Of the many different subjects contained within prepping, firearms are the most controversial. That’s merely a reflection of how they are viewed by society and the controversy surrounding their use. I don’t want to debate that here, because that’s best left to another forum. For the sake of this article, let’s just agree to the assumption that firearms can help you defend yourself and your family.
Firearms have been called “the great equalizer.” That’s because of all the different weapons available, they can be used by anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are strong or weak, male or female, old or young; you can still use a firearm, with very little instruction.
The problem is that pretty much anyone who has ever handled a firearm thinks that they can use it well enough that they can defend themselves and their family, regardless of their level of firearms training. They don’t take the time to learn and practice, because they don’t think they need to. After all, just point and pull the trigger; seems simple enough.
Basic Firearms Training
While the basics of firearm use are fairly simple, to use them well is another story entirely. Effective firearm use requires extensive practice, after getting trained on the basics. By effective, I mean being able to shoot what you want to, without the risk of accidentally shooting something else.
To start with, you have to learn the basics of shooting and get good at hitting a target. By good, I’m most concerned with being able to shoot a small “group.” That means the distance between your farthest shots. Good and consistency are somewhat synonymous in firearms training; so the size of the group says more about your ability than how many hit the bulls-eye. Of course, having a small group on the bulls-eye is the best.
Most people think that’s enough; but in reality it’s only the beginning. You see, I don’t see any situation where you or I are likely to be attacked by a dot at a pre-determined distance. Any attackers are going to do everything they can to make it so that they aren’t that dot sitting there at the distance you’ve been practicing at. So, your practice will end up being only somewhat effective.
Going on From There
What you need is tactical firearms practice. What’s that? It’s the type of practice that police and military units do, so that they will be ready to face true enemies on the field of battle. It differs from basic firearm training about to the same degree that grade school and the university differ.
Tactical training includes a number of elements to simulate an active shooting scenario. You have to overcome the additional difficulty that these elements add to the situation and still hit the target, and you have to do it rapidly. A real-life shooting situation isn’t going to give you a lot of time to think about it, you’re going to have to react and do so quickly.
So, what can you expect in tactical shooting training?
- Shooting at multiple targets – Bad guys, like coyotes, tend to gather in packs.
- Shooting at multiple distances – Those bad guys aren’t going to be lined up in a neat little row, like ducks in the carnival.
- Moving targets – It’s a whole lot harder to shoot at someone who is moving, then someone who is moving. You can’t count on the bad guys to hold still for you.
- Shooting while moving – If it’s harder for you to shoot the bad guys while they are moving, then it will be harder for them to shoot you while you are moving. This adds another layer of complexity, as you are no longer a stable platform for your gun. But you still need to shoot accurately.
- Low light – Many confrontations happen at night, when it’s harder to see the target and to see your gun’s sights. Tritium sights help, so does practice.
Many shooting ranges offer tactical shooting events, where you can get the opportunity to practice shooting in this manner. They run it as a competition, so that you have the pressure of competing against the clock. This is wonderful practice and will help you tremendously.
Let me warn you though, the first time out, you’ll do horrible. I can shoot a one inch group fairly regularly with my pistol. But the first time I went to a tactical shoot, I hardly hit the target; and they were using larger targets (silhouettes) than I’m used to shooting at. What’s the difference that makes it harder? Everything I mentioned above.
Anyone who is planning on using firearms to protect their family from attack, whether in a crisis situation or just from criminals doing a home invasion, needs to get some tactical training and practice. The time spent shooting in a more realistic situation, even though simulated, will make it much more likely that you’ll be able to hit the bad guys and not some innocent bystander, should things ever turn real and you have to use that gun in self-defense.