The importance of the ability to actually hit what one intends to hit with a handgun, especially while in a pressure situation, is, in my opinion, given far too little attention in the "gun media" - magazines, forums, blogs and videos. Many words and images are created introducing, explaining and evaluating guns, calibers, ammunition, holsters, target shooting accuracy and the like, but far to little has been said on what happens when the average, law-abiding citizen must actually draw and fire her or his weapon in self defense. This is a huge subject and there are a number of excellent studies available if you look for them, but in the main, the magazines, forum rooms and the like don't pay sufficient attention to this critical fact.
Having taken a class on the aftermath of a self-defense shooting I am particularly sensitive to this topic. (See my post on this blog for comments on that class.) I kept reminding myself that one of the main lessons from the class, and one I should take seriously, is to
hit what you shoot at and nothing else!
This is vital. It is bad enough to have to shoot a person in defense of lethal force, but to shoot an innocent person by mistake when doing that would be beyond tragic. It happens, far too often. And the solution is, once you have no choice and must shoot to defend yourself or other innocent people, is to
hit your target.
Period. No exceptions. As we all know, this is far easier said than done. A handgun is notoriously difficult to shoot accurately even though people unfamiliar with that fact are persuaded otherwise by the endless gunfights in movies and the TV wasteland. Even professionals, law enforcement and trained military, more often than not, shoot poorly under fire or stressful situations. How, then, are we supposed to overcome this critical issue?
Many citizens who own and legally carry for self defense merely ignore it. They practice a bit, now and then, often at a range that prohibits handgun self defense tactics in favor of "safe" target shooting, then basically assume they are ready. Others will adopt technology to answer the issue: night sights, after market sights and, laser sights. In themselves they are useless in dealing with the main problem of hitting your target under stress. Sights don't acquire the target, stay on it and pull the trigger. The person does, and having a wavering red dot out there somewhere isn't going to guarantee that your bullet finds its mark.
The only solution is to shoot regularly, frequently and in such a way as to hone self defense shooting skills. Draw and fire with rapidity from the holsters one normally carries. Shoot without getting a sight picture, especially up close. Shoot with only one hand. Shoot with your non-dominant hand. Acquire and hone trigger control. All these things are easy to understand, but difficult to master. One of the main reasons, aside from having a place to shoot where one can develop and practice these skills, that keeps more people from learning and practicing this is the cost of ammunition. For example, $12 a box for 50 rounds of 9mm practice ammo is pretty steep for most of us. However, there is another solution.
Get a .22 caliber handgun that approximates your main carry gun's size, feel and operation, then shoot that one as much as possible, working on your skill set and building up muscle and attitudinal memory so that if the time comes when you have to resort to your gun in self defense, you can do so without thinking about it at the time, and are able to hit your target. .22 caliber ammo is cheap and you can afford to invest a thousand rounds or more in acquiring and maintaining the necessary efficiency and accuracy to effectively use your self defense weapon if you have to without worrying about who is going to get shot.
Walking the talk, I have my LC9 up for sale - relying on the excellent SR9c as my main carry gun now - and have bought a Ruger SR22P .22 cal semi-automatic pistol as my practice gun. Think about emphasizing your shooting skills instead of looking for a "better" conceal carry gun, or newest fad in self defense ammo, or that expensive IWB holster you want to buy.
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