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How good a shot do I need to be before I carry a concealed weapon?

October 22, 2007 Defensive Tactics, Firearms Training Comments Off

I’ve received a number of questions from students regarding what they can do to improve their handgun marksmanship.  In response, I thought I would put together a series of posts that deal with the level of accuracy that you should reasonably achieve before you can realistically expect to defend yourself with a handgun and then how do you develop  that level of accuracy in your shooting.

As a starting assumption for this discussion, I will be talking about “Combat Accuracy”.  Combat accuracy is the level of accuracy that you would need in order to incapacitate your attacker should you find yourself in a lethal confrontation.  This is vastly different from the “target accuracy” one would be trying to achieve in a competition when shooting for score.

There are some significant differences in the two situations.  First, if you are engaged in lethal combat with a handgun, there is a high probability that:

1. you will be moving…

2. your adversary will be moving…

3. the distance between you and your adversary will be unknown or variable…

4. environmental conditions may be less than ideal… (darkness, rain, etc.)

5. there may be multiple adversaries…

6. there may be innocent bystanders…

7. your adversary will likely be shooting at you…

8. your ‘fight or flight’ autonomic reaction will be kicking in big time…

All of these factors will conspire to steal your shooting accuracy.  Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to minimize their impact.

The most important thing that you can do is practice your shooting technique.  You can do this using live fire exercises and dry fire exercises, but you MUST practice.  Skill at arms is highly perishable.  If you haven’t picked up your pistol in 6 months, how can you reasonably expect to shoot accurately?  If you haven’t received good fundamental handgun training, how do you expect to be able to shoot effectively in a gunfight?  The short answer is that you cannot expect to be accurate and effective if you do not prepare.  You will not ‘rise to the occasion’.  You will default to your lowest level of skill…

Short version, if you are a beginner or even a decent shooter that hasn’t be practicing…you will be lucky to survive and it will have very little to do with anything you did.   On the other hand, with good training and practice, you will not just survive…instead you will likely prevail against your adversary and stand a much better chance of getting out of the situation without serious injury.

In the next several posts, I will discuss what skills you should master in order to achieve true ‘combat accuracy’ with a handgun in a potentially lethal confrontation.

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