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Learning to be A Gunfighter Part III – Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast

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Mike Connor, NRA Certified Pistol Instructor

Veritas Training Academy

Take your time in a hurry” – Doc Holiday describing how to win a gunfight.

The reference and the above saying must be applied in order to become an effective gun fighter. You master each skill by developing perfect muscle memory. You develop perfect muscle memory by practicing slowly at first.

In article #2, I quickly realized that a one hour private lesson was not going to be sufficient enough for me to become skillful with a pistol. I practiced my dry firing at home and went back to see Mike Magowan a few more times.

Practice does not make Perfect…Practice makes Permanent. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Permanent” ……Mike Magowan

In other words you can create a bad habit if you are practicing any technique incorrectly. Practicing with a qualified, experienced, instructor really is key – It prevents you from developing bad habits. I supplemented those lessons with independent range time and once I began to master my basic marksmanship skills I went back to see Mike again.

Now he introduced drawing from a holster, getting on the sights during punch out, and reloading. I cannot stress enough, how going slower in the beginning allows the shooter to develop correct muscle memory. It wasn’t until I could perform those skills slowly with near perfection that I was allowed to speed up!

One thing I did repeatedly at the indoor range and sometimes still practice is: Mike’s simple shoot & reload drill. There are multiple skills involved here. Start very slowly, be precise, and develop perfect muscle memory.

  • Set your target to 21 feet distance.
  • Load 2 magazines with 3 rounds each. Place one in the gun & one in a mag pouch/pocket
  • You can either draw from the holster or punch out from third eye.
  • Get on your sights as you drive them out to your target focusing on the front sight
  • Depress your trigger smoothly and shoot, trying to take that perfect shot 3 times
  • RELOAD: Bring the pistol up into your “workspace” as you release the spent magazine (letting it fall to the floor) and reach for your spare mag with your non-firing hand
  • While remaining in your “workspace” insert the fresh mag into place and rack your slide
  • Get on your sights as you drive them out to your target focusing on the front sight
  • Depress your trigger smoothly and shoot, trying to take that perfect shot 3 times

Stop! Take a breath and assess your performance. Reload 3 & 3 – repeat. Don’t speed up until you’re SMOOTH. This is a skills development drill and a much more useful way of going through 50-100 rounds of ammunition rather than loading up your mags to capacity and blasting away.

Learning to be A Gunfighter Part II

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Mike Connor, NRA Certified Pistol Instructor

Veritas Training Academy

Hans Gruber: “Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?”

John McClane: “Yippee-ki-yay, mother*#@.”

Die Hard, 1998

The first article was meant to introduce and to establish the rationale for and responsibility toward becoming more than a “gun owner”.  When queried by friends,  family, and associates about “What’s new in your life” the responses I received when I told them “I’m learning to be a gunfighter” were, as you can imagine, surprised, incredulous but most often… “WHAT?”
Explaining exactly what I meant dispelled the notion of cowboys facing off at high noon!  How exactly did I get from taking a CCW course to wanting to become a Gunfighter?

After completing my CCW course at Take Aim, I thought it would be responsible to invest in a single lesson.  I wanted to be able to hit the bulls-eye consistently on the paper target.  Since I hadn’t had guns my whole life there was probably something I could learn.  The idea of needing anything beyond that had not entered my mind. I just “thought” that I’d be able to handle any situation requiring me to defend myself with a firearm.  However, after spending an hour with Mike Magowan, co-founder of Veritas Training Academy, I quickly realized that there was much more involved and I was a long way from being able to use my firearm skillfully. 

First I needed to develop my skill as a marksman. Skill development is the process of learning new things and improving yourself at every level imaginable. It is not a term used exclusively and only in a work environment. Mike took time to go over grip, punching out from “third eye” and discussed the two most important aspects of marksmanship; trigger control and sight acquisition. Once on the range I quickly demonstrated my ability to hit low and to the left of the bulls eye (jerking the trigger). He suggested I work on dry firing; focusing on a smooth, even depress of the trigger.  This activity is the building block of developing your trigger control.  Every aspiring gunfighter can and should dry fire on a regular basis. It costs nothing and can be accomplished any time day or night (in the privacy of your own home.)

You need to become a marksman before you can become a gunfighter.  In an article by Charles Remsberg from PoliceOne.com News he states, “Marksmanship skills are critical to have, but that’s only a small part of the equation. Marksmanship performance is not even remotely predictive of how you will do in a gunfight.

Dry Firing

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Most of the handguns out there you will come across can be “dry-fired”. Dry-firing is pressing the trigger without anything in the chamber. Make sure you clear your gun first. After you clear your, clear your gun again. The two loudest noises you will ever hear:

  1. When your gun is supposed to go “click” and instead it goes “bang.”
  2. When your gun is supposed to go “bang” it goes “click”.

Your ammo should not be in the same room as your gun while dry-firing. Find a safe direction to point your gun and practice pressing the trigger with the gun empty. The mechanics of dry-firing are the same as the ones you use for firing. Single action and striker fire semi-autos will have slack in the trigger. Take the slack out of the trigger. You should feel it “bump” into the sear or firing-pin. From there, focus on the front sight and press the trigger to the rear of the gun allowing it to go click. Your goals is to let the gun go “click” without making the front sight move. This is how you should shoot when you are on the range.

There is no difference between practicing dry and shooting live ammo until the gun goes “click” or “bang”. It is free and you can do it almost anywhere. Now go get some trigger time! MM

Learning to be A Gunfighter Part I

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“With great power comes great responsibility”

-Voltaire 1832 / Stan Lee 1962

No one can argue that handguns today when paired with modern ammunition can be powerful and devastating tools.  Therefore what is the responsibility of individual gun owners / CCW permit holders who choose to carry these tools on a daily or periodic basis?  I can lease a Bobcat front-end loader/excavator but I’d be a fool to deploy it on a home improvement project because I have a credit card & FL driver’s license.

With this series I hope to convey the thought processes and subsequent training and self-education I have pursued (and continue to pursue) in order to become a “gunfighter”! Veritas Training Academy co-founder and mentor, Mike Magowan, regularly states in his CCW training classes that if someone starts shooting at you then by definition, “you are in a gunfight …and you better be a gunfighter!”  If you are attacked by someone with or without a weapon and your best option is to draw your firearm,”you are in a gunfight…and you better be a gunfighter!”  We are responsible for every projectile that leaves the barrel of our firearm!

To shape an individual into an effective gunfighter requires ongoing training that fuses the mind, body, & firearm into an undefeatable human weapon system with the understanding that shooting is never going to happen in the real world like it does on the range”
Chris Ghahnam      

President SARK  Securities      

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough we must do.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Training Tip: Ten Rules of Safety

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  1. Always clear the gun.
  2. Always treat the gun as if it were loaded.
  3. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot (i.e. until your sights are on the target).
  5. Be aware of what is in front of you and beyond your target at all times.
  6. Keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
  7. Make sure you have the right ammo for the right gun.
  8. Make sure your gun is in proper working order.
  9. Always wear proper eye & ear protection when shooting.
  10. Do not handle firearms if you are using drugs or alcohol.

VTA Trains Teachers

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A group of local public school teachers from nearby schools participates in a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida January 11, 2013. 
Read article…

Training Tip: 4 Rules to Always Remember

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  • Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Always point your firearm in a safe direction.
  • Always keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are on target and ready to shoot.
  • Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
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