Receiving quality training at any time of the year is a good idea.
A friend told me his son saw a person outside the house looking in the window last night. After grabbing his shotgun and a handheld light my friend discovered he had no idea how to use the two of them together. How do you operate a shotgun and search with a light, he wondered? Stymied, he sought out his home defense AR, only to discover the batteries on his red dot sight had died. Next, he turned on the outside floodlights and found the bulbs were all burned out. Finally, turning on inside lights scared the intruder away.
My friend is a shooter, hunter and rancher who has had a good amount of training. I can attest he shoots very well. But what we have here is a series of failures related to not taking the time to check his gear on a regular basis or anticipate things like using the shotgun and flashlight together. It’s a mindset issue.
As I write we are in the midst of winter. By the time you read this spring will have sprung with all its promises and possibilities, including perhaps, the need to defend yourself. Now is a good time to go through a checklist and consider a few things you might do to better prepare.
When was the last time you took a defensive firearms training class? If you’ve taken a pistol course have you considered the need for a shotgun or rifle class? Maybe your spring cleaning checklist should include a commitment to seek out at least one class every year. If you’ve never availed yourself of high quality training now is the time to start. One of the problems we have in the training business is getting people to understand they don’t know what they don’t know. What I mean by this is, while you may shoot a lot, even compete, or have served in the military, you might find there’s more to learn. A quick example: Two folks who attended a week-long training class I taught last year were 30 year veteran law enforcement officers, now retired, heading up their church security teams. At the end of the week they were amazed at what they learned, one remarking, “I wish someone had taught me this 30 years ago.”
Hard to believe, but I once saw a Glock 19 pistol that was rusted solid and inoperable. The detective who owned it worked for a police department in suburban Atlanta and had carried it for a year stuffed into his waistband. A year in that hot, humid, sweaty environment ruined the pistol, as he discovered when finally forced to go to the range for qualification.
That’s an extreme example but I know we all tend to neglect our guns and gear as other matters intrude on our time. First up, go to the range with your carry pistol(s) and shoot up all your carry ammunition by running some defensive drills. Experience any problems? Was the gun gunked up? Did the ammunition all fire? Assuming all is well, now carefully clean and lubricate the guns and replace the ammunition with fresh defensive ammo.
Do you keep a defensive shotgun or carbine at home? Same drill; take them to the range, do some practice then clean them and replace the ammunition. While you’re at it, whether they worked fine or not, replace the batteries on any weapon light, red dot or laser that takes batteries. I know, the batteries are supposed to last years but why not spend less than the cost of a box of ammunition and replace the batteries?
What else do you keep handy that uses batteries? If you’re like me you keep flashlights on your person, scattered about the home, in the garage and in your vehicles. Now is the time to check them as well and, again, I would advise changing the batteries or making sure they are charged up.
Do you have outside security lights on your home? When was the last time you checked them? While you’re at it, turn them on at night and walk around the house to see if you have blind spots or whether the lights need to be adjusted. When was the last time you checked your door locks? Are the screws tightened? Do the locks operate smoothly, or do they need to be lubricated? If you haven’t secured the entry doors with heavy duty screws and lock plates now might be a good time to look into it.
Most of us think of the master bedroom as our “safe room”, the place we’re going to go and fort up should intruders force an entry. It goes without saying you should have a charged cell phone with you at all times, but especially in the bedroom at night. Is the bedroom door reinforced with a decent lock? Do you keep weapons in the bedroom? Are they secured, safe from getting into the hands of the wrong people? If you have a safe, can you quickly access it? And here’s another tip: You have your flashlights, phone, and a weapon in the bedroom, but do you have a set of electronic hearing protection at hand? The amplified ears will help you hear people scurrying about and will protect your hearing if you are forced to shoot. You haven’t lived until you’ve torched off a rifle or shotgun round in an enclosed environment… don’t ask me how I know. Oh, and change those batteries too.
So, shake off the winter blahs, get out in the sun, check your gear and practice using it. You’ll be glad you did.