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Why You Need to Form Good Shooting Habits

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Bill Jordan told the story about a fight that some Border Patrolmen were involved in down on the Rio Grande. It seems that it was a hot little fight that went on for quite some time and a number of officers were involved. When the fight was finally over, someone noticed that one of the officers had quite a bulge in his right hand pants pocket. Upon investigation, the bulge was made by empty brass cases. In the midst of this fight, the agent had dumped every one of his empties and put them in his pants pocket.

It seems that the Border Patrol firearm manager for that region also loaded the outfit’s practice ammo on one of the early progressive reloaders. If the officers dumped their empties in the dirt during practice, it meant that the instructor had to get them cleaned up before he could reload them. Full of his own authority, he insisted that the agents put the empties in their pockets until they could be delivered to him after the training session. Even in the midst of a hot gunfight, this habit had controlled the officer’s actions.

We may not realize it, nor care to admit it, but we are continually forming habits when handling our defensive firearms. How we handle the gun, how we reload it, and how we fire it are all habit forming functions. That is one of the reasons that so many of us hammer the principles of gun safety; when gun safety truly becomes a habit, there are very few negligent discharges.

If you think about it, every time you take your handgun out of its holster is an opportunity to practice a proper defensive pistol presentation. And every time we load or unload that handgun is an opportunity to practice defensive loading techniques. Those are good habits to form.

I once chased a prowler with an unloaded revolver because my mother had seen the gun on my dresser and unloaded it: “They’re much safer that way, don’t ya know?”  Now you can bet that every time my gun is out of my sight and control I check it before holstering it; and that incident occurred some 50 years ago.

Defensive shooters are continually developing habits, some conscious and some unconscious. Good habits may save your life while bad habits can get you hurt. It’s just super smart to occasionally evaluate your gun handling and marksmanship in order to cull those bad habits and replace them with good ones.


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