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Practice Shooting from Cover

Shooting from cover makes a lot of sense if you can find cover! But having no practice shooting from cover can make this a difficult transition.

The competition required shooting through a porthole in cardboard. That way, if you had an errant shot, not personal or property damage.

We found that times were reduced, and getting the sight picture was more difficult. There is also the risk of shooting the cover if you don't account for the fact that the muzzle is below your sights.

So, don't forget to practice shooting from cover. It is an important skill to have if you carry.

Mag Change Drills

Often overlooked in practice, mag swaps are a fundamental skill for the concealed carrier.

When thinking of this skill, keep a few things in mind: where you carry your spare and how you orient the magazine, how far under concealment your spare mag is, and how to keep your target and firearm visible.

First, carry your mag so it is easy to get to. And orient your magazine the same way, always. I carry with my rounds pointing behind me. I draw the mag with my index finger along the front of the mag as it sits in the gun pointed at the target, and as low on the mag as I can get a good grip. That way, I release the empty with my strong hand thumb as I am grabbing the next magazine. I bring the mag to the magwell with my index finger pointed at the trigger guard, and insert without having to adjust my grip on the pistol or the mag. I open carry usually, but keep my magazines in my Blackhawk cargo pocket.

Next, practice a high reload. In the event you need to reload in a critical situation, you want to keep your target in your view. Looking down to reload isn't always a good option. Practice bringing your pistol up high. Right into your line of sight. That way, you can see the pistol and the target.

This is an easy drill to do at home. Unload your pistol and magazine. Double check, including the chamber, that you are unloaded. And practice. If you have a metal magazine, use the bumper plates that came with it, or get some. Mag drops can damage a magazine, especially 1911 or other single stacks.

Practice, practice, practice. One of the fastest mag changers I know is my son, Ashton. He practices around the shop all the time. I wouldn't bet against him in a mag change speed drill!

Shooting with the Non-Dominant Eye

There are many shooters that shoot cross-dominant (right handed but left eye dominant, or vice versa).

While many have learned to shoot that way, some have learned to shoot non-dominant hand. The long term results, and ease of learning to shoot with the non-dominant hand, have made this the right choice for those folks.

But what if you shoot dominant hand, but lose the use of the dominant eye? In our first shoot of the Fall Challenge, none of the competitors shot non-dominant hand! Learning to shoot with the non-dominant hand is critical for a full training regimen. You never know what situation will arise where your dominant hand is incapacitated, or not useful based on cover options.

Remember to practice shooting with your non-dominant hand. The discomfort fades quickly, and the practice is invaluable. And if you are cross-dominant, you may find that shooting with your "weak hand" is actually more accurate for you!

Gripping a Pistol

A consistent, proper grip is necessary to shooting well.

For a semi-automatic pistol, the grip hand should be high on the backstrap. You want the web between the thumb and index finger as high on the grip as you can get it without it getting in the way of the slide.

Grip firmly with the grip hand, but not too tight. The heavier task of gripping should be done with the support hand, squeezing against the grip hand. This allows the trigger finger of the grip hand more dexterity and the ability to squeeze the trigger versus pulling it.

Finger Placement on the Trigger

Once you have a proper grip, you should ensure you are contacting the trigger and squeezing, versus pulling.

You want to keep your finger contact limited to near the center of the last digit of the trigger finger. The photo to the right shows about where you want the trigger contact to occur.

Moving to the finger tip can cause you to move the muzzle as you squeeze, and can weaken your ability to squeeze. Using the crease of your last digit will cause the muzzle to move away from the strong side as the tendon that connects the last digit pulls tight.

Keeping your finger contact limited to the middle of that last digit gives a smooth pull and gives enough strength to squeeze accurately. Remember, you are looking for a smooth squeeze and a surprise break.