The United States has a plethora of extremely talented shooters and shooting instructors. They feature their skills on social media and attract students from around the country to their high speed (and expensive courses). They offer countless drills and situations that have students running, rolling, jumping, magazine changing, and throwing a flurry of bullets downrange. How much of this is relevant to keeping yourself alive in a self-defense situation? The answer is “almost none”.

Range vs. Reality

Most of the details that these instructors focus on become totally irrelevant in a critical incident (read: when you actually have to shoot someone trying to kill you). One debate that seems to never end is how hard you should grip your pistol. I had always learned to grip 100% in both hands, but high level shooters (competition and military) tell me that it is 70% in one hand and 30% in the other. This, they claim, produces better accuracy. No doubt they manage to fire accurately, however how does this plan hold up when the rubber meets the road?

Your Training Brain and Your Fighting Brain are Not the Same

When your Sympathetic Nervous System is sent into overdrive something called bilateral symmetry kicks in, meaning that what one hand does the other tends to do as well. Imagine yourself in a darkened alley, confronted with an aggressor who may or may not be armed, he rushes at you, your vision narrows, hands start to shake, you feel sick, and he reaches into his waist band as he lunges forward… How hard are you going to grip the pistol? The answer is as hard as your hardest grip. You may as well get used to it on the range. If you want to beat your friends score on A-zone hits, do what you must, but if you want to train for a deadly force engagement, train for that on the range.

What is Actually Going To Happen

This relates to another topic. One handed shooting. Most range time is spent shooting with two hands on the pistol, great fundamentals, but less realistic. In our simulation training we find that almost all close range self defense shootings are done one handed with the arm bent in some form of retention. Add to this that most homicides occur in a residence, and most homicides with a firearm. Meaning your most likely engagement will be in your home. As you walk through your home clearing rooms, one hand will be on your pistol while the other operates a flash light, opens doors, secures a child, is grabbed by a panicked loved one, or has a fist full of bad guy.

In this context the most important skill will be one handed shooting. The second will be safety. Under duress bilateral symmetry will be a factor, so keep that finger straight and off the trigger. When your off hand is squeezing bad guy shirt or throat, your master hand will be squeezing too, so make sure it isn’t the trigger if that is not the intended result. There are countless cases of negligent discharge due to bilateral symmetry, some of them resulted in needless or illegitimate killing.

If you train to survive in a self-defense situation, train for the reality of the situation and leave the John Wick shooting to the pros.

-Featured photo: Alex Trafton on the range in Israel training with Shin Bet agents.

Your Current Pistol Training is Going to Get You Killed

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