How many of us carry “Holster Queens?” I would venture to say quite a few, but not as many as LEOs. I think that it would be safe to say that there are plenty of us who carry a firearm on a daily basis are not immersed in the “gun culture” and have not fired their EDC in quite a while. I am not berating those folks in any way; I used to be one of them. I really became one of those people after I left law enforcement work even though that I knew the regular practice with what I carried was very important. As a LEO, my practice with my EDC came through competing in police “bulls-eye” matches and competition was fairly regular.
After leaving the LE community, I became complacent regarding my practice and shot “on occasion” when I felt that I needed to run the gun. That was an error on my part. I discovered that my complacency resulted in poor marksmanship skills as my lack of shooting time eroded what skill I did have through non-practice.
All shooting ranges are not created equal. I have always been reluctant to shoot at a range where I was surrounded with strangers. The unsafe actions of most of those strangers solidified my reluctance of using public and privately-owned shooting ranges.
I finally found a privately-owned range that I felt comfortable when shooting, but it still took some time to feel a level of comfort that I was, well, comfortable with. I only used the range on the weekend and soon realized that there was a group of individuals that would be at the range around the same time that I was there. I learned quickly that they were not the occasional yahoo that came to the range on a whim. These folks were serious about their practice, but not so serious as to shut out a camaraderie among themselves or to others that shared their interest. I soon found myself shooting more and placing a degree of trust in this group. Eventually, I purchased a membership at the range and grew to consider the “group” as friends, and I am very selective when considering people friends. Come to the range early on a Sunday morning, and you will find us shooting, sharing target results, and sharing stories and time. It is also not uncommon to find us sharing a firearm or two among the group to get an opinion about what someone thinks about it. I look forward to my Sunday morning practice.
Now, this is not to say that my shooting results are stellar just by going to the range on a regular basis. In fact, there are days that I probably should have stayed home. I can say that my shooting has improved over time because of that hour or two spent at the range each weekend. I am more attuned to how my EDC and I interact with each other; I am familiar with the weight, the feel of the grip, the feel of the recoil, the noise of the firearm (at least with hearing protected), the alignment of the sights on a target, and what I can expect out of both of us. Familiarity, in this case, does not breed contempt – it breeds confidence.
Of course, finding a shooting range that is worthy of your going there can be a challenge. Also, do you prefer indoor or outdoor shooting ranges and do you prefer privately-owned or public ranges? Both have their positives and negatives. Remember, it is important to give consideration to where you go to the range for the first time as a positive first time experience is more likely to lead to future shooting, but if you do end up with a bad range experience, find another range! There is plenty out there who will provide you a good experience. Don’t hesitate to shop and shoot around. There is a privately-owned shooting range that is very near to my house, but I will not go there. Although the proprietor is a nice person, safety within the range area is more important to me than the proprietor being a nice person – and this range is not safe. I had probably shot in a dozen shooting ranges, private and public, indoor and outdoor, before I made my decision to practice at, and subsequently join, the range and gun club that I now frequent. Of course, if you happen to have your own shooting range in the back-forty somewhere, you can make your own shooting environment to your liking. For the most of us; however, we live with our choice of shooting range.
The point of this article is that most of us need more practice with our EDC than what we are currently experience. Dry-firing and drawing from the holster with an empty firearm can only carry us so far. We NEED to feel the weight, the feel of the grip, the feel of the recoil, the noise of the firearm (with at least the hearing protected), the alignment of the sights on a target, and what you can expect out of the EDC and us. I don’t need, and I don’t think that you do either, a “holster queen” that will impress your friends or foe; you need an EDC that will deliver the goods when needed and that means practice, practice, and more practice with it.
You don’t have to shoot hundreds of rounds at each range session; just enough ammunition to maintain familiarity and a degree of proficiency is most often enough. But, you do need to shoot. You have a firearm that you need to rely on; find a shooting range that will help you become more proficient with it, and use the shooting range as often as you can.