Being - Tactically and Practically - Prepared
By Ted Demosthenes, Suarez International Instructor
You’ve just finished lunch on Day One of your class with Suarez International. With your busy work-week behind you, the trip down to Phoenix went well, including the airport check-in adventure of dealing with the ticket agent, airline paper-work, other passenger’s raised eyebrows, the TSA’s inconsistent packed-weapon practices, and the ever-enjoyable trip through the “security” check point. The weather’s mild, the range is great, and the class members are friendly and experienced.
The morning has been spent doing admin, safety briefings and class conduct, a thorough review of principle skills, and a gear check to see what everyone was carrying and if it appears adequate for the course (remember the gear list in the course description?). The instructors are evaluating each shooter’s level of preparation for the course and, after some warm-up with dry practice, the class proceeds to initial live fire from contact ready.
You’ve come to class with your new 9mm pistol, an appendix inside the waistband (AIWB) holster, mag pouch, 4 mags, and the leather belt you used for carryin’ strong-side outside the waistband (OWB). You work through the dry practice module without a concealment garment practicing the slow, smooth pace demonstrated by the instructor. Your instructors are now evaluating everyone’s draw stroke and return to holster. You notice that your holster’s retention is a bit snug, but you are able to work it smoothly enough. You make ready and the class proceeds to the next exercise, live fire from the holster.
Wisely, you continue the slow, smooth draw speed for the first string of fire. As you keep shooting, your speed builds, but you also notice how much effort is required to get a full firing grip and to initiate the draw stroke. On the fifth draw, you obtain a good grip and make a noticeably smoother draw only to discover that your sights look different on target, your finger isn’t on the trigger and, $#!*!, your gun is still fully in the holster. Bummer, Dude or Dudette!
You bring the gun/holster combo to the compressed ready while everyone finishes shooting. When the exercise is complete, the instructor, who has noticed your new “technique”, steps over and has you carefully remove the gun from the holster without covering any body parts, chamber check, unload, chamber check, and step off the line.
While the class is taking a water and ammo break, you and the instructor take a closer look at your holster. You find that the holster retention adjustment, even at its loosest, still grips more strongly than needed, the belt hook is apparently not wide or deep enough to hook adequately under your belt, and the belt is not stiff enough to reliably resist the upward movement of the holster during the draw.
Fortunately, you brought your spare 9mm in your old OWB primary side holster and one of your classmates loaned you a stiffer gun belt for the rest of the day. You were able to get back in the fight without missing much or holding up the class. A quick trip to the nearby gun shop got you a new belt for day two.
So, to quote Roger “Badger” Phillips, the lesson learned and best practice is to “Try Dry Before You Fly”. Before traveling to a training course with new and/or different gear or, far more importantly, before stepping out the door carrying, devote deliberate attention and focused dry practice (and live fire) with the guns, ammo, and gear you’ve chosen. Your success in training, and in defending your life, will depend on your diligence and judgment.
The story above is based on actual events. During our Suarez International Instructor gathering at the end of 2012, we discussed the past year’s challenges of preparing for, and conducting, our catalogue of courses. One of our concerns was shooters coming to class with guns and gear that had not been adequately evaluated and sorted out prior to class. Issues with guns and gear have interrupted both the classes and the individual shooter’s progress in class. Many of these issues could have been avoided by preparation prior to leaving home for the course.
I strongly recommend you direct your questions about guns and gear for training to Suarez International at 928-776-4492 before you travel to your next course. You are also encouraged to share and discuss with the tribe at Warrior Talk your best practices for training and for being fully prepared to use your choice of tools. For fight-focused training and daily reality, you’ll find you couldn’t be in better company.
Warrior, Pirate, Priest, or Pragmatist, most everyone on Warrior Talk is a “Good Scout”, in that we are always working to “Be Prepared”. What I challenge us all to do on this forum is to share our best practices and perceptions for preparing... and living…strategically and tactically “Offsides”!