Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reloading During A Fight

As so many of my articles start, so it is with this one. I was at the range the other day…
I heard a guy one bay over getting frustrated with his training. He was shooting, reloading, and re-engaging the target. I watched him a second and then went back to my business. Apparently I shook my head while I was watching or something and shortly he came over. I’ve got to stop expressing myself without talking! He was very polite and waited until I was done with my set before interrupting. He asked if I knew anything about tactical reloads. I said I know that they should never be done during a fight, unless there is a break or shortly after the fight is done. He was furiously practicing a tactical reload that he would probably never do during a fight. During a fight you need ALL your bullets!
A tactical reload is where you change magazines before the magazine is empty. Basically you have a round in the chamber and you’re topping off the gun with a fresh, full mag.
I explained what I knew about them. He asked if that was something I felt should be done with speed. I answered not so much speed as accuracy! You must be sure the magazine is seated correctly or you will have only one round to shoot. I was glad to see a defensive shooter trying to train for the realities of a gunfight. I found out that this guy was a Border Patrolman.
I’ve seen it so many times. Someone who wants to practice with their concealed carry weapon steps up to the firing line and shoots a tight group with the perfect stance, grip, and aim. No movement is involved and they go home thinking they are training for the unthinkable to happen. Now I don’t really blame them, it was the way they were taught. Without any force-on-force training you would think that was enough training.
A shooting is different than a gunfight. Shootings are usually close, quick, and deadly. A gunfight involves bullets flying everywhere. This changes everything! Makes that pretty range with its yard markers, flat surfaces, and stands look pretty useless. Of course that’s not true. The stand and shoot method of shooting is what we all did to learn to shoot. It’s the perfect way to build muscle memory and work on bad habits. But it is not defensive training.
The best way for me to describe defensive training is movement.
When bullets are coming downrange and you are at the recipient end all bets are off. All you want is to get out of the way of those bullets. You may be hit, possibly in the hand. Most of the time the hands, or the gun, is what is focused on in a gunfight. In the force-on-force training I did almost all of my first hits were hands. It takes a very cool head who focusses on center of mass or head shots. So have you practiced slapping and racking with one hand? What about mag changes? You may not actually be shot. Bullet fragment, shrapnel, or even debris from things around you getting hit with bullets may incapacitate your hand or arm. Doing reloads in a second or less may have no bearing on the reality of your gunfight. I’m not saying you should not practice reloading quickly, I’m just saying more is required. This is good dry fire training. One of the reasons I like airsoft guns for dry fire is they are pretty to close to the actual gun they represent. They have a removable magazine and are realistic to a certain degree.
Learning the basics of shooting standing still is fine, but the real difference between that and a gunfight is movement. Make sure the training you receive has movement involved in the training. It could be that the training is moving on the draw, after you shoot, while you shoot, or just finding cover, there should be moving involved. I guarantee that once you realize what is happening, hopefully right away, you will be moving.
Competition is usually different. It is the perfect world of shooting. You will never have to reload on the move. You will conserve ammunition, hit everything you aim at and get to cover to make the perfect tactical reload in preparation for the next step. Combat, whether military, law enforcement, or personal protection, is very different. Everything must be done on the move so everything must be practiced moving, especially reloads.
The difficulty with reloads in a firefight is focus. Under great stress you often have a tunnel vision. If you have this and need to reload it can hinder your focus on the threat. You can’t reload like you check your phone, head down focusing on the task. You must know what the threat is doing because your life depends on it. Making a simple reload must be in front of your face and looking at your field of fire and your threat. Do what you have to do and get back into the fight as fast as you can without losing sight of the threat. You can look through the trigger guard, or under it. Get in the habit of pivoting the weapon and not really changing the orientation of the gun. Make it a natural thing, not something uncomfortable. Make it with as few movements as possible for speed. The idea is to keep throwing lead at your attacker to stop the threat. A tactical reload, or whatever it is called this week, it goes by many names, won’t do you any good in a fight. You don’t need to conserve ammo but to get shots on target. Your life is in danger and you must defend yourself. Shoot until you are empty and then reload. Do this until the threat stops.
These two reloads should be practiced in every position you can think of. This is why I keep getting caught on the ground at the shooting range. You must shoot from every angle and position you can come up with. This can also be practiced with dry fire. I recommend a little of both. Learning to pop up, or around, cover, acquire the target, shoot, and pop back down is a process and has to be practiced. Doing all of this one handed is also another need.
The most popular one-handed reload is to use your knees to hold the weapon while you access your magazine. This can be done while standing, sitting or even kneeling. With a bit of effort, it keeps the muzzle pointed in the correct direction. Place the weapon between your knees, reload as needed and get it back in the fight. The nice part is that this method facilitates the use of either hand. If the slide is locked back, it can be placed into battery using the slide release. If not, running the slide may entail the use of a tire or even a crack in the wall. This is the very reason ledge sights are so common today.
Another one-handed reload seen with some frequency is the use of the lower leg while in a kneeling position. This generally accomplishes the same thing, and for those with large legs like me, it’s actually easier. This technique is a single-sided event, so practice on both sides. You can also place the weapon under your injured arm, especially if yours is only a hand injury. You can also use a waistband, your holster, a pocket or other parts of your clothing—just take the time to work it out.
Use your imagination when training for the actual shooting. When I took a combat driving course they had us shoot from various positions from a vehicle. It’s different so don’t just assume you will understand the challenges of shooting from a vehicle. Walk around a few vehicles looking for how you would manipulate your guns controls from behind the cover of a vehicle. Make sure you do these things several times dry first before going hot.
Mindset is the difference here. All gunfights are not the same. You’re an idiot if you think that you are the only one with a gun. You must train for a fight not something or anything else. Remember If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. Samuel Goldwyn of MGM said: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” The same goes for training, the more you train the luckier you get!
Semper Paratus
Check 6