As one of my close friends said recently, “If you are like most working stiffs you are putting in 40-60 hours a week and in many cases living paycheck to paycheck. How and what should we work on to conserve ammunition and take advantage of limited time?” This is something I have been thinking about for well over a decade. After all, I grew up reloading to save money on shooting, and this is when rifle rounds were less than 22lr is now.
For we concealed carrying individuals who do not have access to unlimited ammunition and rarely get more than a couple of hours to train monthly, what follows is the solution. First, remember the two most important safety rules, with an initial statement.
All firearms are loaded all the time if you remember this you will not need any other rules. However, here are the only two rules anyone ever needs to follow.
- Loaded or not, keep the finger OFF the trigger
- Loaded or not, always ensure the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction
If you forget rule one, but remember rule two, there will be no injury or property damage.
If you forget rule two, but remember rule one, there will be no injury or property damage.
It seems extremely simple yet, so many forget to follow the rules. Okay, now we can look at training and approaches. The following is from a course I designed and taught for over ten years with very few modifications if this approach is followed a person with no prior firearms training can using only 60 rounds pass an FBI training qualification.
The training is based around the extreme repetition of precisely understood and practiced basics. As with anything in life, to be good at it, you need repetition and a stable platform of unwavering basics.
First, we start by holding the firearm properly
Dominate hand should be firmly seated with the webbing of the hand tight under the curve at the top of the grip. The meat of the palm should be towards the back of the grip, it is important to maintain as much skin.
The bottom three fingers should wrap tightly under the trigger guard firmly touching the bottom of the trigger guard and clasping the grip. The trigger or index finger (otherwise known as the safety) should be laying along the frame above the trigger guard, a slight crook in this finger allows stronger retention. The thumb can be either pointed up or alongside the opposite lower side of the frame from the index finger.
This is up to the individual though some firearms are known for their desire to eat your thumb if it is too high. The support hand should be placed with the meat of the hand in the gap between the fingertips and the meat of your dominant hand on the opposite side of the grip.
Wrap all four fingers around the front and underneath the trigger guard again firmly placing the against the underside of the trigger guard and wrapped over the three fingers from the dominant hand.
The alternate thumb should be underneath the dominate hands thumb, it is important to not cross these digits as this will not aid in a firm platform. Utilizing a “crushed” grip or a very firm grip one may assume that this grip will, in fact, provide a strong platform for shooting and doing so accurately.
Drawing from CCW carry
Support hand grasps clothing covering the firearm and pulls it straight up. Dominate, gun hand placed firmly over backstrap of the pistol. Ensure a strong, solid, seated grasp; the web of hand should be solidly up under the curve of the grip where it meets the slide.
Ensure finger is OUTSIDE and above the trigger guard alongside the frame, either straight or slightly crooked. Draw straight out of the holster. Rotate the barrel slightly forward and point in the direction of the target with your hands close to the body.
Meet the dominate hand with the support hand and complete the grip as you extend the firearm towards the target. If you are in a solid stance you will find a solid draw allows you to be aiming at the target regardless of sights at this time.
Stances while engaging the target. There are three main stances when holding a handgun. All of them require your upper body to move forward over your center of gravity. Isosceles Hold – Triangle arms in front of body fully extended weight may be neutral or even back, Modern Isosceles Hold weight shifts more aggressively forward – using instructors show why weight distribution is important.
Weaver stance – Both elbows bent, pistol (dominant) hand pushes forward with the firearm while support arm pulls back creating tension theoretically allowing better shooting, the body is at a 45 to the target, Modified Weaver simply locks the dominant hand/arm straight out.
Offhand, Bullseye – One hand, strong hand, facing sideways to target arm extended, again leaning forward.
To understand various techniques and approaches with sight acquisition we have to understand what sights are and how to use them. For the vast majority of handguns, the sights consist of a rear sighting notch and a front sight post.
Even revolvers and handguns without a true rear sight the front sight post will provide a solid sighting ability. A proper sight picture entails lining the front sight post up in the rear sighting notch, evenly between both sides of the rear notch and having the top of the front sight post lined up straight with the top of the rear notch.
Following all previous steps, push the firearm forward until you visually engage the sights, remember, focus on the target which should make the rear sight post disappear and the front become blurry. This is normal, and it is also why for self-defense and close combat applications we can look at a simple yet effective approach.
Modified Point Shooting
Eyes focused on the target, handgun comes up where you just cover the target with the front sight. This is not meant to engage with extreme precision, it is meant for combat applications only.
This is basically point shooting, except that you are not just extending your hand and the firearm and shooting you are still mentally linking the front sight and the target. Practice this, you can easily practice the movements using dry fire techniques.
Dry fire is without ammunition, all modern handguns should be able to dry fire, if they cannot, look for a better handgun. Additionally, you can use snap caps (inert dummy rounds for dry fire practice and safety checks) to do the same thing if needed.
There Are Two Other Sighting Approaches
First is the 6 O’clock hold where your sight picture has the target seated on top of it, this requires ensuring that your sights allow for this at 25 yards. Some handgun sights are set up for the center hold where they cover up the target.
I personally prefer and train with the 6 o’clock hold, however, depending on firearm type can adjust as needed. Again most modern defensive handguns have sight alternatives for purchase set up to allow a 6 o’clock or fully adjustable sights.
Dry Fire Practice
Dry fire practice is when you practice loading, gripping and trigger manipulation without live ammunition. Be extremely careful and make sure no ammunition is in the room and double-check your cleared firearm.
This means make sure it is empty and that all magazines being used are also empty. Practice racking the slide, overhand grip across the back of the slide, opposite hand gripping the handle with a high, tight grip and push on the grip while pulling the slide.
This will allow less physically able individuals to easily load and unload the handguns. It is also a solid approach for everyone to use. Once the firearm is cleared fully, checked and the slide is racked you can practice pressing the trigger smoothly.
If you have a second set of hands practicing you can use the dime or penny on the front sight to ensure your press is smooth and does not shake the penny or dime off of the front sight. Line up your sights using a mirror, sight in directly at your reflection from one yard away.
Rack the slide, balance the dime or penny and press the trigger until it releases the firing pin or hammer. Repeat for several minutes, obviously it is not necessary to place a penny or dime on the front sight post every time, however, this does ensure solid firing practices.
Live Fire Practice
The next stage is live fire, prior to doing this follow these simple instructions to ensure accuracy. Prior to live firing your handgun always make sure using 5 rounds and a sandbag that the sights are on target. This means you will set up a target at 25 yards, grip the handgun securely and rest your arms on the sandbag.
If you have access to a firearm vise or gun rest use that instead. You want to remove all potential for human error from the equation. Aim at your target and without moving the point of aim, fire five rounds slowly.
The center of that five round group is where your true point of aim will be. It is not unusual for some manufacture handguns to be so far off target that you miss the target entirely first time out. If this is the case, move the target to 5 yards and adjust from there. For a combat handgun, I suggest having it zeroed at 25 yards.
You may need to use a tool to adjust the sights and do it well, you can also use a punch and mallet combo if you go slowly and very small adjustments are made. This will allow for the least amount of correcting needed at the time of use. If it is a quality handgun you should be able to adjust the sights one time and check every few months to ensure the POA or point of aim is still correct.
Live fire practice, this is where the fun begins! By now if you have practiced for 20 minutes to an hour with each of the other steps you can go into live fire and with a firearm that has been properly sighted in pass an FBI qualification shoot test with minimum coaching and the first time you shoot it.
An FBI qualification is a series of shooting drills from different positions, distances all totaling 60 rounds expended and the score being compiled upon completion. Using a paper FBI modified QIT qualification center mass target found at this link. To pass the FBI qualification you need 48 points out of 60. Each round inside the bottle shape is counted as one point.
So by default, your misses are all that keep you from passing, remember your basics and do not miss!
- Set up the target at 3 yards at the same height that your chest is too it a total of 12 rounds is needed for this drill. Dominate hand only 3 rounds in 3 seconds, repeat this once with the same time limit. Next, do 3 rounds with the dominant hand than switch to non-dominate hand and fire 3 rounds the time limit for this part is 8 seconds.
- Now set up the target at 5 yards, from here on out two hands are used in all shooting. 12 rounds will be fired here as well. Shoot 3 rounds in 3 seconds, repeat for a total of 12 rounds. Keep all rounds inside the bottle outline, and remember, the smaller you aim the smaller you hit!
- Now its time for seven yards and 16 rounds fired. Fire 4 rounds in 4 seconds, repeat one time. Now prepare a spare magazine of 4 rounds. Shoot 4 rounds than reload and shoot another 4 within 8 seconds.
- Next, we move to 15 yards using 10 rounds. Shoot 3 rounds in 6 seconds then repeat this for 3 more rounds. Last using 4 rounds put them on target in 8 seconds or less.
- Last we move to 25 yards using 10 rounds. For a true FBI qualification you need “cover” you can easily make the equivalent of “cover” by using a shooting bench or piece of cardboard. Make sure you have the okay from your range master if using a public range. Move up to cover and while standing fire 2 rounds and then go to a kneeling or modified kneeling position based on health and ability and fire 3 rounds all in under 15 seconds. Repeat this one time.
That is it for the qualification round. As long as you maintain positive basics and have a grasp of what is required in this regard passing this should be quite easy. If you are able to do this qualification from start to finish in one setting do so, and see if your local Rangemaster on duty would not mind watching and verifying that you did shoot this.
If not, have a friend you trust to watch and verify. Save the target from the first time you pass the qualification. For legal purposes sign and date it, have your friend or the range master who witnessed also sign it. Retain this target and if the worse case happens and you are forced to defend yourself using deadly force and you end up in court.
This target could mean the difference between your being seen as a gun-crazy kook and a simple person who wishes to defend themselves. It will show you take your training as seriously as the FBI.
So there we go, some basic training approaches to take which will allow you to get the most from what may be limited resources. Honestly, regardless your resources and time available these approaches are important and they are what I do personally 3 to 4 days out of every week.
If you have any questions or changes to facts presented please let me know and thank you again for reading!
Free the mind and the body will follow
I need more practice. I’ve let daily chores get in the way and haven’t practiced in quite a while. I know I’m rusty. Thanks for the reminder.
PG. The best thing is we can practice basics without going to range most times!
Excellent summary, Jesse. I would add just one thing and that’s the importance of focusing on what you’re doing every minute — no exceptions. I’ve handled firearms for decades and qualified as expert marksman while in the military. But during this most recent range visit, I had a mental lapse, gripped the pistol incorrectly and as soon as I get these five stitches out of my thumb, I’ll go back and do it right. I’m blaming it on old age because it sounds better than just being an idiot.
Owl Creek, absolutely agreed! Thank you!
(You were obviously following rules/as no permanent injury was done thankfully!)
I was putting about 100 rounds down range every 2 or 3 days, then just stopped. Haven’t shot since 2012. The good news is, I’m getting back to it. I have a 30 yard range set up on my property. I’ve gotten it back in shape and will be adding a moving target on the range also. It will simulate a person running across the field of view using a typical silhouette target. I want to get myself involved with the IDPA and start shooting competition. Won’t be bad for a 72 year old with various infirmities.
Oren, now that sounds like a good day! And good job getting out there and staying busy regardless. Hardest part of being disabled and getting older is the minds desire to push what the body refuses to…