Adam Ticknor’s home defense and arms use skills are taken from the full course, Armed Defender, available on the Science of Skill Store. Below is a detailed breakdown of how to best develop your firearm handling and marksmanship skills in a home environment; tips on training; and how to find the best instructor to fit your skill set and needs.
Marksmanship fundamentals. Adam’s philosophy on home defense is that it’s much more
beneficial to first find a long-range shooting coach and develop marksmanship fundamentals, and then move to applying those skills to close quarters battle.When you learn how to shoot at close distance, less than 150 meters, a lot of basic marksmanship fundamentals are skipped or underdeveloped, says Adam.
Beginners are advised to find a long-range shooting coach, take a day class with them, and then buy a pellet rifle, a cheap and safe option for practicing and getting down the fundamentals. Practice with a pellet rifle until you can put five pellets in a target the size of an aspirin at 20 yards. Once your fundamentals – grip, breath control, etc. – are on point, then learn how to use a firearm in real-time without being a danger to yourself or those around you. Having a solid set of fundamentals transfers across firearms, from pistols to long guns, and increases your ability to engage targets.
Practice. Do at least five minutes a day of drawing a pistol or practicing other fundamentals.
Learn how to breathe. Most people breathe with their upper chest, which can affect vision and auditory acuity when shooting. Best practice is to take full diaphragmatic breaths, which helps control stress levels and allows better control of your weapon.
Understand when to use the skill. When you’ve practiced enough to become proficient and are confident in both how and when to use a weapon, chances are you’ll rarely – if ever – find yourself in a situation when it’s necessary to pull the trigger. Practicing when to use a firearm is just as important as knowing how to use these skills.
How to Train Your Home Defense Skills
At home. Adam suggests starting out by shooting 20 rounds of a pellet rifle each day to help build fundamentals; some people might pick one day and shoot 50 rounds. Either way, Adam emphasizes shooting rounds from both your comfortable and your off-side. Make sure you’re fresh and well-rested or you won’t effectively learn the skill.
When practicing, you need to ensure that you’re dry-firing with a clear weapon. Speed is not important when you’re practicing. As Adam says, “smooth is fast and fast is slow”; if you’re moving so fast that you have to correct yourself over and over, then your performance suffers. If you do it right the first time – in practice – then you learn how to fire accurately in less time. The rush happens later.
Beginners should also frequently practice reloading magazines; Adam suggests sitting and dropping a magazine and inserting it back into the firearm and doing so over and over until the movement becomes muscle memory. Finally, practice moving through your house and drawing your weapon, figuring out the most efficient way to move and keep the best view of a potential intruder, while concealing yourself as much as possible.
At the range. Once you find a coach, make sure you have a place to shoot for two to three days straight, at least once a month. Adam encourages beginners to take the same course once or twice, and to not move too quickly to a more advanced course. Go over the fundamentals and practice them at home, then move up by applying basic skills across various firearms. Once your basics are down and you know how to handle a pistol, a rifle, a shotgun, etc., then move on to advanced courses. Speed is the last skill that you need to improve, and this is best done by finding a reputable marksman (Adam names Bill Rogers as an example).
How to Find the Best Instructor
Priority given to military background. If you have a friend who was in combat arms in the military, Adam advises asking them who they would go to in the local area. A second option is to find an instructor online. Email potential instructors and ask about their background; you can (and should) ask to see a copy of their DD214 (military resume) or Curricula Vitae (CV).
An instructor’s experience makes a huge difference in what they can teach you, and beginners should look for a coach who used guns daily in real-life situations (a preference on military experience), not just someone who is into firearms for sport or as a hobby.
About Adam Ticknor: Adam Ticknor is a former Recon Marine and a Scout Sniper. He currently works as a fitness instructor, rehab specialist, and a body language instructor. You can see him as a member of Discovery Channel’s Season Two of The Colony. Adam maintains a blog at whynotadam.blogspot.com. He is located the Austin, Texas area and may be contacted for additional information or training (shooting, fighting, surviving, fitness or body language) at [email protected]