Tuesday, July 8, 2014

One Handed Fire

I got caught the other day at the range. No I wasn’t breaking any safety rules. I wasn’t shooting anything illegal or automatic (although I really want to, but I restrain myself). No I was going through some drills and a fellow range member watched for a second and then asked why I was shooting with one hand? I told him I have two friends. One is a combat veteran, ex Special Forces. Another is ex Special Forces but also had a long dangerous career in the FBI. Both have been in numerous firefights at different points in their careers. When I asked about shooting on the run, shooting from cover, and the “fog of war” they confirmed that 1. You do default to your training, and 2. Tunnel vision is quite common. They also said two handed grips and stances give way to shooting from cover. (see blogs What Cover Is, 6/6/14 and Shooting from Cover, 3/21/14) That’s how you don’t die. Often shooting from cover is being prone, squatting, or leaning. Most of the time two hands may not be possible. They recommended practicing shooting from all angles, many odd positions, and of course, one handed. One of these brave men had been wounded in combat. His wound was in his shoulder and he couldn’t use that are right after sustaining the wound. He had no choice but to shoot one handed. Lucky for him it was his weak hand that was wounded. If you call a wound lucky. And that was why I trained with one and two hands. The problem with having no fighting experience is that we can only guess what it is like. Also, we want to learn the basics of shooting and have a good foundation. But if you shoot because you feel you may have to someday protect you and yours, then it’s important to train like you will use your weapon.
There is no proof that two handed shooting in close quarters defensive shooting situations is any better than one handed. Common sense suggests the opposite: a shooter may not be able to extend both of his or her arms far enough forward to shoot two-handed in a close-quarters life-threatening situation.
From 1854 – 1979, 250 NYPD police officers were killed in the line of duty. Of these, only one officer was killed at a distance beyond 25 feet—by a sniper 125 feet away. 92% of the fatal confrontations occurred within 15 feet. 96.4% went down under 25 feet.
Distance equals time, or lack of time. If you don’t have the distance or time to assume a “proper” combat stance and grip, you won’t do it. (see blog Distance is your Friend, 6/4/14)
It is very important in your training that you think about the order of events that would be most likely for your success and practice them relative to what you would want to do in the fight. For example, if your slide locks to the rear during the fight, forcing you to do an emergency reload, and sometime during that fight you are wounded, moving off the “X” (move from where you are engaging the enemy. See blog The OODA Loop, 3/20/14) might be a better option than standing there and trying a one handed reload. If you have trained with and can use a technique while you are on the move, you might embrace that technique rather than one that causes you to stand still in this particular situation. Regardless of what technique you use, I have found that the best option to avoid getting shot is to get off the “X” as aggressively as possible and then do the reload once you are in some other spot, hopefully behind cover. Besides being wounded, another reason for shooting one handed is your weak hand or arm may be occupied. You may be holding someone who is injured or shot. There are many reasons your arm could be occupied.
As far as drawing your weapon goes, you should be familiar with drawing with your weak side. Can you even reach it? Maybe you should rearrange the way you carry to give you other options. You may not need to practice this draw a whole lot, but you should know that if you had to, you could draw with your weak hand. Can you re-holster with one hand too? Remember the rule of keeping your strong hand free. But if you have to or choose to violate that rule, it would be good to know drawing your weapon is still possible. Any spare magazine, flashlight, or other accessory should be accessible also.
What you may want to do is to test your equipment to see if one handed operation is possible. Check everything. Flashlight operation, lasers, but most important is weapon manipulation. Does your rear sight slope forward? You may not be able to rack the slide with one hand. Test everything you carry and the location of it all. Do your best to relocate gear that cannot be used with an opposite hand. Look at guns with ambidextrous controls. These may be a better choice of carry weapon.
There are a few ways to be able to secure your weapon for manipulation. One of those is between your knees. You can replace a magazine this way and possibly rack the slide. Replacing a magazine can also be done with the weapon in the holster. Depending on your sights and the configuration of your gun, turning the gun over and racking the slide on the edge of a counter, or other object, is possible. Securing your gun behind your knee and bent leg are also an option. Practice these tasks and ensure that you are able to do them safely pointing the weapon away from yourself.
These are considerations that may save your life one day. Be aware that one handed shooting and manipulation is possible and should be integrated into your training. I usually do a rack and magazine procedure every month. I don’t need the muscle memory just the experience actually doing it. Some of these procedures may break one or more of the basic safety rules. Consider that before adding these things to your training program. If you do decide to practice manipulation in these ways, practice with a un loaded or “blue” gun before doing it at the range. Be safe in everything you do. Don’t compromise your diligence with safety unless you feel it will save your life. Practice, practice, practice.

Semper Paratus