Time are tough right now. Unless you’re an LEO or in the military, finding ammo for practice and training is well nigh impossible. 9mm, .223, .40, you name it, it can’t be found. Here’s a few suggestions to help keep your firearm skills sharp while we weather this ammo drought.
Learn something new.
I took a two-hour sporting clays class earlier this month and had a blast. I’ve never really had any instruction on wing-shooting, and those two short hours helped me bust more clays than I did before. Is it tactical? Probably not. Is it fun? Oh yeah. Next time I’ll use my Mossberg 930SPX, just to get in a little bit of loading practice and work on those popper/flying clay pigeon combo targets so common in 3 Gun.
In a similar vein, why not take some time and get re-acquainted with your rifle? No, not the AR-15 that has enough stuff hanging off its rails to decorate a Hanukkah bush. I’m talking a RIFLE, a bolt-action or semi-auto gun in a major caliber (bigger than .223) that can reach out and touch someone beyond where your M4gery can reach. After all, you’ll want to find out that you need to update your rifle with new accessories or a new scope NOW and not when you really need to make the shot. Besides that, the slow pace of a precision rifle work means you won’t burn through your precious ammo supply at a fast rate, and you can find hunting calibers (.30-06, .243, 7mm, etc) right now, even if the more common calibers are all gone from the store shelves.
Practice without ammo
Sure, there’s dry fire practice, and dry fire practice can be very good for things like quick reloads and finding out where’s the best location for all your daily carry. Dry fire practice is also very good for getting rid of any latent tendency to jerk the trigger (and I let you know how good when I get rid of mine…), but caveat emptor: Repeating a mistake in dry fire over and over again means you’ll repeat that mistake over and over again with real ammo.
Airsoft is another option for practicing without ammo. You can find gas or electric action airsoft guns that feel and work just like most common semi-automatic pistols and rifles, which means you can you practice with all those accessories you bought like holsters and mag pouches, but not have to wear ear protection while doing so. Again, it’s not the same as real ammo, but it sure beats sitting around waiting for your backordered .45 to show up.
Those are just two suggestions: What else are YOU doing to get through this current ammo shortage?
Or, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Concealed Carry, For People Who Aren’t Complete Idiots
You’ve decided you want to take responsibility for your personal safety and carry a firearm with you on a regular basis. This is one of the most adult decisions you can make, because you’ve realized that there WILL NOT be a cop around when you need one. In fact, criminals are really, really good at making sure there’s no cops around when their potential victims need one: That’s why they’re called “criminals” and not “felons”.
This isn’t going to be a post about equipment or training, it’s about getting yourself ready to carry a gun wherever and whenever it’s permitted. I’m going to assume you’re one of thousands and thousands of people out there who own a gun and have recently acquired a concealed carry permit, but you’re not sure if you want to carry your gun all the time.
Which you do. We’ll get to why you want to do that in a minute. Let’s start off with the how. And please realize that I’m not a lawyer or someone in who’s served in the military or police. What I am, however, is a person who’s gone down the road you’re about to travel.
If you don’t have a holster for your gun, buy one.
Many a pixel has been plotted over which kind of holster works best, but for starters, I’d suggest an Outside The Waistband (OWB) holster from a “name brand” manufacturer like Galco, Bianchi, Comp-Tac or Blade-Tech. And wear something to cover it, like an unbuttoned shirt or light jacket.
Plan on buying another after that one, because holsters are kinda like music: What works for me probably won’t work for you, and I change what I listen to depending on my surroundings and who I’m with. Same thing with how I carry a gun: I change what I carry and how I carry it depending on the circumstances I’m in. In general, though, I listen to 80’s alternative and carry inside the waist (IWB) on my right hip. I carry there consistently because I don’t want to have to think about where my gun is if I need it, and I’ve learned through buying a bunch of holsters that IWB carry is what I like best.
Holsters aren’t an option. You want a holster because it’s just about the only way to carry a gun safely: Not only is sticking a gun into your waistband unsafe for others, you can also lose some things that are very dear to you if an accident occurs. As added bonus, having a holster for your gun is one way cops know you’re on their side if they have to stop and frisk you.
Don’t carry just your gun.
How will you call the cops if don’t have your phone? How will know if what you’re facing is a mugger or grandma on a dark night if you don’t have flashlight? There’s four things you need to carry with you besides your gun and holster and I’ve listed them over here.
Learn the laws of your state first.
It’s up to you to know the circumstances and consequences of carrying a concealed weapon in your state. Can you carry in schools? Churches? What happens if you walk into a business with a “No Guns Allowed” sign? Is there such a thing as businesses that can ban guns in your state? Can you carry a gun into a nuclear power station or military base? (Short answer: No you don’t, that’s a VERY bad idea.).
Alan Korwin is a leading author on gun laws, and he has several books on the gun laws of America that are “must haves” for anyone who owns a gun, much less wants to carry one with them.
Also, I recommend getting to know a lawyer in your area who deals with firearms, and signing up for one of the self-defense insurance programs out there BEFORE you need their services.
Get to know your gun and use it safely.
Chances are, you had to pass a shooting qualification to get your concealed carry permit, but if you can’t remember the last time you practiced, it’s probably time to head to the range. And learn the rules of gun safety as if your life depends on it, because, well, it does.
Think about what you’re getting, and what you’re giving up.
As my friend Caleb said, carrying a firearm means giving up the luxury to be angry. If you carry a sidearm, you have to consider the results of your actions and reactions a whole lot more carefully than if you don’t.
What are you getting in return? You’re getting the ability to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones on the worst day of your lives. If being angry means more to you than that, please, for love of God and everyone around you, don’t carry a gun.
Why carry a gun all the time.
Now we come down to the crux of the matter. The simple fact of the matter is, you don’t get to choose when you’ll need it. If you think you’re going somewhere where you might need a gun, DON”T GO THERE. Cops have SWAT teams to go places where they don’t feel safe, you don’t have that luxury.
Criminals don’t play by your rules. Once you accept that, and learn to see the world how they might see it, you’ll be safer. We call that sort of thing “situational awareness” and it means the difference between having to use your gun and not having to use it.
Think of it this way: Have you been in a car accident? Did that accident happen when you expected it? Do you wear a seat belt only when you expect an accident to happen?
So why carry a gun only when you think there’s danger around?
How to carry a gun all the time.
Step One: Carry a gun with you all the time.
Step Two: There is no Step Two.
I know that’s kinda silly, but that’s about all there is to it. Start by wearing your gun around the house, and carry it loaded, because an unloaded gun is kinda useless, isn’t it? It’s going to feel a bit weird at first to have a gun hanging off your hip. Relax, you’ll get used to it. Then wear it outside the house on something you do everyday.
We call it The WalMart Walk, but what it is doing something you’re used to doing in a way you’re not used to doing it. And don’t worry, your gun isn’t showing and no, no one else besides you is freaking out because you’re carrying a gun. In fact, I can predict right now what will happen the first time you walk outside the store with a concealed handgun on you.
Absolutely nothing at all. So again, relax.
Just be confident that you are now your own first responder. And stay safe. And have fun.
Update: Welcome new readers! Please take a look around our site, we’ve got lots of great tips for both new and experienced gun owners. You can also stay up to date on the latest information for gun owners by Following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has been rightfully called out for publishing a ridiculous list of tips that include some unusual and ineffective self defense tips designed to protect women from sexual assault. Due to public pressure, the tips they published on their official website have been removed, but below is a copy of their original list:What To Do If You Are Attacked These tips are designed to help you protect yourself on campus, in town, at your home, or while you travel. These are preventative tips and are designed to instruct you in crime prevention tactics. 1. Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself. 2. Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead! It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away. 3. Kick off your shoes if you have time and can’t run in them. 4. Don’t take time to look back; just get away. 5. If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense. 6. Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating. 7. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone. 8. Yelling, hitting or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it! 9. Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm. 10. Remember, every emergency situation is different. Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.
I’ve come up with my own list of tips for preventing rape, and have published it below. It’s a lot easier to remember, and the techniques have been proven to be much more effective:
One last tip – Responsible gun owners use protection, so make sure you have a decent pair of impact-resistant safety glasses. They don’t have to be expensive, just make sure they meet ANSI standard Z87.1 for impact-resistance. All of the safety glasses below meet or exceed ANSI standard Z87.1, so check out these safety glasses at Brownells:
So you’ve decided to carry a gun on a regular basis. Good. Deciding to take care of your personal safety yourself is one of the most important decisions you can make, because you are, and always will be, your own first responder. Carrying a pistol with you, concealed or not, creates options in defense of your life that you just cannot have without having a firearm on you.
But a gun is not enough. In fact, a pistol is just the end of the journey, because chances are you’re not going to need it, thank God.
So what should you have with you besides your gun?
- A Flashlight. We spend half our lives in the dark, a flashlight isn’t just a good idea, it’s an aboslute necessity. In the past, I relied on the flashlight app on my iPhone, but after some testing, I found the flashlight app just isn’t anywhere near as powerful as even the smallest dedicated flashlight. After filting around with a few different lights, I’ve settled on a Streamlight Microstream, and I absolutely love it. Why?
- It’s small, which means you’ll carry it with you more often
- It’s BRIGHT for it’s size, brighter than a AA Maglite, and bright enough to light up a doorway from across the street.
- It’s cheap, so you won’t be heartbroken if you misplace it
- It’s rugged. Mine has survived two trips through the washing machine and the dryer (don’t ask why) with no issues whatsoever
- It takes one AAA battery, which means you can find spare batteries for it everywhere, and if you want the longer-lived (and more expensive) lithium batteries, they’re also available.
- A Knife. Quick! Open up that clamshell plastic packaging without a sharp object, I dare you! Oh, what’s that you say, you can’t quite lever out the jammed paper in the photocopier? And now you’ve ripped the “easy open tab” off your microwavable entree, and you’re faced with the prospect of an unintentional day-long fast or a jaunt outside of the office for lukewarm, lackluster fast food. Knives make too much sense not to have one on you, and I understand they’re a pretty decent self-defense tool as well (sarcasm). As I work in an office and I don’t want to carry something that screams “TACTICAL!”, I usually have a CRKT Pazoda unobtrusively clipped to my pants pocket. It’s small, lightweight, sharp and doesn’t stick up over the pocket much at all.
- Extra Ammo. Make a quick list of everything that can go wrong with a modern semi-automatic pistol. No, go ahead, I’ll wait.
Now, how many of the items on your list are related to the pistol’s magazine? And you don’t carry a spare magazine on you because….?
I use a Blackhawk! Single Mag Pouch when I carry my CZ P07, and it works like a charm. I’m not planning on shooting 32 rounds of 9mm in a defensive situation, but I figure if something goes wrong with my gun and I have to reload, I can.
- A Smartphone. We can have the “I just want my phone to be a phone and make phone calls” discussion some other time, but the fact is a smartphone allows you to have a Red Cross First Aid Guide and an Emergency Radio Scanner and a GPS and a weather alert radio and a whole bunch of other useful information at your fingertips. Plus, we now know that when an emergency happens and the cell phone towers are overloaded with traffic, text messages can go out when phone calls can’t (pdf link). A smartphone also has a camera to document what happened for the police and/or insurance companies, and you can always play Angry Birds on it while you wait for the other first responders to respond…
What other items should a well-prepared person have on them besides their gun?