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Preview – The Twilight Zone

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Photos by Corey Lack

Practicing These Skills Might Get You Kicked Off a Square Range, But They’ll Take Your Training to the Next Level

Safety Disclaimer: The techniques shown are for illustrative purposes only. When handling firearms and training tools, always observe all firearm safety rules. Seek professional instruction before attempting any techniques discussed or shown in this story.

What we’re calling “The Twilight Zone” is a group of non-standard skills that every concealed-carry holder needs to consider, learn, and practice. These depart from your average draw, present, and shoot sequence, including shooting positions where the gun is not fully extended and aimed with traditional sighting methods.

If you think that standing in a shooting lane and plinking at a paper target 15 yards away makes you prepared for a violent encounter, then consider this article a wake-up call. Hopefully, you’ll begin to consider some of the different situations where you might have to defend yourself, and how you would go about it. The key to being prepared is to consider what exactly you’re preparing for, how a scenario might develop, and then intelligently break it down into small pieces.

Close-Range Techniques
Consider that when you extend your handgun as part of the normal draw sequence, you end up placing it in a position to be grabbed by an attacker. If you have it extended during a search of your house and movement to a child’s room, then likewise, it’s vulnerable. Or perhaps your gun started out extended and aimed, but the threat closed the distance to you so quickly that to leave it there would sabotage your ability to retain possession of the gun.

Therefore, you need to master a close-quarters shooting position, which I refer to as the “high ready.” This means holding the gun so it’s in a shooting position, a searching position, and generally a good place to have the weapon when it’s not fully extended.


Key points

  • The gun should be positioned as close to the body as possible, but not so close that the slide on a semi-automatic handgun will contact your torso when discharged.
  • The gun should be about a full hand’s width from the chin — slightly below it — to keep it in your peripheral vision and make it easier to know where it is pointed.
  • The muzzle should be horizontal to the ground at all times. Canting the gun up or down will change your bullets’ impact points and compromise the position.
  • Maintain strong grip pressure and keep the wrist tendons locked while shooting.

To practice this position and build it properly, get into position directly in front of a target placed 2 yards away, or far enough that the muzzle would not touch the target if you extended your arm. Extend the gun in to a full shooting position, and then pull the gun back to the high ready. Look down for the first repetition and ensure the gun is aligned correctly and not too close to your body. Fire a shot. Assess the hit — it should be centerline of the target and, depending on how high the target was mounted, will hit the target slightly low. Repeat this drill by extending the gun, building the high ready position, and firing the shot. Assess and adjust your position as necessary. Learn what it feels like when the position is right. Eventually you’ll be able to easily and quickly bring the gun back to that position.

The next progression is to learn to shoot while retracting the gun. The reason for this is that the situation might change very quickly. At one moment a fully extended shooting position might be fine to use, then in an instant the distance closes and that position becomes one where the bad guy can grab your gun. In this case, you may need to retract the gun and — if possible and warranted — to continue to shoot while doing so. I call this technique shooting to retraction. Practice it by starting at the fully extended two-handed shooting position, and then slowly retracting the gun while pulling the trigger. Make sure to keep the tendons of the wrist locked up and grip the gun hard while doing so. After you master this, practice the technique while retracting the gun faster.

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