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Baselines #3

Once we have our first baselines as laid out (see parts one and two) there are a ton of other skills that need to be trained, practiced and tested. Having the ability to group, zero and fire at a stationary target from a few positions does not a gunslinger make. One needs to be able to move, reload and range estimate. For pistols, the draw is one of things that separates the Rockstar’s and groupies. (Authors Note: I am focusing these on non-threat related situations. There are other aspects for a later time for lethal force encounters)

Reloads.

Let me start by saying I have a primary magazine location and storage. If I use the primary magazine, I will feed a fresh one into that location at the soonest opportunity.

There are two types of reloads. I understand that many will disagree with that statement but, there are two. The first is when you still have rounds in the gun. This means you have depleted some of the rounds in the magazine but are still in the fight. Most call this a tactical reload but that means you are doing tactics of some sort and those tactics will dictate some of your reload times. Many will demand that you retain the magazine during this type of reload which again is tactics based. Bottom line is you do not have a full magazine and you want one.

The first rule of a reload is GET IT DONE. During the reload you have max one round in the firearm. That’s it. When you decide its time, its time. My reloads flow like this, bring the weapon into the workspace, drop magazine while retrieving a fresh magazine from storage with the other hand letting the old magazine fall. Insert fresh magazine and ensure that it locks. This is the same for both types of reloads. The only difference is if I retrieve the magazine following the load. This is what people do not understand. MSG Howe showed a technique in some of his videos many years ago that had him drop mag, reload, check battlespace, retrieve and stow magazine, then continue doing what he was doing.

By doing this, the reload techniques are the same. The only difference is that AFTER the reload, you retrieve the magazine. If the fight is back on, the magazine is unimportant. If there is still a lull, you have time to collect and stow your magazine.

There are certain shooting sports that penalize you for dropping a magazine with rounds left in it. If It is going to cost you more than 3 seconds to store the magazine, its worth the penalty. HINT: be able to store the mag quickly. Real world fact is that if you win the fight, you can retrieve your magazine. If you lose, someone else will be along to collect it.

The next reload is an emergency. Regardless of real world or competition, your firearm is EMPTY.

For these I go to the primary location. real-world is the spot I practice all the reloads from. If you run the gun empty, time is your biggest enemy. Now, I don’t care if you do the flippy thing, weight your magazines, or just simply let it drop free but get the old one out of the gun. While that is happening, your other hand should be going to the primary mag and getting it into the gun. I don’t care where the old mag goes. It is junk. Drop the bolt or slide and get back to work. You ran empty for a reason. Get back to it.

Now, if you are a military Combat Arms type, DO NOT toss away all your mags but don’t make the government pay out 400,000 dollars to save a magazine either. Your resupply will probably only include boxes of ammo but in recent years the Speedball has included filled magazines so you can replace what was lost. In some circles, an emergency reload is a huge foul and if you are doing them either you are really screwed, or you really screwed up.

For competition purposes, time is everything. Every second you waste on the reload is time you can’t get back and could be the difference between a first place or 10th place finish.  Practice reloads and make them fast and reliable. My reloads brought me to a fifth-place finish at my last match which put me into 5th for the season. You read that right, my season ended in a top 5 because of reloads on a few stages in a single match.

Regardless of the situation for the reload or the type, it needs to be done efficiently. Speed matters but it must work. Make reload practice worth it.

The next article will be some drills and ways to practice reloads as well as when to go to your secondary vs a reload.

Ash Hess
A competitive shooter and Gov Sales Specialist at Knight's Armament Company.

Co-Founder of Quantified Performance, LLC.

I am also a Retired US Army Senior NCO. My last assignments included serving as the Senior Writer for Small Arms in the Weapons and Gunnery Branch and the US Army Infantry School Marksmanship Program developer at the Maneuver Center of Excellence Fort Benning, Georgia.

Army Schools include US Army Master Marksmanship Trainer Course, Rifle Marksmanship Instructor Course, Urban Combat Leaders Course, Air Assault, Rappelmaster, Senior Leaders Course, Army Basic Instructor course, High Angle Marksmanship Course, and Unit Armorer course.

I also attended the TigerSwan Basic Carbine course, Defoor Proformance One day Carbine Refresher, Advanced Carbine and Scoped Rifle courses, Sionics Weapon Systems M4 Armorer course, Modern Samurai Red Dot Pistol, and the MDTS Practical Small Knife 1course.

Four combat tours totaling fifty-two months overseas.
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