An instructor offers some insight:
1. Dry firing: Don't listen to those who say you cannot dryfire your gun. Unless you have an old .22 LR, it is perfectly safe -- and even advisable -- to learn to pull the trigger fast without putting movement into the gun. The dividends from this training exercise are huge! If you only do one of the recommendations… this is the one to do! (Investing in a SIRT training pistol will make this task even easier and eliminate the potential for negligent discharge.)
2. Buy a pistol that fits your hand: Use the Goldilocks rule, not too small; not too large. Make sure your fingers reach the trigger (you can comfortably place the pad of your index finger over the trigger). Make sure both hands, in proper grip position, cover the grip of the gun. Make sure you can comfortably depress the magazine release button for quick reloads.
3. Buy a quality belt, rated for handgun carry: We say it repeatedly in our classes...an everyday belt will NOT typically support the weight of a quality holster and gun. We recommend Bigfoot gun belts / gunbelts.com or Wilderness Tactical Products, LLC / www.thewilderness.com, or the belts we offer in our Pro Shop.
4. Buy a pistol that can be used for EDC: (every day carry) with enough ammo capacity (10 or more rounds) that it can be used in range training. An individual that trains and carries only one pistol is to be feared. He / she has mastered that operating system and is smooth in presentation.
5. Buy at least 10 magazines or more for your pistol: Test them all. Some are to be set aside for training and some placed in strategic places with defensive ammo should the need arise. I always have a loaded magazine in the vehicle should I need a reload. When I travel and stay at hotels, I take at least 10 mags, each loaded with defensive ammo. Better safe than sorry. Most hotel rooms can be unlocked in under 2 minutes…even with all the locks and safety devices engaged. (Youtube has lots of videos instructing how to make entry...and it is eye-opening).
6. Buy holsters that fit the pistol: No more than level one retention. Too many levels of retention will get you killed. The reason that we have all the different levels of retention is because we don’t take the time to teach awareness and retention. Take the training and practice. I recommend Comp-Tac holsters / comp-tac.com or Safariland holsters / safariland.com.
7. Buy good quality lithium powered flashlights: (minimum 650 lumens) and place them in your vehicles and your home with a good supply of batteries. Resist the urge to buy weapon-mounted lights for your pistol. The last thing you need to do is to identify your child (who came home to surprise you) while pointing a loaded firearm at him/her. Take the training and learn flashlight / low light techniques. Weapon-mounted systems and holster retention devices are the result of Police / Security Administrators throwing money at the problem rather than investing in the actual training of personnel.
8. Buy practice ammo and shoot often: Shooting is a perishable skill. As a rule, you should shoot at least 5,000 to 10,000 rounds per year. Don’t buy a reloader thinking that you’ll save money. Do the math. By the time you actually pay off the machine’s cost, your time and supplies, you could have easily bought 20,000 practice rounds. Your time will better spent on the range shooting, not sitting behind the machine pulling a lever.
9. Invest in training: Take at least one to five new training courses per year. Learning never stops. We recommend the STEP program at our range and all the local/regional training you can find through Shootingclasses.com.
10. Learn to shoot with both eyes open: By closing an eye, you cut down your peripheral vision by 50 recent. In the past, we taught shooting using only the dominant eye. This technique came out of the rifle discipline. Today, we teach both eyes open…even for scoped rifles. If it seems impossible, close one eye to begin with, and then -- while focused on the front sight -- gradually open the other. Doing this each time you shoot will eventually train both eyes.
11. Learn to point index shoot: Don’t focus on the front sight when you’re 10 yards (two car lengths) away or closer: Focus on the suspect / target and point the weapon instinctively. Learning this technique will save you valuable seconds, not to mention saving your life. This is an excellent square range training exercise.
12. Learn to draw and holster your pistol smoothly: Without looking at or for the holster (one handed). You can practice this with your gun unloaded until it is a smooth motion.
13. Practice visualizing and pushing the pistol forward while shooting: This aids in the cycling of the slide and better stance balance. Remember, you drive the gun rather than letting the gun drive you. How can you tell? At the end of your shooting string of fire, you may find yourself being rocked back on your heels ( the gun is driving you) or you may end with pressure on your toes (you are driving the gun)?
14. Invest in good quality electronic hearing protection: Get the highest NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) possible…I recommend Howard Leight Impact Pro, Walkers, and or Peltor.
15. Get your eyes examined: At least once a year. Your eyesight changes and does so gradually over a period of time. You may not recognize that you are no longer seeing clearly (which would explain your driving...)
16. Incorporate Steel Targets: Into your training drills. Steel targets promote a faster learning curve thanks to positive feedback from hearing and seeing bullet impacts.
17. Learn to move while shooting: No one stands still in a gunfight. Correction...no one stands still in a gunfight, and lives.
18. Resist the urge to buy optics for your pistol: Most life-threatening encounters occur within 5 to 10 feet. Optics will slow you down and get you killed. Mastering optics on a handgun takes extensive practice and only comes into play if the shot is 25 yards or longer. While they are the leading edge of technology in competition, they have no place in an EDC… just my opinion.