Aiming

Aiming is one of the two key fundamentals of shooting.  Without it the shot would nearly be meaningless.

Aiming, explained in its simplest form, is the relationship between your eye, the sights on your gun, and the target.  When all of these things are lined up, your shots will hit their mark.  In order to further explain aiming, we have to break it down into its fundamental parts.  Those parts are sight alignment, sight picture, and hold control.  Each of these parts can be done on their own, but also need to be done together to achieve accurate shots on target.  There are other factors as well.  Eye dominance plays a part in aiming, as does the mechanical relationship between the sights and the barrel of the gun, and also eye focus.

Aiming properly relies on the assumption that the sights on your gun are properly installed and mechanically aligned with the bore.  To achieve this proper alignment, the front sight (usually) is centered on the slide and the rear sight is moved to *align* the sights with the barrel.  On most new firearms, the sights are generally aligned well with the bore, but if they are not you need to move the rear sight IN THE SAME DIRECTION you want shots on target to go.  This may mean finding a gunsmith to drift the rear sight for you, but 99 times out of 100, it’s the shooter who needs fixing and not the sights.

Proper sight alignment, when using typical iron sights, is taught by telling students to center the front post in the rear notch while also keeping the top of the front post level with the top of the rear notch.  Take a gun with iron sights and set it on the bench or table.  Are the sights aligned?  You bet they are.  Orient the gun any safe way you want and the sights stay in the same place in relationship with each other.  So sight alignment isn’t really lining up the sights with each other.  We already did that when we made sure the sights were aligned with the barrel.  What we call sight alignment is really sight-eye alignment.  It’s lining up the sights with your eye so you SEE them with the front post in the rear notch and the top of the front post level with the top of the rear notch.

Proper sight picture is presenting your sight-eye alignment to the target.  How you should present this alignment differs depending on who you talk to, but the difference between the different “holds” is so small at self-defense ranges you don’t need to worry about it.  Just place the dot on the front sight right over the top of the bullseye on your target.  If you’re going to be shooting longer range, however, the holds will have a bigger effect, but I’d also hope you’re using adjustable sights so essentially you can choose the hold you use.  No matter which hold you choose to use, one thing is absolutely necessary.  Focus on the front sight.  I don’t mean look at the front sight, I mean FOCUS on the front sight.  That sight should be the crispest, clearest part of the entire sight picture, and that should never change.  Don’t swap focus to the target or the rear sight.  Focus on the front sight and the front sight ONLY.  Did I mention you should focus on the front sight?

Hold control is the part of the aiming process which relies on the shooter’s ability to keep the sights aligned with his/her eye and the target.  Let’s get one thing straight about this.  Even the best shooters in the world don’t have perfect hold control.  Every shooter has what’s called an “arc of movement.”  Arc of movement is your body’s natural motion when extending a gun in front of you, and the only way to minimize your arc of movement is to practice.

So practice whenever you can.  You can improve the aiming process with dry practice every day.  All it takes is 25-50 individual sight pictures a day and you’ll improve tremendously in a short time.  Don’t use dry practice as a substitute for live fire, though.  You still need to put rounds down range to solidify the skills.

Shooting Position

Position or Stance is an extension of Grip and of the platform for every shot you take.  Position is like the ground underneath the foundation of your home.  Without it, the foundation can’t make your house stable, but the kind of ground under your home is less important than the foundation itself.  Homes can be built on stone or dirt, but as long as the foundation is solid the home will last forever.  The same is true with a shooting position.  You can be standing, kneeling, sitting, or lying on the floor and as long as your grip is solid and your fundamentals are sound, you’ll be able to shoot well.

When teaching people to shoot for the first time, most instructors concentrate on the isosceles and Weaver stances.  Let’s ignore your lower body for a moment and concentrate on the upper body mechanics of these stances.  Both are good stances for shooting accurately and practicing the rest of your fundamentals, but the Weaver stance falls a bit short for tactical or self-defense shooting.  Don’t get me wrong, the Weaver stance is effective if you’re trying to be accurate, but it does little to manage recoil and becomes extremely difficult to use in alternate lower body positions.  The disadvantage is in the mechanics relationship between your body and recoil.  Recoil follows the path of least resistance, and in a Weaver stance, that path is toward the support hand side because your support arm is bent and pulling back on your gun arm.  This means there is more time spent getting your sights back into alignment with your eye and your target.  That is time wasted.  When you use the isosceles stance with a proper and consistent grip, the path of least resistance is straight back into your arms, through your shoulders, and then the rest of your body.  So instead of throwing the recoil off to the side, it allows your body to absorb that recoil, no matter what position your lower body is in.  It also solidifies your shooting “foundation” (remember the tip on grip?) allowing your weapon system to function more reliably.

OK, but what about the lower body?  This is the part that gets long and drawn out as there are so many possibilities, but I’ll try to make it as succinct as possible.  The orientation of your lower body should be appropriate for the job you’re trying to do.  In general, your lower body position could be standing, kneeling, supine, or prone.  There are more possibilities, but these are the most common.  Each one is effective for a different job.  Standing will be the most common and just about everyone is much more effective standing than in any other position.  A standing position also allows you the greatest mobility and you should be trying to get back to your feet when possible.  If the situation makes a different position necessary you may choose to kneel or lay prone behind cover, or you might change your position to gain advantage over an adversary. You could run and fall, making supine an option until you can get back to your feet.

I recommend taking a class devoted to fighting handgun if you plan on carrying a handgun.  Most CCW classes do not teach many of the things you need to know to win a fight.  A good instructor will know and teach all of these positions and more.  Getting yourself in the position when you don’t have to fight will make it easier if the unfortunate time comes when you are forced to defend your life.

Proper and Consistent Grip

Grip is the platform for every shot you take. Think of it like the foundation in your home. Without a solid foundation, your house wouldn’t be stable and would deteriorate. It’s the same with gripping a firearm. Without a proper, consistent grip the rest of the shot process deteriorates.

Using a proper grip will help reduce the effects of recoil and will allow you to improve both trigger control and hold control. So, what is a proper grip?

A proper grip consists of a number of important aspects. First, you want your shooting, or primary hand as high on the back strap as possible. This goes for both semi-auto pistols and revolvers. Having your hand high on the back strap does a couple things. It lowers the bore of the pistol in relationship with your arm, directing the recoil more into your hand and arm instead of into the air above the pistol. It also puts more of your hand on the gun, meaning you can hold onto the gun much better. Something many instructors and experienced shooters don’t talk about is where the back strap lays in your hand. Without a gun, close your hand with your thumb and fingers straight, like you’re moving the mouth of a sock puppet. See the crease that’s made in the palm of your hand when you do that? That’s where the back strap of the gun should go. You need to put the least amount of meat from your hand behind the back strap. That way, it can’t get squished when you fire a round which WILL affect your grip. Now, wrap your shooting hand fingers around the grip of the pistol keeping your trigger finger out of the trigger guard and along the frame. Next, we need to put our non-shooting, or support hand somewhere. Start by keeping your support hand flat with your fingers straight. Now put your support hand under the trigger guard like you’re going to press back against the front strap. Wrap your support hand fingers around your shooting hand, lining up the knuckles on your hands with each other. Make sure your support hand index finger is up against the bottom of the trigger guard as tight as you can get it. To finish off the grip, lay your support hand thumb along the frame opposite where your trigger finger is, and lay your shooting hand thumb on the meaty part of your support hand. This will allow you to get the lower palm of your support hand on the side of the pistol grip. It will also make you rotate your support hand forward. If you’re doing it right, your support hand will look like you’re pointing with your thumb.

Consistency in your grip will help you to build muscle memory and really lock in that solid platform for the rest of the shot process. It takes roughly 1,000 repetitions of something to get good at something and over 10,000 to master it. Practice is the key to consistency. Luckily, with practicing grip, you don’t have to fire 10,000 rounds to master a proper grip. You can do this in your home with dry practice.

Second Call Defense

You’ve probably thought a lot about how you’ll defend yourself if you’re forced to use a firearm. But have you thought about what you’ll do AFTER a self defense shooting?

We all have the right to defend ourselves. Unfortunately, you can still find yourself in a lot of trouble. You can be arrested, jailed, sued, fired, and bankrupted, even when you have legally and justifiably used a gun in self defense.

I recently joined an organization called Second Call Defense. And I recommend that you join as well.

As a member, you can participate in comprehensive training and education on exercising your rights legally and responsibly. And one phone call gives you immediate access to a comprehensive set of emergency resources and protection after you use a firearm in self defense. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that fellow gun owners have your back when it counts.

They have a variety of membership levels to suit any budget. Depending on the level you choose, your membership can include …

  • Up to $1 MILLION Civil Suit Defense Protection – UNLIMITED at the Ultimate Level
  • Up to $250,000 Civil Suit Damages Protection
  • Up to $250,000 Accidental Shooting Protection
  • Up to $50,000 Criminal Defense Reimbursement
  • Up to $25,000 Immediate Cash for Bond up to $250,000
  • Up to $10,000 Immediate Attorney Retainer
  • Up to $500 per Day Compensation While in Court
  • And much more…

TO JOIN:

1. Go to www.SecondCallDefense.org.

2. Click on Plans & Pricing. Select the membership level you want and click the JOIN button for that level.

3. Fill out the form and use my Recruiter ID# 20101. Just click on YES where the form asks if you were referred by a Second Call Defense Recruiter. Then type my name and ID# into the space provided. That way, I get credit for the referral.

If you have any questions, use the contact form on our page and I’ll answer any questions you may have.

Thanks!
Brad Krumme

IDPA and Preparing to Defend Yourself

When I started training in firearms, it was my primary goal to teach people the necessary skills to defend themselves if the need ever arose to do so.  I teach primarily concealed carry and in every one of my classes I recommend my students practice on a regular basis.  As part of that recommendation, I always bring up the International Defensive Pistol Association or IDPA.

There are a few reasons I bring up IDPA specifically for anyone wanting to practice using their firearm for personal defense.  Most of these reasons are illustrated in the statement IDPA has on their website regarding what IDPA is about.

“IDPA is the use of practical equipment including full charge service ammunition to solve simulated “real world” self-defense scenarios using practical handguns and holsters that are suitable for self-defense use. The main goal is to test the skill and ability of an individual.”

Practical equipment, full charge service ammunition, and “real world” self-defense scenarios are all part of a well-rounded training regimen.  Just going to the range, standing in one place, and shooting at paper targets doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do well in a high-stress defensive situation.  Shooting at paper from a stationary position is great for practicing fundamentals of shooting and really getting to know your firearm, but it doesn’t put you anywhere near the same physiological state as a defensive situation.  It is still good practice, it just isn’t the BEST practice…especially if you carry a firearm every day.

When it comes to practical equipment, the goal of IDPA is to keep the firearms, holsters, and magazine carriers as close as possible to something you would carry with you for self defense.  There are very few firearm modifications allowed, and those which are allowed are limited to those you would do on a defensive firearm.  You won’t find any highly-tuned race guns with red dot sights or compensators at an IDPA match. Holsters should be an Outside the Waistband or Inside the Waistband concealment style holster. There are products available from most holster makers which work nicely. Magazine carriers are limited in that they must cover the magazine all the way around and be worn vertically on your belt. This is an attempt to even the playing field and really test your skills instead of testing your equipment.

In order to truly get an idea of what it would be like in a defensive situation, you have to feel stress.  Your heart rate needs to be raised and your adrenal glands need to release adrenaline into your bloodstream.  You need to get tunnel vision like you would in a violent encounter.  You need to experience “fight or flight” signals your body and brain will be screaming at you in a defensive situation.  IDPA, thankfully, isn’t a violent encounter, but it is a safe way to experience some of the effects of stress on your body.  Your heart rate will rise and you will likely get a small adrenal surge. Shooting is pretty exciting, right? Add some movement, barriers, designated no-shoot targets, reactive steel targets, and more and you can start to see how much MORE exciting IDPA can be. It simulates as best it can a defensive situation without a bad guy trying to rob, rape, or kill you.

IDPA will certainly test your skills and abilities. You may be a great shot when you’re standing still at your local shooting range firing away at a target that doesn’t move, but try that same shot when you or your target is moving, even at a simple walking pace. You’d be surprised how much more difficult it is to hit the center of the target. Add the elements of the draw, presentation to the target, reloads, use of cover, and varied target distance and you can see how IDPA can be very good practice for anyone who carries a firearm. That’s the entire reason I recommend IDPA to my students. It’s harder to do than shooting static targets which means the more you do it and the better you get, the better overall shooter you will be.

The other reason I recommend IDPA to my students is quite simple. It is FUN! If you enjoy shooting at your local range, look for an IDPA match near where you live. I guarantee you will have fun, no matter your skill level or experience. Here’s a short video of the last match I shot in Oxford, OH. You tell me how fun this looks. Enjoy!