Three Defensive Handgun Training Mistakes

Allow bad habits to creep into your defensive firearms training and you can expect serious injury, or worse, a visit to the morgue.

Bad habits can get you seriously hurt or killed. Pick your nose at the dinner table and expect your mom to knock a knot on your head a bottle of Tylenol won’t rub off. Allow bad habits to creep into your defensive firearms training and expect bigger knots or worse, a visit to the morgue.

To an extent, defensive handgun training is the commitment of certain physical acts to habit. Habits such as pressing the trigger when the sights are aligned. And, habits like following through after the shot and verbally engaging targets before, during and after you’ve shot them. But, because we’re either lazy or misinformed, we can let bad habits move neighbors in that mental jungle we call our head.

Not Looking
The suggestion that you should look around in order to be aware of your surroundings after engaging a target is a good one. Problem is, many shooters have looked to the left, and right so many times—while not seeing anything—they no longer look for anything when they do it. A quick head wag from side to side right after engaging a target might give you that ninja glow, but if you’re not taking the time to actually be aware of what is to your left and right, it's wasted movement that becomes a bad habit.


After engaging a target—solving a shooting problem—you should look around to access the situation. However, this does not mean you turn your head to the left and right as fast as possible so you look like a super-cool mall ninja.

Holstering Too Quickly
Folks shooting themselves with their own gun—by accident—is nothing new. In fact, it often happens at firearms training schools, mostly for two reasons. The first is that the shooter/student tries to get their gun back in the holster in a hurry, and while being in a hurry they forget to take their finger off the trigger. The result is that the holster, with the covered trigger guard, presses against their finger as the handgun is going into the holster the gun goes off and the bullet finds their ass or leg.

If you have successfully used your handgun to sort out a problem presented by paper, steel or even human flesh, there is no reason to hurriedly holster. In fact, in can be a bad idea if your problem had a partner that was hiding until you decided to holster. Heck, your problem—a bad guy or bad animal—could get up and come at you again Solve the problem, take a breath, look around and then consider any ammunition issues that might need to be addressed before you slowly and reluctant y holster. No sense carrying around a gun that's half empty.


Holster reluctantly. A larger percentage of accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wounds with handguns come from holstering too quickly while failing to remove the finger from the trigger.

Failure To Prepare For Stoppages
If we’re shooting our gun and is stops working, we all want to know why. That's especially true for me because testing guns is something I do. It’s no different with you and your gun; if it pukes you need to know what caused it. Was it the ammo you were using, the magazine, shooter error or do you have a gun that just plain sucks?


Learn how to clear stoppages quickly. But, also establish the reliability of your handgun before you begin any serious defensive handgun training.

It’s important to have a gun that works, but it’s also important to train like you fight. Take some time to ascertain the reliability of your defensive handgun before you engage in serious defensive firearms training. Make sure all your magazines work, discover if the ammo you use is compatible with your pistol and make sure you are operating the pistol properly. Once you have established these things start training and when you have a stoppage apply immediate action and drive on.


Stoppages can occur with defensive handguns and can be induced by the ammo, the magazine, the gun or even the shooter. Learn how to swiftly clear them but make sure your gun is reliable before beginning your training.

During a gunfight you cannot call a pause in order to see why your gun stopped working!


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