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Concealed Carry Marksmanship: Setting A Baseline

There's a difference between traditional marksmanship and concealed carry marksmanship. The latter could also be expressed as "combat shooting." Put a bit differently, there's a difference between target shooting and defensive shooting skills.

Defensive shooting doesn't require the utmost of precision, but does require accuracy and consistency. Not only must you be consistent and accurate, but you have to learn to be so in short order. The goal is getting shots on target in vital areas, doing so repeatedly and in a short time span.

What exactly does that consist of? How does one do that? Let's go over the fundamentals of concealed carry marksmanship.

Some Fundamentals Of Combat Shooting Methods Are The Same

fundamental shooting methods

There are, however, some aspects of concealed carry marksmanship or combat shooting - however one wants to define it - that are the exact same as with traditional target shooting. They are the fundamentals of the act of shooting and apply to anyone, whether that's the civilian carrier, law enforcement officer, military personnel, big game hunter or waterfowler, or even Olympic competitive shooters.

Namely, your grip and your trigger manipulation. If your grip is off, your shots will be too. If your trigger technique needs adjustment, that will also affect your concealed carry practice.

Make sure to devote time to improving and maintaining your fundamentals. You can do a heck of a lot of dry firing for free, and that is usually the cure for any issues you're having while shooting. Recoil anticipation will cause to pull or push shots off target by squeezing with your grip. Bad trigger technique will do the same.

So, to improve your practical marksmanship, start by paying attention to the fundamentals. That starts by doing a bunch of dry firing.

Proper Use Of Handgun Sights

gun sights
handgun sights usage

There are different schools of thought on how to use handgun sights when it comes to practical marksmanship. However, where all agree is that the traditional aimed fire method of sighting is not applicable at most combat distances.

Traditional aimed shots are where you perfectly align the front and rear sights over the target. It's good for target shooting and also for iron-sight hunting. However, it isn't good for combat shooting, as it is too time consuming. It takes time to align the sights, and in a defensive scenario you need to get your gun into the fight as soon as possible.

Therefore, you need to practice a different use of the sights...or of not using them. We'll go ahead and go over the basic methods of using the handgun sights for defensive shooting.

Point Shooting

point shooting
Point shooting is an older method of combat shooting which doesn't use the sights.
However, point shooting is different from "hip shooting," which is shooting by feel, usually from about the hip.
The classic point shooting technique is to bring the pistol into alignment between your eye and the target.

You face the target, and assume a combat crouch on the balls of your feet, knees bent and shoulders forward. Your body and shoulders should be squared to the target. You bring the gun up, with your arm locked, until the gun is aligned between your eye and whatever it is you're shooting at. Then, you squeeze the trigger.

This technique was taught by thousands of police departments and by dozens of militaries the world over for decades - including ours - and was proven to be effective. It's fast, since it's relatively easy to get the gun and the target aligned. It's easy, since it is fairly intuitive. It works, since you are facing your target and getting the gun on the target.

However, it is not without limitations.

At combat distances, say up to about 7 yards, it is very effective. You will get shots on target and it has been used to great effect in combat conditions so don't doubt that. However, it is not the most precise nor consistent.

To put that a little better, you will hit what you're aiming at with point shooting...but it won't be pretty. That said, don't discard it as a technique for those reasons. It's a proven method for getting a gun into the fight and putting lead into people in short order, so it remains a very viable method of combat shooting.

The Modern Technique

mordern shooting technique

The Modern Technique of pistol shooting was developed at Gunsite, the legendary training school founded and ran by Col. Jeff Cooper. Among his innovations and accomplishments were the 4 Laws Of Gun Safety and much more.

The Modern Technique evolved from competitive shooting events that Cooper and others participated in, as well as observations and insights from people that had used a handgun in combat as military personnel or law enforcement. Its efficacy is also beyond doubt, as it - or derivations thereof - are taught to law enforcement and military personnel to this day.

The Modern Technique uses what's called the "Flash Sight Picture."

A Flash Sight Picture or FSP is a method of quickly obtaining a sight picture right before firing. Your focus must be on the front sight, with the target just out of focus behind it.

You bring your gun up to the target, placing the front sight on where you want your shot to land. In the case of a defensive shooting, this will be over the vital areas (center-right of the chest cavity) or the head. Focus on the front sight but wait until the rear sight is as close to perfectly aligned as possible, then squeeze the trigger.

The trigger technique is to use the compressed surprised break. Instead of the slow squeeze of the surprise break, you bring the trigger to the rear quickly but smoothly.

To sum up, you bring the gun up and the instant the sights align, squeeze the trigger.

If done correctly, the sights are aligned on target and you should hit exactly what you're aiming at. With practice, it will become nearly instinctual, which is exactly what it is designed to do. This technique teaches a person to become accurate in short order.

However, at longer distances it does lose out to aimed fire but for combat purposes, it has been proven effective without doubt.

Dry Firing Is Imperative

dry firing

Now that we know the fundamentals of marksmanship for concealed carry, we start practicing until they have taken deep root and dry firing is how that starts. By dry firing, you can drill every single aspect of accuracy for free, in the comfort of your own home.

Obvious, you want to practice good safety. Make sure your gun is empty and any ammunition is far away from your pistol when dry firing.

Start with the Wall Drill. Pick a spot on the wall, then bring the (empty!) gun up and either get it into alignment or get your front sight over it. When you've either aligned it (for point shooting) or gotten a sight picture (flash sight picture) squeeze the trigger.

If the gun moves as you squeeze the trigger, then you need to work on your trigger control technique or your grip. The gun shouldn't move as you squeeze the trigger.

Start slow and work your way up to being fast. Once you've put in the dry fire work, THEN it's time to hit the range.

Live-Fire Exercises For Concealed Carry Marksmanship

live fire exercise

One of the best live-fire exercises for concealed carry marksmanship is what's often called the "First Shot Drill." This should be part of regular concealed carry practice, as it uses the fundamentals of handgun shooting in defense of one's self.

You draw from a holster and fire a single aimed shot in as short a time as possible. Ideally, you'll use a shot timer.

You start in front of the target at combat distances, so 3 to 7 yards. You draw the pistol, present it and assume firing position whether it's a combat crouch, Isoceles, Weaver or Chapman stance or one-handed. As soon as you are aligned with the target (if point shooting) or have acquired a flash sight picture, fire a single shot.

The idea, again, is to get a single aimed shot on target as soon as you can. Some instructors and experts have argued that this drill is basically all you need.

Along with the First Shot drill, also try the Mozambique drill, another great shooting drill for concealed carry practice. Two to the body, one to the head - typically sufficient to stop the threat.

Again, start slow and work your way up. Learn to be smooth and speed will come, as after all, slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

About The Author

Writer sam hoober