Ask any professional shooting competitor or firearms instructor worth their salt and they’ll tell you how important it is to conduct as much dry-fire practice as you can. Every step of the process — from drawstroke to presentation of the firearm, sight alignment/picture, and trigger pull is just as important as the others. Even those of us who are not professional competitors yet still carry concealed every day should be practicing dry firing every day. Marksmanship is an important part of defensive shooting. The same could be applied to your medical “marksmanship,” or accuracy, as well.
Medical Skills Practice
Medical training and practice are just as important skills as your defensive techniques. Three or four times a week at home, I spend 10 to 15 minutes dry firing my defensive pistol from concealment. One draw-stroke at a time, one trigger squeeze at a time. Over the past few years, I’ve started adding a different dry-fire practice … applying a tourniquet (TQ). Following every tenth dry fire “shot,” I deploy my TQ from my Tac Med Solutions ankle med kit and apply it one handed. I alternate between left- and right-handed application each time. The par time for a Lone Star Medics student to deploy and apply a tourniquet correctly is 12 seconds. That is 12 seconds, either hand, one handed and/or on a leg.
Oh, and who said it has to be on their own arm or leg? This is a great time to get family members or shooting buds involved with some medical training. Just have your partner lie on the floor next to you. Perform 10 solid dry-fire shots. When they hear the audible click, they start counting to 12. Make it interesting by adding a rule that for every one second over the allotted 12, you have to perform 25 push-ups. Now you’re doing a little physical training with some dry firing while practicing your TQ skills. All while watching television in your living room.
Once you’re comfortable with adding some medical skills training to your dry-fire practice, let’s take it out to the range using live ammo and a shot timer. The cool thing about this type of practice is that you can apply it to several different shooting drills that you already perform during your own range time. Check out PDN’s Shooting Drills videos for some examples. Simply add TQ application from concealment or however you’re carrying it on your body. Notice I said “on your body,” not “in your vehicle.” You can easily add self-application of a tourniquet between reloads or immediately after you’ve corrected a firearm malfunction. Utilizing a single blue barrel or some sort of range barricade to one of your drills may expose a weakness in your training. Finding out these weaknesses on the range is a lot more forgiving than on the streets.
Shooting/Medical Skills Drill
Here is a drill that I end my range sessions with, no matter which type of firearm I’ve been practicing with. It allows me to finish strong for the day, helps identify weak areas, and combines my defensive shooting skills with my medical skills. Try it out and let us know what you think in the comments box below, or tell us how you combine your medical skills with your shooting skills.
For this drill you need 20 rounds, a shot timer or a partner with a stop watch, a tourniquet, and two of whatever type of target (paper/cardboard/steel) you have available set up about four feet apart. The objective is to place all 20 rounds inside a six-inch circle on each of your targets. Pace off a few steps from the targets. You’re not so concerned with distance here, but maintain a safe distance if using steel targets. Set your timer for a random start time so you’re not “ready” for the beep. Your overall par time may vary depending on your skill level, but don’t worry about that for now. This is a progressive drill. On the beep, draw from concealment and place five rounds on each six-inch target. When you come to slide lock, reload and then re-holster. Immediately deploy your tourniquet from concealment or however you typically carry it (because your TQ is part of your EDC … right?). Apply it to either arm, one-handed only. Once you’ve secured the tourniquet and it is on high and tight, draw with your uninjured hand and engage the two targets with five rounds each. Mark your overall time down. Next time, try to shave some time off that number.
Points To Remember
1. Make sure your firearm is unloaded and all live ammo is kept in the other room while dry firing.
2. Don’t try to re-holster too fast. Keep your head up and look at your holster if you have to for a quick second. This part is not a race.
3. This training drill is meant as just that — a training drill. It does not represent what you may have to do in a real life-or-death situation. If you want to know how and when to apply a tourniquet during a violent altercation, take a tactical medical course. We recommend our “Medicine X-EDC” course.
4. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to speed-race your way through the drill. Start off at a pace that you can still “think” about what it is you are trying to accomplish.
5. Involve your buddy. Either have them keep time or coach each other through the drill. The more family members or teammates who are practicing with you, the better off everyone will be.
Time is one luxury most of us don’t have enough of. We’re always trying to maximize our time with family, work, and while on the range. So slip in an opportunity that involves your medical training and your shooting buds or loved ones while enjoying the range. Dry firing at home and conducting shooting drills make for a great shooter. Adding a bit of medical training to the mix will certainly benefit you, your loved ones, your shooting skills, and your survivability.