If you’re anything like me, and may the Good Lord help you if you are, you may not have one particular favorite flavor of firearm. With the selection of quality guns available on the market today it would sure be easy to walk up to the counter and say, “Um, yes sir, I’d like one of each.” Collecting firearms has proven to be a great way to invest your hard earned cash, allowing a selective individual with a good maintenance program the ability to enjoy a variety of pistols and long guns and still have quite a bit to show for it. Owning more than a few firearms allows you to safely educate others when you come across shooters unfamiliar with the firearms you own, and having handled a larger assortment of firearms heightens your understanding of the tools.
A problem facing the pro-gun culture in America today is how quickly we divide amongst our own ranks. Skeet shooters enjoy the challenge their sport presents, but don’t agree with using those same skills to feed their families by dropping fowl. Match shooters can go nuts improving the accuracy of their firearms, but many don’t use those same skills to drop that deer at 800 yards. In what is most likely the largest self-imposed segregation of firearms aficionados, many shooting enthusiasts do not agree with the daily carry of firearms by civilians for self-defense. Personally, there are some types of shooting I don’t really get in to, but as long as it’s safe and responsible I’ll be danged if I’ll help stoke the opposition’s fire by pointing out things I don’t like about Shooting Event X. There are, however, a couple of downsides created by not necessarily shooting multiple disciplines, but by multiple firearm types.
To make sure I’m clear here, I believe that every serious firearm out there has something it can do the best, so when I’m talking downsides they’re really shooter induced. A .30-06 will ethically kill any game indigenous to North America, but if you can match a specific caliber and its terminal effects to the specific type of game you’re after you’ll be better off. Likewise, a .44 Mag will defend you against most two-legged threats out there, but if you can find something that will allow a more consistent carry and multiple threat engagements you’ll also be better off.
Enter those pesky shooter-induced issues I mentioned. I had gotten frustrated with my personal training regimen and sat down to figure out my shortfalls. I have implemented many of the drills we’ve discussed before, but something was still off. Then it hit me- I’d been taking too large a selection of firearms to the range for the drills to do their job. And by too many, I mean more than one combat load out (primary/secondary combo). While the fundamentals of marksmanship are constant, my ability to rapidly adjust their employment per weapon system is not. I’d shift from my 1911 to my Glock and see vast differences in my performance, then as I’d struggle to adjust I’d see my groups loosen up with both guns. I know there are phenomenal shooters out there that would transition without a hitch, but, as they say, that ain’t me.
You’ve always got to ensure you’re training for both the unexpected and your current theater of operations. One of my largest personal successes in that department is having been able to stick to concealed carry presentation work at the range, even when running a primary and/or shotgun as well. I had a bad habit of getting to the range, taking off my appendix holster, putting an OWB on my hip, tucking in my shirt and going at it. While that will work well for pre-deployment training, it is not how I daily carry and therefore isn’t preparing me as much as possible for what I’ll truly be faced with.
Conversely, sticking to one firearm for a few consecutive trips to the range has produced favorable results. I’m able to start with the gross motor skills required for immediate and remedial actions, different types of loading procedures, off-hand manipulations and some retention techniques and fine tune them down to the specific system I’m running.
Personally, I’m really talking about apples and oranges here. I can’t have a 1911 style high-thumb grip on my Beretta Bobcat or I induce malfunctions by inhibiting the slide travel. When it comes to shooting the same general ‘families’ (i.e. striker-fired Glock to FNS 9 or SW M&P) I haven’t had any real issues. There have been a couple times out there when I’d be used to indexing the longer 17 round magazine of the FN and be pretty sloppy with a shorter Glock mag during a reload, but once I spent enough time with that specific gun I was able to sort it out in short order.
Taking the time to really get to know what it takes to shoot and manipulate a specific firearm well will allow you to get back into mixing it up, and I’m a big believer in being able to effectively employ whatever weapon system, of any type, may be at hand. If you take a break from attempting to master the art of the .50 Desert Eagle at the same time you’re working on your Smith and Wesson 36 presentations from your ankle holster, designate a block of training to the most important gun in your life (the one you’ll have WITH you) and meet your minimum desired level of proficiency, you will then have arrived at the appropriate point in time to combine range times and see if you are able to give each specific firearm the attention it deserves.
Remember, focus on what you will actually be carrying first. If you prefer .45 ACP to 9mm but can’t adequately handle the recoil of the .45, don’t train with the 9mm and carry the .45. If you know it’s what you want to do, master the 9mm, carry the 9mm, and once you’ve got that safety net of sorts allow your training to progress to the hotter round. Don’t forget to think about it and pray about it.