Training Spotlight



#1 Basic Shooting Skills

Basics.  They can be boring to teach and tedious to practice.  But, the basics have to be mastered and practiced to enhance your odds in a tough situation.  If you think of your training as a pyramid, the basics are the foundation for the skill set.  Without strong basics, the structure will collapse under pressure.

Take handgun skills. The basics include trigger control, sight alignment, drawing and safe handling.  More advanced skills would include shooting with your non-dominant hand, low light shooting and weapons transition drills.  At the very top of the pyramid would be the typical Bruce Willis movie: taping a 92F to your back, jumping off of buildings while firing your MP5 and killing multiple terrorists with one shot.  The fact is you can never become proficient in advanced skills if your fundamental skills are lacking.

officer involved shooting

Photo courtesy of Lewisha Jones

I firmly believe that many departments fail their officers by not regularly teaching and reinforcing the fundamental skills officers need.  A lot of trainers push for “high speed” training, when some of their students are still (figuratively) crawling.  Yes, high-speed training can be a lot of fun to teach and do, but if your students can’t do the simple stuff, you are wasting precious training time.

About a year ago, I was in a student in a firearms class at my department.  In that class, a variety of intermediate skills were being thrown at the students.  However, more than one officer seemed lost in the training, in part, because they were not proficient in the fundamental skills.

For example, during one string of shooting, a four-year officer experienced a failure to fire.  Instead of employing “tap-rack-bang” to get back in the fight, the officer stood back and just started looking at his gun.  An instructor had to tell him to use the tap-rack-bang drill to clear the malfunction.

While the individual officer must take responsibility for maintaining the basic skills he or she needs to save their own life, the fact is very little firearms training has been done on malfunction clearing post-field training in our department.

If that officer was trully proficient in clearing weapons malfunctions, he would have cleared the problem without a thought and continued learning the new material.  As it was, though, any learning of new skills stopped as soon as he encountered a problem that should have been easily overcome if he learned the basics.

A department training program must be grounded in the basics.  Whatever skill set needs to be taught should be broken down and analyzed to determine what those basics are.  Then the training should be developed around the basics, with supplementary training for the intermediate and advanced skills.

A rough estimate might be 60% basic skills, 30% intermediate skills, and 10% advanced skills.  This would mean that at least half of all training for a skill set would be just on the basics, while smaller portions of the training would work on more advanced skills.

The latest, greatest tacticool training may be fun, but does it save lives?  I just don’t know.  Does mastering the basics save lives?  Most definitely, yes.

Stay safe.

Article Courtesy Of Blue Sheep Dog:


To a great degree, how you stand may be dictated by your physical condition and surroundings.

To a great degree, how you stand may be dictated by your physical condition and surroundings. However there are a few key points you should try to address when developing your shooting stance.

We feel most comfortable when standing with equal weight on both feet and with our weight more on the heels than the balls of the feet. This is how our musculature is designed to hold our weight, with the joints more or less fully extended, or locked. This requires the least amount of muscle to keep us upright. However, this is NOT the optimal position for controlling and quickly shooting a hand gun.

Arms should be fully extended when possible, but not necessarily locked out. Shoulders should be relaxed, not up around your ears.

Front-to-back: Strong-hand side leg is rearward of other leg about 12 – 18 inches . The amount varies depending on each shooters level of balance, weight and strength.

Side-to-side: Typically, a hip-width distance between each foot is comfortable and stable.

Knees can be bent or locked, although I usually bend mine a little.

Your torso should lean forward slightly with no more than a small amount of bending forward at the waist. NEVER bend backwards at waist, hip or shoulder area. Shoulders should always be forward of the hips.

Your weight needs to have a forward bias to counteract the kick of the gun. The idea is to get in a position that allows you to be active against the rearward force of the gun firing (recoil). This will enable you to control the gun properly and quickly return it from muzzle rise and recoil to the position back on target. The gun should never push you back so much that you become off-balance. If this happens, you need to move your balance and body position forward.

Hold the gun tightly – tighter than you might think. This is, in my experience, the most common problem with new shooters. Grip is covered in detail in a separate blog.

Article courtesy of Springfield Armory:


#3   5 Great Pistol Drills for Self-Defense Training

Making the choice to carry a gun involves many smaller decisions. Which gun? Which holster? Open or concealed? Although a tremendous amount of thought goes into gear, many individuals who choose to carry a gun fail to put the same amount of thought into their training. After some basic instruction, a new gun owner will need to practice at regular intervals to stay proficient.

Here, we’ve compiled a basic five-phase practice routine that will keep your defensive-shooting skills fresh.

1. The Draw
It seems obvious, but even shooters who fire their carry pistol regularly seldom do so from the holster. Feeding magazine after magazine of ammo through that faithful sidearm is going to help you become familiar with the trigger and controls, but you’re losing out on holster practice that could be the determining factor in a fight. To properly draw a pistol, one must swiftly access the firearm by clearing concealment garments, aggressively planting the web between one’s thumb and forefinger onto the backstrap. This split second of downward pressure ensures that the pistol sits correctly in your palm. Next, rip the gun out of your holster straight up along your side. Practice this at least 10 times in your range session before you even load up. 

2. Pistol Presentation
Terrific, you just got your pistol out. Now it’s time to get it on target as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you have perfected the draw from above, your stop point should be just under your armpit. Here is where you want to rotate your muzzle up but work on developing “the feel” of a level muzzle without it being pointed too far up or not up enough. With a level muzzle, the sights will be automatically aligned when the gun is pressed out, or at least close enough at common defensive distances. 

Next it’s time to “punch out.” In a rapid motion, push the pistol forward in a straight line, as if you were throwing a punch. At the same time, plant your support hand as you press straight out onto target. Imagine a basketball chest pass or a push up. It’s important to note that your presentation will either improve your form or damage it. If you present your pistol in a swooping motion, either underhand or overhand, your body will have to compensate for balance by leaning back. This will slow follow-up shots and lead to hand slippage after firing. Give this sequence of “rotate, connect and push” a good 10 attempts during your warm-up.

Reactive targets, like this Newbold Targets Pepper Popper made from self-healing ElastiMAX polymer, enable users to send more rounds downrange at close distances without the risk of splashback experienced with comparable steel targets.

3. Point-Shooting
A major time-burner is the act of aligning front and rear sight after placing them on the target. All of that slow fire at the range makes us dependent on perfect sight alignment and sight picture. However, within five yards, a perfect sight picture is not necessary to accurately and repeatedly hit center mass on a silhouette, as long as your presentation and index are correct. Your gun points where your eyes are looking. Use that concept to speed up sight alignment and picture. 

If your eyes are on the threat and the gun is presented straight out to eye level, you build an automatic sight picture across the top of the pistol’s slide. Think less rifle shooting and more shotgun shooting. Instead of concentrating on perfect alignment, use the front sight and the slide the same way you use a shotgun rib and bead to break clays. Go ahead and empty a box one round at a time, track your score and note improvement. Above, the author practices point-shooting drills with self-healing polymer targets from Newbold Targets.

4.Tap, Rack, BANG!
We want to believe our gun will go off every time we squeeze the trigger. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Many of us are foolishly frugal when it comes to defensive ammo that cost more than $1 a round in many cases, and we tend to hang onto it for longer than we should. Remember, your defensive ammo is constantly exposed to the elements as well as your warm, moist body. These factors are the leading cause in unreliability. My first recommendation is to cycle it out every three months (or more) to avoid misfires. However, should you experience a misfire, you need to be able to get back in the fight as soon as possible.

The biggest mistake that new shooters make when their gun doesn’t fire is to waste precious time trying to diagnose the problem. The problem is pretty simple, really. In most cases, loaded guns do not fire for one of three reasons: a bad (or dud) round, a slide that’s out of battery or an improperly seated magazine. All three of these issues can be solved by the same three-step action: Tap, Rack, Bang! Step one is Tap: firmly slapping the floor plate of a pistol’s magazine to ensure it’s seated. Step two is Rack: wrap your hand around the top of the slide and forcefully pull it to the rear. Step three is Bang: get back on target and pull the trigger again.

Don’t waste time trying to figure out what went wrong when you know how to fix it, regardless of the issue. Get yourself some dummy rounds (or, in a pinch, spent cases) and some spare magazines. Without looking, prepare your magazines with a combo of live ammo and dummy rounds. Put all of these magazines in a bag and, without looking, put one in your gun and the rest in your magazine carriers. When your gun lands on a dummy round, practice this immediate-action procedure until you do it without having to think about it. In other words, use dummies every time you train.

Use your index finger to guide the magazine into the magazine well while keeping your eyes up and on the threat.

5. Rapid Reloading
We all need to carry an extra magazine. Sure, most gunfights are over within one magazine, but what if yours isn’t? What if you experience a magazine malfunction? What if you accidentally hit your magazine release in the heat of the moment? In each of these cases, the magazine originally in your defensive handgun has become useless.

The key to a fast reload is to let your hands do what they instinctually know how to do: find each other. If you have snaked a wire through a wall or behind a desk, then you know that all you have to do is hold the wire in one hand and put the other hand where you need the wire to go. Without vision, your hands will find each other. All the following steps should be performed with your eyes downrange and focused on the threat.

Once the gun is empty, your shooting hand should be bringing the pistol closer to the face while simultaneously releasing the spent magazine. As your support hand leaves the pistol to start the reloading process, drop it to the bottom of the magazine well and rip the empty/problem magazine out of the gun. As you release the empty mag, let your support hand drop to your magazine carrier. With your index finger alongside the fresh magazine acting as a guide, point up toward the empty magazine well and allow that new magazine to effortlessly glide into the gun. Once the magazine is firmly seated, use the support hand to rack the slide. Repeat this every time your gun runs dry until reloading becomes automatic.

Carrying a defensive pistol offers a great level of personal security, but only if you are proficient enough to use it under stress. I’ll leave you with this basic routine and one word of advice: compete. Even if you don’t plan on winning, find your local USPSA or IDPA matches and get to them for some practical training under stress. Who knows? You might even enjoy it.

Frank Melloni is a former competitor on History Channel’s “Top Shot” and an avid competitor, hunter and reloader. Today, he owns and operates Renaissance Firearms Instruction alongside his nine instructors, training several thousand students a year in a range of firearm-handling skills.


Article courtesy of:

by Frank Melloni – Monday, April 30, 2018

#4 Basic Knife-Fighting Techniques

Image result for basic knife combat skillsYou have a knife, but do you know how to use it most effectively? If you think you are going to stop an attacker with a stab or two to the abdomen, think again. Cutting large muscles is the most effective way to end a fight.

In this video, Mike Janich of Martial Blade Concepts shows the Master Technique — the three basic moves that lay the foundation for effectively using a knife for defense. Notice there is no mention of stabbing. Good knife fighting is about taking away the attacker’s ability to fight. That means cutting the muscle groups that allow your attacker to wield a weapon or move effectively. Take away the attacker’s ability to move and you have successfully stopped the attack.

This also allows you to articulate clearly to the responding police officers why you did what you did. Doing so builds the foundation of your legal defense. Remember, you may only use as much force as is reasonably necessary to stop the attack. Once the attacker’s ability to inflict harm on you is removed, you MUST NOT use any further force.

Cut Your Attacker Three Ways: Long, Deep and Accurately

Cuts to the lower arm impede the attacker’s ability to grab you. Cuts to the upper arm take away the ability to swing an impact weapon. Cuts to the thigh just above the knee impede mobility. Know these target areas and practice your defensive movements with a training blade.

Courtesy of:

Kevin Michalowski — May 29, 2017

#5 How To Choose The Right Hunting Knife – Tips & Guide

There are so many different types and styles of hunting knives available that it can be down right overwhelming when it comes time to choose and buy a hunting knife. There are some questions that you can ask yourself that will help you narrow down which type and style of knife you want.

What type of Game are you going to hunt? You will need a different knife if you are hunting big game or rabbits. Trust me when I say that bigger is not always better. If you have too big of a knife you have a better chance of cutting yourself and not being able to skin or gut the game just how you want.
How much are you going to hunt? Are you going to be a full time hunter or just a weekend warrior. This does matter because if you only hunt on the weekends then a smaller more versatile knife may make sense so you can use it for other tasks when you are not hunting. If you are a serious hunter then a full fixed blade knife would make the most sense for you.
What is the largest and smallest game you envision yourself using the knife on?
Are you going to be killing the game or just trimming?
Do you hunt mainly for meat or do you trophy hunt? If you trophy hunt then you may want to get a second knife called a capping knife.
Once you answer those questions for yourself then you should have a better idea of what kind of knife you are going to buy. There are some factors that also need to be considered when purchasing your knife.

Fixed Blade or Folding Blade
The difference between a fixed blade and a folding blade hunting knife is not rocket science.

For the serious hunter the fixed blade hunting knife is going to be the best bet. This knife has a fixed blade that does not fold into the handle. Because of this they are generally stronger and more reliable than folding blade knives.

If you are going to be doing a lot of gutting and skinning of animals than you will most definitely want to go with the fixed blade style. If you are however an occasional hunter and being able to use the knife for more than just hunting is important to you than I would go with the folding blade style as you can conceal it better and are usually smaller.

Some like the folding blade style because they say they come with more than one type of blade, but if you answered the above questions correctly than you shouldn’t need more than one type of knife when you are hunting. There is one exception to this and that is the capping knife, but we will talk about that later.

Knife Blade Design
There are three different types of blade designs that I want to tell you about. I am going to be brief because you can find more in depth information on the specific pages in this website.

The three different blade designs are:

Clip Point – This style of knife is great for the occasional hunter. It has a defined point on the end and will perform all the tasks needed from the occasional hunter.
Drop Point – This is the preferred knife for big game hunters as the drop point and usually has relatively thick steel.
Skinning – This knife is designed mainly for skinning the animal but can perform the jobs of the clip point and drop point also.

There are other optional things to consider with your blade design. One of those being if you want a gut hook. A gut hook helps you open up the abdomen of the animal without tearing the skin or puncturing an internal organ. This design does work but it is totally up to you if you want this on your knife.If you do later decide that you want a gut hook, you can always purchase it separately.

Serrated Blade
Do you want your knife to have a serrated edge on it. Usually this edge is put on the top edge of the blade. Having the serrated edge on there makes some of the tougher chores of hunting a little bit easier. Such as splitting the rib cage open or the pelvis open.

Knife Handle
What type of handle do you want? Although the more traditional handles such as bone, wood and metal look very nice, the newer composite materials are nice as well. You want to take this into consideration. You do not want your hand to slip off your handle just because you got a little blood on it.

Knife Steel
What type of conditions are you going to be hunting in? The answer to this question will affect what type of steel you get for you blade. The ability to hold an edge, corrosive resistance all play a part in the type of steel you choose.

Here are some basic types of steel that are used in today’s hunting knives:

420HC – Needs to be properly treated in order to hold a good edge and not rust

44O-A/B/C – Stainless Steel. Corrosion resistance is good but needs to be heat treated in order to hold a good edge.

AUS-6/8/10 – Japanese equivalent of 440 steel. Pretty much the same thing but a little stronger.

As you can tell buying a hunting knife has a lot to do with your personal preference. It can be a little less overwhelming if you take the time and answer the questions that I have outlined for you and plan ahead of time before you go to the store to purchase your knife. If you are working on your survival skills then you may want to look at a different type of knife that is more versatile. Of course when in a survival situation you cannot be picky.

Article Courtesy Of:

#6 Tips For Shooting Practice On A Budget

Shooting is a perishable skill, but it can get a bit spendy with the equipment and consumables that are involved in shooting practice. Granted, you should never feel bad about spending money in the pursuit of the skills that can save your life, but does that mean that those not well-heeled should be priced out? Or, for that matter, that you should willingly line various pockets other than your own?

Of course not! A penny saved and all that.

Here are a few hacks that can get your shooting practice done on the cheap side.

Granted, 9mm ball isn’t exactly expensive, and neither, for that matter, are .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .38 Special or .357 Magnum compared to some other handgun rounds such as .44 Special, .45 Colt (or worse, .45 Auto Rim) and so on. Know what’s really cheap, though? .22 LR.

Thus, one of the best ways to do a whole lot of shooting and have it be beneficial is to get a .22 conversion kit for your pistol. Yes, you’ll have to spend to get it, but the running costs are rock-bottom. The best part is that since you’re shooting your carry gun, the trigger and all other aspects remain the same.

Granted, there is something to be said for a .22 conversion not having the same recoil. You’ll still want to do some shooting with your actual carry caliber, just like how you should do a little bit with carry ammo to keep your eye in. That said, you can do a whole lot of practicing and for much less regarding ammunition costs, which will pay for the conversion kit over time.

Improvised Targets From Dollar Stores

Forget the targets from the local gun store or sporting goods shop. You can get more than combat accurate with some improvised targets from the local “dollar store” type of establishment. Two to look for are 6-inch paper plates and 3″x5″ index cards. If you can get tight groups on either of these, you aren’t going to have anything to worry about.

Think about it this way: what you want to shoot at in a defensive encounter is the chest cavity or the head, for obvious reasons. The heart and surrounding arteries and vessels don’t occupy a space much bigger than 6 inches, and the human head is about that size. If you can get relatively tight groups in quick succession on a 6-inch paper plate, that’s definitely combat accurate.

On a 3″x5″ index card even better.

More Dry Firing

One of the best forms of shooting practice doesn’t involve any actual shooting and is easily ignored, namely dry firing. Start looking up experts on the use of firearms, whether combat use or hunters from this or any era. What a whole lot of them will recommend wholeheartedly is ample dry firing.

Jeff Cooper would dry fire while watching television. Bill Jordan advocated liberal dry fire practice. Rob Leatham is a staunch advocate of dry firing for trigger control, as are many others. Karamojo Bell would pick targets in the distance and dry fire his rifle while marching on safari. Bell, for those unfamiliar, shot more than 1000 elephants, almost all via an oblique rear-quarter shot to the brain with a 7x57mm Mauser. He was known to also wingshoot cormorants with a .318 Westley Richards.

Dry firing works sight acquisition and trigger control, which are hugely important for accurate shooting no matter what you’re shooting at. Range targets, hostile humans or game, dry firing is going to as much good as actual range work will. You can even incorporate into defensive shooting drills for added benefit.

How much does a snap cap go for these days? Given the enormous benefits of regular dry firing, a snap cap has to be one of the best investments as far as training tools go.

Article Courtesy of USA

#7 How to Clean Your Gun

Cleaning and maintaining your guns preserves their functionality and value, and keeps them safe and accurate. The effort and attention you put into maintaining your firearms will pay off in peace of mind that your guns will do what you need them to do. Good maintenance habits help you know your gun better, and have more confidence in its performance at the range or in the field.

Preparation is key to a good job. Choose a work area that is well-ventilated, well-lit, organized and clean. Outdoors or in the garage is best. If you must work indoors, choose a large indoor room, and try to work near an open window. Your work table should be sturdy. It shouldn’t rock or move when you lean on it. Avoid tables with wheels or casters. The dining room table or the kitchen counter is not the best choice, because you don’t want to contaminate your food with chemical solvents, gun oil copper, lead or carbon fouling. For the same reason, you shouldn’t eat or drink while you work.

Once you have chosen an appropriate work space, remove all ammunition from the area. All loose and boxed ammunition should be returned to its proper storage place before you start. Only after that is done should you get out your gun and make sure that it is clear. If the gun has extra magazines, make sure they are empty as well.

Before you get to work, find the owner’s manual from the manufacturer. It should explain how to take the gun apart and clean it. Over the years, the manual for an older firearm, or one that was bought used, may have been lost. In that case, the two-volume NRA Guide to Firearms Assembly has written and visual instructions on taking apart a wide variety of rifles, shotguns and handguns.

There are a variety of specialized and improvised tools that will help you get the job done right, but can’t be found in any cleaning kit. A rubber mat with a non-slip surface will help protect both the parts and the work bench from damage. A cleaning cradle keeps the gun under control and leaves your hands free to control loose parts and cleaning equipment. If you don’t have one, a shooting rest for sighting-in or varmint shooting is better than nothing. Your bench vise may look tempting, but leave it alone: Too much pressure from the vise can crack the stock or even crush the receiver.


Also, an old cookie tin or coffee can is useful for holding loose parts. A container helps keep them in one place so small parts won’t get lost or separated. You might want two: one for dirty parts waiting to be cleaned, and a second for parts that have already been cleaned. Lastly, here’s a trick for when springs or pins go flying: Keep a flashlight on hand, as it is often a big help in finding lost parts. Even the tiniest pins and springs that have fallen on the floor will cast a shadow when a beam of light passes over them.Once you have the gun disassembled, start with cleaning the bore. The rifling at the muzzle is critical to accuracy. You don’t want the cleaning rod to bang against the muzzle opening. Over time, this can widen the muzzle opening or leave it misshapen, so clean from breech to muzzle whenever possible.

With some guns the barrel is more or less permanently attached to the receiver, which leaves you with no choice but to clean the bore from the muzzle end. In that case use a bore guide (a sleeve that protects the muzzle), or a bore snake, rather than a rigid cleaning rod.

Use a cleaning rod of the correct diameter. They generally come in .22-cal., .30-cal. or shotgun/muzzleloader diameters. A cleaning rod that is too big will get stuck in the bore, while a cleaning rod that is too small will tend to flex in the bore and it will take too much effort to push it through. One clue is that bore brushes are sized to the diameter bore and will only thread onto a cleaning rod of the proper diameter.

Start with wet patches to loosen the fouling. Bore solvents are usually meant for either copper fouling or lead fouling. Naturally, if you have been shooting jacketed or copper-plated bullets, use a copper solvent. If you have been shooting unjacketed lead, choose a lead solvent. I prefer cotton patches because they are more absorbent than nylon patches. Spear the patch on a jag or thread it through a loop before you wet it with solvent. In my experience, jags produce better surface contact, but they can be harder to push through the bore. Try to push the patch all the way through the bore in one smooth motion. Don’t scrub, change direction or pull the dirty patch back through the bore. Always remove the dirty patch from the rod when it exits the bore. After you’ve run three patches through the bore, it should be ready for the bore brush.

cleaning supplies

Bore brushes should be matched to the diameter of the bore. They are available with nylon, bronze or steel bristles. Steel brushes are more rigid and abrasive and should be used with care and reserved for the toughest jobs. Nylon is the gentlest material, but it can take a lot more work to clean a bore with a nylon brush. In my experience, bronze brushes are the right choice for most cleaning jobs. Thread the brush to the cleaning rod and wet the bore brush with solvent. Once again, push the rod through in one smooth stroke and remove the brush after it exits the bore. Ten passes with the brush should be enough. Run three more wet patches through the bore to pick up the fouling loosened by the bore brush. Wipe down the cleaning rod before finishing up with dry patches. Each successive dry patch should come out of the bore cleaner than the last. If you don’t see visible improvement after five to seven dry patches, repeat the process-starting with the wet patches-from the beginning.

our next step depends on your shooting plans. Once you are satisfied that the bore is clean, you can leave the bore dry if you are going to shoot the same day. However, if you have to store the gun overnight or for a longer period of time, you will need to protect the bore from rust. Run a patch soaked with oil down the bore. Beware: Oil in the bore can create excessive pressure, a dangerous condition. Oil must be swabbed out before you shoot again, so get in the habit of running a dry patch down the bore before you take your gun to the range or the field.

Old toothbrushes, rags and cotton swabs are all useful aids for cleaning the rest of the gun. A general-purpose cleaner like Break Free or a carbon solvent will help loosen built-up powder fouling in the action. Once you are happy with your work, reassemble the gun right away. The longer the gun is left disassembled, the greater the chance parts will be lost or broken.

After you have reassembled the gun, it’s time to make sure all of the parts work properly. Check the safety and the trigger for proper function. When you are satisfied that everything is in working order, you should oil down the exterior metal surfaces of the gun, because sweat and body oil from your hands can activate rust. Don’t overdo it; a light coating of oil is enough. Be aware that gun oil can soften the wood, so don’t soak the joints between the action and the stock.

Cleaning your guns is part of responsible and safe gun handling. Clean firearms are safer, more accurate and more reliable. The better you know your gun, the better you can diagnose accuracy and function problems, which makes you more confident at the range and in the field.

Article Courtesy of the NRA:



#8 First-Time Handgun Buyers Guide

First-Time Handgun Buyers Guide

For several years, women have been the fastest-growing demographic of new gun owners, but many (and some men, too) don’t have a knowledgeable network of personal contacts that can help them acquire the information they need to choose their first gun. This is especially true when that first gun is a handgun for home defense or concealed carry. Fortunately, there’s a rational process they can follow to choose a handgun that fits their needs, familiarity level and budget. 

Step 1: Determining Your Needs
Why do you want a handgun? The answer to this question will determine many of your new gun’s characteristics. If concealed carry is your goal, you’ll want a gun that is short, small and light, while one for home defense may be larger and heavier. Understand that no one gun can do everything well. While there are a few double-duty handguns suitable for both home defense or concealed carry, it’s best for new owners to determine their handgun’s single most critical function and let that guide the selection.

Step 2: Choosing Between a Semi-Automatic or a Revolver 
Two types of handguns are widely relied upon for self-defense: semi-automatics and revolvers.
By far the most prevalent are semi-automatics, also called self-loaders, which use the gas pressure generated when a cartridge is fired to cycle the gun’s loading mechanism. First, the slide moves rearward, which in turn, ejects the empty case and cocks the firing mechanism. When a spring returns the slide forward, it feeds a fresh cartridge into the gun’s chamber from a detachable magazine, which may hold anywhere from six to 20 rounds. There are various types of semi-automatics, but all share the same advantages over the revolver: more rapid reload-ability, greater cartridge capacity and, for citizens with carry permits, a thinner, more concealable profile. Compared to a revolver, however, the semi-autos may be a bit more complex to operate. The beginner will need more practice to gain and maintain proficiency. Also, the semi-automatic is potentially less reliable than the revolver, and shooters with limited hand strength may find slide retraction and magazine loading difficult. Finally, while the semi-auto functions best with ammunition of a certain power level, the revolver digests everything from light target loads to heavy defensive loads.
Modern revolvers have a cylinder that swings out to the side. The cylinder has five or six chambers into which cartridges are loaded, and the cylinder rotates with each shot to bring a fresh cartridge in line with the barrel. Firing is accomplished in either single-action mode (the hammer is manually cocked and then released by a short, light trigger pull) or double-action mode (a single long and relatively heavy trigger pull both cocks and releases the hammer). Defensive firing with a revolver is always performed in the double-action mode.

Step 3: Selecting the Proper Caliber
Next is the selection of the caliber of your defensive handgun—that is, the exact cartridge it is designed to fire. This choice is critical, as it determines both the level of recoil you’ll have to manage and the effectiveness of the handgun/cartridge combination in a defensive situation. Caliber choice also influences gun size; a 9 mm Para pistol, for example, can be made smaller and lighter than one for the physically larger .45 ACP.  
In general, as bullet diameter, weight and velocity go up, so do cartridge power, recoil and effectiveness in a defensive situation. Thus, 9 mm Para is not as powerful as the .40 S&W, which in turn is bested slightly by the .45 ACP. Also, each cartridge is offered in a variety of loads featuring different bullet weights and types at different velocities. The beginning handgunner will usually shoot faster and more accurately with one of the lower-recoil cartridges suitable for self-defense—such as the .380 Auto or 9 mm Para in semi-automatics or .38 Special in revolvers—than with more powerful choices such as the .357 Magnum or .45 ACP. Remember, shot placement is more important than sheer cartridge power.  

Cartridge choice is not made in a vacuum: A person unable to handle a 9 mm Para in a small gun may still be comfortable with a .40 S&W or .45 ACP in a heavier, large-frame pistol. Thus, an informed choice involves firing guns of different sizes, barrel lengths and grip configurations in different calibers. 

Step 4: Hands-On Shopping
Once you have established a preference for a particular gun type in a specific caliber, your best bet is to test-fire that model. Various makes and models of guns of the exact same type—say, medium-frame 9 mm semi-automatics—will differ widely in how they operate, feel, handle and shoot. It’s important to experience all that firsthand.  

However not all gun stores have the means for such test-firing, and if a would-be buyer doesn’t have personal contacts who can help, hands-on research may be a difficult proposition. But because it is important, we’d recommend making an effort, and there are a few ways to do so. 
Whenever possible, identify nearby gun stores with in-house ranges. Frequently such shops have test or rental units of the most popular models, and in fact many indoor ranges rent guns to customers. Quite likely, those rentals will include examples of models that interest first-time buyers of carry or home-defense handguns.
Another option would be to sign up for an NRA Basic Pistol or Personal Protection Course ( The instructor may be able to help arrange for a student to test-fire different models of the type of pistol being sought. Whether a gun has already been purchased or not, these courses are very beneficial and highly recommended for every new gun owner.
Of course it’s also possible that the gun-owning friend of a friend or family member would agree to let a newcomer shoot his or her gun. Most handgun owners understand perfectly why gun ownership is so important, and many will be glad to help mentor a new shooter.  

Step 5: Test-Firing Potential Candidates
The first thing to consider during your test-fire session is safety. Applying lessons learned from personal contacts or from a basic pistol course, is the gun easy to operate safely? Are safety or decocking levers positioned within finger reach, and are they easy to manipulate? Integral safety locks, available on some guns, may be worth considering as they may foil inquisitive children, but they can be a hindrance if the gun is needed to meet an immediate threat. 
Reliability is the most important characteristic of a self-defense arm. Test any gun under consideration with at least 50 rounds of defensive ammunition. Semi-autos should be scrutinized for their ability to feed, fire and eject with a wide variety of loads. Also, the magazines should load securely, then drop freely when released.
Ergonomics and ease of use are also important in a defensive handgun, which may have to be handled and fired in a fast, natural manner. Does the gun fit the shooter’s hand comfortably and point naturally? Does his or her trigger finger engage the trigger properly, about halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint? Are all the controls smooth to operate and can your fingers reach them easily? Is the gun easy to load and unload? Is the gun’s recoil controllable, enabling rapid shot-to-shot recovery? 

Finally, if the gun is to be carried, does it conceal well in a pocket, purse, fanny pack or holster? When you practice drawing it—unloaded, of course—does it catch on your clothing? Does its weight cause your clothes to bulge or droop?    

Step 5: The Final Decision
When the decision boils down to multiple viable alternatives, make the final choice by considering other factors: finishes, options, reputation of the manufacturer and the specific model. Price is another important factor; one can expect to pay from $350 to $750 or more for a new, high-quality handgun. But it’s false economy to let a concern for saving a few dollars heavily influence the choice of what will be a lifetime—and possibly life-saving—investment. 
You should take advantage of all the information resources at your disposal, including gun store employees, NRA Certified Instructors, manufacturers’ catalogs and websites, videos, books and periodicals. As is the case with every subject, the Internet is awash in info on defensive handguns, but much of it ranges from highly opinionated to ill-informed to virtually worthless. So be careful of what’s there. Websites like NRA’s and contain many handgun reviews and always strive to be fair and evenhanded.

Owning and learning to use a defensive handgun is a big responsibility, but it also can bring peace of mind, knowing that you now have the means to defend your life and your family.

Article Courtesy of The NRA:

#9 5 Tips For First-Time Gun Buyers

5 Tips For First-Time Gun BuyersThe recent rise in the number of concealed-carry permit holders translates to a lot of first-time gun owners purchasing firearms. If you’re a long-time shooter who grew up around firearms the notion that buying a gun could be intimidating is hard to fathom—in fact, buying a new gun is one of the activities most seasoned shooters enjoy most. But if you’ve never bought a firearm (or maybe never even been in a gun store), then the task of selecting and purchasing a firearm can be a challenge. Primarily, a lot of people don’t want to look stupid, which is perfectly understandable, but they also want to be sure that their hard-earned money is well-spent and they don’t end up buying the wrong gun. Here are five tips that will ensure you find the gun you’re looking for.               

1. Do Your Homework
There is, for better or worse, lots of info on the internet. Some of it is sound, and some of it is not. Sticking with trusted online resources like Shooting IllustratedAmerican Rifleman, or their print counterparts is a step in the right direction, and you can also pick up one of the many books (or ebooks) written on the topic of concealed carry. You don’t necessarily need to know the model you want when you walk into the gun store, but you should have some idea of the type of gun (revolver or semiauto) and the caliber you’re looking for. 

2. Find a Gun that Fits You
When new shooters ask me what I carry I’m careful with my response. Some people love the way that a semiauto feels in the hand and how easy they are to conceal. Others prefer the simplicity of a revolver. Some shooters prefer a gun that’s equipped with a laser while other shooters prefer white or fiber-optic iron sights. That said, popular concealed carry guns are popular for a reason; guns like Ruger’s LC9s, Walther’s PPS, Smith & Wesson’s Shield and their J-Frame revolvers are a good place to start when you’re making your list of possibles.If you find a gun shop with a range where you’ll have an opportunity to shoot the gun safely, that’s even better. One of the best opportunities to shop around for guns, in my opinion, is at the NRA Annual Meetings each year, when every major handgun manufacturer will be on-hand with experts who can answer your questions and who aren’t trying to sell you a gun at the show. A handful of people to whom I’ve made that recommendation said that the experience provided them with the information they needed to make an accurate purchase. If you have friends that own firearms, ask if you can accompany them to the range. Guns are an investment, and as with any other investment you need to have as much info as possible beforehand.

3. Choose the Right Store: 
If you’re seeking advice on which gun to buy, be careful whom you ask. When I purchase a gun I do so from Jeff Steele who owns a small gun shop in Ohio. Why? Because guns are Jeff’s livelihood and he’s grown up around them. He’s passionate about his profession and he offers sound advice on selecting a firearm. You can’t, however, be guaranteed that level of service and knowledge when you purchase a firearm at a large chain store. Sure, some people in those stores may know about guns, but not all do. Some might be manning the gun counter this week after spending the last three years selling golf clubs. Stores like Bass Pro and Cabela’s are exceptions because firearms are an integral part of the business, but the person behind the counter at the megastore may not be well-suited to offer a sound recommendation. It’s not out of line to ask someone about their past experience with firearms. Don’t feel like you have to buy a gun at the first shop that you enter, either. Spend time shopping around to be sure that you’re getting the best price. 

4. Opinions are Not Rules
Devotees of the 9mm will say that the .45 ACP is obsolete. Fans of the .45 say the 9mm is unfit for personal defense, and .40 S&W fans think they have the best of both worlds. Those of us who are familiar with guns can engage in these arguments and separate fact from fiction. To new shooters it sounds like no matter which gun they choose, they’ll be wrong.

There are a number of different calibers that will work for self-defense provided you have the right ammunition (more confusion!). But the .380, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .38 Special have all proven to be effective defensive cartridges. There are brand loyalists who will fight for their favorite firearm (and against all other makes) with equal passion, but in truth there are many different gun designs and brands that work well for defense. The real question, though, is how comfortable you are with a firearm. When you pull your chosen firearm from concealment can you fire it comfortably? Is it accurate? Are you familiar with the gun’s operation and can you handle, store, carry and shoot it safely? Seeking the advice of a seasoned shooter is a good idea, but it’s more important to find a gun that you enjoy shooting and carrying.

5. Spend More Time At the Range Before You Buy
It may seem odd to buy a membership to a shooting range before you actually purchase your firearm, but there are benefits. Whether you’re shooting with friends in the back yard or you enroll in a next-level shooting course, the more experience and trigger time you have the better equipped you’ll be to know what you like and what you don’t like. Most shooters feel that they immediately need to purchase a gun when they obtain their CCW permit, but rushing to purchase or buying a gun strictly on the opinions of others is not as valuable as spending time shooting a wide variety of guns and finding what works for you.

Article Courtesy of  The NRA:

#10 How to Get a Gun License

How to Get a Gun License

Gun control laws in America are a relatively recent development, with the earliest important examples, aside from the 2nd Amendment, all coming from the 20th century. Most gun control laws, however, are based on state policies, as opposed to federal laws, and therefore vary from state to state.
The difficulty of obtaining a gun license arose as a way to ensure that only responsible citizens were buying guns, officially, and most federal gun laws revolve around keeping guns out of the hands of citizens who should not have them. Read this article for a bit of background information on the rules of importance for guns and gun owners in America, and for a summary of the important acts.
Background Check
While the process of obtaining a gun license involves any number of steps, one of the elements that is mandated by federal law, as opposed to state law, is a background check. Nowadays, these background checks are performed quickly and easily with the help of an FBI database. The background checks are non-intrusive, and are aimed solely at determining whether or not you are prohibited from purchasing guns under federal law because you fall into one of many categories.
Background checks are also important for those seeking to obtain a federal firearms license, which would permit selling and working with firearms, as opposed to simply owning them. Read here for a more in-depth discussion of the nature of background checks in the purchase of firearms, and how they came to be.
Handgun Carry Permits
Most guns cannot be carried concealed, but many states have restrictive laws placed upon the sale and purchase of handguns specifically because they are concealable. Sometimes, these restrictions are focused upon carrying the handgun, and other times, they are focused upon the act of purchasing a handgun.
Regardless, determining the rules of handguns and handgun carry permits in your state will be important if you have any plans to purchase a handgun. Read this article for more information on the nature of concealed carry permits.
Firearms Safety Course
Some states require would-be gun owners to fulfill a firearms safety course in order to obtain their license. This is especially true in the case of concealed carry permits, as they carry with them a greater inherent danger.
Such training courses, however, even when not required, are very advisable for the would-be gun owner, as they ensure that he or she has all the necessary information on liability issues, on safety, and even on care and maintenance of the gun. Learn more about these safety courses within this article.
Fingerprinting, Payment, and License Issuance
Obtaining a gun license according to your state’s laws can be an easy, quick process, but it can also involve any number of secondary requirements. Sometimes, you’ll have to pay a fee for the license. Sometimes, you’ll have to be fingerprinted by your local law enforcement agency, as a precaution.
Regardless, it always makes sense to find out what these procedures are and go through each and every one before buying your firearm. Having your firearms license before you purchase the gun is a very good policy, so visiting your local law enforcement agency to find out exactly what you have to do to make that happen is a good idea. Read this article for some more information and tips on how to complete the requirements for your gun license.