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Concealed Carry Habits That Could Get You Killed

Target Shooting

“Fight as you train, train as you fight.” – Unknown

Developing a proper training and practice regimen is vital to performing well under stress. When under stress, the mind does not “think” in the traditional sense, fine motor skills go out the window, and we rely on habit and muscle memory.

I drive a Ford truck (but I have a Chevy too, so let’s not get that debate started here!). When I get into my truck, I reach for the dial on the left hand side to turn the lights on. It has become so habitual that when I get into a different vehicle and go for the lights, they aren’t there. I have to fumble with the controls until I find them. This simple task, turning on the lights while driving, has become muscle memory. I do not think about how or where the lights are. I just do.

In handgun training, we must develop such habits that we “just do,” but they must be quality habits. Let’s examine a few bad habits that have historically ended officers’ lives.

One agency taught their officers to take their empty magazines during a reload and place them in their pockets. They practiced this every time they were on the range. One of these officers was involved in a gunfight and died with his hand in his pocket. Doing what? Placing an empty magazine in his pocket, just like he was trained instead of letting it drop to the ground while quickly re-inserting a fresh magazine.

Lesson 1: When a magazine is empty it is useless. Let it drop freely to the ground!

Another agency only practiced shooting controlled pairs (2 rounds) and quickly returned to the holster until the next drill began. This repetition of weapon presentation, two rounds, and re-holster became muscle memory. One officer from this agency was involved in a shooting and was killed. Where was his gun? In his holster. However, he did manage to draw, fire two rounds, and re-holster while still in the gunfight! This muscle memory was so deeply ingrained that when the officer went on “auto pilot” during the encounter, he reverted back to habit. A habit that ended his life.  

Lesson 2: Practice follow through, keep your weapon out and on target after you shoot. Practice different combinations of shooting drills requiring multiple firing sequences to avoid habitual patterns.

These habits can be hard to break. When instructing even more advanced shooters we catch some terrible habits very early. We even mention to the shooter, “on the next course of fire, DO NOT do ‘x’ behavior.” What happens? They instinctually repeat the mistake that they were consciously trying not to do. Why? Because of the muscle memory developed by repetition. With time, practice, and repetition you can break these habits while forming positive concealed carry habits. Remember, “Fight as you train, train as you fight.”

Speak Your Mind

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