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Old September 17, 2012, 01:16 PM   #5
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 8,813
Originally Posted by jproaster
...I want to be competent at minimum in my roles- CC, hunter, armed defender (home and otherwise)...
If proficiency really is your goal, I strongly recommend both a solid defensive pistol class (like Gunsite 250 or Massad Ayood's MAG-40, or, at a minimum, NRA Personal Protection Inside the Home and NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home) and a solid general rifle class (like Gunsite 270).

There is really no good substitute for a qualified instructor watching what you are doing and coaching you based on what he sees. Remember that practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Practice also makes permanent. If you keep practicing doing something wrong, you will become an expert at doing it wrong. So some good training shows you what to practice and how to practice it. It thus helps you avoid bad habits which later on can be an awful hassle to try to correct.

Competently carrying a gun for self defense involves more than just marksmanship:
  • You will want to know and understand the legal issues -- when the use of lethal force would be legally justified, when it would not be, and how to tell the difference. You will want to understand how to handle the legal aftermath of a violent encounter and how to articulate why, in a particular situation, you decided to take whatever action you did.

  • You will want to know about levels of alertness and mental preparedness to take action. You will want to understand how to assess situations and make difficult decisions quickly under stress. You will want to know about the various stress induced physiological and psychological effects that you might face during and after a violent encounter.

  • You will want to develop good practical proficiency with your gun. That includes practical marksmanship, i. e., being able to deploy your gun and get good hits quickly at various distances. It also includes skills such as moving and shooting, use of cover and concealment, reloading quickly, clearing malfunctions, and moving safely with a loaded gun.

The NRA Personal Protection classes only scratch the surface, but they at least touch on these subjects and get you started on the right track. From there, you can go as far as you'd like.

As far as riflecraft goes, there are probably a number of different approaches. But here are some of the things we did when I took the General Rifle class (270) at Gunsite:
  • We then went through the various field positions: prone, three variations of sitting, squatting, three variations of kneeling and finally off-hand.

  • Off-hand we practiced a single shot on command from the “low ready.” In the low ready position the rifle is shouldered, but the muzzle is dropped slightly to offer a clear view of the target. On command, we would raise the muzzle, disengage the safety and fire one round – working the bolt to chamber a fresh round and recovering to the low ready to assess.

  • We worked on the techniques of dismounting the rifle from slung carry and then taking an immediate shot. So we’d start with the loaded, on safe rifle slung; and on command we’d smoothly dismount the rifle into a firing position and take one shot.

  • At 200 yards we shot from prone, freestyle. Some of us looped up and some used a bipod and some just went prone without anything else.

  • We shot a course called The Scrambler – seven metal targets in various colors, at varying ranges (mid range, around 100 to 150 yards) set out among the trees. Your job is to hit each target with the first shoot using an improvised rest. We were timed.

  • At 200 yards we dropped to prone on a buzzer and took one shot. We were timed. The idea is to be able to quickly assume an appropriate firing position and get off an accurate good shot.

  • We shot a course called The Simulator – a walk though the woods with your guide looking for targets. There are targets there at 100 to 200 yards. When you’ve spotted a target you’re expected to take appropriation action to “solve the problem”, i. e., assume an appropriate shooting position and shoot the target.

  • We shot moving targets off hand from 25, 50 and 60 yards – both paper and steel.

  • The basic idea was to be able to get a good hit with one shot on a target at an unknown distance, under field conditions, under time pressure.

Those are some of the skills desirable for defensive pistol use and riflecraft in the field. Good, professional instruction would certainly be an important part of developing those skills.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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