Great advice from umpteen time pistol shooting champion Rob Leatham. Take it! READ MORE
SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Rob Leatham
The fact you’ve chosen to carry a firearm means you want to be prepared to protect yourself. Being able to hit what you shoot at — that’s what it’s all about. However, simply having a gun isn’t enough. You need to, among other things, HIT what you aim at. Otherwise the resulting use of your firearm may create more problems than it solves.
Unfortunately, to be blunt, most concealed carriers are not skilled enough to hit what they shoot at. I know I sound pessimistic, but I have seen it for decades — shooters who do not prepare for the realities of when, where and how real world situations occur.
Are You Ready?
If you want to do this right and have a chance of survival, you have to be as ready as you can be. Being ready is a byproduct of preparation.
Here is the beginner’s list:
First step — you need to have a concealable gun, like the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 9mm.
Second step — you have to train and practice. And I mean doing it like it matters. You can’t just shoot 10 shots through the gun to see if it works and say you are good to go. The gun will work. You’ve picked one of the most reliable compact handguns possible. That’s why I carry one. I’m not worried about the gun working, I’m worried about you working!
Third Step — learn marksmanship. To train to protect your life, you need to look beyond just having the gun and knowing some tactics. You have to address the elements of marksmanship that lead to its effective use. If “IT” hits the fan and you have to shoot, you had better hit what you are shooting at. In regards to that, there are two points that standout as being the most important: Fire Control & Aiming.
In this article, I’m going to address aiming.
Front Sight Fiasco
The problem with aiming is that we have taught you all wrong. I apologize. We “shooting instructors” tend to focus on aiming in a clinical sense with little attention paid to how situations might really happen. Let me explain…
Scenario: You are in a fight for your life, things are happening around you fast and the distances are close. Too close. Like the really dangerous distances of contact and just out-of-contact range.
Action plan: You will likely need a better marksmanship goal than the old guidelines of, “Look for that crisp, clear front sight focus.” I have heard it explained far too often that you can’t hit anything if the front sight isn’t clearly in focus. This is absurd.
In a fight you will likely need to watch and monitor what is happening. Your gun may be in your hand. You likely will have it pointed at an imminent threat. You likely will be stressed and nervous. You likely will be scared. You will likely be reacting to events as they unwind. And, unfortunately, if national statistics are referenced, you will likely MISS when the time comes to shoot. Let’s try to avoid this by outfitting ourselves well.
Armed to Aim
You need to stack the odds in your favor. It’s already a day gone bad, so let’s not make it worse. You need to give yourself the best possible chance to not miss. You do this by training and preparing your mind and equipment.
While far more important than your equipment choices, training is a complex subject that needs to be addressed in a personal and physical manor. I just can’t do it very well from across the inter-web. I can tell you about which guns and holsters and calibers to choose. I can tell you what skills to work on and describe drills that test you. But I cannot train you. I need to be able to watch you to correct you.
But I can tell you about aiming:
Aiming is the process of recognizing and causing alignment of your firearm onto the target. This is unchanged regardless of context.
Aiming is simple and yet not easy, especially if you don’t shoot a lot, and especially under pressure or duress. Fortunately, there are products that can help if this is something you struggle with.
The sights that come on something like the XD-S Mod.2 9mm are excellent for quickly aiming that pistol. They are easy to see and allow you to accurately align your pistol on target. Fiber optic and/or night sights, they are as good as iron sights can be. Period.
But are they your best possible choice?
Let’s say you are an experienced shooter who has trained for decades and shot hundreds of thousands of rounds. Like me! You have learned simply by feel how to do most of the aiming/aligning process. You are what many would call a good “point shooter” too. I will likely never need anything as good as the sights that are on the XD-S Mod.2.
But what if you are not like me? And what if it is dark? And what if you have not practiced enough with your awesome new carry gun? How are you going to know where that gun is pointed in that moment of need? You won’t have the feel I do, nor the confidence. You may need something more.
Sharks With Laser Beams
Have you thought about a laser (If it’s good enough for a shark…)? #AustinPowers
A laser aiming device will show you, while allowing you to keep your eyes on your target, exactly where the gun is pointed.
Even if it is dark.
Even if you are not holding the gun in a manner where you can see the sights.
Even if you are knocked down and lying on the ground.
Even if you physically CANNOT see iron sights clearly.
Does that sound helpful? Beneficial? Favorable?
And how about this, do you wear vision correction like I do? While I can put on my fancy DECOT shooting glasses in preparation for a competition, they aren’t my daily wear. They allow my old eyes to focus on the sights, something I can’t do with my daily eyeglasses. And I don’t want to wear them for anything except shooting. Sure, they are magical. They have returned my ability to see standard sights like I did decades ago. They do this by making my eyes focus at the approximate distance of the front of my gun at arms reach. Kinda like if you have to wear “readers” to read, but everything past that is fuzzy. This is perfect in a competition, but in a fight I need to see what is “downrange” much more clearly than “fuzzy.”
So About That Laser…
A gun-mounted laser allows you to see where the gun is pointed, regardless of your vision or the distance or how you’re holding the gun. You can see where the gun is pointed in low light, and/or with the gun in a retention position. The list of benefits goes on. For many, if not most of us, a laser on your pistol solves many mechanical problems you may encounter in a fight.
The Viridian laser mounts perfectly to the XD-S Mod.2 9mm. It is quick to install, simple to use and fast when it comes to aiming. And most importantly, it will likely be a great tool for those who:
Aren’t able to train every day
Don’t have great hand-eye coordination
Have poor/substandard vision
It is by no stretch of the imagination a guarantee of acceptable marksmanship on its own, but a gun-mounted laser can be an excellent solution for your “aiming issues.”
I suggest you give one a try on your EDC gun. I can’t imagine a better compact self-defense combination.
Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.
Rob Leatham, captain of Team Springfield, has been with the Springfield Armory family since the late 1980s. He is a world-renowned competition shooter and firearms instructor who is highly regarded as one of — if not THE — most-winning Practical Pistol Competitor in history. Rob’s sheer number of National and World Shooting Titles make him unique in the firearms industry. He has trained shooters from all walks of life — from IPSC World Champions to Military Special Forces Operators and from Law Enforcement Officers to civilians for Self Defense. In the competitive shooting world of IPSC, USPSA, Steel Challenge, IDPA and NRA Action Pistol, Rob’s competition career has spanned decades.