Gunfighter Habits

Gunfighter Habits

BLUF:  People are creatures of habit and routine. 

Most of us have well formed, positive habits that make our lives easier, efficient and effective in certain aspects. Whether it is a routine commonly followed in the morning, or the procedure you have for starting your vehicle. Habits help us navigate the course of our days and life without much thought. Many of us also have less desirable habits, such as using excuses or procrastination that can and will lead to negative outcomes.  Simply put, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.  

A habit is defined as: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.  It is simply a manner of behavior; an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary. Now here it is, for those that have made the decision to own a firearm, carry one for self-defense, or first responders that have chosen a profession that requires being armed, instilling the proper habits is vital for safety and success. Let’s touch on one habit that can be the corner stone for the development of many other proper weapons handling and shooting habits: Load, Unload, & Clear.  To piggyback on this here are the four range safety rules drilled into every Marine. 

  1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.    
  2. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire.
  3. Never point your weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
  4. Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire. 

If you are following the first fundamental of firearm safety; treat every weapon as if it is loaded, then the first thing you should do when you touch a firearm is ensure it’s clear. There is a specific procedure for clearing a firearm, it is a habit that should be instilled in every gun owner. There should also be a sequential number of steps that you take when you load. The most important round in the weapon is the first. It is vital that you load your weapon properly to ensure that when you need it, the gun will serve its purpose. These procedures should be done the exact same way every time, no matter what the situation or environment is.  It’s about mastering the fundamentals and being consistent. These are the most basic firearm habits that are so easy to do correctly, further leading to the development of many other desired habits in regards to handling firearms. Unfortunately, many fail to make these simple procedures habits and the results can be catastrophic.

We’ve all seen someone step up to the firing line to run a drill with a dead man’s gun. They failed to properly load their gun, or forgot to conduct a press check to ensure that a round is chambered. This can be comical, and even embarrassing on the range when you’re shooting in front of your teammates and the target is a piece of paper or cardboard. However, this mistake can be deadly when the target is a human/HVT with a weapon that’s dead set on taking your life. All too often people are loading their guns bent over looking down, or conducting admin reloads in their holsters. This is detrimental to the development of good habits, leads to overall poor weapon handling habits and can ultimately cost you your life when all the chips are on the table. Remember you will fight like you train. 

Keep in mind that every time you manipulate the gun, it should be in your work space. Every time you load up, it should be done in the same sequence. Every time you clear, never deviate from the proper sequence. If you are carrying a gun, you need to be a professional.  Be deliberate and surgical.  Professionals are consistent and prepared. They have the proper habits formed, and never change what they do based on external circumstances. Really good habits also prohibit internal circumstances, such as stress, from interfering as well. Establish the proper habits and muscle memory. Continue to execute the same action over and over again the right way until it becomes a habit.  Drill those fine and gross motor skills.  It is exponentially easier to establish good habits, then it is to get rid of bad ones. Remember the saying, perfect practice makes perfect.  Master the fundamentals and be consistent.  ADM McRaven said it well, if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. It doesn’t always require a lot of effort, but it does take self-discipline.    

Every time you train, train with the motivation and purpose that you will be the hardest person someone ever tries to kill.

Train with a definitive mindset, a brand of defiance.  Go into the dark places of the mind and come out stronger, ready to do battle.


By:  Travis N. – Director of Operations at Bellevue Gun Club

Travis N. – LinkedIn

If you, your family or organization is interested in private or group training please contact us.

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