Any shooter who uses a firearm for serious purpose, either hunting or self-defense, needs to become intimately familiar with the operation of the weapon. The stress of a gunfight could hamper your effectiveness unless you train yourself to fire quick follow-up shots and clear any malfunctions you encounter.
Fortunately, any physical skill can be pre-programmed onto your “hard drive” with enough proper practice.
Learning to load, function and fire any firearm can be done in a safe spot at home before you ever go to the range for live fire. The “safe spot” you choose for dummy ammunition training should never be in proximity to live ammunition. Sudden loud noises from a negligent discharge are at least embarrassing and potentially deadly.
If police shooting statistics are any indication, the 100 percent reliable pistol you pack for self defense has about a 20 percent likelihood of suffering a malfunction in a gunfight. The very nature of a gunfight is pretty rough and tumble, meaning your grip may be less than perfect or an obstacle may interfere with proper weapon function.
Police trainers who frequently serve as role players in reality-based training scenarios will tell you another little secret … under stress your adversary is likely to develop tunnel vision and focus in on the threat … your weapon. For that reason, you may end up with a disabled hand when your attacker’s rounds impact near your pistol. So, you should practice one-hand loading, reloading and malfunction clearing techniques with your concealed carry pistol.
Some mechanical gunfighting skills are simply not safe to practice with live ammunition. If you’re down to only one good hand, you can cycle the slide of a semi-auto pistol by hooking the rear sight on your belt, boot heel or a table edge.
Lacking a hard edge, or with a streamlined sight/slide sans hookable spots, you can press the top of the slide hard into your thigh and develop enough friction to cycle the slide. Obviously, learning and practicing any of these techniques with live ammunition is an invitation to disaster.
Dummy rounds allow you to develop the necessary skills with no chance for a loud, unexpected Bang, or the even worse pain and bleeding associated with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Dummy ammunition comes in several forms, using both metallic and plastic components. Plastic “snap cap” dummies are available for almost every common caliber and shotgun gauge at your local gun shop or through on-line vendors. Some dummy rounds are made entirely from molded plastic. These are generally the least expensive, but also the most short-lived training rounds.
Pistol loaded with dummy rounds
My favorite handgun training rounds combine a plastic bullet insert with a standard brass casing and those rounds will last for years of cycling through semi-auto pistols. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $1 to $5 per dummy round. At most, you will need to buy half a dozen rounds to fill a revolver cylinder or a similar number for the magazine of a pistol, rifle or shotgun.
Whatever source you choose, get yourself some dummy ammunition for your guns and practice gun handling skills safely at home. Program your hard drive with the proper techniques for loading, reloading and clearing malfunctions with just one hand. If you end up in a fight, you’ll be prepared to carry it through to success!