The Cornered Cat
Rainy day practice

It happens sometimes that enough water comes out of the sky to close the road to the range. Or make it cold enough to be really unpleasant outdoors. Or that the indoor range is closed for maintenance. Whatever. The point is, you had a little time free and you’d intended to use it to get better at defending yourself. And now, for whatever reason, you can’t get to the range.

What to do? Instead of throwing your hands in the air and giving up, I recommend that you choose one of the following ideas and run with it. Some of these ideas will fit more easily into your life than others, but they are all good choices for someone who wants to be better able to defend herself.

Dry fire. When you dry fire, you go through all the motions of firing your gun, including pulling the trigger, when there is no live ammunition in it.

You might be wondering, “What’s the point of that?”  I’ll tell you: dry firing lets you practice some very important things. You teach yourself how to safely and efficiently get the gun out of your holster — even while wearing your regular clothes, not the ratty tactical casual clothes you might wear to the range. You learn how to smoothly bring the gun onto target, without wasted motion. You ingrain the habit of pressing the trigger smoothly, without yanking or jerking. You train yourself to follow through on each shot, mentally bringing the gun back onto target after recoil and realigning the sights before you remove your finger from the trigger. You practice taking your finger off the trigger before you allow the gun to come down into your ready position. You ingrain the habit of looking around, and really seeing what is happening around you, before you replace the gun in its holster. You build in the habit of getting your finger entirely off the gun, outside the trigger guard, and flagged away from the side of the gun while you holster it safely. All of those good habits can be built without ever firing a shot.

Of course, when you dry fire, you should be very careful to follow all the dry fire safety rules to be sure you don’t risk hurting yourself or anyone else. If you are not 100% convinced that you can follow these rules in your home, don’t dry fire there.

If you would like to dry fire on a regular basis, I recommend treating yourself to a very inexpensive, easy to use safety device such as a Training Barrel or firearm block. There are a lot of things you can do with a gun-shaped object — a gun that has been disabled with one of these safety devices — that you cannot safely do with an “unloaded” gun. Here are some of them:

Learn how to use your designated safe room. While you are calm and not under stress, find the best angles to cover the doorway, and the best places to protect yourself within that room. Don’t risk trying to figure this stuff out all at once if someone breaks in. Figure it out now, practice it a few times, then set it aside for when you might need it — just as you do with your fire escape plan.

Study how to move from your bedroom to your children’s room with the least amount of exposure to windows, doors, or open areas. If someone taught you how to move with a gun in hand, or how to work around corners, you can practice doing those things inside your home so that you won’t have to figure them out in a hurry under stress.

Practice reloads. Again, this requires a disabled gun, with a Training Barrel or firearm block in place. For less than $20, you can also buy yourself a weighted dummy magazine, which is a magazine-shaped object that won’t hold any ammunition. I do not recommend practicing your reloads at home with a functioning gun, even with dummy ammunition or snap caps; the risk is simply too high in a world where there are safer alternatives.

Finally, if none of those things appeal to you, it’s always a good day to train your brain. Spend a little time reading a good book about concealed carry and self defense!

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