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Dan Brady on Possibilities, Probabilities and Training

We practice shooting not only because we enjoy it but because we aren’t willing to believe that we’ll never need to use a firearm in defense of life. My uncle Walt likes to say, “You never really need a gun, until you REALLY NEED A GUN!”  Time and Money are at a premium when it comes to handgun training. Very few of us have an unlimited supply of time or ammo to practice as often as we’d like or cover every conceivable scenario.

The subject of clearing complex pistol malfunctions came up the other day in conversation and a debate ensued as to the appropriate way to engage a threat when such a malfunction has occurred with your sidearm. My first response was that with a pistol, it’s not actually a double feed. It’s an inline failure to extract. Second, I’ve never actually experienced one during live fire. I’ve set them up in training scenarios but out of tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of rounds through modern semi-auto pistols over the last couple decades of competition, training, observing and teaching, I’ve never experienced one.

Modern pistols are some of the most reliable mechanical devices on the planet, more so than Toyota Trucks or Maytag washing machines. If your weapon is tested, clean and recently inspected the odds of it not working are extremely low. 99+% of malfunctions I have experienced and seen on ranges are caused by bad ammunition or bad magazines. Of that percentage 98+% are cleared with a simple “Tap, Rack, Ready (or Bang as appropriate). So how fruitful is it to spend a lot of time training to clear one?

I am not against knowing how to clear one effectively anymore than I’m against practicing 100+ yard handgun shooting. I do practice both things on occasion. What I’m getting at is you need to think about possible vs. probable when addressing training needs. What scenarios and techniques you spend your training time and dollars on.  I spend my time drawing my sidearm from every possible body position I can think of; Standing, Sitting, Kneeling, Prone, Supine, On my side and In my car. Engaging targets at any angle I can think of; in front of me, to either side, behind, high angle, low angle, extremely close, at distance, partially obscured, my target moving, me moving, me and the target moving and combinations involving all of the above. I practice my fundamentals of my draw, Grip, sight picture, sight alignment and trigger control. These are the skills I believe will be far more frequently needed and so they should be practiced until you can’t screw it up. So if you want to practice doing support hand only BUG reloads, be my guest. I cannot say for certain you will NEVER need to do it for real. I can say it is way less likely than drawing and putting two rounds in the primary neutralization zone of two targets at one yard in three seconds while moving.