Situational Awareness Advice for Armed Citizens

Situational Awareness Advice for Armed Citizens

If you are habitually armed in public, it is necessary that you live your public life aware of what’s going on around you; that you are situationally aware.

Proper situational awareness is not something you simply get after some time as a concealed or open carrier. Rather it is something that you must deliberately develop into habit. Doing so takes time and continual effort until it’s something you do automatically, without ever thinking about it. Ultimately, situational awareness becomes your lifestyle. That doesn’t mean it’s something conspicuous, something you display in your mannerisms. On the contrary, it’s an unobtrusive quality, likely unnoticeable by those around you. At least it should be, until there’s something to respond to.

To become habitually, situationally aware requires that you work to develop some specific habits that at first will intrude upon your daily life. Initially, they’re things you have to deliberately think about and remember to do nearly all of the time until they become unconscious habits. My advice that follows here includes some important components to situational awareness, but once you start paying attention you’ll likely find or develop others.

 

a public setting

 

General Habits

Be genuinely interested in what’s happening around you at all times. Actively and passively monitor the situation for your entire 360.
Everywhere you go you should be continually comparing the people and activity around you to what you believe should be the baseline for the location or context. By baseline, I mean “the normal” for the venue. If anything varies from how people should normally behave, move, talk, and engage in activity it should raise a flag to your attention.

Continually monitor for anything new or incongruent. Note when the volume or character of nearby conversations changes; when the background noise varies oddly; when the flow of human traffic changes; when nearby people’s physical attitude changes, when the point of attention for the people around you changes; when an individual or a group of people seem out of place due to physical attitude, dress, facial expression, movement, or other quality. You might even be able to detect when the mood of those around you changes (develop and then learn to trust your gut!).

At first you’ll have to actively pay attention. In time, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to keep tabs on everything happening around you. When you have developed the habit, nearly all of the aforementioned information can be monitored passively. When something raises a flag in your attention, switch to active and evaluate things critically for a moment.

 

a restaurant setting

 

Move and position yourself strategically. Sit facing the front door or the largest area of the room in public places. Even better, have your back to a wall while doing so.
If you’re going to monitor the situation, it’s best to have a clear view of your surroundings, with your back toward the least-likely direction for ambush. This is an easy habit to develop, but it requires that you enlist your family and friends. For instance, my wife always takes the restaurant seat with her back to the door because she knows which seat I’ll take. Likewise, all of my friends know to leave the proper seat to me when we’re out in public because they’ve been trained (by me) and know that if they don’t, I’ll ask to switch seats. When you’re with someone new, move deliberately to take the proper position in a room or at the table.

This is an important habit and allows for some other important ones…

When in a static position in a public place (e.g. seated in a restaurant, in an office waiting room, in your workplace) briefly make note of every person who enters the room.
Take a look at face, hands, and hips and “clear them” as a potential threat before letting your attention drift elsewhere. While this might sound laborious, it’s really quite easy and can be done in one or two seconds. It’s nothing anyone should notice you doing, as it becomes just a component of your stationary activity and varied attention.

Does the person seem nervous or angry? Are they holding their arms oddly, especially holding their arms against their body or beltline? Are they holding something in their hands? What is it? Are they trying to conceal something in their hands? Are they wearing clothes that are incongruent with the temperature or venue? You should be able to tell from the face, hands, or hips, or combination of them, if that person is about to become a threat.

If you’re then going to respond to the potential or developing threat, you’ll have to already have a plan specific to that location (a topic for another article).

Habits for Moving Around

Take a wide line when going around corners. Check beside and behind you after you turn the corner.
When moving to a space you cannot see, it is important not to make yourself an easy target; either for ambush or for collision with someone else who is equally oblivious and coming toward you.

This habit is most threat-context relevant when you’re in a public space, like on a downtown sidewalk, in a parking garage, in an apartment breezeway or hallway. When you’re going to walk around a right-hand corner, western habit is to hug the right side and take the corner in a shallow manner. Break with this habit and always move to the center of the walkway well before the corner so that you get a view of your new space before you move into it. When you’ve finished turning the corner, reevaluate your immediate 360 after a step or two. Corners—before, during, and after—are common ambush locations.

If you’re approaching a T corner, be sure to check both ways as you’re navigating the turn. Don’t leave an unknown at your back.

 

a hallway

 

Scan right and left when walking through a doorway—any doorway, even in your own home.
Like blind corners, archways and doorways take us from a clear view to an unseen area. Make a habit of moving slowly through portals while you quickly scan right and left; even up, when appropriate. Unless you’re actively evaluating for specific threats, this needn’t be anything more than a quick glance, as anything that might concern you will capture your attention.

I say “even in your own home,” because survival is a habit that is relevant to the activity, not to the public or private context. If you sometimes don’t do it, then you’ve not yet developed the habit.

Never walk while looking at or talking on your phone.
Just never do it. Sadly, this is a common habit and character flaw among people today. This one mistake is responsible for a large proportion of mugging victimhood. One should never do it.

Note that your friends who habitually break this rule are alive at the whim of criminals who could take them at any moment. It’s not okay to live at another’s whim.

 

a garage

 

When in a parking lot or parking garage, pay particular attention to your surroundings.
These areas are prime ambush locations so always make note of and evaluate:

  • occupied parked cars
  • running cars
  • all of the other people (What are they doing? Where are they going?)
  • blind spots

Additionally, give parked cars a wide berth while walking to/from yours. Note the spaces in between. Never, ever, assume you are alone.

Automobile Habits

Pay particular attention when approaching a parking spot.
Whether you’re in a parking lot, a parking garage, or approaching your own driveway, turn up your awareness as you approach your parking spot. Maintain heightened awareness after you park. Scan the wider area then the immediate area as you pull up. Before you turn off the engine or unlock the doors, do a quick 360 scan. Then, when you exit your vehicle, pay particular attention to the area behind you as you reevaluate your 360 and leave the area of your vehicle.

Undo your seatbelt before you turn into your parking space.
Parking ambush attacks often come or can be noticed before you stop your vehicle. Smart assailants may have an accomplice in another vehicle that will block your way of escape. If you are strapped into your seat, it can be difficult to deploy your defensive weapon quickly enough to thwart the threat before an assailant can gain the advantage (you will likely die if you attempt to draw your own weapon when the assailant’s gun is trained on you). It can be a useful habit to free yourself of constraint well before you begin parking.

Of course, if you notice a threat before you turn off your engine, driving away from a threat can often be the best course of action—provided you’re not blocked in or acting from the drop (when an assailant already has a gun drawn on you).

Develop Your Gut

At first you’ll have to deliberately practice situational awareness. In time, you’ll simply be aware. Ultimately, all of these habits should be automatic and employing them should bring nothing visibly noticeable about you. You’ll still look and behave the same way, but you’ll be far more in tune to what’s going on around you. If you’re going to listen to your gut, give it something to go on and work to develop the senses that will inform your intuition.

Since you’re the one with the defensive weapon on your person, you should be the first one alerted to something wrong. Be first. Those who respond last usually don’t last very long when things go wrong. So if you carry a defensive weapon, give yourself a chance for that fact to count for something when it’s needed.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.

Featured photo at top is by Nicolas Henderson from Coppell, Texas.

Shooting Review: The Sig Sauer P365

Shooting Review: The Sig Sauer P365

It will come as no surprise to those of you who keep up with my reviews here that I’m a Glock fan and a practicality fan, and habitually measure every pistol I shoot against a Glock; either directly or subconsciously. Given that few pistol can match Glock’s simplicity, reliability, and size/weight-to-capacity ratio it’s hard to consider recommending most pistols over a similar (but superior) Glock model. This time, though, I’ve got little to argue against. The Sig P365 does what it does better than either the Glock 26 or the Glock 43. With one caveat.*

I guess I’ve summed up my review right there. Okay, there probably is a reason to continue reading and my positive assessment of the 365 is not without dissent, but Sig got some things right here that can’t be denied. I spent part of this month shooting and getting familiar with the Sig P365 and this is what I found.

Why Consider the Sig Sauer P365?

The Sig P365 is a purpose-made concealed-carry pistol. It is also…the work of gypsies, as it takes a frame and slide that are either the same size or SMALLER than that of the Glock 43 (a single-stack gun) and adds 4 rounds to it. And it does it in a way that is more comfortable to hold and has a better trigger.

So you might consider the Sig P365 for its impossible sorcery of improved capacity and grip comfort over all competitors or perhaps for how it logically allows you to carry an 11-round, 9mm pistol that disappears onto your waistline as almost no other gun. Or perhaps you might consider this one because it’s a Sig Sauer pistol, known (with a cringy exception or two *cough*P320*cough*) to make excellent firearms.

Now, about that caveat I mentioned. Despite reports of issues with this pistol, I experienced no issues when running the gun through a couple hundred rounds (a gun that had 2,200 rounds through it already) and since this is a first-impression and shooting review, I will merely report on my experience.

Sig Sauer P365 Specs:

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Length: 5.8 “
  • Height: 4.3” with flush magazine
  • Width: 1”
  • Barrel: 3.1”
  • Trigger: ~6 lb.
  • Sights: XRAY3 Day/Night Sights (3-dot)
  • Weight: 17.8oz. w/empty magazine
  • Slide: Stainless Steel, Nitron finish
  • Capacity: 10+1 (1 flush mag, 1 extended mag) – 12-round magazine available
  • MSRP: $599

Sig P365

Shooting the P365

The first time I shot the P365 I tried to use my normal grip, with a high-forward support hand. I left not liking the experience because the slide-lock lever painfully abraded my support-hand thumb knuckle at the palm. Shooting it was genuinely uncomfortable. It later occurred to me to augment my grip so that the thumb knuckle was not in contact with the lever. This grip proved to be both effective and comfortable.

I came to enjoy shooting the little pistol and had no problems or difficulty running the gun; inserting mags, getting a grip, firing, ejecting the mag, locking the slide back, etc… The controls seem to be well located for my medium-sized hands and perfectly functional to what I’d expect. Frankly, I was expecting difficulty and never encountered any.

In one session I went back and forth between my Glock 43 and the P365, shooting groups at various ranges. I used my normal grip with my G43 and the altered grip with the P365. I was surprised to see that at ever distance, the groups with the P365 were half the size of the Glock 43 groups. Yes, that is anecdotal and I am not quite sure what to attribute this difference to, but I believe it is the better trigger on the Sig. Also the sights on the Sig seem a bit more precise.

I’ve read where the P365 is rated for +P ammunition, if you care about such things. The average defensive 9mm round is perfectly effective without any added pressure so I’ve always been against +P ammo. It’s possible that +P matters in a tiny gun like this, with such a short barrel, but I confess I don’t at this moment know where performance would necessitate a +P round.

Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
As I mentioned earlier, once I changed my grip, I found the P365 to be quite comfortable to hold and to shoot. The grip is actually quite small and would be excellent for people with smaller hands.

Generally speaking, it’s a tiny pistol so shooting 9mm from it means it’s going to be snappier than a mid-sized pistol. That said, I found it very easy to control—even with a modified grip—and easy to make quick follow-up shots. This is especially true when I was using the extended magazine, where I was able to get my whole hand on the grip. I still find it amazing that this short, thin, little grip can hold a magazine with 10 rounds. It seems impossible, yet here it is.

Components & Features
The slide is a mere 1” wide and it has good serrations both fore and aft. The stock sights are very nice, with tritium inserts front and rear (mostly invisible in daylight, so you get a blacked-out rear) and the front dot is surrounded by a day-glow-green ring for daytime high contrast. I found the sights to be very easy to pick up and to use for easy accuracy.

P365 sights

As do all good pistols, the P365 has no extraneous external controls; only a slide-lock lever and a takedown lever mar the otherwise clean design. The trigger is plastic and does not have a safety-tab rib, making it a bit more comfortable on the finger pad than most striker-fired pistols’ trigger shoes. The trigger action is very nice for a stock trigger. It has some takeup, a clear wall, and a sort of dull break (not super-crisp). The reset is quite short and a bit soft; not as tactile as you’ll find on many striker-fired pistols. I found the trigger to be very nice when running the gun and, I think, it’s a component that contributes to the easy accuracy.

The frame has a nice, if not very aggressive, texture and it features an accessory rail up front. Note, however, that this is not a picatinny rail and is entirely proprietary. I expect that Sig will release some Sig-specific accessories for this rail in the future. The magazine release is easy to find and use and is reversible for lefties. The pistol comes with a 10-round flush mag and 10-round extended mag (with 12-round mags available).

P365 magazines

*Issues

I experienced no issues whatever shooting a few hundred rounds through the Sig P365. That said, there have been many reports of some specific failures and issues from the early purchasers of this pistol. The primary issue reported is that the pistols firing action causes the tip of the striker to drag across the primer (primer smear), often leading to a broken striker where the tip breaks off. As counterpoint to those reports, there are reports from folks who have 10,000+ rounds through theirs with no issues.

As this is not an in-depth review, I can only report on my own limited experience with this pistol. Issues after a first release are in no way uncommon with pistols and what matters most at this point is the manufacturer’s response to them. As you can likely tell, I’m a fan of the gun for a few important reasons. I cannot, however, recommend that anyone use this pistol as their sole personal-protection tool until Sig has a chance to address these post-release issues.

Conclusions

Pros
The P365 has the best size-to-capacity ratio of any subcompact pistol. The trigger and sights are quite good right out of the box. While small, the pistol’s ergonomic design makes it fit comfortably in the hand and the extended magazine allows most folks to get all of their fingers on the grip. For carry, the pistol is small enough to disappear onto your body no matter what carry location you choose. I found it to be easily accurate out to 15 yards, which is plenty for a subcompact.

Cons
The slide-lock lever will painfully abrade your support hand if you take a high, thumb-forward position. Being so small and light, the pistol is rather snappy firing the 9mm round. The P365 seems to have some function and construction issues yet to be worked out by the manufacturer, so it may not right now be the best choice as your only carry gun. Some may find the purchase price to be a bit off-putting.

So for rating the Sig P365…

Ergonomics (****)
For such a small pistol, it’s quite comfortable in the hand. I found the controls easy to reach and use.

Shootability (****)
Definitely a shootable pistol, with its nice trigger action and excellent sights. It’s only detriment is it’s subcompact size.

Accuracy (****)
I found it plenty accurate and easy to get there. Again, sights and trigger are positive contributors here.

Concealability (*****)
The P365 tiny and thin and should be invisible on just about anybody in any carry location.

In Summary

Sig has seemingly done the impossible here; squeezing 11 rounds into a super-tiny striker-fired pistol that is both comfortable and accurate. It’s the kind of thing that most concealed carriers always wish for. I have to believe that this P365 will eventually become a concealed-carry staple for lots of folks.

I’m a Glock guy because I’m a 100%-reliability guy and it’s hard to contemplate replacing my G43 with something other than a Glock, but this little pistol has me seriously considering it. I’m not quite ready to jump yet, as there seem to be some function issues that Sig Sauer needs to address, but once done I am likely on board. I think this little pistol is a gem.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Concealed-Carry Matters: Home Training Kit for Dry-Fire

Concealed-Carry Matters: Home Training Kit for Dry-Fire

Live-fire training obligates us to ammunition expenses that may come dearly for some. Thankfully, dry-fire practice needs not be so expensive and so it can be far easier to schedule as a multiple-times-per-week activity. There are, however, some equipment needs for a more robust dry-fire and dry-training experience. Well, some are needs and some are nice-to-haves. Let’s look at them and examine some ways to use them in effective home practice.

Home Training Kit

While there are all sorts of kit you might get for your training, the things I believe are good home-training components for everyday carry, in order of importance, include:

  • Snap caps
  • Blue gun (full-weight +1)
  • Airsoft replica

Snap Caps and Blue Guns

Snap caps are mostly known as live-fire training aids, to be used as dummy rounds mixed into a loaded magazine to simulate a malfunction. They’re good tools in this role, but they have a role in home dry-fire practice, too. Even if your dry-fire practice is nothing more than trigger-press precision training, I recommend using snap caps. These dummy rounds help to protect your gun’s components from undue wear and potential damage that dry trigger presses can bring, especially to striker-fired pistols.

The snap cap allows the striker to impact as normal on the back of a shell, saving the striker from repeated impacts on the rear of the breech face in striker-fired pistols. While it takes many dry strikes to do so, repeated striker impacts can cause cracks in the breech face and can ultimately damage the striker. When I use snap caps for home dry-fire practice, I load one or more magazines full of them, so as to add some weight to the magazine for a more realistic feel.

 

orange snap caps

brass snap caps

 

The plastic, florescent orange snap caps are great for range use because they’re easier to find on the ground than the maroon or brass kind. But for home practice I use the kind with a brass case because they’ll last longer. The orange plastic kind tend to wear over time at the case rim area, and have to be thrown away.

A blue gun that is an exact copy of your carry gun is a very useful, even vital component of dry training, both for at home and for practical training at the range. A blue gun allows you to practice manipulations and engage in hands-on partner practice safely, because it is 100% inert.

 

blue gun

 

Blue guns come in light models and true-weight models. You can practice with a lightweight blue gun, but for more realistic training the weighted kind is best. I carry a Glock 19 every day, so my blue gun is a true-weight, exact copy of my G19. I use it at home to practice left-handed concealed carry manipulations and I use it at the range to do a few first runs of new manipulations so that I can make mistakes while maintaining safety. Moreover, I’ve used my blue gun in hands-on practical classes for retention defense and grappling with pistols. This is a very handy tool for gaining firearms and EDC competence.

Airsoft Pistols

I recommend airsoft in a very narrow context for firearms training. I’d say that an airsoft pistol has value if it is 1) an exact replica of your everyday-carry pistol, 2) is a blow-back gun so that the slide cycles when firing, and 3) is used only for practical-scenario solo practice and practical-scenario force-on-force training. Airsoft is a huge industry and hobby endeavor that is mostly focused on airsoft gaming and I suggest that any prolonged participation in that aspect of use for replica weapons is very harmful to your self-defense competency and firearms safety habits.

That said, I believe there are very good ways to use an airsoft replica gun to aid in the development of practical competence. In much the same way a blue gun affords us the opportunity to practice certain manipulations and drills safely, an airsoft replica allows for a next step in that process with the added benefit of a functioning tool. Airsoft practice is not “safe” in the way that blue-gun practice is, but it allows for complete follow-through in scenario-based training, provided you take simple precautions like wearing good eye protection (goggles are best) and perhaps heavier clothing to protect from the very real sting of the airsoft bbs.

airsoft Glock 19

My airsoft Glock 19 with the green-gas magazine and 6mm bbs.

These practical-scenario uses aside, I use airsoft for the same reason I do static, dry-fire trigger presses: to develop my hands’ ability to stay still while pressing and breaking the trigger. In this way I train my hands, body, and brain to not react to the break of the live-fire shot and develop myelin pathways to cement the habit. The benefit of the airsoft gun is that it provides the pop, the cycling slide, and a very mild recoil impulse in that still-hand training. I believe it to be very beneficial.

Some of the dimensions of home dry-fire practice are outlined very well in this (somewhat hilarious) video from the “warrior poet,” John Lovell. John is the real deal and I highly recommend his videos.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this and work to add dry-fire practice to your regular training regimen.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Automatic, Animated Targets at Eagle Gun Range

Automatic, Animated Targets at Eagle Gun Range

Most indoor gun ranges have rules and conventions that make it difficult for folks to do much more than static target shooting. While target practice and precision fundamentals practice can be fun and they’re important components of shooting practice, if that’s all you get to do you’re missing out on other important training—and fun. Now, Eagle Gun Range has a way to help you move beyond mere target shooting.

The Farmer’s Branch location of Eagle Gun Range has a target system that can greatly broaden your training and your fun. In addition to static positions at 1 to 25 yards, their automatic, programmable targets also have 27 animated programs for pistol and rifle that offer fun and challenging training drills to test you and keep your practical skills sharp.

For example, here’s a video of portions of a couple of runs through the Decision program; a shoot / no shoot drill that uses a bad-guy and good-guy side of the target. This video is on the advanced setting and the drill asks for three shots each time the bad-guy target is presented for 1.5 seconds. Note that the beginner and intermediate settings present the target for longer periods of time.

 

 

 

Each shooting lane has a control pad that offers a menu. From here you can choose “Manual,” which you can use to set the static location of your target for precision target practice; “Drills,” which is a topic for another post; and “Programs,” which offers an array of pre-programmed shooting courses. Several of the programs have beginner, intermediate, and advanced settings.

 

 

 

 

It is important to note here that because many of the programs require or allow a number of shots within a short span of time, you are allowed to break the 1-shot-per-second rule at this Eagle Gun Range location, provided that you can demonstrate safe competence when doing so. Your range safety officer will be the arbiter of your shooting speed allowance. So unlike with most indoor gun ranges, if you can safety shoot fast and on target, your Farmer’s Branch Eagle Gun Range RSO will allow you to do so.

For some, “shooting faster” may mean just a little faster than 1 shot per second, but for others it might mean 4 or 5 shots per second. The point is not to go fast, but to take advantage of the opportunity to practice practical shooting, which may well be faster than simply 1 shot per second.

How to Do It

To use the programs you should ask your RSO to turn on the programs for your lane. After doing so, the RSO will need to add a full-size cardboard target backing to the lane so that your target can remain flat during the animations. When that’s done you’re good to go; select “programs” from the menu, find the program you’d like to try, and read the instructions.

Note that several of the programs will require a number of shots that may be greater than your magazine capacity. So be sure to pre-load two or more magazines and have them at the ready; either on your shooting bench, in your pocket, or in your magazine pouch on your belt. When you’re ready, press “start” and the screen will count down from 5 to 1 before the program begins. Be safe and have fun!

 

 

Above: The detailed instructions for the advanced “Decision” pistol drill.

Don’t be intimidated by the fancy features here, it’s just an animated target and each program has clear instruction (and usually some comprehensive details by tapping “more”) for how to engage the drill. Try things out. Make mistakes. Try it again. It’s not a test unless you want it to be. The point is to expand your practice beyond what you’re used to.

For reference, here is a list of the available programs:

  • Pistol – Basic | 2 min
  • Pistol – Intermediate | 2 min
  • Pistol – Advanced | 2 min
  • Rifle – Basic | 2 min
  • Rifle – Intermediate | 3 min
  • Rifle – Advanced | 2 min
  • Decision – Basic | 2 min
  • Decision – Intermediate | 2 min
  • Decision – Advanced | 2 min
  • 6×6 – 3×3 Short Distance | 1 min
  • 10x6x3 Long Distance | 2 min
  • 21 ft. Challenge 1 | 1 min
  • 21 ft. Challenge 2 | 1 min
  • 2 Mag Reload Basic | 30 sec
  • 2 Mag Reload Advanced | 30 sec
  • 1 Mag Reload Basic | 30 sec
  • 1 Mag Reload Advanced | 30 sec
  • Charging Drill Basic | 1 min
  • Charging Drill Advanced | 1 min
  • Long Shot Decision | 1 min
  • 1 Hole Game Short Dist | 2 min
  • 1 Hole Game Long Dist | 2 min
  • Counting Game | 2 min
  • Fed. Pistol Qualification 1/4 | 1 min
  • Fed. Pistol Qualification 2/4 | 1 min
  • Fed. Pistol Qualification 3/4 | 1 min
  • Fed. Pistol Qualification 4/4 | 1 min

Come by the range and try them out! They’re fun and challenging and, most importantly, they allow you to stretch into more practical training with your defensive tools to better evaluate and hone your skills.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.
Becoming a Left-Handed Shooter

Becoming a Left-Handed Shooter

I am right handed. That said, a progressive issue with my right hand will in years to come require I become a left-handed shooter; carry concealed left handed, train and compete left handed. It’s not what I’d prefer, but it’s likely a future requirement so I’m getting started early with preparations and training to build left-hand firearms competence.

When I mentioned on social media that I was beginning the process of becoming a left-handed shooter, several of my friends asked me to document and share the process. So I’m doing just that, beginning with this article and its accompanying videos. My friends’ request would seem to be sensible, as surely I’m not the only one dealing with issues that will force a change of primary hands for everyday concealed carry, training, competition, and potentially even practical use. Whether from serious injury, stroke, or other causes there are times folks will have to make their lifelong support hand into their primary hand for everyday tasks.

Life happens and that’s no excuse to go through the rest of it incompetent, unarmed, and defenseless.

First Steps

The first consequential and necessary step I took was ordering a left-handed holster in the model I prefer (the INCOG Eclipse). When it arrived, I began using my full-weight blue gun to practice mechanics and to sort out the changes I’d need to make in order to switch my everyday carry, draw, and presentation from right to left. There were more changes than I first thought there would be.

Have to flip my belt from left-side insertion to right-side insertion into my pants’ belt loops.
This change is required because I carry in the appendix position and I don’t want the holster clip to have to cover two layers; both the belt and the belt tail. So the tail needs to extend in the opposite direction than it does now.

Had to contour and stipple new locations of my gun frame.
I carry a Glock 19 pistol and I always contour the right underside of the trigger guard so that there is a larger, smoother transition from the trigger-guard underside to the right side of the frame. This makes gripping and shooting the pistol far more comfortable. I now had to contour the left side as well. As for stippling, I contour and stipple the forward area of the left side of the frame where my support-hand thumb rests when I grip the pistol. I use that index point as an anchor for my thumb to help control the recoil impulse when firing. I therefore had to do the same to the right side.

I’ll need to order a magazine pouch with bullets facing the opposite direction.
I carry two extra magazines every day as a part of my EDC kit. I’ll have to carry them on the right so I need a pouch with the bullets facing forward on my right side. Haven’t ordered this Ronin double mag pouch yet, but will do so very soon. Interesting to note that this change means I’ll have to change my phone-pouch carry position from the right to the left.

Above: My current belt complement for my right-handed carry. I’ll have to reverse all of what you see here for left-hand carry.

I’ll need to order a right-facing holster for my TDI knife.
I carry a TDI knife in the near middle of my back on the exterior of my belt that is made for me to reach back and draw with my left hand. I’ll eventually need one facing the opposite direction, for use with my right hand.

I may also eventually need to change the pocket locations of a couple of other EDC items, but perhaps that won’t be so crucial.

Week-One Observations: Drawing from Concealment & Manipulations

Luckily, I’ve practiced left-hand-only pistol manipulations for years and I’m confident in my ability to draw (from a right-hand holster), reorient the pistol, engage, clear malfunctions, and reload all with my left hand. That’s just part of training to stay in the fight should my primary hand/arm be injured or otherwise engaged. Going to a left-hand draw from a left-hand holster and engaging lefty with both hands on the gun is a different matter.

After some blue-gun practice at home, I did some left-hand training at the range this week. I started with some dry draws and presentations, making sure I was solid getting my hands safely into a proper grip in that process. As you can see in the video here, things went okay, but there were a host of little things that were not quite right.

 

 

Observations from Dry-fire:

  • My support hand doesn’t yet feel very comfortable on the gun. It feels weak, actually. Adding a stippled index point for my forward thumb may help with this.
  • As a lefty shooter I’ll be cross-eye dominant. There will be no changing of my dominant eye from right to left, but I’m good with this.
  • Marrying my hands after the draw feels clumsy. This is a training issue.
  • My arm mechanics in and after presentation are wrong. Elbows should be facing outward more and not pointed down toward the ground.

After some dry-fire I went to live-fire draws and shots. Here I was 23 yards from a 12” steel target.

 

 

Observations from live-fire:

  • I may have to adjust my holster’s ride height to get a better grip before drawing from the holster.
  • Accuracy is pretty good. The video eventually shows a few misses, all because I was trying to concentrate on shoulder/head position and grip mechanics rather than accuracy. At first and then later, I have solid hits because I was trying to be accurate, so I was.
  • Grip still feels odd and weak.
  • Arms are still in wrong position (elbows badly facing downward).
  • Turtling, still (head down, shoulders hunched).
  • Appendix carry can be mildly dangerous for beginners and those switching hands as I am here, but my draws and re-holstering are going just fine and I am competent in my safety here.
  • Other than this, things are going pretty well.

This is day one of week one. I’m not surprised by my mild clumsiness and the poor mechanics. It’s a process. I’m mostly concerned with safety and gross mechanics at this point. On those issues I am happy with the results.

Here is my summary of observations from day one, the video made after my range session.

I’ll continue to document my transition process and will be sure to note any and all interesting or consequential observations that come from it. I’ll publish those observations in subsequent articles either here on the Eagle blog or on my own site. I hope you’ll find it all interesting and will stay tuned.

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About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.