Should Concealed Carry Weapons Training Be Stressful?
When a person begins training with firearms, every effort is made to focus on breathing and the fundamentals of marksmanship. The conditions are usually low stress. You line up your target, you aim, and when ready – fire. Rinse and repeat. There's a practical reason behind this: it's safe.
The calmer you are, the more predictable you are, the safer you are. In a high stress environment, you may do things that defy logic or reason. Things like dropping a full magazine, wildly firing in the direction of the target, and maybe even forgetting to switch the safety off are much more common than you would expect in a high stress environment.
So how do we avoid these ccw mistakes? How do we train to prevent common malfunctions from occurring?
That's a subject matter which even the United States military hasn't found a perfect solution.
How To Safely Stress Yourself Out In Training
When training to deal with potential stress, you still have to be safe. There's a lot of exercises that would be useful but you nor I can react dependably in them so we shouldn't do them. But there is a concept called “controlled stress”. These are exercises that can be conducted safely but still require problem solving.
In that video, we see several “controlled stress” training environments that are ideal for building muscle memory and quick reaction skills.
The average concealed carrier does not have that training available to him.
Ways you can add stress in a controlled environment
There's nothing like adding a bit of competitive stress to make your training interesting. Timing yourself with a professional shot clock is a great way to gauge your reaction speed. Starting off, focus on doing every action safely. At no point in time should time be more important than safety. But once you can see how to do a drill, try timing yourself.
A good series of timed ccw exercises:
1. Draw, fire three shots, re-holster.
2. Turn your back to the target, turn around, fire two shots on target, re-holster.
3. Turn your back to the target, turn around, fire two shots, change magazine*, take two more shots, re-holster.
*This step is usually a lot smoother with a good magazine holster.
You can see how easy it is to add incrementally more challenging aspects to each piece of that drill. Timing yourself gives you a good idea of your ideal reaction time.
If you're able to use multiple targets – definitely bring that into the picture.
The best thing you can do is get in the habit of taking cover before opening fire. Not only do you reduce your target silhouette (how you look to your enemy), you are getting a nice supported position that enables you to provide more accurate shots downrange.
Prep: Three targets spaced 2 meters apart. Attach a balloon to the center of the target. Use your daily carry firearm in your gun holster. At a distance of 40 ft from target, place a barricade (could be a table, plywood, anything) every 10 feet. The last barricade should be 20 feet from target. Stagger the barricades 2 meters to the left or right of the center line of the center target.
1. Starting at the 20 ft mark, draw your concealed carry firearm and take cover.
2. Starting from the left and working your way right, fire one shot at only one of the balloons.
3. Take cover. If you miss, that's okay.
a) First priority is safety.
b) Second is movement away from the bad guys.
c) Third is precision and accuracy.
4. Weapon pointing at the ground, finger off the trigger, safely move to the next barricade (30 ft).
5. Take cover.
6. Fire at the same balloon.
7. Take cover.
8. Change magazines.
9. Move to the last barricade (40 ft).
10. Take cover.
11. Fire another shot at one of the balloons.
This drill will drive home the fact that as you move farther away, it's incredibly hard to hit those balloons at 40 ft. While you should always strive to hit the targets, your main goal is to get yourself out of harm's way. This means using cover and concealment.
If you are able to hit all three targets while successfully transitioning to that distance, congratulations! Now add the first step: time.
A concealed carrier always strives to improve his accuracy, precision, and timing while maintaining a firm grounding in safety. Hopefully, these exercises proved to be both fun and educational as well as incorporating “controlled stress”.
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.