It’s not how you stand by your car that matters, it’s how you race it. Regardless if it’s cars, motorcycles, guns, or any other hobby, only the uninitiated are impressed solely by the equipment you own. If you don’t have the skills and training to use it effectively, the best gear in the world won’t save you. Conversely, you don’t always need the best equipment if you have developed your skills. Take Kalani Laker, who won the 2014 Walking Dead Multigun using the OPMOD Strikefire instead of an optic costing two or three times as much. If you want to develop your skills though, you need to train. Since this is the Gear Expert, I’m going to highlight some training gear.
If you want to be fast, first become smooth. One of the best ways to do that is dry fire practice. Whether you use a blue gun to practice safe movements with a firearm or snap caps so that you can include good trigger mechanics, there are numerous options to help you improve your skills safely. Laser training devices have really taken off in the past couple years and have proven to be an effective teaching tool. There are replacement barrels and training cartridges to use with your actual firearm, or there are dedicated training pistols so that you don’t have to manually reset the trigger after every shot on DOA pistols. Most recently, the target options for laser trainers has seen expansion. At SHOT show, there were several products that used a camera and software to record the laser impact and recommend technique adjustments.
There are also some great target options for live fire practice that can help you improve your abilities. I try to exclusively use any type/brand of “splatter” paper targets that show the ring of your impact in a highly visible color, since they let me confirm that I’m on target without having to break my sight picture. There are also paper targets that aren’t just a silhouette or bullseye, but have a variety of targets on them so you can perform drills. Law Enforcement Targets has several of these targets. The command targets are great for if you go shooting with a friend. Steel targets are another great training tool, if you have the right setup for them, as they give an audible hit confirmation and can help you focus on developing speed. Polymer targets are a great for this as well, offering the high round count durability similar to steel but at a fraction of the cost. I like the polymer ground targets for working on tracking a moving target for the follow up shot.
Part of training is the ability to be ready for anything, which includes an injury. The most important tip I can offer here is to at least carry the basics to handle minor cuts/wounds. Every range bag should have an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK). While there are tons of awesome first aid kit options out there, this is an area where you should absolutely get professional training before investing in an extensive med kit. You can quickly do more harm than good if you try to use advanced equipment that you haven’t been trained to use.
My goal in 2016 is to take as many training classes as I can, especially in areas where I need improvement. I encourage you to assess your skill set and do the same. There are tons of quality classes on all types of skill sets being offered all over the nation, so finding one shouldn’t be a challenge. But since most skills degrade over time without practice, just taking a training course once isn’t sufficient. Take the classes and learn the fundamentals, then we can set you up with the gear to maintain and hone your skills in a fun and safe way.