Ok this is something I wrote up a long time ago to try and help some of the people out there that carry for self defense. Though I have added a few things to it over the years.
Before I go any further, I am not a certified civilian instructor (yet), I am just a Marine with a few deployments, and several years of training, and experience in training Marines how to do their job. Nothing you read here will qualify you as an expert, or anything of the like. It is just something to help you train yourself when out on the range, or when carrying on your day to day life.
I honestly believe that proper training would solve a great number of problems, so here we go.
First off let us cover the safety rules when it comes to firearms.
1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
2. Never point your weapon at anything you do not intend to destroy
3. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire
4. Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire
5. Know your target, your weapon’s capabilities and what is beyond your target
These five rules are the bedrock for every situation where you may use a firearm. If you follow these rules then you can not go wrong. Ignore them and bad things will happen.
We will skip the weapons conditions because there are so many different variations because of the sheer number of weapons and differences between pistols, rifles revolvers etc. If you have a specific question about a particular weapon, please feel free to ask.
Choosing a firearm.
There are a LOT of opinions out there as to what type and caliber weapon is best. I personally carry .45 and sometimes .357 mag, same goes for my wife. But YOU have to be able to reliably hit the target under harsh conditions. A .22lr to the chest is better than miss with a .50AE. So get the largest caliber that you can reliably hit center mass with. This means, if you can not fire off three rounds from the holster, and have all three rounds impact the target within a soccer ball sized pattern from 15 yards within three seconds, then you need to pick a different weapon.
While (depending on the state) you are required to take a firearms class before you receive your CCW, and while it does teach you proper techniques for handling that weapon, it does not prepare you to use it in defense of yourself.
When training my wife to carry, I took a few of the things I taught in my small arms and BUST courses, and mixed in a few more things.
Start out by simply practicing slow, get rounds on target, once you master getting rounds center mass (from all distances you may encounter during in normal life), then you can start to speed up your shots. At this point, if you are driving nails, then you are firing too slow. There is rarely such a thing as a one shot stop. But we will get into that more later.
Once you get to the point where you can fire three rounds off, starting from the holster, and hitting in a soccer ball sized pattern then you are ready to start stressing your body.
You want to stress your body because no one, NO ONE can honestly say how they will react when their life is in danger. There will always be that fight or flight reflex, and it is surprising how many do not react the way they thought they would. And typically accuracy can degrade between 50 and 70% when you are in a real life and death situation. So you have to stress your body to better prepare yourself for your moment of truth.
Stressing your body and mind while training will help to prepare you to deal with that stressful and dangerous situation by making timed and accurate decisions.
So go outside, run circles in the parking lot for a while until you are winded, go back in and practice your speed drills. Have someone standing over your shoulder while yelling into your ear. Anything that stresses you out will help prepare yourself to defend yourself.
Once you master this you can move onto failure to stop drills. All this is, is two rounds center mass to the chest, and one round to the dome.
We practice this because there are only two places on the human body that will stop a target cold. The Medulla oblongata (drool spot) and the spine. A hit anywhere else will not guarantee a one shot stop.
Because we can not rely on a center mass hit to hit the spine, you have to train to hit the drool spot. This is a three inch triangle that is centered around the eyes.
You want to be able to place two rounds center mass and one in the dome within four seconds. We practice this because you may run into someone that is hopped up on some drug, and if he is not feeling pain, then he may continue his attack after being drilled in the chest. The reason we say four seconds is because a bad guy in average physical shape, with a knife, can close 15 feet and get two good swipes in under 5 seconds.
Practice this the same way you practiced your three rounds in three seconds from the holster. Draw and fire off as quickly as you can while still getting the rounds on target. Do this until you have it down to an art form. Once you have it down to an art form start stressing your body. If you plan on carrying a spare mag, then you need to practice speed reloads. This is pretty simple. All you do is load one mag with two rounds, and another mag with one round. Draw from the holster fire off your two rounds. When the weapon runs dry reload. The thing I do not like about the Glock is that the slide lock release is small, my big fingers seem to slide right over it. So I taught my wife to simply rack the slide. It is a good technique for automatics because it can be used with any type, and I know a good number of people that carry multiple types of weapons, so there is no muscle memory problem. Do it till it is an art form then start stressing your body again.
Choosing a weapon part two. If you do plan on carrying concealed, you need to pick one that you can carry comfortably. If it is comfortable you are more likely to carry it. Sure you can buy that hause of a gun that weighs more than a shotgun, and it may have very good terminal ballistics, but if you are uncomfortable while carrying it, then it will likely stay in the safe.
Those of us that are not used to carrying or shooting may just want to go with a wheel gun. I have always been a fan of wheel guns, but with them comes more training because they (for most) are more difficult to control, therefor follow on shots and failure to stop drills are more difficult. And, as always, a wheel gun is five or six or seven guaranteed shots (depending on the model type). If you pull the trigger and there is no bang, then all you have to do is pull the trigger again. There is no immediate action that you have to do to get your piece up and running again like there is with an autoloader.
I am a big guy so I can carry a full sized Kimber fairly easily (though I recently went to a Kimber Ultra CDP II). But my wife is smaller, so she needs a smaller weapon. She decided to go with the Glock 36. One thing I really like about the Glocks is the lack of a thumb safety. In a stressful situation it is one less thing to think about when you do have to draw your weapon.
(Remember that whole Jessica Lynch deal? Yeah! Remember how half the weapons laying on the deck were still on safe? That is because when they got stressed out they forgot to take their weapons off safe, then beat feet cause they thought their weapons were broke).
But because it is just a trigger safety, you have to be mindful of handling the weapon. ALSO pay attention when breaking the weapon down, to remove the slide, you have to release the trigger by pulling it. So MAKE SURE you clear the weapon before attempting this. Yes I know that should seem like common sense, but sometimes people forget things.
About a year ago we had a Warrant Officer (yes you heard me right, a WARRANT OFFICER) forget to clear his G21 (his personal firearm) and shot another WO in the leg while breaking it down. Both of these guys have been in the SOF community for many years, and had done many deployments. Complacency breeds idiocy.
Anyway. On again. I really do not like purse carries. From talking to several of my LEO buddies, I have learned that when confronted most women give up their purse right away. In a stressful situation they may do so without thinking of drawing on the bad guy. That is obviously bad. Also, by not carrying in your purse, you can deescalate the situation by giving your purse over, and backing away. He has what he wants, and you are still armed if he decides he wants more.
The last part is kind of tricky. And please do not think that I am giving out legal advise. But I have been asked this question by a many different people. I talked to a good number of LEOs and they do not all agree, so take what you read here and ask a few LEOs in your home town.
What do you do after you shoot the bad guy?
An LEO buddy in Cali says beat feet to the nearest cop and let him know what happened. He says that you are not required to render aid to the bad guy you just shot. A CDT buddy of mine says render aid and call 911, but be sure that the bad guy is no longer a threat. A NYPD buddy says keep your distance, holster your weapon, stay on scene and call 911. Also, it is always a good idea to have your attorney’s phone number on speed dial.
As you can tell, there does not seem to be a good answer. So ask your local PD when you are getting your CCW. That way your rear is covered if you ever do have to fire.
The other question that comes up a lot is what do I do if cops get there while I am aiming at the bad guy. Yup, you guessed it. There is no good answer.
Once again, the Cali LEO says slowly raise your hands in the air without dropping your piece, and say in a soft even tone, “Dont shoot’. My NYPD buddy says keep your hands down, don’t move, and when they give their order “Police don’t move.” respond with “Police don’t shoot.” He says that even though you are not a cop, the word police makes them think a bit and give you time to communicate that you are not a threat to them, and you were the victum.
One thing all of them agree on is you should not drop your piece. Six years ago in NY city an off duty cop was coming out of a corner store and a mugger tried to mug him. After unsuccessfully attempting to deescalate the situation the cop shot the mugger. Another cop rolled up behind him just after he shot the bad guy and shouted out. Police drop it. The off duty dropped his piece, and it slam fired, the on duty cop shot and killed the off duty.
But once again. I am not giving you legal advise, I am only telling you what I was told and what I have found in MY experiences.
Always trust a cop in your hometown over some crazy guy on the internet.