If you and your partner intend to start a family or to expand your family within the next few years, now is the time for you to develop your shooting skills to a comfortably high level. Why?
First of all, because you will want the ability to defend your child when he or she arrives. When you need to protect someone else’s life, you may need higher skills than you would if you were just protecting yourself.
You may need strong confidence that you can shoot accurately at longer distances, as one woman found when an attacker shot her husband as he got out of his car in their driveway at home. She saw the encounter from an upstairs window and used her handgun, at a distance of over 15 yards, to stop the attacker before he was able to kill her husband. (Listen to the full story on Tom Givens’ excellent DVD, Lessons from the Street.)
When you need to protect someone else, you may need to fire very accurately at a small target that moves rapidly and erratically, as one woman found when an assailant tried to kidnap her baby. As the attacker ran out the door with her baby, that mom fired from a distance of over 10 yards. She successfully stopped the running kidnapper who was taking her child. (Read the details of this 2011 incident in the news article. Also, here’s my take about shooting a fleeing kidnapper: Personal Boundaries.)
As stories like these show us, protecting another person may require much higher skills than simply protecting yourself. And as every good mom knows, protecting your child’s precious life is the greatest privilege and responsibility of parenthood.
Although you will need strong skills by the time your pregnancy is over, during pregnancy and for some time immediately after, you will probably find it tough to get to the range for live practice. No worries! As long as you start from a good solid baseline, it is relatively easy to keep your strong skills in tune using dry fire alone. That makes dry practice ideal during pregnancy. The downside? It is not easy to learn things for the first time using only dry fire. For this reason, you’ll want to develop the strongest shooting skills you can before you get pregnant, because your doctor may want you to stay away from the noise and lead exposure of the range while the baby remains inside your womb. (For more about shooting while pregnant, see Julie Golob’s excellent short e-book, Shooting While Pregnant.)
Not only is it difficult to learn something for the first time using only dry fire, it’s also much more difficult to maintain weak skills than strong ones. Weak skills tend to vanish over time, no matter what you do. They also tend to be associated with poor visualizations, making it much harder to get good value from dry practice. But strong skills provide more wiggle room from the start and also help you create better visualizations to avoid losing ground.
Again: to develop a strong baseline of good shooting and gunhandling skills, you need to shoot real ammunition on a live range. From a comfortably strong starting place, during pregnancy you can keep your core abilities sharp with a disciplined routine of regular dry practice that includes good visualizations. Then you can return to the range after pregnancy to add live fire back into your routine whenever opportunity presents.
To prepare for one of the most basic responsibilities of parenthood – protecting your child – the best time to build strong shooting skills is before you get pregnant.