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Old October 3, 2012, 09:03 AM   #1
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weapon manipulation: is it second nature for you?

One of the first things we learn when shooting is how the firearm operates, hopefully before taking a shot. But as I was taught, if you can't clear a jam, or reload while keeping your eyes on target, then you need to practice. This goes for semis and wheelguns. My thought was how will I be able to load a revolver without a speed loader and not look, impossible. But a few years down the road, its as natural as changing channels on the remote without looking. At first I thought big deal, I'll just look so I get it right and don't drop my ammo or magazine. But my dad showed me the importance. He stood 20 ft away and had me simulate drawing, firing, and clearing a jam before he reached me with a red magic marker. So once the simulated jam took place, he would proceed toward me as a knife wielding psyco. I drop the mag looked to insure the jam was clear reached for my new mag, looked to make sure it was turned correctly,went to insert it, slash. He beat me. WALKING. Now I'm nervous. Try again. This time with dummy rounds. Simulated jam drill; dropped mag, cleared breach, new mag, slash. He got me again. From that day, I realized how important weapon manipulation is. Even though jamming is less likely these days with well made semi autos and good maintenance practice, they're still possible and clearing them should be second nature. Even drawing your weapon on a rushing attacker from 10ft away takes a lot of practice, especially from concealment. Not to mention charging the weapon if you don't keep one in the chamber( bad idea if you don't imho). Then factor in the time you have to spend assessing is this real or someone playing with you, you don't want to draw on a neighbors kid or your own kid who thought it'd be funny to spook you. Now factor in stress, basic motor skills will be hindered when that adrenaline kicks in. Being aware of your surroundings is very critical, but you're surprised, a clean, quick draw will take practice. A reload in the dark with an intruder in your house takes practice, if you want to keep an eye on his whereabouts. How often do you guys practice weapon manipulation?
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Old October 3, 2012, 11:05 AM   #2
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One word - revolvers. If you're going to carry a semi auto for "business use" then you need to have it gone through for reliability by a smith. If it does not fed fire and eject 100% then don't carry it. Revolvers. Big bore. But seriously, the answer to your question is repetition and practice. Do it until it becomes just like reaching in your pocket for your keys. You don't think about it, your hand just does it. I love 1911s more than anybody and shot them for years in USPSA but I won't carry one because I've seen how many little things can make one stop working. I've also shot S&W revolvers for years nad never had one fail.
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Old October 3, 2012, 11:16 AM   #3
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Gun manipulation can become reflexive (second nature). It's a matter of diligent practice.

In learning a physical skill, we all go through a four step process:
  1. Unconscious Incompetence: We can't do something and we don't even know how to do it;

  2. Conscious Incompetence: We can't physically do something, at least consistently, even though we know in our mind how to do it;

  3. Conscious Competence: We know how to do something and can do it properly consistently, but only if we think about what we're doing and concentrate on doing it properly; and

  4. Unconscious Competence: At this final stage we know how to do something and can do it reflexively, on demand and without having to think about it.
Practice needs to be thoughtful and disciplined. Practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice make perfect. And practice makes permanent. So if you keep doing something badly over and over, you will not get better at it. You will only become expert at doing it badly.

A class helps you know how to do something, and you can properly begin working on going from doing it right every time by thinking about it to doing it right reflexively.

At the third stage, you need to think through the physical task consciously in order to do it perfectly. To move on to Unconscious Competence, start slowly, concentrating on doing each step of the task perfectly. Strive for smoothness. As you get smoother, you will also get quicker. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

Going from Conscious Competence to Unconscious Competence is usually thought to take around 5,000 good repetitions. The good news is that, in the case of shooting, dry practice will count. The bad news is that poor repetitions don't count and can set you back.

If one has reached the stage of Unconscious Competence he will still need to practice regularly and properly to maintain proficiency, but it's easier to maintain it once achieved than it was to first achieve it.
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Old October 3, 2012, 11:35 AM   #4
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It is for my Sig P226, my other guns I am working on.
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Old October 3, 2012, 11:48 AM   #5
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Well stated Mr.Ettin. Only thing I might suggest is to have someone who has trained to the unconscious competence standard watch/participate it your practice session once in a while as another set of eye to check that something undesirable has not slipped in to the practice that will become a negative after a while and will have to be unlearned and corrected.
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Old October 3, 2012, 12:33 PM   #6
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I just don't have the time nor the resources to do all this training.
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Old October 3, 2012, 12:34 PM   #7
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Something that can help speed this up is sticking with the mininum number of weapons groups as possible.

Just Sig autos, or Glock autos or Only S&W revolvers or only Ruger revolvers.

That way the motions you go through are the same and you don't fumble, try to flick a safety or forget to, drop a hammer when you meant to release a slide, etc.

Personally, Glock handguns, AR based rifles and Benelli shotguns are what I focus on.

It is actually kind of funny, when I pick up someone elses gun I will do things and people will ask. "What are you doing, dork?" because I am going through my "standard" motions for that particular platform before I realize it is a BPS shotgun or a revolver instead of a Glock because I start to do them automatically.
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Old October 3, 2012, 01:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
If you're going to carry a semi auto for "business use" then you need to have it gone through for reliability by a smith.
IMO, the factory should have done that. If you buy the gun and it works, why take it to a gunsmith to fix something that ain't broke?
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Old October 3, 2012, 02:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donato
I just don't have the time nor the resources to do all this training.
Which sets a limit on how good you can hope to be.
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Old October 3, 2012, 02:13 PM   #10
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Yes, its 2nd nature to me....but its because I've practiced it a long time...

You can practice it in your shop or the basement...with a timer. Just one tip ....smooth ..is better than "too fast"...and fumbling ....

...but there are tips I was taught in some classes too .... like when shooting at a target....keep the gun at that height ( don't drop it down ) rotate it a little - but keep the front sight up and at the target ...when you slam the replacement mag into the gun - all you do is rotate the gun ...and commence firing ...because you kept it up and basically on target....

Its the little things that make you "quick"...

but an attacker walking toward you from 20 Ft.../ ideally, if you can put shots on target...you won't have to reload...it'll be over in 2 or 3 shots...in the 4 sec or so, it'll take an attacker to cross that 20 feet....you aren't going to fire 7 or 8 shots and have to reload..../ although I might fire 3 or 4 ...and then do a tactical reload as the attacker withdraws or drops...

Tactical accuracy gets into this scenario ....you have to be tactically accurate and put shots on target in that zone from nipple to nipple ...and down to the belly button ....as quickly as you can ---but not spray and pray ...and expect to fire a gun to empty and reload and keep firing in under 4 sec...or so .../ its the wrong approach in my view.
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Old October 3, 2012, 02:16 PM   #11
rodeo roy
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I have questioned the same thing in a differnt post. My solutions are gonna be switching to a wheel for my EDC and more training. Right now I alternate from semi to wheel depending on the season and what I might be wearing. I shoot at this point both about equally as far as being on target, the revolver was harder to get up to speed with, but it is improving, and really I see no use for anything other than a wheel, for me. The very reason stated by you and drail are my reasons for making the switch; point and fire and low to no fail rate. I just want to be able to cc an adequate .357 sizewise, the light small models I've tried have not been good for me and anything over a 3' barrel won't work.

As far as my kid playing a prank he knows Pops carries a gun everywhere even in the house, don't sneak up on him for any reason, as far as the neighbors kid he knows better, he can tell by the lump o coal he's been gettin in his trick or treat bag.
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Old October 3, 2012, 03:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by donato
I just don't have the time nor the resources to do all this training.
Which sets a limit on how good you can hope to be.
We all set a limit. Nobody's training 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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Old October 4, 2012, 12:45 AM   #13
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I didn't realize how ingrained it had become until a particular stage in a USPSA match. During a mag change I failed to fully seat the fresh mag into the Glock 22 I was using at the time. The round in the chamber fired followed by a click when the next round failed to feed. I looked down to basically watch my hands do a tap and rack and continued shooting. The RO complimented me on a nice recovery although I'm not proud of failing to properly seat the mag in the first place.

I agree that repetition is the key. It isn't always necessary to go to the range. A lot can be practiced at home with empty mags/speedloaders and dummy rounds.
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Old October 4, 2012, 04:56 AM   #14
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What?
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Old October 4, 2012, 08:45 AM   #15
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I agree the wheelgun is a great option for carry because of minimal manipulation. At times I carry a sp101 4" .357. But reloading, even with speedloaders took time to become second nature. Now I mean going from my simultaneously unloading and reaching for my loader in a carrier, (one handed unloads ain't easy), loading, and being back ready without taking my eyes off target, even harder without a loader when you keep your eyes down range. But dry fire drills and dummy round drills are the best way for me, I train in front of a mirror to watch my mechanics, in the dark to perfect manipulation. Then test myself in the field. Reloading is important because most thugs travel in packs. God forbid you empty your weapon in a punk jacked up on pcp only to look up and see 2 of his homies coming. You got 4 sec or less to reload, or you can race bullets, or a machete wielding punk on pcp.
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Old October 4, 2012, 08:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
One word - revolvers.
Three words is always better than one - New York Reload

Murphy's Law and the general assumption that manure occurs mean that anything can happen. But if you have done everything in your power to assure that your firearm will work when you need it, it should be a non-issue.
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Old October 4, 2012, 12:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
I just don't have the time nor the resources to do all this training.
Revolver. Minimal manual manipulation required. You can practice draw and dry fire and reloading in the comfort of your own home. This will build muscle memory. Malfunctions are cleared by transitioning to your backup gun, so you should practice that too, just in case.
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Old October 6, 2012, 05:41 PM   #18
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Get good at knife fighting?
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Old October 6, 2012, 05:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
I just don't have the time nor the resources to do all this training.

Simple things will increase your level of proficiency with manipulation without you even realizing it. Every single time you load a magazine into your weapon, do it exactly the same way. I prefer to bring the pistol into my workspace, stay focused on the target and load the magazine with a "flat to flat" method before sending it home. Every single time I put a magazine into one of my pistols I do it in a proper firing stance and do it exactly the same way.

The other thing is dry firing. Spend a few minutes dry firing when you can (setting a time/day limit works for some people, some people do it when they can). There is nothing saying that you can't practice clearing malfunctions when dry firing.
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Old October 6, 2012, 06:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Tactical accuracy gets into this scenario ....you have to be tactically accurate and put shots on target in that zone from nipple to nipple ...and down to the belly button ....as quickly as you can ---but not spray and pray ...and expect to fire a gun to empty and reload and keep firing in under 4 sec...or so .../ its the wrong approach in my view.
Actually it should be nipple to nipple to nose. I train to shoot them until they are no longer a threat. More than one, share the love.

Quote:
Even though jamming is less likely these days with well made semi autos and good maintenance practice, they're still possible and clearing them should be second nature.
Absolutely, if your semi auto is not reliable, fix it.
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Old October 8, 2012, 03:16 AM   #21
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I have two types of guns .revolvers & striker fired autos .Plain and simple .The autos are on the short list. Revolvers work for ME .
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Old October 8, 2012, 04:56 AM   #22
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Muscle memory is important. I go though drills and exercises on my own. In the heat of the moment always remember you resort back to your weakest part of training. Its simple...take 30 mins a week and run some drills. (YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT)
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Old October 8, 2012, 01:38 PM   #23
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Prime example of this happened to me this weekend, 2x though not with handguns.

Example #1:

Just doing some target shooting with my Marlin 39a. I rarely if ever shoot it, and I loaded the gun and pulled the trigger 2x, cycling the lever both times and looking in confusion at the live rounds that were ejecting out on the ground.... Then I realized I left the stupid crossbolt safety on. Right afterwards, I shot my M&P 22-15 which I shoot all the time. I naturally flick the safety off every time I look down the sights.

Example #2:

Later that afternoon, while crow hunting with my brother. There was one swooping in low right out front in my "zone" and I pulled up getting a click instead of a bang. My brother saw it and was expecting it to be his bird, but I cycled out the "dud" round and had another in the chamber before the bird even started to turn and nailed it. (Benelli click, wasn't fully in battery for some reason)

Example #3:

On a later stand, they were coming in hot and heavy. I emptied my gun but another one was coming in fast and my brother said that in the time he had to raise his gun and take the shot, I already had mine loaded +1 and ready to take the shot.

I only use Benelli shotguns so my hands go through the motions even though my mind may be occupied on watching that crow making his last dive.
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Old October 8, 2012, 03:59 PM   #24
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I try do everything that I can without looking at what I am doing. We have cruise controls, radio, cell phones, remote controls, and a thousand other mechanical devices that operate the same way each time we touch them. Virtually every tool or piece of equipment that I handle I purposefully learn to use without having to visually monitor my own actions. I did the drop and reload drill with my 40 last night and felt like I'd done it a million times before. It was second nature. OTOH I have not taken a defensive training course and am sure I don't realize how much I don't know.
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Old October 8, 2012, 06:14 PM   #25
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Maybe I am wrong but I like to think that after some 65 years of handling guns, as a soldier, armorer, LE officer, collector and shooter, I am reasonably competent at safe gun handling.

But nonsense like "... if you can't clear a jam, or reload while keeping your eyes on target, then you need to practice. This goes for semis and wheelguns" makes me cringe. That may (or may not) be good advice in combat; it is garbage on a range or in recreational shooting. In most peacetime situations, it can be a recipe for dangerous gun handling. Why would anyone want to fool around with a loaded and jammed gun without looking at what he was doing? If I see someone obeying that "dictum", I don't want to be in the same county.

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