Imagine trying to clear a misfeed from a 1911 .45 using only your weak hand and lying upside down. That is a pretty fair description of last night's Tac Tuesday class. Or, as I like to call it: "Tactical Tuesday -- Welcome to the Karma Sutra Shootin' Gallery."
We focused on some fundamentals that most people don't realize are fundamentals. Last night was a practice in the use of Weak Hand/Strong Hand and shooting from compromised positions. Not many people realize, but from a self defense standpoint, there may very well be a time where off-hand shooting or shooting from a wierd angle will possibly save your life. Think of it this way, military snipers actually train to shoot from wierd and contorted positions. They know that the environment they work in is not going to have shooting benches and flat, level surfaces. Keep it in the back of your mind that any given tactical situation is not a 'set-piece' battle, but a fluid engagement with unknown variables and obstacles. We have to improvise, overcome and adapt.
As one of the newest members put it, "It looks so unnatural when you shoot like that, but then you realize it feels so good to do it." Gee, that reminds me of the night I spent with that little hottie from Madrid...oh, wait! That's a post for Penthouse. HeeHee!
We learned to crawl before we could actually walk. The group started by shooting weak hand and strong hand. We practiced some multiple target drills and then did some hand switch drills. We also brushed up on our weak hand tac-reloads. From there we moved to some shoot and scoot drills (weak/strong hand). The class finished with the compromised position shooting drills.
DRILL I: Weak/Strong Hand Shooting. Very simple exercise. We rehashed what most have already learned about shooting from the weak hand and strong hand only. Accuracy changes and so does speed as you focus on hitting the kill zone of the target. Instructor Greg reminded us that we can cant the gun to favor eye dominance.
We moved on to multiple target drills to get a feel for proper target acquisition. I caught myself switching between my dominant left eye and weak right eye for aiming. I have been practicing in recent months to strengthen my weak eye for instinctive shooting. Since I was using a Kimber 1911 .45, I had difficulty lining up the sights and acquiring a good sight picture. Roscoe, my trusty Springfield XD-40, has adequate night sights that I can use to get proper aim on target.
**NOTE** I borrowed a Kimber Pro Carry II .45 instead of my XD-40 5" so I could become more familiar with that particular style of handgun. I believe that familiarity with different firearms will build confidence and improve overall skills when shooting. Kimber also makes a very tight gun. I plan on acquiring one as soon as my CHL is processed and the ID card is in my pocket (+ 45 days and counting since I passed the class).
DRILL II: Shoot and Scoot. We learned to shoot and move. I have always used a two-handed stance while shootin' and movin', but this actually added another tool to my arsenal. We went from right to left and left to right across the range shooting at five targets. It was not a difficult exercise at all. Since I am left eye dominant, shooting weak hand was actually very easy. Also, I just paid more attention to taking my time and completing each step of the drill instead of blowing right through. This helped because I was able to speed along rather quickly as I focused on completing each step from the draw all the way to the finish.
IG made another point about shoot and move that I didn't realize. He best summed it up by recapping a gunfight between cops in Shang Hai and the bad guys they were after. This was a running gun battle through some dark alleys and city streets in China. These Shanghai cops were giving serious chase and shooting on the move. I cannot recall if the bad guys were caught, but what was memorable about that story is when the cops went back to the scene the next day, they noticed that there were clothes lines running all across the alleys they were running through. Not a single Shanghai cop noticed this during the battle because they were too busy running in a hunkered down position. All the clothes lines were at neck height.
Running in a lower position while shooting presents a different target to the aggressor. By crouching a bit, you can still put rounds on target while giving yourself some added protection.
Instructor Greg added another level of difficulty to the exercise. His reasoning is very, VERY sound; we train as we fight. Imagine if you will, just getting home from the range and a night out with the boys. I do this every Tuesday night, so it is nothing new for me. You park your car, grab your gear out of the back and walk across the open parking lot to your apartment. Lo and behold, out of the dark corner near the garage approach two [cough] gentlemen of questionable repute. Before you can assess the situation, one of the Tangos draws down and asks for your wallet. The first instinct of all us CCW people is to draw and send some asshole repellent their way. Question: What do you do with your range bag?
If you answered "drop it and run for cover like a little schoolgirl!" you're right and wrong. Right because you can expedite movement and hightail it to your neighbor's oversized SUV that takes up two parking spaces for cover. Wrong because you can hoist the bag in front of you and protect your vital organs while shooting with one hand. Remember, you are exposed in the middle of a parking lot and you have to run for cover. Put that bag in front of your chest and shoot around it like you see the SWAT guys do with the riot shields on a dynamic entry. If you are like me, and I know you are, you buy ammo in case lots and carry enough "Asshole Repellent" in your range bag to fend off a third world army. The ammo in the bottom of your bag will soak up those incoming rounds. Also, and this is a BIG also, if you drop your bag and go for cover, what is gonna happen when you run out of ammo? Are you gonna stop and shout: "Time Out! I need to get more bullets out of my range bag." Didn't think so.
DRILL III: Assume the position! Time to hit the ground and fire from some really wierd positions. Not neccessarily wierd, but uncomfortable and unusual to be more precise. The first position was from the back. Chances are that you may get knocked on your back in an engagement. Having to shoot through your legs is a likely possibility. From a reclined position, we drew our knees up and tucked our feet behind our butts to shoot. Instr. Greg made us roll to our sides and shoot from the strong and weak side. It is a unique sensation shooting through your legs. Being safety conscious is job one. To draw from the ground, we had to make sure our butt and legs were clear of the muzzle. To do this, you roll to your weak side drawing your knees up and draw your pistol. Make sure you don't sweep your legs when you bring your gun into position.
A couple of people asked why we didn't just lay flat on our backs and keep our legs down. Well, would you want a 230 gr. hollowpoint .45 slug reaking havoc on your innards from your belly button on up? Neither would I. By drawing your legs up, you provide some biological armor that will stop a couple of rounds and keep you in the fight. Also, since your ribcage is not there to protect you, a bullet can do some serious damage to several major organs. Keep in mind that you have to do everything to protect yourself. Even if it means sacrificing some of your body.
We also shot while laying on our sides. We started on our weak sides and shot strong and weak, then moved around to lie on our strong side to repeat the procedure. From there, we shifted to our stomachs and shot from the prone position. We rolled on our backs to wrap up the exercise. That is where I had my misfeed. Very unnatural to try and clear a misfeed while inverted. Very unnatural, indeed.
A couple of things that I learned this time were using improvised body armor, even if it is your own body for armor. Don't forget to keep low when shooting and moving, it presents a different target for the adversary. You should not be afraid to try something new. This was very unusual and quite unique. Everybody commented on how it helped to better prepare us for things if the excrement meets the oscillating ventilator. Remember, nothing is ever going to present itself the way you want it. If you rely on the obvious and usual, you will end up dead. The good thing about this class is that we are practicing the wierd and unusual so we know how to respond when we have to do something like that.
If you have a range that lets you practice this style of dynamic shooting, I encourage you to get out there at least once to try this. If not, then find a blank wall to practice against and use a verified unloaded weapon at home. Learn how your sights look upside down, get used to hoisting a range bag or backpack in front of your body and shooting on the move. It may be something you never do, but you will be glad you tried it.