If you’ve never owned a gun, the thought of carrying one on your person for self-defense can seem a bit intimidating, because after all, you’re carrying something that can potentially kill other people.
But driving a car also means you’re using a machine that can potentially kill other people, yet we do that all the time without much concern. The good news is, the same concepts that keep us safe while driving a lethal instrument like a car can also keep us safe when carrying a gun.
Defensive driving is about trying to minimize the odds of hazards happening by anticipating the other drivers’ moves. It’s not about being paranoid or stocking up for the zombie apocalypse, it’s about being aware of what’s happening on the road around you.
We do this on the road without thinking about it because we’ve practiced it for years. We’re not nervous about driving, we’re alert. We keep the music loud enough to enjoy, but quiet enough to hear an oncoming emergency vehicle. We keep our anger in check because we know that causes accidents, and we keep an eye out for people who aren’t as careful.
We are safer in our cars because we are situationally aware, and we are safer outside of our cars if we take that awareness with us when we leave our vehicles.
“You have the rest of your life to solve your problems. How long you live depends on how well you do it.”
– Clint Smith
At last week’s IDPA match, it became abundantly clear that I needed some more practice
Because, quite frankly, I sucked.
I’ve had trigger control problems for quite a while, and they’ve returned to haunt me due to a prolonged absence from shooting earlier this year. Controlling trigger jerk is easy in theory; keep a smooth press backwards from start to BANG, then smoothly let off until the trigger resets.
That’s the theory. In reality, in middle of a shooting competition, things don’t always happen that way. Consider this simple IDPA stage from last week’s competition
This is why muscle memory is so important. Because my brain was busy with sorting out the stage procedure, I had little to no bandwidth available for the basics of “aim, breathe, squeeze” required to make an accurate shot. Instead, I had to rely on my body knowing what was the right thing to do because I had repeated it over and over again in practice.
Which brings me to .22 caliber pistols.
.22 is CHEAP. A box of 325 good-quality Federal .22LR rounds is under $20 at the local big-box store, which makes extended training sessions inexpensive and fun, and with the lower recoil of a .22, it’s easier to feel how your finger is moving on the trigger.
I own a Smith and Wesson M22a with a red dot sight which is a great gun for isolating out trigger movement from the other actions of shooting a pistol. The trigger on it is… adequate. It’s about a 5 lb pull with a good reset, but the break is kind of non-existent, however, because it has a red dot scope on it, I can concentrate on the process of how my finger is moving on the trigger and leave the worry of sight alignment behind me.
Here’s the results.
I set up this target at 10 yards and started out the practice session by shooting at the bottom right target and finished it by shooting at the top right target. You can see that as I concentrated more on how I was controlling the trigger, my groups improved until I was dropping them pretty much all inside the bullseye.
Total cost? 50 rounds of .22 and a hour of my time.
This is why using a .22 for practice make so much sense. Unless you’re flinching or having other issues with recoil, a .22 lets you correct most common shooting problems without breaking the bank.
Top female action pistol and cowboy action shooter, Randi Rogers is in Las Vegas this week for the 2012 USPSA National Championship, but before she left, she posted some great advice on her website about how to mentally prepare for a shooting competition.
I encourage you to head over to read the whole post, but here’s a quick overview of her suggestions and techniques:
- Make peace with your current skills
- Set a goal and a plan
- Stay positive!
- Stick to the plan
Whether you’re shooting a local club match or a “big” competition, these techniques are sure to help you improve your shooting performance.