Shooting Practice -- In Your Home?
February 29, 2012
Wow, this year is already spinning past so fast I can hardly believe it. Here it is, almost March, and I'm still trying to figure out what my New Year's Resolution should be. (Don't worry; I should have it figured out by the 4th of July ...)
As I write this, I'm on an airplane on my way home from Memphis, Tennessee. Two weekends ago, a terrific group of women came together for a Cornered Cat two-day class in Memphis. We had a lot of fun together, but it was fun with a serious purpose. Helping people become better prepared to protect themselves and the people they love is my passion in life, and I love working with women who are on the road to doing just that.
Incidentally, I should mention here that Rangemaster has one of the largest and best-trained cadre of female defensive firearms instructors in the country. If you're within driving distance of that facility and aren't taking classes from Lynn Givens and the gang there, you're really missing out!
Polite Society Match and Tactical Conference
Rather than heading home right after the Cornered Cat class, I stayed in Memphis for an extra week so I could catch the Polite Society Match and Tactical Conference at Rangemaster this past weekend. That was an amazing experience, well worth the $250 admission fee.
This conference brings together about two dozen professional firearms instructors from all over the country, along with around a hundred participants. These trainers provide samples of some of their best blocks of instruction in two-hour segments all weekend long. There's also an excellent, well-run match designed to test your critical thinking and shooting skills—although, of course, nobody is required to shoot the match simply in order to attend the conference. If you think you might want to attend a serious shooting class at some time in the future, this conference is an excellent, high-value way to find out who's out there, what they're teaching, and whether their teaching style appeals to you.
Why am I telling you this? Well, here's the truth: although there were some wonderful people at the conference, I was just a teeny bit lonely for more female companionship. Out of the 109 people who shot the match, there were only 8 female participants. Only eight! That just makes me sad. I'm hoping that next year, you will consider attending this excellent event with me.
From my email box...
Q: I looked under your holster section on Cornered Cat but didn't see anything written about the Flashbang type holster. Are you familiar with it and can you provide any commentary about it?
A: I haven't posted a review on the Cornered Cat website yet, but I do like the Flashbang Women's Holster and consider it a secure, reasonable way to carry a small firearm. Here's a link to a review I wrote about the Flashbang for Concealed Carry Magazine: http://www.usconcealedcarry.com/reviews/holsters/five-great-carry-finds.
To answer the most important question you might be afraid to ask, even someone who wears an A cup can conceal a firearm with the Flashbang. Having more curves does help, but frankly the most significant issue is that people with flatter chests are less likely to wear a solid bra with an underwire—and the Flashbang really requires such a bra. To prevent bra stretch as you draw, you need to do two things. First, wear a solid bra. Second, bring the gun out with a "flick" or "snap" type motion. If you smoothly pull on the gun rather than bringing it out with a quick jerk, your bra may stretch and defeat your draw.
Most women find Flashbang surprisingly comfortable to wear, but the very sensitive of skin might have problems with it. To solve that problem, you may be able to glue a piece of soft fabric to the back side of the holster to provide a little cushioning against your skin.
Overall, I think it's a good product and a reasonable way to carry for those whose usual clothing fits the concealment method. It's shockingly fast and quite secure.
Coming soon to a city near you!
Here's the current list of Cornered Cat classes scheduled around the country. If you'd like to see one of these happening in your town, please send an email to pax at Cornered Cat dot com. New classes are being added all the time!
Practicing safely at home
I always urge my students to practice their drawstroke with an empty gun (or better still, with a non-functional dummy gun) before they ever load the firearm or carry it in public. Since I do think this "dry" (unloaded) practice can be a valuable part of learning to carry a firearm, I owe it to you to be sure you know how to dry fire safely.
First, let's start with a cautionary tale: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2011/dec/05/quickdraw-practice-puts-bullet-in-neighbors. I am not kidding when I tell you dry fire can be very, very dangerous. If you pay attention, you will see news reports like this all the time. In fact, one of my best friends lost his high school sweetheart to someone else's stupidity in just that way. A mistake when you intend to pull the trigger on an empty firearm can be noisy and embarrassing—or downright deadly. This risk is something to take very seriously indeed, because a moment of inattention can easily cost you far more than you will ever be willing to pay.
If it's so dangerous, why do I suggest people do this thing? It's because dry practice truly can be done safely, and when it is, it provides huge benefits. In fact, dry practice even increases your safety in the long run, because it adds a critical layer of security during the most-dangerous stages of learning. For those of us on limited budgets (who isn't?), it's an opportunity to build good gunhandling habits without burning through a lot of ammunition or spending a lot in range fees. If you have a new holster, or one you haven't used in awhile, you absolutely must familiarize yourself with how that holster works—and you should do that with a three-times checked unloaded gun, or with a dummy gun. If you have a new outfit and want to be sure you can access the firearm from it, it's a darn good idea to unload your gun and stay within a safe dry fire ritual when you find out. There are many times when people handle their firearms with the expectation that the gun is unloaded. Every single one of those times should happen within the confines of a safe dry fire routine.
So here are the basic dry fire safety rules, from an article on the Cornered Cat site: www.corneredcat.com/Dry_Fire_Safety. This article suggests a routine or a ritual you can follow to drastically improve your safety. Be sure to follow the embedded links to learn more about how to choose a good direction for practice. That's at www.corneredcat.com/Find_a_Safe_Backstop.
Having trouble finding a safe backstop? Safe Direction makes a small, portable safe backstop that can travel with you wherever you go. Check out www.safedirection.com for more about that.
If you intend to practice your reloads without ammunition, as the man was doing in our cautionary tale, I strongly suggest you use a weighted, non-functional dummy magazine, such as www.dillonprecision.com/content/p/9/pid/25221/catid/24/Crisis_Resolution_Training_Magazines_Glock_17__22 or http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=5038/Product/SAFETY-MAG.
To be absolutely sure you aren't doing something unsafe during any phase of your learning process, buy a $15 piece of plastic such as the Training Barrel from Blade Tech (http://www.blade-tech.com/Training-Barrel-pr-1018.html) or the $8 Train Safe barrel blocker (http://www.trainsafe.us/products.php. These simple products dramatically improve your ability to practice without endangering yourself or others.
If you need to go through the motions of drawing the firearm from your holster, you can easily use a dummy gun, such as a Ring's Blue Gun (www.blueguns.com) or ASP Red Gun (www.asp-usa.com). You can also use these handy gun-shaped objects to practice physical skills such as ways to take (and keep) the gun away from a bad guy.
With a training barrel in place, or using a dummy gun, it becomes safe to practice moving through your home with gun in hand. You can also practice moving into or out of potential shooting positions you wouldn't be able to practice on the range—such as kneeling behind your bed or carefully shooting around a doorway in your home. (One word of warning: don't practice these things until you have first learned the safe way to do them! If you practice doing something the wrong way 6,283 times, then on the 6,284th time you do that thing, you'll almost certainly do it the wrong way. It's much better to learn how to do it right from the beginning, and then practice doing it the right way. Then your habits will be working for you rather than against you.)
So that's the scoop on dry practice. It can be incredibly valuable, but it is inherently a dangerous activity. To stay safe, THINK about what you're doing, every moment you handle your firearm, whether you believe it's loaded or not. Stay within the confines of a dry fire ritual, and improve your safety with products designed to lessen the hazards of dry fire. There's no reason to practice unsafely when practicing safely is so easy.
That's about it for now. As always, I hope I've given you some useful things to think about and areas to explore. If you have any questions, please feel free to pop over to my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CorneredCatCCW) and ask away!
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February 29, 2012—Shooting Practice -- In Your Home?
February 17, 2012—Women Making a Difference
January 14, 2012—Preparing For 2012
December 19, 2011—What Do YOU Carry?
November 3, 2011—Best Gun for a Beginner
October 27, 2011—The Elephant In the Room
October 13, 2011—Blame the Victim
October 5, 2011—Life is a Daring Adventure
September 29, 2011—We're Winning The Battle!
September 15, 2011—6 Must-read books
September 7, 2011—Protecting Yourself IS Protecting Your Family
August 31, 2011—Purse Tactics
August 15, 2011—The Cat's Meow