CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Pistol and Holster Fundamentals | Task and Purpose

In the last few years, there has been a large influx of new gun owners. A lot of those folks might be looking for some help with pistol shooting fundamentals. Patrick and Chris from Task & Purpose [YouTube channel] also wanted some extra help. While they are both former military, most of their training is with rifles, not pistols and they both feel they lack that same confidence with pistols. Wanting to learn more, they enlist the help of an expert instructor from USCCA to help them with some pistol shooting fundamentals.

Patrick and Chris from Task & Purpose [YouTube channel] are confident with rifles, being veterans, but they lack that confidence with pistols. They enlist the help of an expert instructor to help take them through some drills.

Handgun Fundamentals

First, they go over the basics, including a verbal briefing of the pistol, ammo, and the shooting process. The instructor stresses that once the threat is neutralized, the next threat to yourself is when you reholster your pistol. It is possible to shoot yourself during reholstering and shooting yourself sucks; don’t do it. Look your gun into its holster.

The next principle, and probably the most important for shooting fundamentals in general, is the importance of training how you fight. Most encounters happen between 9-15 feet, 86.2 percent to be exact. That zone is where people should be training.

handgun fundamentals, demonstration of Proper Stance
According to statistics, most encounters happen between 9- and 15-feet distance-wise, so a key piece of advice is to train like you fight and train at that distance.

Their expert stresses that you shouldn’t focus on the target to start with. Rather, start with yourself and then work on getting the shots on the target. Make sure you have a proper base stance, which should include a solid grip on the pistol, trigger and breath control, and a natural point of aim. The typical stance in the industry is a low-ready, but according to the expert in the video, the high compressed ready position reduces arm fatigue and overall stress in your arms.

High Compressed Ready
A high compressed ready stance is a great way to reduce arm fatigue and stress. A side benefit is that you can rotate your pistol to on-target and shoot without extending your arms if needed.

Additionally, you can shoot from high compressed ready and still probably hit your target. This is referred to as “unsighted fire” and it works because the firearm is held straight on your chest, pointing out, so it will be pointing at your target already. To better understand this idea, think about how you can aim when using a golf club or a baseball bat, neither of which have sights. It’s the same principle.

Chris appreciates how having hands-on, instructor-led training is a good way to improve your shots. Their instructor has them get into a stable base to repel any attack, with their arms out straight and locked, like a triangle. (This advice is debated in the video comments and by other instructors.) Chris notices that the first groups after getting instruction are good, but the following groups aren’t as good. Their instructor explains that repeating drills builds neural pathways so your body remembers. Start slow and steady until it becomes seamless.

Key takeaway
Proper training and practice are key for pistol shooting fundamentals. Also, look your pistol back into the holster because shooting yourself sucks.

In drawing your weapon, start slow and steady to get a good grip, draw and use a biomechanical stop and rotate the weapon on target. Align the center front pad of your index finger with the trigger and press the trigger. The instructor tells them to listen and feel for the trigger to reset after the shot. You need to know your weapon because if you go past the reset, your finger can jerk or slip, and it will mess up your next shot. If you keep your finger placed properly on the trigger, you’ll be able to get more shots off quicker and more accurately.

Quick Takeaways

  1. Don’t shoot yourself. It sucks. Look your pistol back into your holster when reholstering.
  2. Train how you fight.
  3. Get a solid base to repel any attack.

Watch The Task and Purpose video:

Overall, both Chris and Patrick feel they have benefitted from the course and highly encourage others to get training. In about 15 minutes of hands-on training, they were able to get their shot groups from peppering to a more concise grouping.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

The MPTC Concealed Carry Qual — Conceal It

Rarely do we see police training qualifications that successfully cross over to the concealed carry world. Yet, the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee, aka the Notorious MPTC, has a course of fire that works perfectly with civilian concealed carriers. The MPTC Concealed Carry / Back-Up Gun Qual is perfectly suitable for civilian training. We’ll call it the Concealed Carry qual for the sake of brevity.

MPTC designed the Concealed Carry Qual for officers who carry a firearm off duty or were seeking to carry a backup gun. The content involved turns out to be quite applicable to the civilian concealed carrier. This basic qualification is fairly simple and can be a ton of fun at the range. It’s a course of fire you can run dry, or with an air-powered bb gun, or obviously in a live-fire scenario.

Running The Concealed Carry Qual

Oh boy, so we will need a few things to run this qual. Obviously, you’ll need the basics of shooting, including eyes and ears, as well as a target. MPTC has its own two-sides qualification target you can purchase at Action Target. You can also use any standard man-shaped training target, and the FBI Q is an awesome option for this qual.

You’ll need your gun and concealed carry holster. May I suggest Phlster? You’ll also need a cover garment, as all presentations will be from concealment. You’ll also need 50 rounds of ammunition and two magazines or a speed loader for your revolver and some way to hold an extra reload. Per usual, you’ll need a shot timer or cell phone app with a par timer.

Holster, spare mag, and mag pouch are required.

You’ll need something to use for cover because that is a big part of this qual. I used the PTSB Lite, a very handy home range cover barrier. But heck, you can use a pallet, a wall, a big piece of cardboard, or whatever for the Concealed Carry Qual.

One thing to keep in mind is that this qual does have a requirement to yell commands. You can implement this if you’d like, but if you are not a cop, don’t yell that you are. The MPTC qual requires you to scan for additional threats as necessary and to safely reholster. Reholstering is not a timed or evaluated process but should be done safely, and you should look while doing so.

Light It Up

Stage 1

Starting at 7 yards, you’ll need ten rounds total with two magazines. Each magazine will be loaded with five rounds. This drill will be shot in two iterations. Start behind cover. On the command to fire, (or the beeeeep), drop to a knee, draw your weapon, and fire five rounds from the strong side of cover.

MPTC concealed carry qual, stage 1, starting from cover
Cover is a must-have.

Next, reload, scan, and recover to a low-ready standing position. You will repeat this drill one more time, and the only change will be from the support side of cover.

This must be done in 15 seconds from the time the timer beeps until the shooter reloads and stands. Revolver shooters get an extra three seconds, and that’s the norm on the Concealed Carry qual.

Stage 2

Set up your cover five yards from the target and approach the three-yard line. You’ll need two magazines, each loaded with five rounds. On the command to fire, retreat to cover behind the five-yard line, drop to a knee, draw and fire the five rounds strong hand only. Then you’ll reload, scan, and recover to the standing.

mptc concealed carry drill stage 2 - reload
Reloading is another skill used in this qual.

You’ll repeat this portion of the Concealed Carry Qual one more time without any changes. You have ten seconds per run.

Stage 3

For this portion of the MPTC Concealed Carry Qual, you’ll start at the five-yard line with your back turned to the target. You’ll need two mags loaded with five rounds each. On the command to fire, the shooter faces the target, draws, and fires five rounds into the target in five seconds.

draw from concealment
Don’t forget the draw and reloads from concealment.

Then, reload and scan for additional threats. In this drill, we have a second command to fire, and you will fire five additional rounds at your target.

Stage 4

This time we are back at the three-yard line and facing the target. By now, you can likely predict that you’ll need two mags loaded with five rounds. It’s kind of a running theme with the Concealed Carry Qual. Anyway, on the command to fire, you’ll draw and fire the five rounds with your strong hand only, then reload, scan and assume the low ready. This is all done in ten seconds or less.

concealed carry drill
Light it up!

For the next round, you’ll transition to your non-dominant hand. On the command to fire, you’ll engage with five rounds, then scan and recover. You’ll have ten seconds here too.

Stage 5

At stage 5, you’ll be within the bad-breath range of the target, and this simulates an immediate threat distance. You’ll be one yard from the target. This time you’ll just need five rounds in the gun, no spare magazine. On the command to fire, you’ll do a defensive or distraction tactic. I slap the target and then step rearward while drawing my gun. Fire two rounds into the target strong hand only, and you have four seconds total to achieve this. Scan, and keep the gun drawn.

MPTC concealed carry drill stage 5 close retention
Close retention is a skill you’ll use.

At the second command, you will fire three rounds as a failure drill into the target. A failure drill is two shots to the chest and a well-aimed shot to the head.

Done, Son

That’s it, and you’re done. You’ve fired 50 rounds and to pass, you’ll need to have hit your target 80% of the time. For my fellow Marines who did Math for Marines, that’s 40 hits. Not too bad.

The MPTC Concealed Carry Qual is fairly easy but also a good bit of training. What makes it easy is the very generous par times. They give you more than enough time to complete each drill. The main way to make this qual harder would be to shave time off the par times.

Other than that, there isn’t much I’d change. I like the fact that there is the use of cover, as well as reloads and practice with single-hand and two-hand shooting. It fits a lot of practice into 50 rounds of ammo. I also like that you occasionally have to re-engage because two, or three, or five rounds isn’t always enough.

The MPTC Concealed Carry Qual is a fun way to spend a day at the range. You can use it to evaluate your own skills and to lay down some lead. For only 50 rounds, you are doing quite a bit of training, and in these times of tight ammo, it’s worth the investment.

What do you think? Let us know below!



CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

The Box Fed Shotgun El Presidente Drill — Take It To The Limit

There has been a sharp rise in the availability of shotguns that feed from box magazines. Some love them, some hate them, but either way, they are here to stay. With the sudden rise in popularity, I’ve been thinking about the different avenues, manual of arms, and training methodology to utilize box mag fed shotguns. One of the first ideas I had was to adopt the classic El Presidente drill to make a box mag fed El Pres. 

The El Presidente Drill and Its Origins 

The El Pres, or El Presidente Drill, comes from Colonel Jeff Cooper. Cooper pioneered firearms training with a focus on the defensive pistol. He helped popularize modern shooting styles, which evolved and changed over time. The El Presidente Drill first saw the light of day in a 1979 issue of American Handgunner magazine. 

The drill calls for three targets set up a yard apart or so. The shooter starts with his back turned to the targets with a holstered handgun loaded with six rounds. On the go signal, the shooter turns, engages with two rounds to the A zone of each target. The shooter then reloads and fires two more rounds into each target. The par time is ten seconds. 

12 gauge box magazines
Not a whole lot of drills for this kind of twelve gauge.

It’s an old classic, and it’s a fun little drill. It’s also very adaptable and easy to adjust to a variety of weapons. It seemed like a natural fit for the shotguns using box mags and shotguns in general.

It’s also one of my favorite shotgun drills. It’s simple but effective. Load your shotgun with six rounds. Fire two into each target. Now do three emergency port reloads, firing one final round into each target. 

It’s a great drill but doesn’t address the box-fed shotgun. Justified Defensive Concepts did the shotgun El Pres well before me, but their El Pres drill is focused around the standard, tube-fed shotgun. With a little adaptation and modification, the drill is perfect for my task. 

Adapting It To Box Fed Shotguns 

First, reloading a box mag fed shotgun is much quicker and easier to do than reloading a standard shotgun. The Justified Defensive Concepts El pres really works your ability to reload. That’s less of a concern with a magazine-fed shotgun but still a big part of the drill. 

Sentry box fed shotgun with extra magazine
Load ’em up and fire em off.

Second, hitting a man-sized torso target, even just the A-zone, is fairly easy with a shotgun. That’s why they are an outstanding choice for close-range fighting. I wanted the drill to be challenging inside of shotgun range, so I wanted a much smaller target. 

Third, shotguns use a variety of ammo types. I see this shotgun El Presidente Drill being the most realistic with buckshot, but buckshot can be pricy. It needs to be adaptable to the much cheaper and more common sporting birdshot loads. 

Finally, what is the time limit? Well, the time can be adaptable, but I stuck with Cooper’s 10 seconds as the baseline. Why mess with perfection? 

My Box Mag El Pres 

On the logistics front, this drill doesn’t require much. You’ll need your preferred mag fed shotgun. It can be a 590M, an 870DM, the VR 80, or in my case, the Sentry 12 from Ironhorse Firearms. You’ll need two magazines and a way to carry an extra magazine. Make sure you bring six rounds of ammo per run. 

shooting el presidente drill with Sentry box fed magazine
Blasting away with this drill is fun and a challenge

For targets, I decided on a common, dang near-universal shotgun target, the classic clay pigeon. Six of them will be necessary for each run of the drill. Clay pigeons are small and a bit more challenging than an A Zone. Plus, I can place the clay pigeons at unpredictable locations, and it changes the drill entirely. 

You’ll need at least ten yards, preferably fifteen. Don’t forget your shot timer and your eyes and ears

el presidente drill with box fed shotgun, required gear
The logistics are pretty light.

Set up your clay pigeons on the berm any way you want. I kept it simple for my first run and simply made two rows of three with a yard or so between each. For the next few runs, I mixed thins up. I made two triangles, a rectangle and a big circle. The clay pigeons are cheap and make it easy to keep the drill dynamic and challenging. 

Start with your back to the targets. At the timer, turn and fire three rounds, one per clay pigeon. When the gun runs empty, reload and fire the final three at the remaining clay pigeons. Do it all in under ten seconds.

Scattergun Skills 

The drill can be tricky and even 10 seconds feels tight with the small targets. I went the pump gun route, and obviously, a semi-auto offers faster follow-up shots and likely less felt recoil. This drill has you transitioning between six different small targets, and if you are zeroed in or you don’t know how your gun patterns, you’ll miss. 

clay pigeon arrangement for el presidente drill with box fed shotgun
This is a simple arrangement, and the clays can be arranged anyway you want.

It’s a drill that mixes speed and accuracy with tons of transitions and leans into what shotguns work best at. Shotguns with buckshot offer you fight-stopping power that excels for quick and easy transitions between multiple targets. Plus, you have to reload, and reloading with box mag shotguns is still a vital skill to have. 

Especially since they are only rifle-like to a point, there isn’t a universal manual of arms for these guns. Some mags drop free, and some don’t. Some magazines rock into place. Others slap right in. Mag releases are different for most guns, and it’s a learning experience. 

box fed shotgun mag drop
Let the bodies hit the floor.

With this version of the El Pres, you’ll be forced to learn under time constraints with a little extra stress. You’ll receive a little stress inoculation along the way and find yourself getting faster and more competent with your box mag fed shotgun.

Running Hot 

There we are, better trained and ready to employ your likely unique scattergun. I can’t say if box mag shotguns will ever go further than they have now. They certainly have weaknesses, but they also present a number of advantages, especially those moving from the rifle to the shotgun. Like any firearm, they require plenty of training to be proficient, but unlike most firearms, there isn’t a lot of dedicated training or drill for them. Hopefully, we’ve given you at least one. 

If you want more, or have ideas, post them below, and we’ll see about making this a regular series. 


CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

How to Shoot Better Than Your Friends in 15-Minutes

Everyone wants to get better at shooting. Even people who have been shooting for years are always working on some aspect with drills. Jeremy Stone, a newer shooter, and Daniel Shaw, GunMag’s resident gun expert, go through how to shoot better in under 15 minutes. In the video are tips to help any shooter become a faster, safe, and more accurate shooter.

Daniel Shaw and Jeremy Stone from GunMag Warehouse demonstrate how to become a better shot in under 15 minutes. Daniel, the resident gun expert, and Jeremy, the novice shooter, go through easy steps to improve the accuracy and speed of any shooter.

Quick Tips to be a better shot:

  • Solid yet relaxed stance
  • Proper trigger pull
  • Reset sights before next shot
  • Start slow to get fast

Jeremy Stone is a wrong-handed shooter and has been struggling with consistent shooting as a new shooter. Daniel Shaw is there to help point out what he was doing wrong and how to fix the problems. Daniel starts out by saying that dry-fire work is a great way to start, with the focus being on the trigger press to avoid moving the gun.

Daniel says that most times new shooters can get the first few shots on target and then the shots start to drift. This problem is mostly attributed to moving the gun while pressing the trigger and meeting recoil. His goal is to have shooters recognize what it takes to make a perfect shot and to recognize what it feels like when it isn’t a perfect shot. The difference will be a game changer.

Starting off, Jeremy’s stance is super tense all around with a narrow stance in his feet. Daniel points out that the gun doesn’t care how it is held, it will work regardless. But the grip is vitally important to a perfect shot.

For a proper grip, you want to get the handgun in line with your arm if your hand size will allow it. The recoil action should happen at the wrist and nowhere else. The thumb on your non-firing hand should be pointed towards the target. The webbing of your non-firing hand acts as a splint to compensate for the recoil.

Your arms should not be locked out but bent just a little, with the pistol aligned with the midline of the body. The elbows should be rotated out slightly with shoulders down and back. Lean into the firearm at the waist with your shoulders back and elbows bent to allow for recoil absorption in your body. The absorption of recoil helps decrease split times between shots and get your next shot off faster.

How to shoot better - Shooting stance
Daniel explains the importance of stance when shooting. He demonstrats on Jeremy that the elbows should never be locked out so that recoil can be absorbed into the body.

Daniel points out that there are different opinions about the proper way to pull the trigger and finger placement. For him, letting the finger fall naturally on the trigger is best. The muscle memory of doing that will help in moments when the shooter needs it. When shooting, articulate the finger without moving anything else.

Jeremy takes some shots following Daniel’s advice. He has a couple of good shots, showing that he knows how to properly aim the pistol, but the next few shots are off. Daniel says that most new shooters get their first few shots on target, but that is because they hadn’t met recoil yet. Once they experience recoil, the shots start to dive and the body compensates. Daniel states that the best way to counteract that is to get to know your trigger.

Grip alignment - how to shoot better
When the grip is concerned, the non-firing thumb should be pointed to the target on the side of the pistol. For the firing hand, the gun should be aligned with the arm at the midline of the body. The only action present in the non-firing hand is the articulation of the wrist when the recoil happens, and the firing hand only has the trigger finger movement.

Getting to know the trigger of the pistol is vital for accurate shooting. You need to know exactly how much pressure you need to use to move the trigger. His example is that you don’t need to use 27 lbs of pressure on a 5 lbs. trigger, and a slow and methodical trigger is best. You can do this by slowly taking up pressure on the trigger, a little at a time, to the wall and a methodical pull to break and fire.

Once fired, you will need to wait until the sights are back on target before attempting another shot. According to Daniel, the gun will tell you when it is ready to go “bang” again when the sights are back on target.

Daniel stresses that you cannot force it, that you must have the discipline and understanding of your own abilities. You need to go slow to learn and to be able to go faster later. Control is a biggie. You need to stay in control. If you can’t stay in control, you aren’t ready to go fast yet.

how to shoot better - Drills at the range
Shaw stresses that a lot of new shooters have the same issues. Going slow to learn the basics will lead to faster shooting in the future. You cannot force it and you must have discipline and understand your own abilities.

Jeremy shoots again and is better this time, but still needs improvement. His non-firing hand was needing to be adjusted after each shot. The non-firing hand is further away from the body and easier for that elbow to get locked out. Daniel reminds him that both elbows need to be bent to ensure that the gun doesn’t jump out of his non-shooting hand.

To practice these steps, Daniel shows a good drill to do on the range with a buddy. The buddy would safely set up the pistol for the shooter. The shooter would safely take possession of the pistol and act like it was a dry fire for each shot, regardless of whether the buddy set it up as a dry fire or live fire. This acts like a real demonstration of what the shooter is doing or what they need to work on. This can be done alone by the shooter with one round per magazine and alternating between live and dry firing.

Daniel wraps up this video by saying that you need to point the gun where you want the round to go, and fire without moving the gun as well. These two things will get the accuracy you want. He encourages new shooters to not get discouraged and to keep practicing.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

The DOE SMG Qual — Guardin’ Nukes and Blastin’ Pukes

The Department Of Energy doesn’t sound super tactical, but believe it or not, they’ve had a tactical force since right after WW2. As such, they’ve developed a number of qualification procedures to ensure their protective services are up to snuff. Today we are looking at the DOE SMG qualification. To be fair, this qual also covers the assault rifle issued to troops on site, but I think it’s better suited for PCCs and braced subguns. 

What do you need for the DOE SMG qual?

Obviously, you need a gun. I used the CMMG FourSix. You’ll also need 84 rounds. Yep, it’s a fair amount of ammo for a qualification. Shooters will also need to bring two magazines, a spare magazine holder, a handgun and holster, and six rounds for your handgun. Oh, and you’ll need something you can use for cover. I used a PTSB Lite, but you can use practically anything to simulate cover. 

Here’s the gear needed to shoot the qual.

You’ll need a way to carry the extra magazine and a sling. Plus, one target. The DOE has its own target that is helpful for official scoring. However, you can practically use any man-sized target. I went with a Birchwood Casey 3D target. It needs to have a chest and head. For the longer-range portions of the qual, I used a 10-inch gong. 

Birchwood Casey 3D target
The DOE target makes scoring easier, but this works well enough.

A passing score for DOE SMG qual is 90%. When you use the DOE target, the top potential score would be 420 points, so a passing score would be 378. You’ll be shooting at a variety of ranges, from five yards to 100 yards, and you’ll need a range that allows movement. 

FN Handgun, holstered
You’ll switch to handgun once, so bring one of those.

A few of the stages call for a protective mask. I don’t have such a thing, but I imagine it’d make the qual more interesting. I didn’t fuss with it, but that’s an option for the 100% DOE experience. 

spare mags for DOE SMG qual
You’ll need a reload and away to carry it.

The DOE SMG Qual Course of Fire 

Every stage starts in the low ready with the weapon on safe with a loaded magazine. 

Stage 1 — Five Yard Line 

The DOE SMG qual calls for the use of controlled bursts of full-auto fire. I don’t have that, so I’m going with double taps. At the signal, engage with two 2-round bursts to the torso, then deliver a final two-round burst to the head. Do this in three seconds. 

DOE SMG Qual stage 1
Expect lots of double taps.

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 2 7 to 3-yard lines

At the signal, begin to move from the 7-yard line to the 3-yard line. Fire one shot to the head of the target. Accomplish this in three seconds, and the shot must be made on the move. 

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 3 7 to 3-yard lines

At the signal, begin moving from the 7 to the 3-yard line. Along the way, fire two 2-round bursts into the chest and a final 2-round burst to the head. Do this in four seconds. 

DOE SMG Qual stage 3
Moving is apart of the qual so be careful.

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 4 — 10 to 2-yard line

It’s time for the ol’ 10 to 2 with the DOE SMG qual. Make sure you have only two rounds loaded in your rifle/SMG magazine, and have your handgun ready. At the signal, begin moving to the yard line and fire a two-round burst to the torso. Once you realize the gun is empty, let it hang, draw your handgun and engage with two rounds to the chest and one round to the head. 

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 5 — 7 to 3-yard line (With Protective Mask) 

Shooting with a gas mask can be tough, but a good red dot certainly helps. If you want the authentic experience, toss a gas mask on and try it out. I can respect the DOE SMG qual for including it. 

At the signal, begin moving from the 7 to the 3-yard line while firing two 2-round bursts to the chest and then firing a final 2-round burst into the target’s face. Do this in four seconds. 

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 6 — 10 to 5-yard line (With Protective Mask) 

Keep that gas mask on boys and girls and move your butts to the ten-yard line. For this portion of the DOE SMG qual, we will move from 10 to 5, and as you close the distance, fire two 2-round bursts into the torso in four seconds. 

DOE SMG Qual stage 6
Shoot fast!

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 7 — 10 yard line (With Protective Mask) 

We got a fairly simple drill here. At the ten-yard line, you will engage the target center mass with two rounds in three seconds. 

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 8 — 15 yard line 

Let’s back it on up to the 15-yard line and get ready to move. At the signal, move from standing to kneeling and fire two rounds center mass in four seconds. Better get moving. The DOE SMG qual waits for no man. 

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 9 — 25 yard line 

Welcome to the intermediate distance drill of the DOE SMG qual. Make sure you have two rounds loaded into the magazine in your weapon and two rounds loaded into your spare magazine. 

DOE SMG qual stage 9 kneeling to reload
Kneeling and a reload keeps things fun.

At the signal, fire two rounds center mass, then speed reload, assume the kneeling position, and fire two more rounds center mass. 

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 10 — 50 yard line 

Nice for the big 50-yard line. Move back to the 50-yard line and bring your cover with you. At the signal, assume a kneeling position behind cover and lean to the right or left (use your dominant side), and fire two rounds center mass. Do all this in six seconds. 

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

DOE SMG Qual stage 10
I used my PTSB Lite as cover for the qual.

Now, we are staying at the 50-yard line and this time at the signal transition from the standing to the prone and fire two rounds center mass. You have eight seconds to boot, scoot, and boogie. 

Repeat the drill for a total of two runs. 

Stage 11 — 100 yard line 

Finally, we’ve made it to the end of the DOE SMG qual. It ends at the 100-yard line, and you’ll finish strong. I believe in you. You need two rounds in your loaded magazine and another two rounds in your spare magazine. 

DOE SMG qual stage 11 shooting from prone
The Qual has you moving and changing positions.

At the signal, move to a prone position, and fire two rounds center mass. Now reload, and fire two more rounds center mass. Do this in 20 seconds. 

Now breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve done it. 

What I Would Change in the DOE SMG Qual 

Not much. I think the DOE SMG qual is pretty dang great. Some of the times are a little generous. Others are fairly tight. For example, the six rounds in three seconds can feel tight. I like all the various positions and ranges, the use of cover, and the reloads. 

In fact, I would probably just add more use of cover. As you can see, most of the drills here repeat if you want to cut the ammo requirement, you can run each drill just once. However, all in all, this is one of the more challenging quals on the roster.

It’s a fair bit of fun, so I have to ask, what would you change? A lot? A little? Run it, and get back to us below. 

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

How to Use an AK | Lucky Gunner Ammo

For all intents and purposes, an AK is a pretty easy gun to learn to operate. Chris Baker, from Lucky Gunner, says as much on his Shooting 101 video about the AK. If you’re new to shooting, or recently purchased an AK, you might find yourself needing a little guidance or a refresher on the basics like safely loading, unloading, aiming, and firing an AK-type rifle.

Chris Baker, of, got a lot of requests for him to include the AK in his Shooting 101 series. Whether you’re new to AKs or need a refresher, he covers the basics to get you going in the right direction.

According to Chris, the AK is simple and straightforward to operate, but people might need some help to get started the right way. He stresses that there are different methods for what he does in the video and different people have different techniques, but he wants to show the basics of holding and operating the firearm safely.

Chris states that the word safe is a relative word. Anything with firearms is inherently dangerous and anytime we touch firearms we are dealing with life-or-death decisions. We can reduce the risk by following the four rules for safe gun handling:

  1. Treat all guns the same way you would treat a loaded gun.
  2. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  3. Keep your finger away from the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Anytime you are not actively shooting the firearm, your finger needs to be straight and glued to the side of the receiver.
  4. Know what you are shooting at, what is behind it, and around it.

In handling an AK, or any gun really, the first thing you’re going to do is to unload and clear the weapon.

How to Clear an AK

Chris clearing AK
Chris talks you through the steps to safely and properly clear an AK by removing the magazine, opening the action to eject any rounds inside, and visually inspecting that the chamber is clear.
  • Pick it up with your dominant hand and tuck the stock up in your armpit for support.
  • Remove the magazine by pressing the release paddle and pulling the magazine forward and down.
  • Set the mag aside, take the gun off safe, and open the action (the action won’t open if the safety is on).
  • Pull the charging handle to the rear. If there is a round in the chamber it will eject.
  • Hold the action open (there is no hold-open feature on an AK) and visually inspect the chamber is clear.
  • Slowly ride the handle forward back into place.
  • Put the safety back on.

How to Load an AK

Lucky Gunner loading AK
Next Chris walks through the steps to properly load the AK by loading ammunition into the magazine and lining up the magazine so that the lip engages before rotating the mag up and into place.
  • Put the rifle down with the barrel facing in a safe direction.
  • Load the magazine by holding it in your non-dominant hand and insert the rounds one at a time into the magazine. A standard magazine will hold 30 rounds. You won’t be able to overload the magazine.
  • Insert the magazine into the AK, which can be tricky if you aren’t familiar with it. There is a lip in front of the mag that needs to be inserted first before it will go in.
  • Angle the magazine so that the bottom is facing the same way as the muzzle and rotate the mag back and up into place.
  • Give the magazine a little tug to make sure that it is locked into place.
  • While the gun is loaded, it won’t fire yet. Pick the gun back up with the stock into your armpit.
  • Move the safety to the fire position and pull the charging handle sharply to the rear and let it go, letting it ride its own way forward.

At this point, if you pulled the trigger, the AK would fire.  Chris is fast to point out that you don’t ever want to just rely on the safety function of the rifle. You need to follow the four rules he laid out earlier in the video. He reiterates that you need to keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction and your finger away from the trigger.

Proper Shooting stance
Chris describes the proper shooting stance, also known as the athletic stance. This stance gives you the support you need to fire the weapon and keep control of it as well.

How to Fire an AK

  • You need to get your body into the proper stance, also known as the athletic stance. You achieve this with your dominant foot slightly behind the support side with your shoulders squared to the target, bending forward at the waist, and slightly bending your dominant knee while keeping your dominant hand is high up on the grip as you can.
  • Place the stock of the weapon in the hollow of your shoulder, near the edge of the pectoral muscle, with your elbow pointed towards the ground with your non-dominant hand on the handguard and not the magazine.
  • Pivot the gun towards the ground in front of the target putting you in a low-ready position. This is the position you will default to when you aren’t ready to shoot.
  • When you are ready to shoot, you will rotate the gun up to your eye level and disengage the safety with your dominant hand. Some people may want to change out the safety paddle for a larger aftermarket option.
  • As you raise the gun, get your cheek as firmly against the buttstock as is comfortable. You can move your face towards the gun to get into the line-of-sight position. You do not want to lean your head to one side to get into sight position.
  • Line your fixed sights on the weapon with the target. The notch and the top of the front post should be even. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to hold truly still in a standing position.
  • With the weapon to your shoulder and the sights all lined up with the safety off, you can move your finger to the trigger and pull it to the rear with steady and even pressure.
  • After the shot is fired, the bolt will go to the rear of the weapon, the spent shell casing will eject from the port and a new round will be loaded into the chamber.
Lucky Gunner shooting AK
He finishes the video with a live-fire demonstration of all the steps he discussed in the video, including how to shoulder the rifle and fire it.

When you are finished shooting, or you are out of ammunition, you will:

  • Remove your finger from the trigger
  • Re-engage the safety
  • Go back to the low-ready body position.

Watch it for yourself!

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Tactical Rifleman: How to Use Red Dots at Night

Training is always ongoing, especially when it comes to firearms, as it is a perishable skill. I will be the first to admit that I do not get out enough to train as much as I want to. However, just because I am unable to attend live fire courses on the regular, doesn’t mean I can’t keep up by training with other methods. I do dry fire practice, read articles, or watch videos to increase my knowledge of gear, tactics, and methods. YouTube has a ton of great content on there with good information, depending on the source. Just remember, like anything else, consider the source and instructor to make sure they’re not blowing hot air.

I have been watching a lot of videos from the Tactical Rifleman [YouTube channel] over the years and I always learn something new there. Retired Sergeant Major Karl Erickson has over twenty-five years of experience in the US Army, eighteen of those with US Special Forces. In his videos, he goes over training points and explains it all very well in an easy-to-understand format. I just watched his video titled: How to shoot red dots at night.

I got into red dots on my pistols last year and have attended a few courses since then. There is definitely a learning curve to deal with but once you get some training in behind the red dot, the advantages over iron sights are quickly apparent. There are many things to consider running a red dot and in this Tactical Rifleman video, Karl goes over a lot of training points for using red dots in the dark or in night conditions.

Karl states that he believes within four-five years, all combat pistols will come standard with red dots installed. I have to agree with that, red dots are the future, kind of like how they were put on rifles.

Karl discusses night shooting considerations with red dots.

Weapon Lights

He highly recommends a weapon light so that you can identify the target and decide whether it is a deadly threat or not. With a weapon light in play, it may make it difficult to see the reticle. If your red dot has auto-brightness, Karl suggests setting it to manual if you’re using your red dot pistol in home defense, combat, or everyday carry.

Presentation of Weapon Lights and Red dots

Karl prefers using a passive aiming set up with a red dot and utilizing a weapon light over a visible laser. With that in mind, Karl stresses a weapon light will compromise your position and to use it when you need to.

Using Red Dots with Night Vision

binocular night vision
Karl going over binocular night vision and how to set them up for your red dot.

With Binocular or Quad tube night vision devices, Karl recommends that you set the tube over your dominant eye to be focused to see the dot clearly. Then set the other tube for distance so you can identify targets. If you’re running a PVS-7 with a single tube, he recommends setting it for distance. Even though the dot will be a bit blurry, you can see your target, which is more important.

For PVS-14’s, a single tube, Karl says it comes down to preference but he suggests running the tube over the non-dominate eye and setting it to infinity so you can see your target clearly while your dominant eye can see your red dot nice and clear. If you want to run it on your dominant eye, also set it for distance for the same reason, although your dot will be blurry. Karl states that you will still hit your target with a slightly blurry dot and that seeing your target is more important.

Karl with the PVS-14 and his preferences on setup with a red dot pistol.

Brightness Setting for Night Vision

When it comes to brightness settings on your red dot in conjunction with your night vision, Karl’s personal recommendation is to leave it bright enough for daytime in case you have the lights turned on. He says if that happens, just flip up your night vision tube and use white light and your dot because you won’t have time to adjust your dot’s brightness. I’d have to agree with him.

Karl in action with night vision using his red dot.
Tactical Rifleman in action with night vision using his red dot.

There are a lot of considerations covered in this video. And, as Karl points out, practice will make you more effective and this knowledge will be the best tool in a gunfight. I couldn’t agree more.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Double-Feed — How To Clear the Stoppage with One Hand

In the real world, we sometimes may need to manipulate our weapons with one hand due to an injury, or possibly our hand being occupied doing something else, such as opening a door, holding a child, or any number of activities. Sure, we like to think that Murphy’s Law won’t show up to take a giant dump on us, but that’s what Mr. Murphy does best. We also like to think that our favorite blaster would never experience a stoppage at the Moment of Truth, but guess what…yeah, Murphy. He’s a prick. Make no mistake, if we’re in a lethal force encounter, our weapon is having a stoppage, and we’re down to one arm, we are, most assuredly, having a bad day at the office. A while back, a friend (we used to go to different schools together) had it happen to him.

Here’s what a double-feed looks like. Two rounds are trying to get into a place that is only designed for one. 

But I digress. In the video below, Daniel Shaw walks us through some one-handed manipulation drills to clear a double-feed with one paw. A double-feed just means that there’s a round in your pistol’s chamber and it’s trying to feed another round in there, which we know is not a good thing.

Clearing a Double-Feed, One-Handed

The first priority is to get that magazine out of the pistol.

Hit the magazine release. If nothing happens (which is probable, because the top round in the magazine will likely be against the round in the chamber, putting pressure on it), you can hook the base of the magazine against the edge of your holster and strip out the mag that way.

press the magazine release
You press the magazine release, but alas! Nothing happens!
clear double-feed with one hand, use edge of holster to strip magazine
One option to get the magazine out is to use the edge of your holster to strip it out while pressing the magazine release.

Another possibility is to hit the mag release, raise the gun up, then bring it down quickly, letting inertia strip the magazine out of the mag well. The more rounds in your magazine, the better because it will weigh more and eject more easily. A variation of that one is to hit your forearm against your thigh while holding the pistol and pressing the magazine release, which will hopefully eject the magazine. Don’t hit your forearm against your knee cap because it can render your arm useless.

clearing a double-feed with one hand, forcefully bring pistol down on thigh so inertia can cause magazine to eject
Bringing the pistol down onto your thigh hard may generate enough inertia to…
one-handed mag release - clear double-feed
…pop that magazine out of the pistol.

Clear the chamber.

When you’ve ejected the magazine, rack the slide a few times on your holster’s edge (or anything solid that you can manage) to clear the chamber.

use the edge of your holster to cycle the action to clear out any rounds in the chamber.
Now use the edge of your holster to cycle the action to clear out any rounds in the chamber.

Now you need to reload the pistol.

But where to put it to reload with one hand? You could place it into your holster or set it on the ground next to your foot (you can insert the magazine while pushing it against your foot to hold it in place while the magazine goes in). Also putting the pistol into your armpit might be an option, as is pinching it behind your knee between the thigh and calf.

one-handed holster reload
Once cleared, we need a place to put the pistol so we can insert a fresh magazine. Your holster might work.

Now insert a magazine.

You do have at least one spare magazine, don’t you??? Let’s hope so.

one-handed pistol reload, secure handgun behind the knee
On option for inserting a new magazine can be on the ground by your foot. Your foot holds it in place while you insert the fresh mag. Another option is to secure the handgun behind the knee, pinched between your thigh and calf.

Rack the slide to chamber a round.

If the pistol is behind your knee, you can rack it there, or bring it out and rack it on the side of your leg. Other options are to catch the sights on your belt, holster, the sole of your shoe, or anything solid nearby. Note that Daniel does not advocate racking the slide on the sole of your shoe because that places it far away from where the threat is, pointing it in the opposite direction of where it needs to be pointed.

rack the pistol slide one handed
The slide can now be racked to chamber a round. The edge of your leg can serve the purpose, or you can use the edge of your holster to rack the slide.

These are excellent skills to possess, and I completely advocate developing them. Stuff happens, it pays to be prepared. 

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

What is violence and how does it work?

There aren’t many people in the United States who could answer the question, What is violence? Not from a criminal violence/self-defense perspective. That is because they don’t viscerally grasp how violence works. This is true among even the better trained elements of our armed, responsible citizenry. It’s also true, albeit to a lesser extent, within the ranks of those who practice the noble profession of arms. 

That is not a criticism. It is an acknowledgment of a potentially uncomfortable, perfectly understandable, fact, and one we would all do well to recognize. 

What is violence?

We can debate semantics and interpretations, but violence in our context is much more than a clinical, definition of the word. And it’s not something that can be explained in one short news post on a website — which is, of course, why I’m recommending this book. 

Nice people fall to the manipulator.
The manipulator crumbles under the assertive.
The assertive shrinks before the aggressive.
The aggressive have no plan for the assaultive.
The assaultive are unprepared for the homicidal. (Marc MacYoung)

Mental preparation and training will help to mitigate this self-defense shortcoming, albeit only if we  recognize that it is a shortcoming. You can begin all of that with some reading and research. 

The Author’s Voice

Apropos to that, the book Violence of Mind (by Mag Life contributor Varg Freeborn is now available on Audible.

How far are you willing to go — and how do you know that the other guy will not be willing to go farther? 

Varg Freeborn

Varg Freeborn’s Violence of Mind is one of the first books, if not the first book, a new gun owner should read. In fact, anyone serious about protecting themselves or their family should read it, gun-owner or not.

That’s nice, many of you are thinking. So what? Why should I care?

Here’s why. 

Because Varg’s book is an excellent option to assist in that recognition-and-training effort. In fact, I would argue that,

  1.  It is one of the first two books a new gun-owner should consume (the other being Werner’s Serious Mistakes Gun Owners Make), and
  2. It should be, along with de Beckers  Gift of Fear and Choose Adventure (or at least several chapters thereof) by Greg Ellifritz, one of the books that everyone should read.

Whether they go heeled or not. 

If you pepper spray someone (assaultive), how do you know they will not turn around and shoot you (homicidal)?

You  don’t. And if you are willing to offend you better be willing to assault. If you are willing to assault, you better be willing to kill. 

If you are willing to kill, you better be 100% justified.

What are you willing to kill for again?  

Wait, you won’t kill over a spot in line, but you will assault over it? Then the other guy decides that he is willing to kill to stop your assault, and now YOU must kill or be killed. This is how violence works. 

Author’s Incarceration

The author of Violence of Mind explains his precepts from a very unique position. He grew up in a criminal environment, ultimately going to prison after being forced to stab a man repeatedly in a fight. Freeborn spent five years in a penitentiary before he was released and his rights restored. By existential necessity he spent the next five years studying predatory behavior — from within one of the most predacious human environments on the planet. 

This isn’t a CQB tutorial written by a former SOF operator. Nor is it a treatise on shooting skills by a retired police officer. There are many outstanding examples of such books out there, but Violence of Mind is a substantially different sort of work. That I’m aware of, there simply isn’t anything else like it in publication and for that reason should be a part of any serious attempt to study self-defense.

“The most efficient violence I have ever witnessed was the highly developed predatory system of violence inside of prisons. A majority of the most effective and efficient killers are inside of those walls.

[T]he truly violent predator has mastered doing it  with very little equipment and very simple methods. Those tools and methods are based on adhering to fundamental principles. The only two places that real violence can repeatedly be found is in war, and in the criminal culture (especially prisons).

Both are an unbroken lineage, and both are very different. What works in war does not so much apply to what works in  prison, or in a parking lot by yourself on a dark night.”

Listen up

The Violence of Mind audiobook is just shy of nine hours long. It’s narrated by the author and is Whispersync for voice ready. Although there is some repetition and occasional tautology (which the author is cleaning up in the next edition), there is more than enough information to offset that distraction. 

Remember the rule: stop looking for things and start looking at things. 

Violence of Mind is absolutely worth the read. Or of course the listen

OODA Loop Observation

Here’s something else to be aware of. Freeborn is in the final stages of finishing his second book. This one will focus on the second in OODA: the OODA Orient (i.e. the one for Orientation). If you’re a student of John Boyd’s seminal work, you’ll want to take a look at it once it’s available. 

Chet Richards, one of John Boyd's "acolytes", on Varg Freeborn's book.
Chet Richards, one of John Boyd’s “acolytes”, commenting on Varg Freeborn’s forthcoming book.

Orientation is the basis for mindset. Your response to violence will be based upon your orientation to the violent situation. Your conditioning and confidence level, your attachments in life,  your cultural beliefs (particularly about violence), and ultimately your real experience level, all make up your orientation.

Through these experiences and beliefs, you will make a series of decisions which will determine how  you will assess and respond to a violent encounter.  


CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Navy SEAL Jason Pike: Eye Dominance Correction

Eye dominance is a common topic of discussion among gun owners. It can affect everything from grip to sight and optic use to accuracy. Then, when you add cross-dominance, it becomes a much larger issue (but not an insurmountable one). Navy SEAL Jason Pike made a video to discuss ways of dealing with eye-dominance and cross-dominance as a handgun shooter and how to find solutions to make you a better shooter.

What is Eye Dominance?

It definitely helps to understand what eye dominance is. Basically, it refers to which of your eyes provides a bit more information than the other. According to, it is the eye “that provides slightly more input to the visual cortex of your brain and relays information more accurately, such as the location of objects.”

The ability to see where things are is more than slightly important in life in general, but as a shooter, the precision involved matters a great deal. Not only do you need to process where your sights are but also how they relate to the location of your target. Then there’s point of aim versus point of impact and countless other factors.

It isn’t uncommon to be cross-dominant, and that’s really what Pike discusses in this video. That means you are, for example, left-handed but right eye dominant like Pike.

Cross-dominance means opposing dominance between the eyes and the hands. It can present a challenge, but Pike covers strategies to manage it.

There are two head positions Pike frequently sees in shooters who are cross-dominant The first one is with the head tilted down so that the dominant eye is lined up with the sights. 

Jason Pike demonstrates how some people who are cross-dominant tilt their heads in an attempt to see better.
Jason Pike demonstrates how some people who are cross-dominant tilt their heads in an attempt to see better. (Photo credit: Jason Pike)

He says, “It is definitely possible to train your eye to shoot in that manner, but it is not a position we normally operate from as humans. From the time we start walking, we walk upright with [our] eyes horizontal to the ground.

The second head position he sees in cross-dominant shooters is head vertical, eyes horizontal from each other, with the head twisted to the left or right. This is a problem because the for most people, the muscles behind the eyes are not strong. So, even though a person might begin to look at something with the eyes, the head will quickly follow so that the eyes are never in a strained position.

To understand why these head positions can be awkward and less than ideal as a shooter, Pike suggests you go outside and look at the horizon with your head upright and eyes level as you normally would. Then try tilting your head to one side. He says you will notice your eyes move as you do this, making it more difficult to focus steadily and precisely.

To find out what could happen if you turn your head while shooting, he suggests trying to move your eyes up, down, and to either side. You might notice a feeling your eyes are being forced to work harder which means doing that will also make it harder to shoot accurately, not to mention comfortably.

Find out what else Pike has to say about cross-dominance and his corrective training method using eye protection in the video:


How Do I Know if I Am Cross-Dominant?

In How to Determine Eye Dominance and Deal with Cross-Dominance, Savage Arms provides the following guide:

  1. With your palms facing out, make a small triangle window between your thumbs and forefingers (about 2-3 inches across) and hold your arms straight in front of you.
  2. Focus on a spot a short distance away like a light switch or doorknob through the window in your hands with both eyes open.
  3. Close your left eye. Did your target move out of view? Or can you still see it? If you can still see your target with your right eye open, you’re right eye dominant.
  4. Close your right eye. Did your target move out of view? Or can you still see it? If you can still see your target with your left eye open, you’re left eye dominant.

Being cross-dominant doesn’t mean you cannot still be a fantastic shot. All you need is to learn how to work with it and you’re good to go. Resources like this video provided by Jason Pike are a good way to find out what works for you so you can be the best shooter possible.

Navy SEAL Jason Pike talks about how the sights on handguns affect cross-dominance for better or for worse.
Navy SEAL Jason Pike talks about how the sights on handguns affect cross-dominance for better or for worse. (Photo credit: Jason Pike)

Are you cross-dominant? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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