyes on it. See it sharp and clear. Your convergence and accommodation will be unified at this point.

Using your thumbnail or other small object as a substitute front sight, keep your vision just like it was and with your arm fully extended bring your thumbnail into your eye-target line and align the tip of your thumbnail, as if it were a front sight, with the target spot/object. There should be one hard sharp and clear target visible, and two blurry thumbnails. Now keep that alignment and bring your focus/accommodation back to the thumbnail. There should still be one target, though the target will be blurry, and there should still be two thumbnails, but they should now be sharp and clear. The alignment of the target spot and thumbnail are unchanged.

Keep the alignment of the target spot and thumbnail the same, but shift your accommodation out to the target and back to the thumbnail. Make one sharp and clear, then the other, and repeat many times. There may be feelings of strain in your eyes as you exercise the tiny muscles that control accommodation. Carefully notice the sensations you feel in your eye muscles.

Next, do the same thing and once you have the thumbnail sharp and clear, hold your accommodation at the distance you had your thumbnail, but then take your thumbnail away while maintaining that sensation in your eyes. Do this until you can hold that distance of accommodation and make the target remain blurry when the thumbnail is taken away.

Once you can do that, take your thumb away completely so that you only have the target spot. Make yourself feel the same sensation in your eyes as you did when your thumb was present, and pull your accommodation back to where the thumbnail used to be. Your eyes should still be converged on the target spot, and there should only be one target visible, but the target will be blurry. Work to hold your accommodation at the arms-extended distance. This is what we are trying to accomplish – separating convergence from accommodation and shifting accommodation distance without the necessity of having a physical object (the front sight) actually present. If you see the target double at this point, that means you are moving your convergence along with your accommodation. We want to shift our accommodation only.

You may find that you can do the accommodation shift without the thumbnail present, but have trouble holding it there, and that your eyes almost immediately revert to unifying convergence and accommodation and the target becomes sharp and clear again as your eyes automatically accommodate back to the target. That’s ok. You’re partway there. Put your thumbnail back in line with the target and again practice cultivating control of pulling your accommodation to the distance of your thumbnail with your arm fully extended and holding it there while you take your thumbnail away. With practice, hopefully you will be able to move your accommodation closer to you and further from you at will.

Once you can consciously control your accommodation, you can practice using your shooting vision anywhere. Look at an object and fuzz it out – that is, pull your accommodation back to front sight distance. Snap your eyes to another object, which should automatically become sharp and clear due to the natural linkage between convergence and accommodation, and pull your accommodation back to front sight distance, making the object blurry. Keep repeating.

When in a car, the windshield is about at front sight distance. Use a speck on the windshield as a substitute front sight, align it with a distant object, and move your accommodation in and out, from the speck to the distant object and back.

An interesting possibility becomes available when you can shift accommodation at will. You could use your eye muscles to maintain front sight accommodation during target transitions, but otherwise use the conventional target transition process to direct your convergence, keeping the front sight perpetually sharp and clear and the targets perpetually blurry. I don’t know whether this is a good way to transition or not, but I sometimes do this when I am having trouble being mentally disciplined enough to run my accommodation correctly. I simply don’t let myself accommodate to the target at all in a given drill/array/etc.

The Role of High and Low Visibility Sights

Spending time training with all-black sights helped me learn the at-will accommodation shift. I used to always use some kind of night sights with a ‘high visibility’ front sight – normally one with a white ring painted around the tritium on the front sight. Note that the glowing tritium in low light is not part of this discussion. I’m talking about using these sights in reasonably good lighting conditions.

The vast majority of my shooting is done on an indoor range, which isn’t the brightest – certainly not as bright as outdoors. It became apparent to me that for a very long time I shot with a target convergence and target accommodation, at least for the first shot or two in a string, until my eyes could accommodate to the front sight and get it sharp and clear, and my eyes couldn’t do that until the front sight was actually present in the eye-target line.

I was able to get away with that largely because of the high visibility aspect of the front sight. Because it was high visibility, it allowed me to shoot with a target focus on the first couple of shots but still have sufficient awareness of the position of the front sight since it was so easy to see, even when blurry.

When I tried plain black sights, I initially found the front sight quite a bit harder to see on the modestly well-lit indoor range. I found that I really had to get my accommodation shifted to the front sight or I would have very poor awareness of its precise position. The black sights forced me to be much more disciplined in accommodating to the front sight. If I let myself target focus then my shooting suffered in general, but especially so on tighter shots.

Since then, I have used black sights for training, practice, and competition, and they have forced me to be disciplined in controlling my vision if I want to shoot well. This led to the habit of shooting with a true front sight focus on nearly every shot.

Targets are frequently so big or close that the level of precision and certainty allowed by front sight accommodation is quite unnecessary. It could certainly be argued that I use sight-focused shooting much more than is really necessary. And I wouldn’t disagree with that. But I personally see tremendous value in cementing the habit of seeing the front sight sharp and clear, getting the most precise and certain information from the sight picture, and thus calling every shot as well as I am currently able. Learning to do this marks the last hugest improvement I have seen in my shooting.

I do hope this is clear and helps someone else improve as it has helped me improve. Vision and awareness are key to good shooting. Better visual control allows me better awareness of the shooting.

Gabriel White is a pistol instructor and competitive shooter in the Pacific Northwest. Gabe comes from a private citizen background and seeks to develop students’ technical and tactical excellence in the training he provides. Gabe is FAST coin holder #09, an NRA pistol instructor, LFI Judicious Use of Deadly Force Instructor, competes in USPSA and GSSF, has attended over 700 hours of defensive, emergency, and instructor training, and has been teaching for over six years at ranges near Portland, Oregon.

Trust No One: an insider’s perspective

Trust No One: an insider’s perspective

by Todd Louis Green, pistol-training.com

Trying to decide which pistol to buy? If so, you’re probably looking for one that is guaranteed to be durable and reliable. Well, I’ve got bad news for you. There is no such gun. The day when you could point to a particular brand or model and be certain it would work 100% out of the box and last forever is gone.

After ten years in the firearms industry, including jobs at two major prestigious gun manufacturers, I have come to a very simple conclusion: no one makes a gun that you can be certain will work. Bias and personal preferences aside, most of the major manufacturers are more or less equal nowadays in quality. It wasn’t always that way, but as price became an increasingly important factor in buying decisions of both individuals and government entities, everything changed.

As major gun companies began losing market share to Glock, surveys of customers made it very clear that price was one of the driving factors. So what could gun companies do? They had to start competing on price.

The result is, throughout the industry, reduced attention to quality. Both companies I worked for, when I started had a strict policy of test-firing every single pistol that left the factory floor. Each gun was subjected to two or three full magazines of shooting before it was given the stamp of approval. By the time I left each job, both companies had stopped test-firing pistols destined for the commercial (non-law enforcement, non-military) markets … and in some cases, they stopped testing the LE guns, as well. Why? Test-firing costs a lot of money. You need a range, specially trained and equipped employees, and of course, ammo … lots of ammo. Test-firing a pistol easily adds $25 or more to the price you pay at the gun shop.

But you can guess what happens when companies skip the step in production validating that a product actually works. The number of inferior guns goes way up. Duh! But gun companies are ok with that, because so few handguns ever see 10,000 or even 1,000 rounds of use. Most problems never materialize, or they don’t appear until years down the road when it’s either too late or too bothersome for the owner to deal with. So while gun companies are going to have a higher percentage of guns showing problems, that expense is offset by the savings they get from cutting production costs. In other words, low quality saves them enough money to deal with the occasional squeaky wheel gun owner.

Some people think that brands and models which have been around a long time are not as subject to these problems. One friend of mine has adopted what he calls The Five Year Rule … he won’t carry or depend on a new design until it’s been on the market for five years so that all the bugs can be worked out. That sounds smart in theory, but in reality it just doesn’t matter. How come? Glad you asked.

Gun companies are constantly changing their dimensional specifications, materials, parts vendors, and quality control procedures. Beretta, Glock, H&K, SIG, S&W … everyone is making changes all the time and often to major components. The gun you think comes with a precise cold hammer forged barrel made in Europe now may actually come with a much less expensive and totally unproven barrel that was made on an EDM machine in Canada due to a production change made last year. Your pistol of choice might come with that brand new stainless trigger bar (which replaced the tried & tested carbon steel version used for decades) that’s too soft because the manufacturer hasn’t exactly figured out the proper heat treating process yet.

Doubt it’s true? Go to any brand-specific forum and look around. Complaints abound. Sure, there are still some who drink the Kool-Aid, and even some who want to force the Kool-Aid down other people’s throats. But you’ll hear about broken rails and springs at Glock Talk, improperly assembled guns or poor finishes at SIGForum, or mag drops and feeding problems at MP-pistol.com. Not every day, but read about the problems people have experienced over the past few months and you’ll see that no brand is immune to mistakes.

As for law enforcement agencies, it’s easy to identify departments having one serious problem or another with just about every model of every brand of gun in service if you know where to look and who to talk to. Finish flaking off firing pin blocks, out-of-spec chambers, broken hammer struts … even high-profile customers are subject to problems ranging from the annoying to the catastrophic.

So perhaps it really is worth the money to spend a fortune on a custom 1911. But wait! Within the past year I’ve seen problem guns come from the biggest and most respected names in the 1911 world like Les Baer, Wilson, and Nighthawk, too. Having a $500 service pistol experience trouble is one thing. If I just plopped down $3,000 for a custom 1911 that couldn’t reliably feed and fire, I would lose my mind.

You may think I sound like Chicken Little crying “the sky is falling,” but that’s not really true. After all, I carry one of these things (actually, two of them) every single day, too. But I don’t expect any gun to be perfect. Everything gets tested before it leaves the house in my holster. And even then, I’ve managed to suffer breakages and failures in just about every brand of handgun: Beretta, Glock, Heckler & Koch, SIG, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus.

We want to believe that the gun we carry is Excalibur, perfect in every way and indestructible. Truth is, most of the (insert your favorite brand here) guns being produced will never give you a bit of trouble. But they are all mechanical devices designed and built by humans, subject to the same Mr. Murphy as everything else in life. There are no exceptions. We should stop pretending otherwise.

Train hard & stay safe!
I WANT TO BELIEVE image courtesy of tail rotor from mp-pistol.com
Lady of the Lake image borrowed from excaliburworld.com

About the author: Todd Louis Green has worked in the firearms industry since 1998, including instructing for the NRA Range, Beretta, and SIG-Sauer. He has over 1,000 hours of formal firearms and combative training. A 3-time “Advanced” rated shooter at Rogers Shooting School, Todd is also a graduate of the NRA Tactical Pistol Instructor Development program and a 3 division Master-ranked IDPA competitor. Todd is a certified Beretta, Glock, Heckler & Koch, SIG-Sauer, and Smith & Wesson armorer; certified Simunition force-on-force instructor; and certified Emergency First Responder. He is a long time member of IALEFI, IDPA, and USPSA.

The Ten Commandments of Concealed Carry

The Ten Commandments of Concealed Carry were first written by Massad Ayoob. Carrying a gun is a serious commitment both to yourself and others.  The Ten Commandments give you good rules of thumb to think about as you get ready to purchase a conceal carry weapon or even if you have been carrying for awhile.

The Commandments are:

1. If You Carry, Always Carry –You never know when something might happen. It could as easily be in your local supermarket parking lot instead of late at night in an urban area.  Make sure you establish practices so that you always pick up the gun on the way out.

2. Don’t Carry If You Aren’t Prepared To Use It – Deadly force means deadly force. Don’t think you are going to be able to threaten someone out of a situation. If you pull it, be prepared to use it.

3. Don’t Let The Gun Make You Reckless – There is always someone badder, tougher, and smarter. Use situational awareness to avoid a situation.

4. Get The License! – I know, I know the 2nd Amendment gives you the right.  At the same time, do you want the hassle and legal expense to fight this. If you are convicted and become a felon, your life has changed dramatically.

5. Know What You’re Doing – You need to understand your weapon(s) – what are the capabilities are and limitations.  Understand and follow the Four Rules of Gun Safety.

6. Concealed Means Concealed – When you flaunt the weapon you have just given the bad guy the edge.  By letting others know you conceal carry you give them power over you and they may lead you into situations you should not be in. This means friends and co-workers too.

7. Maximize Your Firearms Familiarity – Practice, practice, practice.  Dry fire, live fire, flat range, simulations. You can never be smooth or fast enough. Think ahead about what could happen, plan out what you will do and practice for these situations.

8. Understand The Fine Points – Know the laws of your city, county, state.  Know what to do at a traffic stop, know what to say when someone accidentally sees your piece.

9. Carry An Adequate Firearm – Carry a gun you can handle. A single shot derringer is not going to do you much good. On the other hand, a Desert Eagle in the hands of a 110 pound woman without adequate training is a danger to her and others around her.

10. Use Common Sense – Always look to deescalate the situation and for situation avoidance. Be deadly serious.

Check out the video below for a good discussion of the Ten Commandments.  Leave a comment about what you think.

Tactical Tips: Accuracy

Tactical Tips: Accuracy

by Larry Vickers
copied with permission from:

As anyone who has taken one of my classes can attest I am very accuracy oriented. My classes always stress a high degree of accuracy. That is because in a gunfight accuracy will almost always suffer. There are many reasons for this not the least of which is you may very well be receiving fire from your assailant. In addition there is a high likelihood that you will be moving, your enemy may be moving, and it could be in an environment of limited visibility.

All of these factors and countless others will have a negative effect on accuracy. The hope is that if you strive for a high degree of accuracy in your training that when your accuracy suffers in a gunfight, it will still be enough to get the job done. This approach has been used with great effectiveness in Tier One special operations units for years. I am a product of that school of thought, and I have trained a great many of these soldiers with that approach uppermost in my mind.

Whenever I teach drills, I always tell my students to shoot as fast as they can, but not at the expense of a reasonable accuracy standard. One of the techniques I use frequently is to place a 25 yd. pistol bullseye center target on the chest area of an IPSC or IDPA target. I then tell the students to shoot as fast as they can on each and every drill but always strive to keep the shots in the black of the bullseye. On drills such as shooting on the move this is opened up to keep your shots on the replacement center paper. This is commonly known as the ‘aim small, miss small’ approach. Part way through the first day I will peel off the bullseye and show the students the large ragged hole that inevitably results from this drill. This reinforces the teaching point that speed is fine, but accuracy is final – words that I live by.

Another question I get asked frequently is: what is the acceptable mechanical or intrinsic accuracy for a service pistol or carbine? Meaning what should the weapon/ammo combination be capable of producing from a shooting device or rest that eliminates shooter error. Keep in mind I come from a surgical accuracy oriented special operations background with little margin for error. Based on this and years of experience I have concluded that a service pistol should be capable of head shots at 25 yds. and a service carbine should be capable of the same at 100 yds. – basically 5 inch groups. However there is a catch; I have found that under conditions of stress a shooter will only be able to shoot to within roughly 50% of the accuracy potential of a given weapon. And that is only for the best shooters; the majority will not even be close to that. That means in order to achieve my standard of head shots (5 inch groups) at a given distance the weapon/ammo combination needs to be capable of at least 2.5 inch groups. I personally measure that accuracy standard with 10 shot groups. Many quality service pistols and carbines with good ammo will achieve this but there are many other factors involved such as sights and trigger pull characteristics. By these criteria it is not hard to see why a tuned 1911 pistol is so popular in selected spec ops units. Keep in mind that any effort to make a weapon more accurate almost always means tightening tolerances which can lead to a less than acceptable reliability standard for a combat weapon. A balance between accuracy and reliability has to be achieved. Surprisingly there are many pistols and carbines that do a good job offering an acceptable blend of both. In addition weapons of this type will require a higher degree of end user maintenance to keep them running. Don’t expect a pistol to shoot like a custom 1911 but be as forgiving about maintenance as a Glock 17; it just doesn’t happen that way.

In closing always strive to maintain a high degree of accuracy in your training sessions. It will serve you well in case you ever have to use your weapon for real. Remember the motto on the home page of my website: Speed is fine- Accuracy is final.

Larry Vickers is a retired career special operations soldier with 20-plus years of service to our country. A longtime 1st SFOD- Delta operational member, he was a key player in the small arms marksmanship expertise and weapons selection of that Unit. He brings a very unique set of skills to the market, and has a wide and varied background in the firearms industry.

Select Special Operations, Military, and Law Enforcement Units seek him out on a regular basis for expert combat marksmanship training. Considered one of the best combat marksmanship instructors in the U.S, he has become one of the most sought after instructors in the Worldwide Special Operations community.


Speed Kills

Speed Kills

By Todd Louis Green

Go to enough shooting schools and eventually you will hear an instructor pass along a piece of age old wisdom, “Speed is fine, but accuracy is final.” Wise words and a good rule of thumb. Unfortunately, reality is a bit more complicated. If a typical gun fight lasts three seconds but you need four seconds to draw and deliver your first supremely accurate shot the only thing that will be “final” is your life.

Practical shooting – whether it’s for fighting or for competition – necessarily requires a balance between speed and accuracy. How you balance them is dependent on the target, distance, situation, and your skill level. But balance them you must. Faux wisdom aside, accuracy alone isn’t going to win the day. If you cannot deliver fight-stopping hits faster than your opponents, you lose.

While we’re slaughtering sacred cows, here’s another heretical statement: accuracy is easier to learn than speed. Basic marksmanship can be taught in little time. The fundamentals are well known and understood by most instructors. Essentially, it boils down to proper sight alignment and proper trigger manipulation. Learning those fundamentals well enough to achieve our goal (say, hitting a torso at 25 yards) is no challenge.

Too often, instructors approach speed as if it were some kind of natural evolution. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” is another one of those silly lines instructors bandy about without really understanding the underlying principles. The fact is, if you practice slow deliberate perfect marksmanship all the time the only thing you’ll be good at is slow deliberate marksmanship. Speed won’t just happen on its own.

If you want to learn to shoot fast you need to spend time working on speed. Like anything else, the only way you’ll make significant gains is by pushing the envelope. As we’ve already determined, accuracy and speed exist in balance. Push one to the limit and you’ll necessarily see the other suffer. So if you really want to learn to shoot fast, you need to accept a frightening truth. It’s ok to miss, sometimes.

A common exercise used to build speed is the Bill Drill. A Bill Drill, essentially, is firing six shots as fast as you can guarantee six good hits. But if you are getting six good hits every time you do a Bill Drill, you aren’t pushing yourself. You aren’t challenging yourself. And you aren’t going to improve much. Instead, find a pace that has you missing a shot every drill or two. Missing 10-15% of your shots means you’re in the zone. If you miss more than that, you need to slow down and work on marksmanship. If you miss less, you need to speed up.

By taking this approach, it is easy to regulate how fast you should be going. You’ll get immediate feedback. If you’re shooting a fist-sized group at seven yards, you are going too slowly. If you can’t keep most of your shots within an 8” circle at that distance, you’re going too fast. Adjust your tempo and try again. Pay attention to what the gun and target are telling you. Learn from them.

Why are we purposely missing the target? As stated earlier, learning to shoot fast is harder than just learning to shoot accurately. Shooting fast means learning to go faster than you have before. You need to learn to manipulate the trigger faster, see the sights faster, control muzzle flip better. Learning to shoot faster means getting a little out of control. Not a lot, but just enough to feel that edge, to find the limit of your performance and push past it just a little.

Now, I’m not telling you to close your eyes and pull the trigger as fast as you can. Allowing 10-15% misses also means requiring 85-90% hits! If you’re just making noise as fast as you can, you’re not learning to shoot better. Also, this permission slip to miss only applies when working specifically on speed. Marksmanship drills, tactical drills, judgmental shooting drills should all be done with the intention of making every shot count. The same is obviously also true for any real application, whether it be competition or a gun fight; stress and opponents will already be working hard to make you miss, don’t add to it by going crazy on the trigger.

Where do we begin?

Stance: From a practical shooting standpoint, stance happens from the waist up. We can’t expect to have perfect foot placement, we can’t guarantee we’ll be standing still as we shoot. For the sake of practice, then, foot and leg positions simply need to be comfortable. Your upper body should be square to the target, which is a human being’s natural response to a threat. Your arms should be straight, which is a human being’s natural response to a threat. Try not to lock your elbows as that can cause damage to the joints over time. Your head should be down, protecting the neck, which is a human being’s natural response to a threat. See a theme, here?

Grip: Once your body is in position, next your hands get into position. For the sake of accuracy, your grip needs to be consistent. For speed, it also needs to be stable. Grip the gun as high as you can without interfering with the controls or the movement of the slide. Point thumbs forward, not up or crossed over one another. Your strong hand should be gripping the gun like a firm handshake but no harder, which helps isolate your trigger finger muscles and makes it less likely you’ll milk the grip as you fire. Your weak hand should provide the real support, squeeze your weak hand as tight as you can without creating a tremor which might upset your sights. Your hands should contact the grip in a full circle. The bases of your palms should be touching to complete that 360-degree coverage. Many people find better recoil control if they push forward slightly with the gun hand and pull backwards just slightly with the support hand. Finally, press inwards with both hands by tightening your chest muscles. This will significantly reduce the muzzle’s movement in recoil.

Visual Reference: Often referred to as sight alignment, visual reference is simply a fancy way of saying “see what you need to see.” Visual reference is where time starts to play a factor. The more time you take aligning your sights on the target, the more accurate you will be. So to become fast, we need to learn the difference between a perfect sight alignment and an acceptable sight alignment. That’s visual reference. With practice (and by pushing yourself to go faster than you’re comfortable) you’ll learn how coarse your visual reference can be while still getting hits. You’ll learn how a target’s size and distance dictate your speed all based on what you are seeing.

Trigger Manipulation: You’ve taken your stance, gripped the gun, lined up the sights and the target … now it’s time to pull the trigger. Like visual reference, trigger manipulation is all about time. Finesse versus urgency. The technique never changes. You’re always applying consistent pressure in a straight line, pressing the trigger towards the back of the gun without disturbing the alignment of your sights. As you go faster, you accept that it won’t be quite as perfect as you’d like. You accept that you won’t be shooting the smallest possible group because instead your goal is to hit within an acceptable area (for example, an 8” circle at seven yards) quickly. The other aspect of trigger manipulation which is important to speed shooting is the trigger reset. Learn to release the trigger and be ready to fire again before the muzzle comes back down from recoil. Doing this not only saves time but also usually reduces the distance you’ll need to pull the trigger before your next shot fires, which in turn means less chance to make an error during the trigger press.

Shooting fast is no less a skill than shooting accurately. And unless the only thing you care about is bullseye shooting, learning to shoot faster is a fundamental aspect of becoming a better shooter. The only way to get faster is to go faster. Push yourself, stay focused, and have fun.

Train hard and stay safe!

About the author: Todd Louis Green has worked in the firearms industry since 1998, including instructing for the NRA Range, Beretta, and SIG-Sauer. He has over 1,000 hours of formal firearms and combative training. A 3-time “Advanced” rated shooter at Rogers Shooting School, Todd is also a graduate of the NRA Tactical Pistol Instructor Development program and a 3 division Master-ranked IDPA competitor. Todd is a certified Beretta, Glock, Heckler & Koch, SIG-Sauer, and Smith & Wesson armorer; certified Simunition force-on-force instructor; and certified Emergency First Responder. He is a long time member of IALEFI, IDPA, and USPSA.

Keep an Open Mind!

Keep an Open Mind!

by Rich Verdi
This article originally appeared in the IALEFI Journal

As anyone who has been in this business for any length of time is aware, Firearms Instructors can be a very stubborn lot. For those instructors lucky enough to have the final word on equipment selection, all have settled on their favorite pistol, load, holster, etc. and those choices provide the fuel for endless debates whenever more than one instructor is present. Generally these opinions do no harm, after all the instructor who is confident in the choices he has made for his troops will often transmit that confidence to them.

It is not, however, unusual for these opinions to become at the least distracting and annoying and at the worst downright harmful. I once had the experience of walking into the classroom at a police academy just in time to watch a Firearms Instructor tell each student who had been issued a SIG-Sauer pistol that they are armed with a piece of junk! Two things immediately came to mind as I listened to this nonsense. First, that this instructor has no business being anywhere near recruits who are at the most impressionable point of their careers and will soon be taking to the street believing their pistols are pieces of junk. Second, that this “Firearms Instructor” is not particularly well versed in what is supposed to be his field of expertise. While many instructors and shooters may not like the control layout of the SIG-Sauer pistols (no, I am not among them) any gun person with the least amount of sense is aware that the SIGs are fine pistols.

At an IALEFI RTC (regional training conference) held here on the East Coast a few years back, I was fortunate enough to take a class given by now retired Lt. Dave Spaulding of the Montgomery County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Department. Lt. Spaulding made a point of showing the glaring differences between a “Firearms Instructor” and a “Range Officer.” Lt. Spaulding went on to say that anyone can stand on the range, monitor safety violations and score targets. It takes a far higher level of skill to teach, to train, to be a “Firearms Instructor.” If we truly endeavor to be well rounded teachers it is essential that all this “my gun is better than your gun” or “my bullet is bigger than your bullet” nonsense goes south.

For the purposes of these equipment discussions we would probably agree that we can eliminate most of the cheaper, second rate firearms manufacturers and concentrate on those firearms made by the established names in the firearms trade. When we discuss these firearms our question is not so much which one is “best” … it is which one best fits our needs and training ideologies. For example, let’s say you have decided that on safe carry is the mode you prefer to utilize, perhaps for weapon retention reasons. That may mean a pistol that comes off safe quickly and smoothly as well as one which is accurate, well made and reliable. For that situation the Beretta 92 Series or the new manual safety M&P’s may fill all of your needs. Does this mean that the SIGs, Glocks, S&W’s Etc. are no good? Certainly not, these are fine pistols that may not work for you. Do you want a traditional DA/SA with no manual safety? SIG may be the way to go. DAO? Smith and Wesson does a great job with those. DAO with a manual safety, maybe an H&K USP. These are all fine pistols that fulfill different missions and different training ideologies.

As well rounded Firearms Instructors we need to be familiar with all the weapons systems produced by the major manufacturers and be able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each. A more appropriate comment for the “Range Officer” we discussed earlier might have been, “The SIG-Sauer is an excellent pistol and while I find that the operating levers are somewhat difficult for me to manipulate, we will teach you how to use them efficiently.

We owe it to our students to be able to instill a sense of confidence in the equipment that they carry to save their lives in a lethal encounter. We cannot truly call ourselves “Firearms Instructors” until we have mastered that ability.

Keep an open mind!

About the author: Rich Verdi is a former Police Sergeant, having retired after nearly 21 years with a municipal police agency in N.J. Rich served as a Patrol Officer, Patrol Supervisor, E.S.U. member and Team Leader and prior to his retirement, he was the department’s Training Officer and Rangemaster. He has been a member of IALEFI 1989 instructing at numerous training conferences and is currently serving as a member of the IALEFI Board of Directors. He is a NJ State certified Rangemaster and a member of the NJ Attorney General’s Firearms Advisory Board.