Clearing corners - slicing the pie - is one place you don't want to take shortcuts. Cutting corners in preparing for a fight can be just as bad.
It's in our nature to want to cut corners, to take short cuts or try the easy route. When traveling we want the shortest route. Around here this may cut down on the distance traveled, but without knowing the area it's easy to find yourself on a winding, one-lane road where ten miles an hour is the "safe" speed. The shortest, easiest route may not be the safest path to take. Cutting corners or taking shortcuts often leads to trouble.
Time is a precious commodity. You plan to practice, but start the day out already behind. In order to get more things done you skip the quarter hour of dry practice planned for when you get home. Soon, like the next day it happens again. Now not practicing is a habit, and the only time you shoot is when the guys get together, go to the range, and target shoot. We all know more talking than shootin' occurs here. Practice, r-e-p-e-t-i-t-i-o-n, is needed in order to maintain your skills, and a mandatory element for improving.
You're practicing Type II malfunctions, a failure to eject. You know the clearing sequence is to get your finger off the trigger, tap the ensure the mag is seated – especially with pistols that will create a "stove-pipe" if the mag isn't seated - and then cycle the slide to load the chamber. In order to beat your buddies, "win" the "fight," you skip seating the mag. After all, you set up the malfunction, so why both to seat the mag when you can be first to shoot. Removing this step from the sequence can get you into trouble in real life. As mentioned above, if the mag isn't seated you can cycle the slide all day and it ain't gonna go bang. In a real encounter time is critical, but your actions must be efficient.
Most people short-change themselves in the mental department as well. As you sit down for dinner at the restaurant do you scan, assess and think about where the nearest exits, cover and danger points are? In other words, planning a response in case trouble does erupt? Do you read, study or research the mental and physical aspects of self-defense? Do you attend training, but also do you participate in training that doesn't include shooting? Fighting is a mental process. Not taking advantage of all the resources available to you is a corner you can't afford to cut.
There are no shortcuts or corners to cut when it comes to training, practicing and developing the mental skills necessary to defeat the threat. You might get lucky, but it's a lot better to be prepared and lucky. Every aspect of personal defense requires training, practice and repetition to learn. Remember, personal protection is an individual responsibility. If you are serious about it, and I hope you are, then you have to commit the time, effort, and money and mentally prepare for the challenge. Plus, we know the more prepared you are, the less chance there is you'll need these skills.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org