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Building Muscle Memory| Being Prepared

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 Building Muscle Memory

Have you ever heard the saying “Fast is slow, slow is fast”? When taking training classes, I heard that a lot. It still comes up whenever we’re on the subject of target practice. And the more you go to the range to get your practice in, you’ll realize how important that reminder can be. Most people initially think you must go through the actions of shooting quickly in order to hit the target. It becomes a race against the clock to pull the trigger. But the truth is that if you have not had the chance to properly build the technique to build the muscle memory, it doesn’t matter how fast you react, you will most likely not hit the target. We are all busy with our day to day activities, so it’s hard to get in that practice daily at the range not to mention costly. Here are a few examples of things you can do at home to start building that technique.


Proper Handling of the Firearm

proper grip, high index, building muscle memory, edc, everyday carry

The first muscle memory you need to build is properly picking up and checking the firearm. Make sure your finger is completely away from the trigger so there is not an accidental discharge. You’ll want to make sure your finger is away from the trigger until you are ready to pull it. To prevent an accidental discharge, make sure to keep a high index finger. This is where your index finger settles above the trigger guard area along the side of the frame (just below the slide). Make sure you get a full and proper grip on the firearm to manage recoil. The webbing of your hand should be as high as possible on the tang (curved portion of the grip that’s closest to the slide). Here’s the link to a video that shows an example of the proper grip used for full support and safety. This exercise can be practiced by either drawing from a holster or picking up from a table. Once the firearm is in hand, get into the habit of checking your firearm. You should always know if it’s loaded or unloaded, chambered or not. Make sure the muzzle of the firearm is pointed in a safe direction and completely pull the slide back. This is to make sure you get a complete and unimpeded view of the chamber. For the purpose of your exercises you’ll need to do this to make sure the firearm is unloaded and not chambered.


Shooting Stance

shooting stance, building muscle memory

Have you ever noticed when you get scared you instinctively curl your body inward? Let’s work with your body’s natural instinct to make yourself a smaller target when practicing the proper shooting stance. Your feet should be shoulder width apart with one foot slightly leading. Keep your feet straight, and toes pointed at your target. Slightly bend your knees and lean your torso forward with your shoulders rolled up to your ears. Counterbalance by slightly sticking out your seat. Extend your arms and lock your elbows. Initially, this stance may feel a little awkward, but this position helps keep your entire body square with the target.


Sight Alignment

Sight Alignment, building muscle memory, focus, front sight, aiming

Look around your home and pick a spot. It can be anything from a letter on a poster to an actual target. Get the practice aligning your sight to the target. You’re not pulling the trigger with these drills, you are simply building the technique in going through the action of picking up the firearm (and clearing it), getting in the stance and aligning with your target. This can be a drill you do when starting your day (again, you’ll want to make sure the firearm is unloaded and cleared). If you really want to step up the practice, grab an airsoft gun or a SIRT gun (if you have that kind of disposable income) to check the progress of your sight alignment. Set up a few targets around your home. Take aim every time the phone rings or in between commercials. Or, if you’re like my husband, you can use it as an excuse to hit up the range more often.


Trigger Manipulation

trigger manipulation, coin trick, building muscle memory

For this drill you will be pulling the trigger, so before you begin please double and triple check that the firearm is unloaded and not chambered. It’s best if you practice this away from all ammo for extra precaution. Practicing trigger manipulation reduces the chances of you anticipating the shot. When you anticipate the shot, you are more likely to flinch causing a dip in the alignment. You’ll need to know how much pressure you need to use to pull the trigger of your firearm. You can do this with either snap caps or you can dry fire (Note: Before you dry fire check the manufacturer specs to make sure this will not harm your firearm). One trick you can use is the coin trick. Lay a coin flat on the front sight and gently squeeze back the trigger. If the coin falls you will notice any errors immediately.



In Conclusion

I cannot stress enough how important it is to double and triple check to make sure your firearm is clear and unloaded prior to any of these exercises. These are only a few things you can practice to get yourself more familiar with your firearm. Build the muscle memory you may need if you ever find yourself in a life or death situation. These drills are only part of the equation you need to become a better shooter. It will take practice. If you can, take some training classes. Get the proper training as your foundation. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Go through these drills slowly as you are becoming familiar with the movements. Pretty soon these movements will become fluid and will feel more natural.

Which of these drills is your favorite and why? Do you have any other drills you practice that I didn’t list here? Thanks for the feedback, have a great weekend and happy drilling!

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The Rules Still Apply- Firearm Etiquette

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These rules should be introduced before you ever pick up a firearm, and should be used not only on the range, but anytime you handle a firearm. Sometimes people need to be reminded, especially when it comes to firearm safety and proper handling. I never realized how often most people forget about the 4 Rules of Gun Safety especially when they’re not at the range until I started working at a local gun affiliated business. I’ve lost count of how many times people swept me with their firearm, only to dismiss my reaction by saying, “Oh, it’s unloaded.”. No, that doesn’t make it better or excuse the fact that you didn’t follow the rules. So, here’s a small reminder continue these practices not only at the range but anytime you handle a firearm.


Rule #1- Treat all guns as if they were always loaded

You see, even though you checked and cleared your firearm (and double or triple checked it), you have just walked into our shop with a loaded firearm. At least, that’s what the person behind the counter is thinking when you pull out that firearm and start pointing it at them. Even if you walk into a shop or up to the line at the range with the firearm in the locked and chamber open position, you need to treat that firearm as though it’s loaded. The person beside you, should treat that firearm as though it’s loaded. We treat the firearm as though it’s loaded even if everyone has been able to verify it has been cleared. There is no exception to this.


Rule #2- Never point the muzzle of the gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy

Yes, even though you may have just cleared the firearm with Rule #1, you still should not point the muzzle of that gun at anything or anyone unless you are willing to destroy what’s on the other end. Why? Because Rule #1 just told us that we should treat the firearm as though it’s always loaded. Keep that muzzle pointed down and away from any body parts. Keep this in mind when you are moving the firearm from one hand to another. Muzzle awareness, or always being mindful as to where your muzzle is pointed, has always been drilled in by firearm instructors I have worked with..


Rule #3- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot

Now, I’m going to take this one step further and tell you not only should you keep it off the trigger, but you should also keep it outside the trigger guard. This is also known as a “high index”. This is good practice for a couple of reasons. It keeps those around you safe because everyone can see that the trigger and the trigger guard area are completely unobstructed. It keeps you safe because it helps eliminate accidental discharge since your finger is completely away from the trigger. This should be practiced often so that you commit it to your muscle memory. This way, no matter what firearm you pick up, your finger automatically goes into this “high index” position.


Rule #4- Be sure of your target and what’s behind it

You wouldn’t think this rule applies in your local gun shop, but it does. Let me tell you why. When you forget to follow Rules #1 and #2, and you point that firearm at the shop employee, you’re also pointing it at what’s behind them. When you quickly move that gun to the side of them because you noticed their reaction, and are now pointing it at the wall, you are also pointing it at the person behind the wall. So, even though these people are not your target, you have just made them one.



In Conclusion

If you happen to be the person that needs a gentle reminder about the rules, don’t get upset or defensive with that person next to you at the range or shop employee when they react to having a firearm pointed at them. Don’t try to defend the action by telling them the firearm is unloaded. These rules are in place to keep everyone safe. They serve as a reminder that you are in possession of a deadly weapon, and you should always treat it as such. These rules should help you build the foundation for good habits on and off the range. I cannot stress how important it is to commit these rules to memory, follow these rules each time you go to handle a firearm. If you happen to see someone mishandling a firearm, or not following the rules, this should be the one time you are not afraid to be impolite and say something. You deserve to feel safe, as much as those around you deserve to feel safe.

Everyone has there view points on firearms but the only thing that stays the same across the board are the 4 Golden rules. –

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The Practical Guide to Everyday Carry Gear

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Being Prepared

Besides the obvious (wallet/purse, phone, keys), there are many variations to “Everyday Carry” items. It all depends on what purpose your items have for you. This is a guide to basic everyday carry items specific to personal protection/basic preparedness. With everything going on in the world today, more and more people are looking for options of personal protection. Most people don’t want to carry so many items that will cause them to feel weighed down. So here’s a list of basic items that can be carried on your person which will serve as personal protection and tools for everyday use. Laws will be different across the United States, so be sure you verify what is legal for you to carry before you make your final decision.


Everyday Carry Belts


This should go without saying, but before you think about the items you are going to carry, you need to make sure you have a belt that can hold up to the weight you are going to be putting on it. A good belt for everyday carry should be at least 1.25” wide and sturdy enough that it can’t be compressed when you try to squeeze it in your hands. There are different width options and material options (nylon/leather) that are both strong enough for the job. I would not suggest a belt that has an insert for reinforcement because it may be harder to fit a holster or clip a knife on it. Just because it’s a “tactical belt” doesn’t mean your belt must look tactical. I prefer the 5.11 Nylon Athena Belt. It’s sturdy enough to carry the weight of all my everyday carry items, and although it’s considered a tactical belt, I can still conceal it easily. Although it doesn’t have a quick release buckle, I preferred this belt type since it’s easier and faster to get the holsters on and off daily.  You may also want to consider checking out the other tactical belts offered by 5.11 (they do offer nylon and leather options), Grip6 No Holes Belt, or Elite Survival System’s Cobra Belt.


Firearm & Holster

When I think of personal protection and everyday carry, the first thing that comes to mind is a firearm and holster. If you happen to live in a state that allows the licensed carry of a firearm, consider carrying it on your person and in an position that is easy for you to get to if you needed to. Make sure you are comfortable with the holster you choose, or you’ll likely never carry it. We all know someone, or are that someone, that has a box full of holsters. I can’t count how many times I have heard that a person can never find a holster that is comfortable to wear. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go through trial and error before I found what worked for me. I would suggest an On Your 6 Designs IWB holster. It’s best for concealment and is comfortable to wear. I did have to work with where to carry it on my person before finding a comfortable spot for me. Since they use thinner kydex, it conforms better to the body. Each holster is handmade in the US specific to the firearm, so you are sure to get the right fit. This company stands behind their product and offers a 30-day satisfaction and a Life Time Guarantee on all their holsters.


Everyday Carry Knives

Also consider carrying a knife. Not only for personal protection, but a knife that can serve multiple purposes if needed in a pinch. A knife can be used for something as simple as opening a box to assisting in starting a fire. I prefer carrying a folding knife like the Gerber Mini Remix. I like it because it’s compact enough to fit inside a pocket, has a clip that keeps it in place while in the pocket and has a ring that assists with stability.  As with firearm laws, please make sure you are aware of the laws for your area before you choose your knife (i.e. where can you carry, what blade size is legal, etc.). If you need help to decide what type of knife would work best for you, check out these tips from Indefinitely Wild.


Everyday Carry Flashlights

A flashlight can be used for many situations. Not only can you use it when the power’s out, but you can also use it as a self-defense tool. Not many people think of a flashlight as a tool for self-defense, but if light is flashed in an attacker’s eyes it will disorient them allowing you to cause a distraction or to simply get away. When looking for a flashlight, consider the brightness of the light, you don’t want it too bright or you consider disorienting yourself as well. Also consider the battery type when choosing your everyday carry option. You’ll want to look at availability, expense, and longevity.  I like the Streamlight Stylus Pro Penlight. It’s compact and has a clip that allows you to keep it in a pocket for easy access. This flashlight uses a USB to recharge and the light is rated to last 3.5 hours of constant run time. In my experience, I’ve only had to charge it once every couple of weeks or so. I had no idea how useful a flashlight would be as part of my everyday carry until I had kids. Imagine sitting in a dimmed movie theater when your little one drops their toy under the seats. That flashlight has been a huge help in tantrum prevention.  If you’re not sure what your options are, check out this post from Mike’s Gear Reviews.  The good thing about a flashlight is that you can legally carry it anywhere with you, so the only research you really should do is what flashlight will work best for you.


In Conclusion

These simple tools can make a significant difference in being prepared, but you must make sure you are comfortable with them when using for self-defense. When practicing your drawing of the firearm from the holster, make sure you do it safely. Make sure the firearm is unloaded and cleared. When you are doing your drills, make sure you are drawing the firearm with the same intent you would use if you were in a real-life situation (are you going to draw slowly if the time comes or will you draw fast). Go to the range, take firearm training classes, get comfortable with your firearm. Know where everything is located on your person so that you can get to that tool quickly. Build that muscle memory.

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4 Clear Signs That Show You That You Need To Shoot More Often

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You may own one or more handguns for hunting, self-defense or target shooting but how often do you actually use them? I am going to make an assumption that it is not as often as you should. Shooting is fun, relatively inexpensive and essential if you desire proficiency at any of the activities that I mentioned initially. Some people are naturally going to be better shooters than others, so there is no one answer for everyone as to how often they “need” to shoot. For this reason, I have identified 4 clear signs that show you that you need to shoot more often.


Sign#1 – You literally cannot hit anything that you shoot at.

If you go target shooting and find that you can’t get your shots onto the target, there is a problem. I once shot with another guy for an extended period of time and noticed that he couldn’t hit anything he shot at. I finally stopped him and asked him how he was aiming and his answer blew my mind. He was only using the rear sights and completely ignoring the front sight. It turns out that the front sight was pointing down at the ground when he was shooting. He owned multiple guns for self-defense, but he had never made the effort to get basic gun handling training or any shooting instruction. I dedicated the rest of my session to helping him understand the parts of a gun and the fundamentals of shooting. He now shoots more often than I do and has become quite proficient with his weapons. This all happened because he now regularly shoots!


Sign#2 – You don’t know how to clear jams on your own gun.

Gun jams can happen to any gun at any time, due to a variety of reasons. Environmental conditions can wreak havoc on firearm reliability and so can cheap ammo. Dirty guns that never get cleaned are also a problem and can lead to malfunctions. I was once shooting a Glock 30 that jammed on me in a very hot and humid environment. The ammo was of an excellent grade and the gun was surgically clean prior to my range session. Jams can and will happen when you least expect it. If this happens in a self-defense scenario your life depends on your ability to clear the jam, instantly! If your gun jams and you do not know what to do this means that you have not shot your weapon enough to become familiar with it. I was recently at an amateur shooting competition and a guy was shooting his .40 caliber handgun when it jammed on him. He did not know what to do and creating an unsafe scenario inadvertently with the direction of his muzzle. A range officer got involved and cleared the jammed round and the shooter was able to complete his round. He definitely needs to get familiar with his gun, because this could have ended in injury or worse.




Sign#3 – You can’t effectively draw from a holster and engage your target.

It’s always painful to watch someone try to draw from a holster and fire on their target, when you can tell that they have never done it before. Their hands get caught in their clothes and their holsters are usually cheap and flimsy, so they struggle to get a firm grip on their weapon. Whether you prefer an IWB or OWB design of holster, you should check out one of our various Kydex models. We offer strong, well-built holsters that will secure your weapon properly and offer a crisp release upon drawing as well. On top of all that, you also get a lifetime warranty and the comfort of knowing that they are all 100% built in the USA. Once you have your On Your 6 Designs holster, it becomes a matter or wearing it and practicing a series of controlled draw and firing sessions at your local range. Like with anything else, practice makes perfect and this fundamental could be the difference between life and death.


Sign#4 – You don’t know how to break down or clean your gun.

Owning a gun is enjoyable and especially when you are shooting it, but you have to keep them clean to get the best performance out of them. It’s amazing how many guys I know, that do not know the first thing about breaking their guns down or cleaning them. Wiping some oil on the exterior of your gun is not cleaning it. All new firearms come with an owner’s manual that explain this process and other shooters are usually more than happy to show you this as well. Some guns are indeed difficult to break down and put back together, but most modern semi autos are very simple. I find that once you break your gun down once or twice, it’s pretty easy to do again and again. I personally clean after every range session, whether its 5 rounds or 500 rounds just to maintain my investment. Once your gun is broken down, you need to remove the powder residue, brush the inside of your barrel and use a powder/copper solvent inside of the barrel as well. Finally, you will lubricate any moving parts and friction areas and reassemble. Shooting more often means cleaning more often, but this is how you become familiar with the process. Shooting is a right and a privilege, so doing so responsibly will allow you and those around you to have the best, possible experience. If you own a gun, get out and shoot every chance you get. You will become proficient, more confident and get more enjoyment from your firearms. If any of these signs spoke directly to you, get to your local range as soon as possible to ensure that you can soon check each of these areas off of your list!

If you have any questions or thoughts at all, we would love to see them in the comments section below!