I’ve been writing about the need to be diligent in your training if you’re going to carry a concealed weapon. It’s not just to prevent you from hurting someone inadvertently, it’s to keep you from hurting yourself.
At the police academy, they make a big deal out of following procedures with your weapon, and rightfully so. It’s a military thing too. When things start going South on you, it’s your training that you trust to carry you through. And in that type of situation, you rarely “rise to the occasion.” You fall to the level of your training.
Another way of putting it, is that you need to do something 1,000 times to have a realistic chance of pulling it off under pressure. You also need to have programmed responses that are “hard-wired” into your central nervous system.
But this can go both ways. Without flexible thinking, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, you might find yourself responding to an attack the way you trained, but which may be no longer appropriate. The idea is that your plan never survives the first few moments of actual battle.
So what do you do? The answer is really to train, train, train. Train for the first attack. Train for a second attack. Expect a second attack. You must even expect the “unexpected.”
This is how the terrorists overseas have hurt our troops. They have secondary IED’s placed at the scene, set to detonate after the first responders show up, killing even more people. It’s a very real concern for our law enforcement officers over here too. They can’t assume anything. It could be nothing, but it could really be something.
I’ve seen training backfire on people, too. One example is an accidental discharge caused by someone using a holster with a retention system. On the surface, that sounds like a good thing. Retention = good, right?
But in this case, the shooter, who was highly trained and well versed with multiple weapons, shot himself in the thigh with a .45, while attempting to do a “speed draw” in a close quarters live-fire drill.
He had previously been practicing with one weapon and holster system. Then he went to a different pistol and holster for this particular drill. Unfortunately, the release from retention depended on his using the same finger that he uses to pull the trigger.
Yep. You can almost see it coming. He indexed the retention button, and his finger continued on its way into the trigger guard, indexing the trigger as he drew the firearm from the holster. Bang!
A single .45 caliber slug entered his upper thigh (right below the bottom of the holster), made its way down, on the inside of his leg before existing laterally just above the knee. He was extremely lucky. And this was a trained shooter. Google “I just shot myself” and see it for yourself.
At some recent instructor training I attended, a group of us were looking at some pretty graphic pictures of other accidental discharges. One was of a foot lost after a devastating round was fired downward. You have to watch your muzzle and trigger finger at all times. Either safety procedure might have saved him. But missing both cost him his foot.
Just a few minutes ago, I read a story about an accidental discharge through the left buttock of a concealed carrier. Ouch. The pictures tell the story of something (probably the t-shirt) getting into the trigger guard and causing it to fire while he was seated in his vehicle. It’s quite possible that he was adjusting the carry position to get more comfortable in his car.
You must have a form fitting, molded holster that is made specifically for your own firearm. If it deforms (bends or changes shape) when you shift position, it is dangerous. If it is loose, it is dangerous. Foreign objects of clothing can get in the trigger guard. Bang.
And even if you have the perfect holster, you still shouldn’t ever wear it in a way that it will be uncomfortable, forcing you to adjust it. You have to put some thought and training into this.
Can you access your firearm from where you carry, while seated? What if you are knocked on your back? What if your right arm or shoulder is injured, and you carry on the right side of your body at the 4:00 position? Do you have a plan and procedure for this? What about reloading with one hand? Shooting with your weak hand?
If you can’t answer these and other questions, with a high degree of confidence, you’re not alone. Most people never think of these things. But you need to. It takes training, and more training to be safe and effective.
Don’t make the mistake of just getting your Illinois Concealed Carry License (or any other State’s CCL) and thinking you’re prepared now. In reality, you have the potential of being prepared. And a vastly increased potential for accidental discharges, too.
I’m not trying to scare you into not carrying, or not getting your CCL. I believe that in today’s society, the more honest, law-abiding citizens that are armed and ready, the better. But armed does not automatically mean ready. It takes training. Lots of training.
Next week, we’ll look at the self-defense mindset, and how you can be more mentally prepared.