Posts Tagged ‘Guns’


Now, you may be thinking, “Shoe Shopping??? I thought this was a gun blog.” Don’t worry. It is. However, I discovered an amazing connection between these two apparent opposites. Shoes and guns are astoundingly similar in a one key area: it’s nearly impossible for somebody else to pick out the perfect one for you. 

A Woman’s Advice

shoe-shopping (1)As the only full-time lady working behind the counter at Autrey’s, I am asked all the time: “What’s a good gun for my wife?” Nearly everyday, I hear one of the many variations of this question. Sometimes, the question comes from another lady assuming that she’ll like whatever gun I like, simply because we are both female. The false premise behind these questions is this idea that there is a specific gun or a specific type of gun that is ideal for women. To refute this, I offer up the suggestion that there is one specific car that is ideal for every man. Silly, right? Same thing with guns. Each person, man or woman, must find which gun feels right to them, which gun they shoot well, and which gun they can afford. Individual preferences rule the day when it comes to gun-buying. While I can suggest general things to consider (weight, recoil, size, etc…), these generalities in no way assure success. I can no more tell a husband which gun his wife will like any more than I can tell him which shoe to buy her. And I pity the man who would ask me to pick out his wife’s shoes. 

gun-shopWhoever will be using the gun needs to hold it, feel it, make sure they can operate it, and, if possible, shoot it. From my experience, I say shooting the gun you are interested in buying, or a gun similar to it, is vital to long-term enjoyment of said firearm. For example, those little, light-weight guns everybody loves to market to women are some of the most uncomfortable guns I have ever shot. For the women out there: just because it is small, cute and you like the way it feels in your hand, does not mean you will like shooting it. Those little things pack quite a kick.

Whenever possible, shoot before buying. Going back to the shoe analogy, buying a gun without shooting it is like buying shoes without trying them on. The shoe may be the right size, style and color but still be completely miserable to wear. A gun may meet all your other criteria but still be a literal pain to shoot. (At which point, you have to decide if you will get it and put up with the pain or find something more comfortable.) 


Trying on a Gun:

Right grip1. Fit: For best results, the gun must fit the user. The trigger should be a comfortable reach for their finger, not too close and not too far. The operational buttons (slide lock, magazine release, safety, etc…) should be easily accessed and operated. For semi-automatic users, the user must be able to rack the slide. Some guns are harder to rack than others, so don’t give up on semiautomatics completely if you struggle with the first one you try.

2. Feel: This is the intangible aspect of gun-buying. There are some guns that just feel right in your hand. The contour of the grip, the weight, the texture, and the overall size of the gun greatly influence the feel of the gun but only you can determine what feels right.

basic-gun-safety-course-for-one-two-or-four-people-13699884503. Fun: As a general guideline, I believe a gun should be enjoyable to shoot. I readily admit that concessions to comfort must be made when situations demand a small carry gun as the only option. However, people tend to do things that are fun and not do things that are not fun. With that principle in mind, I will sometimes suggest the buyer might also consider investing in a more enjoyable gun at some point in the future. This will encourage range time and practice. At a minimum, the user must be able to safely operate and control the firearm while shooting; enjoyment is an important, but secondary consideration.


Concluding Thoughts

969572_364713273655812_1015285563_nI do not want to discourage people from asking me, or other women, for recommendations on firearms, but I do want to expose the mythical “Good gun for a lady.”  There is no such thing. Some guns are preferred more by women than men, but your woman may not like any of them. Buying a gun, especially for the first time, is a very personal decision. Such a decision can, when encouraged, truly reveal a person’s individuality. So, I urge all you to never pick out another person’s gun (unless they gave you very clear and precise directions or it’s a collector’s piece), for they may end up not liking anything you thought they would like. I recently encouraged a friend to look at a couple of handguns I thought he would really like. He ended up putting his hand on a completely different one and that was it. That was the one he wanted and no other would do. It just felt right. He would have been very unhappy with my choices and I am just very glad I didn’t get him one of the ones I recommended. So live and learn… and Try on a Gun!




Shooter 1: 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha…

Shooter 2:  2 Alpha; 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha…

Shooter 3: 2 Alpha; 1 Alpha, 1 Bravo; 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha…

Shooter 4: 2 Charlie; 1 Charlie, 1 Mike; 1 Charlie, 1 Mike; 2 Charlie…

Shooter 5: 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha; 2 Alpha…

If this sounds like your idea of shooting at a competitive event (with you being Shooter 4), you owe it to yourself to go to a local competition. Unlike the perfect scores you imagine everyone else gets, you will find the “All Alpha” shooter is only slightly less rare than bricks of .22lr. At the local level, a large portion of the shooters are in the solid A and B category. A number of them even have the occasional Mike (otherwise known as a “Miss”). You will also probably find yourself shooting much better than you expect. After my first IPSC shoot, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Alpha called out a couple of times while my targets were scored. I think I was more surprised, however, to see one of the regulars put a hole in the roof of our indoor range. A negligent discharge while shooting a course is a disturbing experience for all (both witnesses and shooter). Watching the dust and debris settle to the floor I realized a very important life lesson: just because someone repeatedly participates in an activity does not make them competent at said activity. So don’t be intimidated. Unless your local competition is filled with sponsored, olympic hopefuls you will soon be shooting midrange of the pack. You will also soon discover that the competition is not really against the others but yourself.


I attended my first competitive shooting event nearly a year ago. That first event, I realized how rough my firearm handling skills were. The only kind of shooting I had done was standing still firing at a still target. I had never practiced tactical reloads, strong hand/weak hand shooting, or shooting and moving. I had also never practiced drawing with a loaded gun. Participating in the IPSC competitions helped me fine tune many of these skills. For this reason, I recommend other gun owners check out their local shooting competitions. The lessons you will learn not only benefit you in the competition, but will also benefit you in real-life lethal scenarios.

Skills Developed

Competitive events, such as IDPA and IPSC, are fun and challenging activities for those of us that enjoy the thrill of competition. However, even if you are not a competitive person I still recommend you try it out. You can learn and fine tune many weapon handling skills by engaging in competitive shooting.


~Shoot and Move: Unlike most ranges, here you are actually required to move. To see various targets you must change your position constantly and it is not uncommon to see a competitor running between stations. This movement not only reflects the realities of many lethal force confrontations but also helps mimic the physiological conditions (adrenaline, loss of fine motor control, etc…) inherent in those situations.

~Moving targets: I’m not sure how many of you have ever tried to hit a moving target but it is a lot harder than I expected (of course, trying to hit an eastern diamondback in tall grass at night may not have been the best introduction to moving targets). I would highly recommend first practicing with moving targets in a controlled environment, such as a competition, over waiting till you hear that “bump in the night.”

~Safety Awareness: Many shooters become much more aware of safety concerns once they begin to shoot competitively. I believe some of this is due to the constant reminders given by the range masters and fellow shooters, but it is also emphasized by point deductions for violations.

~Rapid target acquisition: The very nature of competitive shooting encourages a shooter to develop the skills necessary for quickly getting sights on target. The quicker you get on target, the quicker you can complete the course and the higher ranked you will be (assuming a constant degree of accuracy).

~Accuracy: while accuracy may also be practiced on a static range, there is a big difference between typical range practice and the stress of competition. At a competition you have the stress of the timer, other shooters, and the physical stress of movement. You will be surprised by how much one or all of those factors may affect your accuracy.

~Shooting Under Stress: By incorporating the stress of the clock, competition and the physical stress of that particular course, shooters can approximate real life encounters. We fight the way we train. It is vital to train as realistically as possible.


~Tactical Reloads: Many, if not all, of these competitions require you to reload your firearm at specific points. Again, this is to reflect the realities of lethal encounters. You do not want to be left holding an empty gun after dispatching the first threat… there may be a second or third threat.

~Malfunction Clearing: Same goes for malfunction clearing. It is better to be fumbling through clearing your first malfunction during a competition than in a real firefight.

~Holster Draw: Many ranges will not allow you to draw from a holster, for safety concerns, yet most real life encounters begin with a holster draw. The ability to quickly access and draw your firearm from a holster is a perishable skill and must be practiced continuously.

~Muzzle Control: Muzzle control is rigorously enforced at competitive events. The majority of people who come through our store on a regular basis would benefit from such continuous reinforcement.

~Recoil Control: At my first competition, I quickly realized that my biggest challenge was managing the recoil. The ability to keep sights on target (and not loose your sight picture as the gun flips up) greatly reduces your time between shots and improves your overall score.


~Weak/Strong Hand Shooting: While many of us acknowledge the importance of practicing one-handed shooting, how many of us honestly do it? I never did. I was intimidated by it. By participating in IPSC competitions I was forced to practice a skill I didn’t practice otherwise. (To offer a word of encouragement: I found shooting one-handed is nothing to be intimidated by. I actually tend to be more accurate with my weak hand than my strong hand.)

Gear Needed


A Race Gun

What you will need to bring with you depends on which competition you decide to participate in. Before rushing out to buy a whole bunch of supplies, contact the organizer of the event or one of the participants and ask them. As a general rule, you will need 2-5 extra magazines, a way to quickly access them (they should not be in pockets), and an OWB holster. IPSC competitions are focused on time and accuracy whereas IDPA was developed to facilitate the practice of realistic lethal force encounters. You will see a lot of “race guns” at IPSC but IDPA bans “competition only” equipment. Either way, you will probably need 50-100+ rounds of ammo. Again, it is a good idea to ask beforehand.

General Advice

In the long run, you really are not competing against others. You are competing against yourself. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t move up the scoreboard. The others may be improving at the same rate you are. Focus on improving one or two techniques at a time, and don’t let the others bother you. For your first event, take it slow. Don’t try to match the speed of the others around you. Focus on accuracy and forget about the clock for the first couple of times. I often am told, “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” Focus on the mechanics: draw, aim, shoot, move, aim, shoot, move/reload, aim, shoot, etc… Once you get all of these down, your speed will naturally increase.


Police-Home-InvasionLast week, we began talking about home invasions and what you can do to deter and prevent criminals from entering your home. Now that we have examined the steps you can take to harden the exterior of your home, let’s look at what you need to do inside your home.

 Have a Plan

It is imperative you talk with those with whom you live and establish a plan of action. Figure out which room in your house will make the best safe room. The safe room should have one entry door and a window that will allow escape, if need be. Establish an action word that will trigger your family to run to the safe room. (Once you have called 911, make sure you stay in the safe room. For a succinct explanation of why staying put is so important please watch this video.) In your safe room, get as far from the door as you can while staying behind cover. This will give you the advantage of time should the intruder come through that door.


Determine which family member  is responsible for:

~calling 911.

~shepherding/carrying the young children into the safe room

~arming themselves

~any other activities your particular family needs done.

Develop plans for situations where you don’t have time to get to the safe room. What will you do then? If you choose to fight back, what weapons are readily available for use in each room? As most home invaders enter the front door, it is probably a good idea to place helpful items near the door. Some people choose to have a firearm in every room. With whatever weapon you decide to use, make sure it is readily accessible. Having a baseball bat by the door does you no good if the door will block you from the bat when it is open. You also need to mentally prepare with detailed imaginings of the potential scenarios that will trigger you to reach for the weapon, what you will do with it, and the aftermath.

Practice Your Plans

Home-defense1Take the time to drill with your family. Home Invasion (HI) drilling with your family will increase the reaction speed during a crisis and may save lives. Caution: if you are drilling with firearms, be especially careful to remove ammunition from the firearms before beginning the drill! (Personally, I would put the ammunition in a separate room and on semiautomatics I would lock all the slides back. Remember, simply ejecting the magazine does not mean the firearm is unloaded. There may still be a round in the chamber so make a point of locking the slide back and physically inspecting the chamber. Many people have been shot with “unloaded” firearms.)  For the same reason schools have fire drills every month, it is important for your family to HI drill frequently. Practicing once a year will have little, if any, positive effects on your family’s reaction time. Repetition, repetition, repetition.

Maintain Your Tools

Periodically check the equipment you plan to use. Make sure the flashlight batteries are still functioning at full capacity. Rotate spare magazines through your semi-automatic firearms to reduce the possibility of malfunctions.0018132e_medium

Other Considerations


Retreating to a safe room is one of the best case scenarios for surviving a home invasion. And certainly, the most recommended by security experts and police alike. However, life is not entirely comprised of best case scenarios. There are situations that necessitate leaving the safe room and venturing out into the rest of the house.  For example, one of your family members did not make it into the safe room. Most (if not all)of us would leave the safe room in search for the missing child. In such a situation, knowing how to safely clear each room is vital knowledge. Honestly, while there are countless videos, tutorials, and articles on the subject of clearing rooms and other home tactics that I could direct you to, watching,


reading, and talking about it will only take you so far. Finding a local instructor in home tactics or traveling to a well-renowned tactical training course will be of  far more value to you than watching hours of videos. Hands-on instruction by experienced trainers and supervised implementation of tactics will serve you much better than practicing strategies learned through YouTube. If you are serious about protecting your home and your family, participating in a professionally taught tactical training course is your next step.

Such professional courses should also include instruction on interacting with Law Enforcement and the aftermath of shooting incidents. There are right and wrong ways to talk with Law Enforcement (starting with the 911 call) and this knowledge is just as vital as knowing how to shoot and clear rooms. We will delve further into that topic next week.


Final Thoughts

Each home must be evaluated individually to determine the best defense plan for your family. This post is designed to be more of a summary than a definitive article. Many others, far more knowledgeable than I, have devoted extensive articles, videos, posts and books about this topic. A few of them are listed below. If you feel I neglected an important component of home defense, please comment and let me know. If you have any advice or tips to add please do the same. I find I often learn more from conversations and comments than I do from articles.



For Further Research:

Two well known and highly respected training centers are:


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