Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Skills We Should Improve

Skill trumps gear. This is something I’ve tried to live by. It’s not always easy. There’s so much cool stuff out there. And working on skills is…well… work! I’ve often said to my wife “Couldn’t we just buy this thing instead of learn how to do it without this thing? This thing makes it so much easier to do this skill.” She knows me and just smiles. Sometimes she indulges me and lets me get the latest “thing” but she never lets me compromise my skills and is always pushing me to learn more. I appreciate that in a wife. I would hope that I would do the same for her.
Self-defense is no different. It takes certain skills to maintain your own defense. With that in mind I’ve come up with areas of focus you can use to improve your self-defense/shooting skills.
Immediate action drills
In the military we trained for these a lot. They are a malfunction of some kind. The gun did not go bang. The mantra is tap, rack, and roll. This means to tap the magazine (some teach slap instead of tap), rack the slide, and roll back into the action. This should take care of 80-90% of your problems but know about the other 20%.
For self-defense I also include dealing with the target not stopping. What if you shoot and hit but the target keeps coming. Of course you should keep shooting. But movement should be also part of that solution.
First aid should be part of these skills too.
Cover and Concealment
These skills involve making yourself invisible. How much of you do you expose when you shoot around things? Practice this along with your basic marksmanship. Knowing what is cover and what is not is important to your health. Not many things stop a rifle bullet and even handgun ammunition will go through the average home wall. Learn what is cover and how concealment can often save you.
Most instructors teach by propping up a student and having them shoot paper. There is nothing wrong with this, most of us have done this, are doing this, and will do this again in the near future. But learning how to shoot and move is very important. The Army has a saying for the infantry troops: Shoot, Move, Communicate. These are wise words. Moving is always important and you should learn the skill of moving while you shoot. If you’ve been taught this do it often to keep current. Moving around in a home or building while maintaining concealment is something you should practice. Shooting around corners, in stairwells, and hallways are also based important skills.
Shooting in Low Light and Inclement Weather
I’m pretty confident most people have never shot a gun in anything but good weather and sunshine. That would be typical and it’s understandable. When it’s raining it’s hard to get to my range because of dirt roads yet I’ve trained in the rain more than once. Low light is another activity that most don’t even think about. This includes using a flashlight, red dot, night sights and target identification. Knowing when to turn on devices that will give away your position are good things to know.
After Action Report
In combat this is a detailed report of what happened and how the mission was performed. As you train, do a self-critique to see if you are covering everything.
After an incident there are several things you can do to help yourself legally. Learn these things and practice them if they are a skill. If they are knowledge write them down from time to time to keep them fresh. Knowing what to say to police and how to act after a shooting is also important.
Situational Awareness
This is last on this list of things to improve on, but it is not least. In fact, with sit aware you can often stop something from happening or avoid people or areas of risk. This is a skill that should be practiced and talked about always.

Some skills are perishable. Shooting a gun at a certain level is a perishable skill. Other skills are there when called upon. Don’t ever let an opportunity to learn a new skill pass you by. I have a goal to learn a new skill every 3 months. It doesn’t matter if the skill is small and simple, with shooting and preparedness, skill is everything.
Practice whatever you can, whenever you can. Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.
Semper Paratus
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