Sunday, November 3, 2013

First Shots Cold... Preparing for cold weather.

First Shots Cold... I think this may be an occasional, re-occurring theme.  As an instructor, I think one of my greatest assets is that I'm a life-long learner, an eternal student. As a shooter, I'm just an every-day, middle-aged, sub-height-for-weight-specs, guy... who is practical, realistic... a husband, a father, a friend, a neighbor. I'm not an operator, a tactical ninja, an urban warrior.

That doesn't mean that I'm not a proficient shooter. As an every day guy who carries a firearm for self-defense, I want to be sure that I can defend myself when the time comes. I am actively losing weight, exercising, weight-lifting, and watching my diet... but ultimately, the firearm gives proficient shooters a defensive advantage to a threat of death or serious bodily harm regardless of your physical condition when compared with going unarmed.

With that in mind, and with winter approaching... I have been practicing with layered clothing and heavy outerwear to get ready for the season of cold that is quickly approaching.  In the photo above, I'm wearing multiple layers including thermal underwear - top and bottom, for a total of four layers of upper body clothing and two layers of lower body clothing, hence the over-sized pants to tuck in some of the upper layers.

I prefer layered clothing in the winter so I can adjust my insulation level as I heat up or cool down with my activities. The layers create several concealed carry considerations. I can consistently draw from concealment and place a shot on target in under two-seconds at twenty-five feet in regular clothing for summer wear, but I'm slower in the winter with either my layered clothing or just a heavier coat or jacket like my parka. First, the belt is not as secure in it's position around my waist when on top of three, four, or six or more layers... and second, the layers mean I have more to deal with when accessing and drawing my firearm.  This makes a good, stiff carry-belt even more important.  

So how does this all relate to first shots fired? I practice often, usually using a timer for various drills, but the drill and time I'm most interested in are my first shots fired. Each time I go out back to the range and set up to practice... I get my timer out, I set it for a random start delay, and at twenty-five feet I draw from concealment and fire. THAT is the time and accuracy measure that I ultimately use to assess myself. 

Sure, I can drill and practice and drill and practice and see what my best time is... I often do that. I can game the scenario with a shoot-me-first vest and an OWB holster practicing for IDPA, but ultimately... I want to be able to draw from my concealed Comp-Tac MTAC holster with my every-day-carry Ruger SR9 or SR9c and put a center-of-mass hit on target at twenty-five feet, in my every-day clothing in under two-seconds.  Hence, I test myself when I take my first shots on the range by timing my first shots fired from concealment.

Winter clothing choices can really hinder your access to your firearm. While I usually carry on my strong-side hip, I will often switch to strong-side appendix carry with heavy winter coats and jackets. I like a winter jacket that has Velcro closures in addition to a zipper, because I can leave it un-zipped and just Velcro-ed closed for a quick, rip-n-access draw.

So... as the seasons change and your clothing choices grow heavier and more layered... make sure you're practicing... and ready for those First Shots Cold... Preparing for cold weather.

1 comment:

  1. One point I learned long ago with a pistol, when it is below 0 F and getting colder remove the oil from your firearm. it works better at real cold temps bare, I have seen a number of expensive pistols reduced to bricks in the severe cold at an outdoor IPSC match.