“Do we have more ammunition for this one?” my lovely wife asked. We were at the range recently practicing with various self-defense weapons. I assured her that we had plenty of 9mm ammo for the Glock 17 pistol she was holding.

Like thousands upon thousands of American men, I keep firearms at home for protection. Naturally, I frequently practice or train with them to keep up my skill. For generations it has been the head of the household, the Alpha Male, that has had the responsibility for protecting the clan.

Responsible husbands and fathers realize that one of their duties is to provide for the safety of their spouses and children. Therefore, they arm themselves with the appropriate tools for the job. Here in America that means a firearm of some sort.

The Issue
The trouble is that husbands and fathers have to work and travel away from the home. They simply cannot be there 24 hours a day to “protect the castle.” A simple fix is to purchase a gun for the wife, take her to the range once, stick it in the bureau drawer and forget about it. While that plan may give you a bit of psychological comfort, it is certainly not the best plan of action for dealing with the deadliest of threats.

If your spouse is not a regular shooter her familiarity and comfort level with a gun isn’t going to be very high. All too often the husband gives his wife a crash course on how to load, aim, and shoot the home defense gun. The gun is then loaded and put up. When faced with an unforeseen deadly threat we expect them to grab the gun and successfully defend their lives and possibly that of our children.

A Better Plan
Maintaining proficiency in any physical skill requires regular practice. Shooting skills are perishable. Understanding how to make a firearm work and being able to make it work are not necessarily the same things. I understand how jet propulsion works. Nonetheless, I won’t be working on a Boeing 747 tomorrow morning.

During the last year I relocated to the Gulf Coast and am now subject to meteorological events we like to call hurricanes. A nasty little storm called Gustav was brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening my family and new home.

As we all should have learned from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, natural disasters bring out both the best and worst of society. My family and I had food and water, flashlights and batteries, and naturally self-protection tools.

The storm was set to hit on a Monday. Since it had been about a month since my wife Nancy had been out to the range with me, we took Saturday afternoon and hit the range. I strongly believe that any able-bodied adult living in the household is responsible for its defense and so my 18-year-old son Jarrad accompanied us.

Start With Basics
Loading up my range bag into the Family Tactical Vehicle, I made sure I had eye and ear protection along for everyone as well as plenty of practice ammo for the handguns and long guns. The first chore was to engage in simple marksmanship practice. Line up the sights and press the trigger.

Before we move on, let’s talk about learning. I’ve seen husbands on the range that do everything but pull the trigger for their wives. They load the gun up, walk their spouse down to face the target and then very gingerly hand over the weapon. The moment it runs dry they take the gun back.

Folks, if we expect someone to save their own lives or that of another with a firearm, don’t you think they should be able to load it and carry it around? It’s not a snake; it won’t bite.

Start with the basics. Explain the particular parts and operation of the gun. Show them how to load it and work the action. Then let them take the empty firearm and load it up for themselves. Learning by doing is the best way to teach most novice shooters. If they make a mistake, show them the correct way and let them try again.

Begin with marksmanship basics. Focus on the front sight and deliberately press the trigger. Save the advanced stuff for experienced shooters. Let them master the basics first before you cloud the waters with advanced techniques. Remember, speed comes after proficiency. Hitting slowly always beats missing quickly.

paulmarkel2.gifPractice Drills
Marksmanship is only a part of the overall training program. Dealing with life-threatening emergencies effectively takes more that just aiming and firing. Deadly force situations are fast-moving, violent encounters that take place under the worst of circumstances.

Once your shooters are comfortable with the basics, have them move on to more realistic scenarios. One of the training scenarios I like to run is to place a pistol in a snapped holster on the range table. I have my wife or son sit down in a chair. On command (sometimes I use a shot timer) they have to get up, move to the table, take control of the pistol and fire two rounds into a silhouette target. As neither one is likely to wear a gun on their person around the house this is both practical and realistic.

Another easy to practice and realistic drill is to have the shooter face to the left, right, or away from the target. On command they have to turn to face it and engage. Other scenarios include firing from awkward positions; kneeling, sitting in a chair, lying flat on their back.

Don’t forget to have your shooters practice single-handed and weak (off) hand shooting. It’s an imperfect world we live in. You might not always have two hands to steady the weapon. The first time you fire a pistol one-handed should be on the range, not in a fight.

Final Notes
Personal protection is about more than simply owning a gun. Choosing a quality firearm is only first step. For too many men, buying a gun for their wife is the only step they take.

Quality training is not really all that difficult. It simply takes time and effort. Don’t you owe it to the ones you love to make sure they are as safe as possible during those times you are away from the castle? Until next time, keep shooting straight and shooting safe.

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