Your toolbox is full of junk

From Pistol-Training.Com are thoughts on learning new techniques that may or may not actually have value.  The guiding star of any new technique or skill:

  • Does it work?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Can I do it under stress?

Three simple questions that you can apply with a critical eye for all the things that you may or may not be practicing.  For example, if you’re a private citizen and you spend a significant portion of your practice time on skills that you’ll likely never have to use in a gunfight (like Todd’s example of shooting over your shoulder in a car) then you’re probably just putting junk in your toolbox.  My favorite example of “junk in the toolbox” would be shooting your defensive DA revolver in single action mode.  It creates another step that your mind must cycle through in stress instead of it going straight to “smooth DA press”.


  1. “Your brain is going to need to cycle through all the different things you’ve learned and practiced. So each and every New Tool is just adding more chaos to your reaction.”

    That to me is the best reasoning ever.
    Under extreme stress the brain tends to be largely Non-Functional! You are not gonna be able to think or reason clearly, and sorting thru anything more than Draw Gun, Aim, Squeeze Trigger and repeat Aim and Squeeze if necessary is going to overload the average person when faced with a life or death situation.

    I am a firm believer in K.I.S.S., and if you don’t know what it means it’s Keep It Simple, Stupid!
    Learn how your gun works, every nuance of it’s weird quirks, in essence become one with the gun, I know it’s an old catch phrase but it is to the point.
    Practice as often as is possible depending on your situation and at varied ranges, especially those (like me) who shoot a 45 ACP, learn how your gun shoots out to 100 yards, you can hit a man size target at 100yds if you know how much to holdover and your gun is reasonably accurate. I shoot the 100 yd gong at the local range, it’s about a foot, mabey foot and a half, across and I hit about 75% of the time. With a Springfield Armory 1911A1. Only mod it has is a beavertail grip safety, 3 dot sights (made by yours truly), a lightly flared mag well, and a polished feed ramp. Otherwise factory original parts. No “accurizing” work done yet, it shots a pretty good group now, so what if it’s 2″ instead of 1.5? It’s a defensive gun not a target pistol!

    I figure if you practice the basics the rest will come naturally in a fight, sure, practice shooting prone, around obstacles, over obstacles, sitting, kneeling, reloading, whatever, but there is such a thing as over-thinking the problem. designing solutions to problems you are probably never going to encounter just taking time away from more useful practices in my opinion.

  2. And if you ever need to do that one day… will be glad you have that particular ‘junk in the trunk’. Now when that adrenaline hits you at light speed when the moment comes,all your training could just go out the window and your body could become a quivering mass of muscle.It has happened to many a soldier and many policemen and it is why many a police man has shot everything in sight except the bad guy shooting at him.
    So many Rambo’s , so few bad guys.

  3. Very good criteria. I wonder how many skills there are that would pass for the ordinary citizen?
    In other words, what are the skills the non-military/leo shooter really needs to train for?

  4. From what I’ve seen at a public range , “finger off the trigger until sights are on the target ” would be a good one to start with…

  5. I’d say accuracy under stress would be one. Anything you can do –safely — to simulate that huge adrenaline dump would be a good test.

    Another would be more realistic draws. Wear real clothes, not your shooting vest. Using a redgun/bluegun, try drawing with someone right in your face, maybe pushing/grabbing you.

    Doing the basics in low light.

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