To fight efficiently with a firearm certain fundamental skills are mandatory. You have to know how to present or draw your pistol. You need to be able to shoot accurately, on demand without any "warm up" shots. Manipulations – reloading and clearing stoppages – are fundamental. The key is being able to execute these actions under any and all circumstances. Conditions in a fight will be less than ideal.
Drawing or presenting the pistol efficiently is a fundamental skill. The problem arises in the difference between how most people train and practice vs. how they actually carry. Most of us carry concealed; the majority of people train and practice from open carry, with the handgun exposed. Then, when faced with danger, presenting the pistol is delayed.
Your practice should always reflect the real world. During an actual confrontation there's a good probability you'll need to draw the pistol while in a "compromised" position. You may be sitting, or on the ground after falling or being knocked down. Learn how to safely and efficiently draw from any position.
Accuracy means hitting the target. Regardless of the distance to or size of the target when you press the trigger it should result in an accurate hit. You need to be able to hit moving targets, and from various positions such as kneeling or while using cover.
Hand/arm injuries are common in fights. Someone's trying to hit you with a baseball bat. You get something broken while blocking the blows. The threat has a knife. You get cut. When two people are shooting at each other the hands and arms take hits. Just because you're injured in one hand or arm doesn't mean you're out of the fight.
The same line of thought applies to manipulations. Knowing how to operate the pistol with only one hand is critical. You carry a low capacity pistol; it may be necessary to reload. You have a hi-cap weapon - reloading probably won't be a factor - but malfunctions occur with any firearm. Especially during a fight, when things like your grip and firing position may be less that perfect or, again, you're fighting injured.
Again, think about fighting positions. Learn to reload and clear malfunctions from different positions, while prone or on your back from the ground. Use one hand and experiment to discover how to work with objects in your environment to cycle the slide or strip the mag out when clearing a Type III stoppage or double feed. At the same time you're developing these skills you'll also be learning about your equipment.
Understanding the fundamentals is mandatory. You also have to learn how to apply them under any circumstances. As always, the best way to practice the majority of your fighting skills are with dummy weapons and ammo. These tools allow you to practice safely, developing the ability to perform these actions efficiently and safely. The same principles apply to rifle and shotgun. Remember, it's difficult to acquire new skills in the middle of the fight. Start practicing now, so you're prepared for the future.
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 McKee's new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite's website: