David's Performance and Training Corner
With David Salthouse from APC, Inc.
Associate Director of Training & Program Development
The Art of Keeping Your Gun in the Fight!

You will never hear me discount the importance of accuracy in defensive shooting. After all, the first accurate shot fired will win any gun fight. That said, you can’t fire that all important accurate shot if your firearm isn’t in a “working condition”. What I mean by “working condition”, is keeping your firearm loaded, free of malfunctions and ready to fire.  This skill is called weapons management and is the focus of this month’s article.

If you ask any gun fighter what the scariest sound in a gunfight is, they will all, without a doubt, say “CLICK!”. If you ask them what the scariest sight is, their response will be the sight of their slide locked to the rear.  It is scary because you have lost control of the situation and the situation is now telling you what to do. If you don’t have a plan of action, and have not trained in that plan so it is reflexive, you will do nothing and under these circumstances, nothing will get you killed. This article is not so much about the technique as the mind set behind it, as techniques need to be taught in person.  Below are key elements (in no particular order) that need to be re-enforced during training.

  1. Understand that the more ammo your gun has, the better prepared you are to engage a threat. That means after rounds are fired, you should focus on replacing your magazine with a full one, otherwise known as a tactical magazine exchange, as soon as it is tactically sound to do so.

  2. As we train, slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Once we are able to execute reloads and malfunction drills perfectly, we will develop speed automatically. If you rush this process, you will get sloppy and may make a mistake.  The mistake can cost you your life.

  3. Many shooters focus more on firing lead down range then on weapons handling. Don’t neglect training and practicing your reloads and malfunction drills. These
    techniques should be reflexive or automatic responses to a “click”, slide lock,
    lull in the fight or dead trigger.

  4. If you shoot competively, remember you are participating in a game. After a round, you empty your firearm, show a clear and safe weapon to the range officer and holster an empty weapon. That is solely for safety. You select shooters need to train twice as hard not to develop that “end of round” routine as a reflexive response. Police officers in the past have made that mistake and they did not go home as a result.

  5. A large part of weapons management occurs prior to carrying your pistol. Keep your gun clean and inspect it often for broken or cracked parts or worn springs. Shoot your selected defensive ammo through your gun prior to deploying it. Some ammo isn’t
    reliable in specific guns. Better to find that out in the range then
    at the moment of truth.

  6. The magazine is the weakest and most unreliable part in any gun. Carry a second magazine always. Not only for additional ammo,
    but as a backup should you experience a malfunction with your
    primary magazine.

  7. As you manage your weapon, do it up along your vision line. This allows you to monitor for threats as you keep your gun the fight.

  8. Murphy will allow show up. That said, practice weapon management drills with one hand, and support hand only as well as with low light
    tactics, i.e. flashlight in hand.

  9. No matter what, MAKE THE GUN WORK! If all else fails, you have a
    very expensive impact weapon in your hand, use it.

Learning and training in weapons management is a martial art. At APC/BSR we treat it as such. We show you the techniques and ways to practice them as if it were a Kata (martial arts form). Please check our schedule for upcoming classes and allow our experienced cadre of instructors to help you reach your defensive readiness goals. Thanks and as always be safe!

Be safe and remember, Failing to Train is Training to Fail!
Email David at with comments, questions, or topics you would like him to cover in a future article.