A Hard Look at Yourself
How does your equipment measure up? A full-firing grip should be allowed while the handgun is still in the holster. Belt loops should be the same size as the belt and the holster should not move on the belt during the drawing stroke. "Security" straps must be undone as part of the drawing stroke (and should be practiced that way during training). No cheating, please. The holster mouth should remain open to allow for an all-important one-handed re-holster. Belt and holster combinations must fit each other and work as a team, not as an aberration of loose loops, faulty snaps, fraying threads and sloppy fit.
Many officers have no choice in the weapons-selection process. They are simply mandated to carry what is issued to them. If you have a choice, was your choice a wise one? How does your handgun measure up? How many of us would choose a handgun if we knew there was going to be a fight and we were going to it? Handguns are not the most effective fighting tools made.
The range will probably be short, so you won't need a minute-of-angle match-grade handgun. What's really needed is a handgun that will function. Melt the corners and sharp edges on your gun. Eliminate "snagging" on hammers and extended parts projections. Beware of oversize parts and rubber stocks that "catch" or slip-on grips that slip. And remember, you may have to fight for your life at arm's length with your selection.
Expect the Unexpected
Plan on whatever it is you shoot and hit to not be affected by the gunfire. What will you do next? Your opponent may not have read a book on ballistics, so they may not know they are supposed to get hit and fall down. Better to approach it from the "I thought this might not work" direction rather than the "Oh sh*t!" mode. Use a big handgun (or at least the biggest handgun you can have!) and have a reload handy. Most fights are won by the last round fired. Will you have enough ammunition to stay in the fight until the end? Choose wisely, only your life depends on your selection!
Let's go over a quick checklist for concealed carry. How do you and your equipment measure up? The answers you provide should be yes or no.
- Am I confident in my marksmanship and weapon-manipulation skills?
- Do I have a solid gun platform: belt, holster spare magazine or loader?
- Do I have low profile concealment? Can I wear it all day or all shift?
- Do I have a reload capability?
- Do I carry a working handgun? Will it go off when I pull the trigger? (Don't laugh, I've seen it countless times in my classes.)
- Can I draw the handgun with either hand?
- Is my handgun secure? How about when rolling on the ground?
- Would I bet my life on my handgun? Would I bet my life on my equipment? Would I bet my life on my marksmanship?
- Could your partner bet his or her life on your equipment and abilities?
The number of American law enforcement officers who lose their lives every year fluctuates slightly from year to year. The reasons they die do not change significantly from year to year. Equipment often plays a significant role. As a training officer, it is a small thing, indeed, to demand of your students they carry the best they can afford in equipment and to train to their limits.
Perhaps, if our training and equipment reflected an old Roman legion adage we would all be better off in serving our own security as well as the communities we patrol.
"Every drill is a bloody battle, every battle a bloody drill."
Train hard; fight easy.
Clint Smith is the founder and president of Thunder Ranch Inc., the training facility in Mt. Home, Texas. Clint is a former police officer and combat-wounded Vietnam veteran. POLICE welcomes this first contribution from him.