Dry Practice on the Road
When traveling, we can still do our dry practice. In fact, it may be more important when traveling than any other time. We’re more vulnerable and lack the underlying knowledge of our surroundings that we have during our usual activities in our home area.
Since we’re not at home, some of our usual safety protocols may not be available to us. For instance, our usual safe practice area is no longer available to us. Also, if our home practice regimen involves using a target that is generally concealed unless we are practicing, that will not be an option.
These limitations mean we have to use alternate safety protocols for our dry practice. Having an Unintentional Discharge in a motel room or in the home of a friend or relative will certainly lead to a Negative Outcome. Anyone who has run a major firearms training facility has stories of clients who had UDs in their motel rooms and the consequences. At the very least, the POlice will become involved to some extent. At worst, someone is killed and the consequences are grave. Having a UD in a friend or relative’s home may not result in POlice involvement but is unlikely to have a positive effect on the relationship.
Some of our home protocols can be modified but still used to some extent. The most important thing to remember is that safety protocols have the same importance when we are on the road as when we are at home.
In terms of the practice area, we want to choose the least dangerous direction for our practice. Depending on the nature of the building’s construction, a bullet resistant wall simply may not be available. In that case, we must choose the direction that is least likely to result in a casualty if a round is fired. A bullet hole in a door that opens out to a brick wall has less consequences than a bullet hole in a guest in an adjoining room. Consider carefully where an errant bullet might go before choosing your practice direction.
Next, use a target. A sheet of paper with a heart drawn on it is a good target for a ‘3 shots in 3 seconds at 3 yards’ Even more about Skill Development practice regimen. Putting a few small spots on it provides targets for precision aiming and trigger practice work.
A few easily carried training aids are useful for ensuring safe practice with a revolver. The first is inert ammunition. Three different types of inert ammunition are easily carried in an 18 round MTM Ammo case. The Ammo Case is itself a part of the safety protocols.
The first training aid is snap caps. Different varieties are available. If the primer pocket isn’t filled, such as with the ST-Action Pro inert ammo, you can fill the pockets in with a hot melt glue gun and trim the excess off. This will protect the firing pin or hammer nose of your revolver. Good snap caps are easily identifiable by their color. A-Zoom has recently started making their snap caps in orange, which are more identifiable when loaded in a blue steel gun than the darker A-Zoom offering. The spring loaded primer type of snap caps have a limited service life and are not recommended for serious practice.
After unloading the revolver, replace the live ammunition with snap caps. Since two objects cannot fit in the same place at the same time, this precludes leaving one live round in the cylinder, which is not an unknown occurrence, as gunowners sometimes discover. After the snap caps have been loaded into the revolver, put the live ammunition in the Ammo Case and count the number of rounds. If the rounds you place in the case are less in number than the capacity of your revolver, the FBI calls that ‘a clue.’
A second training aid is full weight dummies for reloading practice. Snap caps are a good safety aid and for protecting the revolver, however, they usually lack the weight necessary for effective reloading practice. Dummy ammo should be easily identifiable, which is often a problem with homemade dummies. The dummies in the picture were made from Blazer Aluminum cases scrounged from a local indoor range. The bullet noses and cartridge base are colored blue with a Magic Marker for additional visual identification.
The third training aid is fired cases. Reload practice with revolvers should always include getting the empty cases out in addition to reloading with fresh ammo/dummies. A new speedloader manufacturer that was displaying at the SHOT Show years ago failed to consider this in their demonstration. When asked how the empty cases were to be ejected while holding the revolver in one hand and the speedloader in the other, a blank stare was the only answer.
A pistol case is another training aid for practice on the road. The pistol case is for placing the pistol in after the practice session has been finished and the gun reloaded.
The sequence for finishing the session is:
- Declare out loud “This session is finished.”
- Take the target down.
- Remove whatever snap caps/dummies/fired cases are in the gun.
- Set the gun down completely empty.
- Again, declare out loud “This session is finished.”
- Load the pistol with live ammunition.
- Place the loaded pistol in the pistol case. The case does not have to be complete zipped but should be at least partially. This is a visual and situational indicator that the gun is loaded and not available for practice.
- Do something else to remove dry practice from your thoughts.
Reading something dry and difficult is a good way to remove dry practice from your thoughts.
Keeping an awareness of safety in mind allows us to maintain our proficiency on the road without menacing innocent people around us.
The circumstances of Unintentional Discharges at home are covered as the third Section of Real Shootouts of the LAPD. Off-duty Officer Involved Shootings and Officer Involved Animal Shootings are the first two. If you would like to purchase the book, click on the cover below.
Teaching children about guns
I recently had the opportunity to overhear a friend helping home school her grandchildren via telelearning while we’re under House Arrest during the Beer Plague. It was obvious that the lesson involved firearms. I was fascinated because I said to myself “Whoever wrote that lesson (I didn’t realize it was a book) actually knows something about guns.” When the lesson was finished, I asked what the source of the lesson was. It was Julie Golob’s book Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules: A Children’s Book About Gun Safety. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078TB9RJB
My thought was “Well duh, Tactical Professor, yes indeed Julie Golob knows something about guns.” The meat of her bio is
Julie Golob is one of the most accomplished professional shooters in the world with more than 150 championship titles and top scores in international, national and regional marksmanship competitions in 7 different shooting disciplines.
For new gunowners who have children in the house, this book is highly recommended. Long time gunowners will find it useful also. I was impressed by how it explained very fundamental safety rules that kids need to know. Be aware that because it is a color picture book, the Kindle version is not compatible with all Kindle devices. A list of compatible devices is on the Amazon page for the book.
FTC Notice: I don’t receive any compensation for mentioning Julie’s book. I just think it’s an excellent resource for gun owners, new or long time.
Guns 101 – next episode
More correctly, the title should be Locking the Slide to the Rear. For a new gunowner, this is not nearly as simple as is often believed. Locking the slide to the rear is an integral part of checking whether an autoloading pistol is loaded or not. For new gunowners, this is worth practicing every day until it can be done readily.
My ebook, Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is an excellent purchase for new gunowners or as a present if you know a new gunowner.
Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com
Defense in Depth
Stolen pistol leads to reckless endangerment charge for Stamford man
By John Nickerson Published 4:28 pm EDT, Wednesday, October 2, 2019
When I posted the story on my Tactical Professor Facebook page as a Negative Outcome, the following question came up.
Which reminds me: this question is probably been addressed here before but for those of us who haven’t caught it are there any vehicle storage lock boxes that have good non shitty locks that we can buy on Amazon or a brick and mortar store?
I use a lockbox that I bought at Academy Sports for 10 bucks. Any defense can be defeated. Just as in the military, defense in depth is how we prevent a defense from being easily defeated. By using multiple barriers, we encourage a thief to move on before he gets our gun. It’s the opposite of leaving a gun in the door pocket of an unlocked car left outside at night. Here’s how I do it:
1. Think ‘be discreet.’ Visually inspect the area to see who is around.
2. Have your pistol box in the trunk, already secured by its cable to the hinge of the trunk lid. If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, place the box in some spot that is accessible to you and out of sight of casual passers-by and has a solid attachment point for the cable.
3. Open the trunk.
4. Quickly palm your pistol and put your hand with the pistol into the trunk. This is where having a small pistol really helps.
5. Place pistol and any other weapons into the lockbox.
6. Lock the box.
7. If your holster doesn’t fit in the box, place it near the box.
8. Close the trunk.
9. Lock the car doors.
For years, I used a box with a combination lock but I’ve come to the conclusion that, for me, a key lock was faster and more convenient. The key is permanently on my keyring. I’m good at maintaining possession of my keys so I’m not concerned about not having the key to the box.
I only leave my revolver in the car when I have a good reason to; going into my home at night is not a good reason. Going into non-permissive environments or perhaps to the doctor are good reasons.
My thanks to the gentleman who asked about the topic. That was a good suggestion for a blog post. He wins free copies of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make and Concealed Carry Skills and Drills.
Tactical Professor books (all PDF)
Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com
Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com
Concealed Carry Skills and Drills http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com
Advanced Pistol Practice http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice
Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com
Safe Gunhandling Rules
There are several sets of rules regarding safe gunhandling. All the sets of rules emphasize the concerns of their originators. However, many similar things are said but stated in different ways.
Which set of rules you choose to use is less important than picking a set and following it scrupulously. Firearms are instruments of ultimate personal responsibility and can be very unforgiving of even a moment of carelessness. Gunhandling is just as important as marksmanship, but many people are careless about the way they handle firearms, which can result in death or serious injury.
The National Rifle Association’s set. Link
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s set. Link
Glock has its own set. Link
Like most competitors in the Action Shooting Sports, I use The Four Rules originally developed by Jeff Cooper. Lists of more than three or four items are difficult to memorize, so I still prefer them. There are minor variations but they all follow the same pattern.
- All guns are always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.
- Identify your target, and what is behind it.
When talking about gun safety, we need to be careful about taking our subject matter knowledge for granted, especially nuance. Each of the Four Rules has a given amount of unstated subject matter knowledge inherent in them. I have had this discussion before and I continue to maintain the following: telling people with little experience four sentences and expecting 100 percent positive results is ridiculous.
The Four Rules are a memory aid like OCOKA, not a teaching paradigm. Glibly reciting them and expecting people to understand the depth involved in them is like showing someone a flashcard about algebraic formulas and then expecting the person to understand Mass-energy equivalency. The written explanation I provide my students about the Four Rules is three pages long with multiple (2-7) subsections explaining the nuances of each Rule. In the case of Rule #2, there are seven subsections.
“Never point your gun at something you’re not prepared to destroy,” to someone who doesn’t know much about firearms, can be easily interpreted as “Don’t horseplay around with your gun and act like a toothless buffoon by pointing it at your wife or dog.” There are multiple nuances that are not immediately apparent in a one sentence reading. For instance, here is one subsection of my handout:
“c. In many cases, you will have to choose between pointing the gun at an inanimate object, such as the floor or gun cabinet, or pointing the gun at a person; always choose the inanimate object, never point the gun at a person.”
I speak for no one else but there’s nothing in a gun shop I am prepared to destroy when I handle a gun. However, the choice between shooting a gun cabinet and shooting the person behind the counter is fairly easy to make.
Granted a few people are exceptionally stupid. For instance, the guy who disabled his hand by negligently shooting it and then did it a second time because he insisted the only way he could manipulate the slide was by pushing it against his disabled palm. He posted pictures of the second incident on GlockTalk years ago and almost seemed proud of them. People like that are untrainable.
I think most people would be much more competent if we in the industry didn’t take so much for granted. People who have never operated a handheld device more complicated or dangerous than a coffee maker need an explanation first and the memory aid second to reinforce the explanation.
When explaining the Four Rules, I always include the statement:
In addition to the Four Rules, always store firearms so that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
The attached explanation is NOT all inclusive of the implications of the Four Rules. However, it is a starting point to allow shooters to think about the proper way to handle guns safely. Feel free to distribute the PDF to anyone.
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