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9 common mistakes in self-defense firearms training
1. Taking Bad Advice
If I had a dollar for every student I had to re-train because their friend the “gun expert” had taught them bad habits, I'd retire right now. Just because someone owns a lot of guns or is a police officer or veteran does not make them a firearms expert. Find competent, knowledgeable instructors.
2. Getting the Wrong Training
I have trained many people and the bottom line is they use different tactics with different firearms to achieve different goals and therefore need different training. A police officer or civilian risks prison using tactics that are acceptable on the battlefield. A soldier would be unconcerned with civil lawsuits while returning enemy fire from 200 yards away.
3. Choosing the Wrong Gun or Caliber
I'm often asked, “What's the best gun?” Well, how the heck would I know? There is no perfect gun, perfect caliber, or perfect combination. If there was we'd all have one. Determining the right gun requires assessment of factors including body size, hand size, experience, and most importantly, what you want to do with it.
5. Believing “This is the only way to do it”
After you get some good quality professional instruction, go out and get some more - from someone else. Each skill you learn should be compared and contrasted with every other skill. Some will work better in certain situations. Some will work better for you personally. There is not one way to do it. If an instructor tells you “this is how you will do this on my range,” respect his position and the fact that there may be a safety or liability issue involved. If an instructor tells you “this is the only way to do this,” find another trainer.
5. Failing to Do Dry-Fire Drills
Ammunition is expensive. Practicing dry fire drills saves time and money and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Obviously, safety must be paramount. Not only should “practice” guns be unloaded and double checked but any ammunition should be stored in another room. Most accuracy issues can be traced back to trigger control, and dry fire practice can help — without costing $20 a box. You can practice drawing from a holster — either open or concealed — during the same training session.
6. Doing Too Much Repetition
Though one skill or tactic should be practiced if not mastered before moving on to another, this can be taken to the extreme. If you always practice the same drill, you may not be able to adapt to the varying situations of the real world. Mix up your practice sessions. Maybe this time you work on close, rapid fire and next time you work on longer, slower shots. This time you practice on multiple targets and next time you concentrate on single threats. It's better to be well-rounded in your skills than to be a master of one or two tactics. If an instructor is spending too much time on one “drill” it might indicate he doesn’t know much else.
7. Believing Square Ranges and Paper Targets Prepare You for a Lethal Force Encounter
8. Failing to do Force-on-Force Training
9. Thinking All You Need to Carry is a Gun, Holster, and Permit.
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