There are many preppers who have an unrealistic approach to firearms. Many have an american action movie or western movie going through their head as to how they will act when WROL or SHTF comes. As a result this leads to either a lack of training, or the wrong kind of training. In combat you will do exactly as you trained, only worse. It is important to focus on building the muscle memory, this will reduce how much thinking you have to do in a stressful situation. Not every survival situation will you have time to think your way out. So let’s talk about things you will want to learn to give yourself an above average chance of coming out alive in a gun fight.
- Cleaning and Gun Maintenance—this isn’t a sexy gun topic to start with which is exactly why it is first. Your firearm’s ability to function flawlessly will decide if you go home or in the ground. This makes it important that you clean and maintain your weapons regularly. Learn how your weapon works inside and out. Be aware of when something doesn’t feel right with it. Know what each part is and understand how it functions. You never know if someday you will have to fabricate a replacement part, or scrounge from other weapons to make it work. Being able to disassemble and clean your weapon in the dark is also a very important thing to do. Many soldiers in Afghanistan will attest to gun battles that begin in the morning and last until it was dark. The insurgents are at a disadvantage to night vision gear so they paused combat. For this reason night became for many the time to reload and clean their weapons. Constant firing of your weapon will result in cycling issues without cleaning it regularly.
- Accuracy – Currently the ammo shortages are making it harder to go out and shoot frequently. People can’t just pop off rounds all day like they use to. This means less mad minutes and shooting from the hip. But imagine where you have a box of 50 rounds and that’s it. There are no rounds left to buy, or make. I bet you will be sparing on those rounds! So start that discipline now. Focus your range time on getting your accuracy down at varied distances and master your weapon through 2000 repetitions. Your goal right now in non-WROL conditions is to get to the point that you can make each of those 50 shots count. Both through accuracy and from know what you and your weapon are capable of and only taking a shot you are capable of making.
- Iron Sights – With modern optics many people bypass iron sights but this is something we need to be proficient with. How well will you shoot after you do a battlefield reload (pick up a weapon off the ground and keep going) and the weapon doesn’t have your expensive ACOG scope on it? Or worse your scope is destroyed. Did you plan ahead and put some MagPul Flip up iron sights on your AR-15 and can you use them as effectively?
- Move and Shoot – Tactical training where you learn to move and shoot is very important. If traditional range time is the only shooting experience you will be at a great disadvantage to those who have practiced how to move and shoot. You are a much harder target to hit when you are moving so being comfortable returning fire while moving is important.
- Shoot at Moving Targets – It’s the flip side of the last point, you need to learn how to shoot a target that moves as most targets will be moving. Learn how to ambush and lead the target. You may not have the option to wait until it stops moving before taking the shot. It’s important to get your accuracy up with a static target first then start working on shooting at a moving target.
- Varied Shooting positions – Can you shoot standing, kneeling, prone, and roll over prone? How about on your back between your legs, or rolled over laying on your side? Try the various shooting positions you can think up an get some experience with it now.
- Atmospheric conditions and Weather – if it’s not raining you’re not training. Can you shoot in the rain, snow, fog, High winds, extreme heat/cold, etc. Trouble won’t delay for the weather. Being combat effective in any weather is important.
- Elevations, windage and ballistics – Its one thing to know how a bullet will perform on a straight path of less than 100 yards. But how will it act in adverse conditions and how to dope your scope, and adjust your iron sights for the conditions is important. Kentucky windage can only work for you if you see where your bullets hit. In the dark you will not have the luxury of seeing where it hit, so knowing where it will hit by how it’s dialed in will make all the difference. Being able to dial it in correctly and using the sights will reduce the amount of bullets it takes to take down one target and make you more combat effective in low visibility.
- Holster Draw and fire – Get some snap caps and your serpa holster and practice drawing from the holster correctly and pulling the trigger. You need to build the muscle memory so in the moment it is automatic and you don’t need to think to accomplish your task because your brain will not be able to think fast enough in the moment. Practice drawing in private non-live fire environment. When you have the motions down begin live fire exercises.
- Handguns, Rifles and Shotguns – Know how each one works, their advantages and disadvantages and get familiar with them. Your ability to use various weapons platforms where they are most effective is important. I remember a quote that went something like “handguns are to protect your person and rifles are to protect your liberty.” Can’t sight the source but great way to think about it. You carry a handgun to be able to real with quick close range threats like a mugger in an alley. In prolonged engagement it’s used to fight your way to a rifle. A rifle is better for long range threats. This type of threat is typically something with a little more warning such as prolonged engagements like fending off a group of looters or an opposing army. A shotgun is a great short and mid-range weapon great for clearing a structure where you may not have time for accuracy. Having 9, 9mm projectiles being fired at a target increases your odds.
- Malfunctions – Train what to do to handle malfunctions quickly. In a firefight you need to keep your weapon going until it’s done. Train with malfunctions and learn the muscle memory for clearing them.
- Weak Hand, Weak Eye Shooting – Can you shoot with your non-gun hand? What would happen if your shooting hand was incapacitated, or lost during WROL. Could you keep up the fight? Same goes with eyes can you use the right and left equally?
- Hand to Hand and preventing disarms – The term “Gun Fight” needs to be thought of differently in your head as “A fight that involves a gun.” You can’t narrow your perception as to think it will only use a gun. Learning Hand to Hand combat like Krav Maga is important. It will help you make the gun an extension of yourself. Second you need to learn how to prevent disarms. For instance in extreme close quarters using your non-shooting hand to fend off an attack while using you shooting hand to draw and fire. If you have ever held a Yugo Mauser Rifle your will quickly remember the fighting side of the gun fight. This rifle has an all metal Butt Plate. It’s not there to reduce the recoil like many 6 position tactical stocks these days. It’s there to deliver a devastating blow to the head in close combat. Keeping the word fight in perspective will help you improvise in a way many others won’t allow themselves to.
- Stalking, Tracking and evasion– Going hunting and learning how to track and stalk will make you much stronger. A prepper should try and embody the traits of a sniper or SAS, not a heavy gunner. Your bullets should be accurate, and your movements quiet and precise. Knowing how to move without detection, how to evade someone tracking you and tracking others will be a strong skill set.
There is no way I can provide a guide of every possible way you should train to get yourself out of a situation in SHTF. However the more you train, the more you know yourself and weapon, the easier it will be to improvise quickly and effectively. There are many great training resources out there from DVDs such as Magpul’s Art of the Dynamic Handgun, Art of the Tactical Carbine or Defensive Shotgun. As well there are many great classes you can take. Always seek out more training it will make you a stronger individual. If you have any other ideas to improve people’s training habits share them below.