Justified Defensive Concepts: Red Dot Pistol for Concealed Carry and Duty Use 23 April 2022


Despite the course description of "This class will cover safety, manipulations, and shooting fundamentals. In addition it will cover best practices for equipment selection and setup of a red dot equipped pistol. Special emphasis is placed on helping you learn how to reliably find the dot on every draw. You will come out of this class with the understanding of the skills required to shoot a red dot equipped pistol, as well as the knowledge of how best to set up and run a red dot pistol in the future.", I was basically unsure of what to expect. I'd recently installed a Holosun 407K X2 RDS on my Sig P365 in the vain hope that it would help my accuracy although I already knew that my grip was bad and that I was mashing the trigger despite swapping out the original grip for the XL grip just so I'd have enough room for my hands. So the mention of working on the fundamentals greatly appealed to me.

The class was much smaller than I'd expected with five instructors for only eight students, half of the hoped for attendance, but it was great for us as we got a lot of individual attention, far more than in any of the other pistol classes that I've taken since I started shooting pistol more seriously a year ago. We started out with dry firing with an emphasis on consistently putting the gun where the dot is visible. Zeroing the dot was next and I was chagrined to find out that mine was way off base despite zeroing off a sandbag late last year. We then fired at 3 yards to evaluate how much height over bore matters at such a close distance for each of our setups. You can be reasonably effective without compensating for that, but you can't be precise without doing that.

We tested the biggest selling point of the RDS, the ability to hit your target when the dot isn't centered, at 7 yards and learned how far off center our sights could be and still be effective. I was still struggling with the fundamentals and getting kinda discouraged with my lack of progress at this stage. The next drill was to see how the dot moved while shooting. Mine wasn't moving straight up and down like it should have if I had a good grip and I got a lot of attention from the instructors during this drill focusing on the precise placement of my thumbs and turning my left wrist inwards to maximize the area of my grip. And just squeezing the trigger because I didn't have to worry about the dot moving around so much. Me being me, most of that went to shit when we added a reload during the next drill and I was pretty irritated with myself by this time with being unable to integrate everything that had been covered.

During lunch we covered some aspects of the use of deadly force; there was some discussion on red dots, but the instructors were pretty careful not criticize specific reticles or models, limiting themselves to stories of watching various red dots spontaneously separate themselves from their pistols or just simply breaking. That led to a discussion on how to properly mount a RDS and what types of threadlockers to use and how much cleaning of the mounts and screws is necessary.

We then shot a series of 5 round drills at 7 yards with decreasing par times from the low ready. I was doing a bit better, but I was too focused on the time pressure and was sloppy. We added a draw stroke and I was still sloppy, even with my draw. I did a little bit better when we worked transitioning between the torso, head and a 2" circle as I was finally starting to ignore the par time.

We then shot strong and weak hand only for five 3-round reps each at 7 yards. I think that this is where I got some attention on my trigger squeeze during these drills as was finally starting to get a good strong grip and the trigger was all that was left to focus on. I'd laughed earlier when one of the instructors had said that some people only really put the fundamentals together when they shoot the unsupported weak hand drill, but the laugh turned out to be on me as it was true! I was consistently shooting bullseyes with my left hand, and outshooting my strong hand. The next drill was five rounds starting at 10 yards and walking back to 25 and everything finally clicked for me. Even at 25 yards I was getting most of my rounds in the middle of the B8 and I felt much more comfortable in my ability to make the shots.

A series of drills with occluded sights was next at various distances, starting with both eyes open and then covering both the optic and objective lenses and letting us figure out when technique (guillotine, shoulders or waist) worked best when using the top of the RDS or the backplate of the slide. That was a lot of fun and worked surprisingly well for me now that I was doing OK with the fundamentals although we were told that they were less effective past 10 yards or so. We then had the option of participating in a drill if we were shooting in the rain. I opted in as I wanted to find out how bad would be. The spray on the optic lens caused a lot of blooming, but it was still sort of usable if I could see my sights, which I couldn't because they were so low. Spraying the emitter totally rendered the optic unusable. We then took a shot "to clear the RDS" and it worked surprisingly well, although a lot of the water ended up on my glasses. Of course that's a really bad idea since a shooter is legally responsible for every shot he fires, but it was an interesting proof of concept. Last was the JDC qual course and I reverted to my competitive nature and shot miserably. I should have taken my time and ignored the qual times, but...

As a novice shooter I benefited hugely from all the attention that the JDC instructors were able to give me. My earlier instructors were unable to devote as much time and never taught me about some of the problems that I was inflicting on myself. If there had been more students, they would have broken us into two relays so everyone could have had an equal amount of attention at the cost of more downtime. As is we broke a little early because we'd finished all the planned drills. I also appreciated the chance to evaluate my gear under adverse conditions, especially since I'd pooh-poohed the utility of co-witnessing iron sights. Not no more! I think that even experienced shooters could have gotten some good training with the occluded sight drills, so I'd recommend this class for people of all skill levels past basic gun handling.

A huge shout out to Tim, Ty and Nick who gave me a lot of their time that day. And were careful to rotation their attentions so that I wouldn't start tuning them out!