CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Shooting Stance: Does It Really Matter?

It might seem odd to stop and consider a different shooting stance, but there are good reasons to consider more than the current trending way of standing while you shoot (it’s Isosceles). Perhaps the most important reason to practice in multiple stances is to diversify your shooting skills, but there are others. For example, if you’re ever forced to defend yourself from a violent attack, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have time to get into your favored Isosceles Stance before firing your gun. In real life, a firefight is fluid and changing. Not sure where to start? Check out the basic upright shooting stances before you get into things like shooting and moving or variations on prone.

The Isosceles stance is the most commonly used method in the gun world right now. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

Isosceles Stance

It’s undeniable that shooters in Isosceles stance are all over social media and on the pages of gun magazines. Isosceles has been the favored stance for some time now, which is understandable.

When taking the Isosceles stance, the shooter faces the target squarely. This differs from other stances that involve more of a bladed approach. For example, in a standard Isosceles, the shooter will stand with their feet slightly beyond hip-distance, apart with the toes of both feet aimed at their target. In this stance, the shooter’s arms are held out straight from their body without bending the elbows. This means that when the shooter is gripping the gun, their arms are in a triangle.

Man in isosceles shooting stance
There are a few basic, upright shooting stances. Isosceles, which is pictured, is the most popular. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

A Few Tips for Isosceles

  • Don’t lock your knees; just stand firmly in place.
  • Don’t lock your elbows, simply maintain tension.
  • Don’t lean forward like there’s a strong wind.
  • Don’t turtle your head down. Instead, bring the gun up to your line of vision.

There are modifications and variations to every stance in the gun industry. Perhaps the most popular for Isosceles is the Power Isosceles which requires the shooter to take a step back with their strong-side leg. Knees are slightly flexed as well using Power Isosceles.

How well Isosceles stance works for you depends on your body type and size, but it’s also going to be affected by the gun you’re shooting. Larger calibers, specifically magnum ones, often benefit from a different stance to better manage felt recoil.

Weaver Stance

Frequently referred to as outdated and not worth doing, the Weaver stance is a legitimately useful shooting stance. It can be traced back over half a century to Jack Weaver, and its entire creation was basically the result of Weaver’s desire to win a competition.

Jack weaver demonstrating the weaver shooting stance
An old image of Jack Weaver demonstrating the then-new Weaver stance. You can see the angle of the arms required for the push-pull grip. (Photo credit: Gunsite Academy)

At that time, Col. Jeff Cooper, the founder of what is now known as Gunsite Academy, held annual Leatherslap competitions. They were quick draw matches that attracted shooters like Elden Carl, Thell Reed, John Plahn, Ray Chapman, and, of course, Jack Weaver. Part of Leatherslap involved shooting balloons from 10 feet away, and for whatever reason, they kept missing. Weaver later wrote about the event, saying, “Most of the talk was about how fast different contestants were; ‘hundredths of a second’ seemed very important. Nobody ever mentioned accuracy—that problem was somehow going to take care of itself, like all the Westerns on TV during that time (1956).”

Only it didn’t. The shooters were lightning-fast and highly skilled but did not take the time to aim carefully enough to make those precise shots. Jack Weaver decided to do something about it—he wanted to win next time—and spend the next year fine-tuning what would become known as the Weaver stance (by the way, he did win the next Leatherslap using it).

Breakdown of the Weaver Stance

The Weaver stance is sometimes called a boxer’s stance. The shooter takes a step toward the target with their support-side foot to take this shooting stance. The toes of that foot remain pointed in the direction of the target. The leg is turned at a 45-degree angle on the shooter’s strong side, similar to how a boxer is angled before throwing a punch.

This is a two-handed stance. The shooter’s strong-side arm is extended in front of their body but not fully straightened; a slight bend should remain in the strong-side elbow. The shooter’s arm is bent at a 45-degree angle on the support side. The shooter shouldn’t stick their elbow out chicken-wing style but should, instead, aim their elbow at the ground.

Properly doing Weaver requires a push-pull method—dynamic tension—with the shooter’s grip. Some gun owners dislike the blading of the stance because they say it could open them to a potentially fatal wound even when wearing body armor.

It’s also worth noting that Mas Ayoob, whose reputation always precedes him, has noticed Weaver’s push-pull and overall stance has a tendency to fall apart under extreme stress. That’s relevant because it means it could be worthless in a fight for your life. Does that mean the Weaver stance has no use? Not necessarily, but it’s information worth remembering.

A few tips for the Weaver stance:

  • Don’t leave the strong-side arm raised like a wing; tuck it into your body.
  • You can turn your head slightly when aiming your gun. Traditionally, the gun is held higher, and the head is tilted. Find what works for you.
  • Don’t crouch or dramatically lean into the gun.
  • Practice the push-pull grip. It takes time to master.

If Weaver’s not for you, check out the variation below.

Chapman Stance (Modified Weaver)

Yes, there’s a modification to Weaver, and yes, it was “invented” by one of Jack Weaver’s buddies. Ray Chapman came up with the Chapman stance by watching Weaver and deciding he could improve on the stance. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Woman standing in chapman, modified weaver
The Chapman Stance, or Modified Weaver, is slightly more relaxed than the classic Weaver stance. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

In the Chapman stance, the legs are not quite as widely spaced. That means instead of taking a complete step forward with the support-side foot, it’s just a small movement, creating a more tightly-held frame for better balance. The shooter’s arms remain similar to how they’re held in Weaver, but the strong-side arm is extended instead of being slightly bent, and the support-side doesn’t push forward into the gun. This removes the push-pull needed for Weaver, making Chapman much simpler for many people.

Chapman has some specific uses. It can be easier or better for women than Isosceles due to our different body shapes and is also useful for shooters with hip or back pain. The shift in how the legs and arms are held can alleviate some of the pressure that’s put on those joints during Isosceles. And if you’re cross-dominate, you can turn your head and press your cheek into your bicep.

A Few Tips for the Chapman Stance

  • Don’t take a big step forward to separate your legs. Unlike Weaver, Chapman requires only a small gap to be created with the support-side leg.
  • Don’t lock or fully extend your strong-side arm. Leave a little flex in it.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn your head to better line up your eye with the sight, but be aware that if you tilt your head at an angle instead of holding it upright, it will affect shot placement.

Modern Fighting Stance

You might have noticed that Weaver and Chapman both have connections to the famed Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona. Well, there’s a fourth stance to add to the list, and it comes straight from Gunsite. The academy calls it the Modern Fighting Stance, and it works exceptionally well for a wide variety of shooters.

Action shot of modern fighting shooting stance
The Modern Fighting Stance was created by Gunsite Academy and allows for more movement and adjustments as needed. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

The Modern Fighting Stance requires the shooter to square off with the target, just like in Isosceles. The shooter’s legs are a bit more than hip distance apart, with the strong-side leg approximately six inches, give or take, further back than the support-side leg. Toes aim at the target; there is no blading. The shooter extends their strong-side arm, and the support-side arm is slightly bent to create tension similar to that of Weaver (but not so extreme).

This is what Gunsite uses as a balanced fighting stance, and they’re cool with modifications. They understand different shooters have varying body types, injuries, and needs, so changes and adjustments are made as needed.

A Few Tips for the Modern Fighting Stance

  • Be flexible. Don’t be rigid in your approach to this stance. Make adjustments as needed.
  • Don’t take too broad a stance. Legs should be only a little wider than your shoulders.
  • A dramatic push-pull is not required. Simply keep good tension in your grip.

Which shooting stance should you use?

There’s no one-size-fits-all shooting stance (surprise!). What works for the guy on social media might be a train wreck for you. Something else I’ve learned over time is that the gun affects things. My stance affects my accuracy with guns of different sizes, so I’ve learned to make adjustments. Don’t get stuck in a rut thinking there’s only one way. Broaden your horizons and try it all because being a well-versed shooter in many methods is a good plan. Plus, it gives you an excuse for extra trigger time, and who doesn’t want that?

What’s your preferred shooting stance, and why? Tell us in the comments below.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

2-2-2 Skill Drill with Ken Hackathorn

Ken Hackathorn has been a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, in addition to training various SWAT Teams, the FBI’s HRT, state and local agencies, military Special Operations, and others that are nearly too numerous to mention. To put it bluntly, the man has checked off just about every box that we could conceive of. He has also written for most of the major firearms publications. Hackathorn speaks with authority and wisdom. In this article, we’ll be listening to him discuss the 2-2-2 Skill Drill.

This video addresses what Ken Hackathorn refers to as “Low Round Count Training.” He explains that we all know about the ammo shortage in our country. For many, blasting out a ton of ammo at the range can be financially out of our means. Or many people simply do not have access to ammo because it may just not be available. Empty shelves have been prevalent at gun shops for quite some time now, and while things are springing back currently, they have a long way to go.

Ken Hackathorn has been there, done that! He’s trained everyone in the alphabet at one point or another.

Ken Hackathorn and the 2-2-2 Skill Drill

Drills exist that you can perform to develop or maintain skills that do not require a high round count. One such drill is called the 2-2-2 Drill. You begin the drill at ten yards. Hackathorn likes to use the Wilson Combat steel silhouette target, it has a center kill zone that is about seven inches in diameter. In lieu of steel targets, cheap paper plates from the grocery store can serve the purpose and are generally easy to find. Steel is nicer because it gives us immediate feedback, which is more fun.

The object of the drill is to train you to not only get fast, accurate hits with both hands, but also in your dominant hand and your reaction side hand. It is a six-shot drill; first, you draw (from concealment) and fire two rounds with both hands. Next, you use your “strong” (dominant) hand only and then switch to your “weak” (reaction side) hand only.

The goal, naturally, is to get every shot into the circle. Every round that is outside the circle adds one second (oh yes, this is a timed drill). If you miss the entire target, it adds five seconds. With practice and being accomplished, the Performance Standard for this drill is nine seconds. Although you may not be able to do it initially, nine seconds is a goal to try to achieve.

Maintaining Skill with the 2-2-2 Skill Drill

Realize that, with limited rounds, it is more realistic to maintain skill, rather than build it. Ken Hackathorn states that he shoots this drill one time when he goes to the range (and even then, not every time he goes to the range), and he shoots it cold. He believes that shooting it repetitively in one range session and then marveling at your best time of the day does not give you a realistic picture of how you’re doing. In the real world, you don’t get to practice or warm-up, you have to perform cold. Practicing the drill 13 times and then being able to do it in 7.9 seconds is not a true measure of your performance ability. “Your cold drill is the one that counts.”

I will jump in here for a moment and suggest that you may want to perform this drill several times during a range session or two in order to become familiar with the drill and build some skills. After that, I’d fall into Hackathorn’s regimen of shooting the drill at some of your range sessions. That’s just my take on it.

Hackathorn’s Tips

Hackathorn points out how we all love going to the range when the weather is nice. He makes some observations, the first of which is that most people carry their firearms concealed. When they go to the range, they open carry and practice that way. In this arena of very limited ammo, and training time/resources being precious, you should practice how you carry a gun. People complain that wearing a concealment garment is uncomfortable in the heat. Unfortunately, life isn’t always comfortable. Get over it, practice for reality!

Hackathorn training with the 2-2-2 Skill Drill
Hackathorn trains for reality. Not the concealment garment despite the hot weather.

Ken Hackathorn was trying out a new pistol for this particular video; a Wilson Combat SFX9 with a four-inch barrel. The SF stands for “Solid Frame”. Rather than having grips, the grip is solid aluminum with texturing machined into the grip. Ken observes that the grip is thin and he seems to enjoy it a lot. The pistol is 9mm and takes their standard 15-round magazine, and can also take an 18-round magazine. It comes complete with red fiber optic front sight.

Wilson Combat SFX9 9mm 1911 pistol used for the 2-2-2 Skill Drill
The Wilson Combat SFX9 9mm 1911 pistol. The frame has the texture machined into it, rather than having grips added to it.

Ken demonstrated running the drill and did it from concealment in 8.25 seconds. He strongly emphasizes that you should not give up accuracy! Don’t worry about speed; “In the real world, no one’s going to have to yell at you, ‘GO FASTER!’ What will be a problem will be shooting effectively and accurately. Never compromise your accuracy.”

Changing Hands with Ken Hackathorn

Hackathorn explains that, when changing the pistol from one hand to another, the hand holding the pistol opens up and the other hand drives in and takes over from the support hand. It takes less time to do it than to explain it, and I highly recommend watching the video to get the hang of it.

Changing hands during the 2-2-2 Skill Drill
When changing hands, the dominant hand opens…
Transition between hands during the 2-2-2 Skill Drill
The other hand comes in and begins the transition…
After transition between hands for the 2-2-2 Skill Drill
Finally, the transition is being completed.

Final Thoughts

The drill can be modified, in that, if you want to practice firing more than six rounds, you can. Suppose you want to practice more with your reaction side, you can simply run the drill normally while adding another round or two to that particular side. There’s nothing that says you have to run it the same way every time. He notes that most people will “choke” when firing from the weak hand side if they are going to mess things up. He suggests making sure your grip is firm and really practice pressing that trigger straight back to remedy pulling rounds off target.

For the record,  Ken Hackathorn loves the new Wilson blaster and opines that he may begin carrying one.

Ken holding the Wilson Combat pistol used in the 2-2-2 Skill Drill
Can you see the adoration on Ken’s face as he fondles the Wilson Combat pistol?

This is a great drill for developing skills while not blowing a ton of money on ammo at the range.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Deliberate Practice – The Draw with Travis Haley

Join Travis Haley, former Recon Marine, as he helps us improve our draw and fire times with handguns on the range. In this video, he discusses training with deliberate practice.

Join Travis Haley as he walks us through the deliberate Draw.

Practice with Travis Haley

Haley points out that when we go to the range, we usually practice things that we’re good at because it’s fun and motivational. We feel good about doing something we’re good at! However, when we look at a shooter going to the range and an expert shooter going to the range, there is a difference; Deliberate Practice. This means the expert realizes the skills he is not good at and concentrates on those skills. His practice will be based on the skills that he’s not good at and needs improvement. He can dissect and understand the items he needs to work on through self-diagnosis.

Many people look at experts and say, “I wish I could shoot like that guy.” Or, “I’ll never be as good as he is.” That is a mental flaw. People who think like that have already defeated themselves. Remember Roger Bannister? He is the first person credited with breaking the four-minute barrier of running the mile. Until he broke it, people “knew” that it was impossible to break that four-minute time, so they didn’t try to accomplish it. Interestingly, once Bannister broke it, several others followed suit. Why? Because now they realized, in their minds, that it could be done. Once their minds realized it could be done, they did it. The biggest battle is in mind.

If you think I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, wipe that slate clean. Replace that with, I’ll figure out how, and I will do this. Where you set, your mind is where it will go. This is Deliberate Practice. Understanding the fundamentals is paramount.

I’ve heard that advanced techniques are the basics that are done well, and I believe there’s a lot of truth to that. That’s how professionals become good; they practice the basics until they are reflexive.

Putting a magazine in a gun and firing as fast as possible is not deliberate practice; that’s getting ahead of our headlights; being self-aware means that we can diagnose our problems. Once we start self-diagnosing, we reach higher intelligence, and with that, we can then figure out what we need to do more or less and how to improve.

We all want to be fast and accurate with our draw, but we don’t want to miss any of the steps to achieve that speed and accuracy.

How Travis Haley Trains

Travis sets a shot timer for five seconds. For the first drill, he’s not allowed to fire a shot for the first five seconds. When the timer sounds at the five-second mark, the pistol should be going off. During the five seconds, you’re working on fundamentals, and doing so slowly forces you to focus on those fundamentals rather than rushing through. Focus on getting a good grip, including good leverage, friction, and flexibility, proper sight alignment and sight picture, and make sure you’re getting a good trigger press and stance. And follow through on all those things. If you don’t already have these fundamentals down, this will help you achieve that. These things need to be ingrained at a subconscious level before you begin going faster.

Travis talks about using shot timers.
Travis explains how a shot timer can help with training to improve our draw speed.

Haley starts the first five-second drill off at ten yards and goes for a head shot to maximize accuracy. As soon as the timer goes off, he begins counting out loud backward from five to track how much time he has left mentally.

Travis going for headshot to minimize accuracy.
Travis went for headshots to maximize his accuracy potential. As a result, his training times gradually decreased.

Next, Haley reduces the time to four seconds, the same drill. Again, attention is given to all the basics. He notes that each timed drill should be fired five to ten times before reducing the time to get the most out of the training.

Finally, he arrives at the two-second time limit for his drill, and he points out that this is the average time that is accepted that someone should be able to draw and land an accurate shot. He elaborates that this is not good enough because, in real life, time is life. Haley mentions that drawing and firing will probably feel like slow motion for you at two seconds because you’ve been slowly reducing your times and adjusting to them as you go.

Eventually, Haley ends up at a one-second time limit. Again, he mentions that one second should not feel overly restrictive because you’ve gradually reduced the seconds.

Long Day at the Range

After mastering the one-second time limit, he suggests reducing the time to one-tenth-second intervals. So after one second, you’d adjust to .90 seconds, and so on. Haley got down to .70 seconds but had a miss, which he self-diagnosed (the reason was that he did not get his arms to full extension before firing). He announced that he’d stay at .70 seconds for the afternoon because of the miss, and he wanted to master that time frame.

Instructor practicing his skills at range
Professionals self-diagnose their problems and work on improving their shortcomings.

I’ll jump in here and note that his training was from an open carry configuration. Now that is useful if you carry in such a manner, possibly as a civilian or even uniformed personnel who carry openly in their job duties. However, if you’re a civilian who typically carries concealed, your training should be drawing from concealment to make things as realistic as possible. Practicing from an open draw and then carrying concealed leads to a conflict.

Haley states that starting at five seconds gives you a warmup, progressing downward in time so that the training would be gradual. He likens it to going to the gym; you wouldn’t throw on the heaviest weight right away; you’d gradually work up to it. After that, the basics become more deliberate and ingrained, and you’re eventually operating on a subconscious level.

Having deliberate practice at the range is a vital importance
Deliberate, slow, measured practice leads to speed later and unconscious technique.

Don’t say, “I hope,” say, “I will.” Hoping is begging, and begging is for losers. So don’t be a loser.

All in all, a great video. The training doctrine of reducing the times is sound. Just remember to train as you will fight regarding carrying openly or concealed.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Shooting Submachine Guns and PCCs at distance

While traditional rifle folks will claim that shooting submachine guns at distance is folly, the same is true of pistol caliber carbines (PCCs). Travis Haley from Haley Strategic Partners disagrees. He and his crew prove you can place effective shots out to 200 yards if you understand holdover.

Subs at a Distance: Know Your Holdover

His example is a 9mm H&K MP5 zeroed to 25 yards. As expected, at 50 yards, the rounds landed slightly above the 25-yard shots thanks to ballistic physics. Knowing this happens, a shooter can put the reticle slightly below for precise shots. However, the holdover was insignificant enough that even unadjusted shooting lands center mass shots from distance. 

Shooting at 200 yards.

So how does Travis do at 100, 200, and even 300 yards? Watch the video to find out.

Sling Control

While many people will attach a stock or brace to a PCC or submachine gun, Travis recommends first trying a sling to get better control. Tighten the sling to the point where the gun is a comfortable distance away without being too loose and away or too close where the arms are too slack. Next is the grip.

Shooting a submachine gun with the sling tension method

Your dominant hand should grip like a motorcycle throttle for maximum torque while your support hand adjusts to the sights: thumb down with irons, thumb on top with an optic.

The sling tension method isn’t an ideal one, but there are times when it must be used. 

See it in action here:


We’ve all been taught the box or athletic stance, the one that looks like a shortstop fielding a ground ball. But what if that isn’t the most effective or efficient stance after all? What if we should take our cues more from martial arts than from sports? Travis demonstrates what he argues is a better stance for a stronger presence and recoil management:

When you’re done, check out our selection of PCC mags and accessories.

CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Hostile or Friendly? Target Discrimination with Paul Howe

With all the chaos of the last couple years, more people than ever are taking control of their personal security. Carrying a gun competently is part of that, but do you know how to evaluate threats and non-threats? Paul Howe of Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT) discusses a basic system of target discrimination that he teaches in the video linked below.

Paul Howe of Combat Shooting and Tactics has a simple system of scanning for potential threats.

Keep in mind that this is an introduction. Reading articles and watching videos will help your mindset and get you thinking. But That’s not a substitute for actual training.

Paul’s System of Target Discrimination

A system of discrimination is basically a way to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Its purpose is twofold. First, it can keep you from engaging a non-threat with deadly force. Second, it can help you articulate later, in court, why you deemed someone to be threatening enough to use deadly force.

Paul calls it “cleaning” or scanning people with whom you come in contact. He says, “It will work for everybody out there: law enforcement, government security, civilians, teachers, guardians, or church security.” It’s a simple system but it requires practice. Fortunately, it’s based on situational awareness, which you can practice while going about your everyday business. Make the effort and it will soon become a habit.

Target Discrimination Focus Areas

Paul trains his students to scan the following areas IN THIS ORDER. It’s a general to specific progression.

  1. Whole Person – Make sure the person is not a cop or security guard. That means you have to look for a badge or some other indicator. Those indicators could be multiple places. Some cops, for instance, may wear their badge on their belt or around their neck. Scan the entire body.
  2. Hand/Hand – Notice Paul doesn’t say “hands.” Develop the habit of looking at each hand individually and determining whether there is a weapon or threat there. The hands are the fastest and most likely way to produce a weapon. Paul never buys practice targets with the hands at the same level, forcing his students to look at both. He knows that your eyes progress high to low, so he may put a gun in the higher hand and a badge in the lower. Look at each hand. Watch the video to see what I’m talking about here.
  3. Waistline – The belt or pockets are the most likely place from which to produce a weapon. Progress from the hands to the waistline. You aren’t just looking for weapons. Again, a clue to the person’s identity may be there.
  4. Wingspan – What’s in reach for you to use as a weapon or resource should you need it? He only mentions this in passing.
  5. Demeanor – Again, this is only mentioned but we can assume he means the demeanor of the person you’re observing as well as your own. I recommend looking at Paul’s other training aids for a better explanation.
Target discrimination Paul Howe hand
Observe each hand independently. Paul’s targets deliberately place the hands at different levels to teach that skill.

Practice and Targeting

  1. You can practice the first three focus areas just walking around in your daily routine. Notice people before they get into your “sphere of influence.” If they get too close and they have a weapon, you’re already behind the curve. Engage and “clean” people at a distance with your eyes. That means you’ll have to get your nose out of your phone. “The further we can see, we can start to orient off that.”
  2. Go slow. Done properly, your eyes have time to engage the whole person, each hand, and the waistline. You can then assess demeanor. Remember, you can’t take back a bullet so take advantage of time if you have it.

    Target Discrimination Paul Howe
    Look for any potential weapon or indicator of the person’s job or identity as you “clean” them.

  3. If you decide to act against a perceived threat, Paul recommends targeting the thoracic cavity. That means you must know your holds for your firearms. You’ll most likely be at point of aim/point of impact with a handgun. I will add that recent events force us to consider the possibility of a bad guy wearing body armor. I offer no specific advice on that other than to be aware of the possibility beforehand and train accordingly.

What it all comes down to, Paul says, is that he wants you to exercise mental discipline before taking a human life. Again, once that trigger is pulled, you can never, ever take it back. We must make that effort. Because we’re the good guys. Remember that.


CategoriesSkills and Gunhandling

Travis Haley — AK Magazine Changes

What’s the secret to how to reload an AK fast? Let’s spend a few minutes with Travis Haley to hear his views on changing magazines for the AK-47. This is a short video, just over five minutes long, so it won’t take too much of your time. In the video, you’ll find some fundamental principles for efficiently changing your AK magazines. 

For those who don’t know, Travis Haley was a Recon Marine and is an accomplished instructor in firearms and tactics. Actually, that is an understatement, the man is incredibly talented.

Why do people love their AKs so much?

As we know, the AK series has become extremely popular here in America, and for good reason.  The rifles and ammo were available, at one point, for insanely reasonable prices. Now that the ammo madness has settled slightly (at the time of this writing, although who knows what tomorrow holds), 7.62x39mm ammo is once again among the least expensive of the rifle rounds. 

Aside from the economic price, the AK is legendary for its reliability, which is usually the very first attribute cited by its fans. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m a fan and yes, I do like that reliability factor quite a bit. 

Other factors that are attractive include moderate recoil and decent stopping power from a .30 caliber cartridge (or 5.45 for the AK-74).

If the AK is popular in America, it is standard issue in Middle Eastern countries. For those who operate in that region, it’s a good idea to have an intimate knowledge of this weapons system, which is preferred by our enemies. You never know when you may have to pick up an AK as a battlefield pickup.

How can you get better and faster at changing your AK magazines?

Back to the original question, what’s the secret to reloading an AK, fast? Travis answers the question right away with the statement, “Here’s the secret: there is no secret.”

Instead, it takes deliberate practice and minimizing excessive motions that waste time. I agree. The best thing we can do is find sound techniques that work, and then practice the hell out of them. Travis advocates a couple of concepts for training:

  • Train correctly to the point where the motions are ingrained.
  • A trusting mindset, where you let your mind go and trust it to operate as needed under stress.

There there are many methods for how to load/reload the AK, the “Iraqi Reload,” the “Russian POI Reload,” and the “Thumb Reload,” to name a few. Travis likes to find the one with the least amount of steps. Again, I agree completely, being a fan of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

In keeping with this idea, he chooses the Thumb Reload method. 

Thumb Reload Method

To practice this reloading method, Travis suggests beginning with an empty magazine in the gun and one round in the chamber, with a full, spare magazine in a pouch on the side. (Obviously, this needs to happen on a shooting range). 

To begin training, Travis tells us to begin slowly and use a five-second count so the movements are not rushed, but done properly. Here are the steps:

  • Fire one round.
  • Attempt to fire another round, hearing a click on an empty chamber.
  • Do a “Static Reload” where the stock stays in the shoulder as he accesses his spare magazine on his side.
  • While holding a magazine in the left hand, thumb the release to eject the empty magazine.
  • Insert fresh magazine.
  • Charge the weapon. Travis prefers to put his hand underneath the weapon to charge it. He says it is more efficient to charge underneath, especially if you’re running optics on top of the weapon, which get in the way of your hand going over the top.
  • Now that the weapon is charged, fire the second round.
Travis Haley accessing spare magazine with left hand
Keeping the rifle stock in his shoulder, Travis Haley accesses a magazine with his left hand.
Travis Haley activates AK magazine release with thumb
Activate the magazine release with the thumb.
Travis Haley Inserts fresh AK magazine
Insert the fresh magazine.
charging AK by reaching underneath the weapon with his left hand.
Travis Haley prefers to reach underneath to grab the charging handle due to optics being mounted on top of the weapon.

From there, he instructs us to continue our deliberate practice by keeping our feet set and our focus strong.

Tactical Reload

For the tactical reload, Travis does not bring the weapon to his shoulder. He accesses the full magazine with his left hand and uses that same hand to eject the magazine from the weapon. Since this is a tactical reload and not a speed reload, he holds onto the magazine he just ejected because it still has ammo in it. And, this is not an emergency, so he is reloading at his descretion, not because the magazine is empty.

tactical reload
A tactical reload is done at the operator’s discretion.

As his practice progresses with several repetitions, Travis reduces the time — usually by about one second. Eventually, this process will become subconscious, just like any other weapon handling procedures that you practice.

Travis cautions against overextending your left arm out too far when ejecting the magazine. It is a complete waste of time and energy. The arm is extended almost straight out and then it has to come all the way back to the magazine well of the rifle, which costs valuable time.

Watch the full video:

Remember, there isn’t a secret to getting better and faster. Just hard work. Try out Travis’ deliberate practice for reloading AK magazines and let us know how it goes!

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.

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