When we physically train to defend ourselves, we train for the movements that we’re most likely to do including drawing from a holster, acquiring a two-handed grip, sight acquisition, pressing the trigger, and assessing the situation. But do you train for reloading your firearm?
We’ve talked about tactical reloads and proactive reloads (Proactive Reload?) in other threads, so in this thread, let’s keep it to how you reload.
Here’s what we teach in our Defensive Shooting Fundamentals course:
Do you look at your firearm when you reload?
- Depends on the situation please elaborate below
How do you train for your reload?
Remember, research shows that most self-defense incidents range from 3 to 5 shots fired. It could be more, could be less. You might not need to reload during a critical dynamic incident, but we’d rather you knew how to do so just in case.
I do look - might see a malfunction!
Trainee wearing red shirt checks what is around him - this is a good habit.
Depends. I’ve been trained not to look. I know where my mags are, I know where the release switch is. I need to keep situational awareness; my hands know what they’re doing.
Real life, though… I like to play with different firearms at the range. I don’t always have the muscle memory I need to reload without looking. And on a commercial range, I’m at my leisure. That’s a time to slow down and make sure I’m doing things correctly.
I have five magazines that my girlfriend loads. She puts anywhere from 1 to 5 rounds in a magazines. I should have anywhere from 10 to 25 rounds. With a shot timer you can see the time delays between magazine changes and you will see the time it takes to reload. After ten times you can average your reload time and have a benchmark to challenge yourself and improve upon.
Always look around / at the threat during reloads.
There’re only two cases when I look at handgun:
- tactical reload, when no threat present
- slide lock reload behind the cover
How to train? Dry firing is the best way to do it.
Watch one movie (+/- 100 minutes) and do reloads in the meantime. You become “reload master” in 2 hr.
- empty mag in the grip
- single snap cap in spare mag
- aim, press the trigger. Boom. Press one more time time. Click.
- tap, rack, aim… Oops… slide lock.
- do reload
- aim, press the trigger
After few days you achieve “reload grand master degree”
At first when I trained I looked at my firearm when I was reloading but now I got used to just inserting the mag in the mag well without looking. With an unloaded firearm and two unloaded mags I stand in front of the mirror in my bedroom and drop a mag and insert the other from a mag holder and keep repeating it. After a while of training like this you will be able to do it also.
At the range, no; when reloading after an administrative unload, such as after cleaning, sometimes.
I will sit watching TV with magazines loaded with dummy rounds ( because some magazines insert differently with rounds in them ) , I will have several magazines in my lap. I practice finding a magazine, orienting it by feel, and loading the gun , ( both with closed slide, and locked open slide where I then chamber a dummy round ). All done without ever taking my eyes off of the TV.
I would tell rescuers they should be able to tie a knot in the dark with their gloves on, because some day they might have to do that very thing, and at least once I know of, that very thing did happen, and that particular rescuer felt it had saved his life. ( not me, but his willingness to train himself to that level )
Naturally, If I have the option, I look, but If a day comes when I feel I can’t take my eyes off of the situation, I know I can still reliably reload my gun.
That is also an excellent way to train @DS-1 and I will try that also.
It is a lot easier with a double stack magazine of any caliber because the magazine well is wider than the top of the magazine. If you are a little off it will rattle itself in anyway. I find single stack micro pistols the most difficult. Since that’s the one most likely to need a reload, that’s the one I work on the most. If you can reload a single stack micro without looking, then all the others will be a walk in the park. At least that’s the way it seems to me.
Use one of the abilities we were born with - finger proprioception.
If you keep tip of index finger on the tip of first round, there is 100% chance you put the single stack mag into the magwell without any problems.
I practice reloading with my gun a little below eye level. So I can see it but my focus remains on the potential threats.
You make a good point @Gary_H, a double stack magazine would most likely be easier due to the wider mag well. If you keep practicing with a single stack you will get the hang of it also. Train hard and often my friend.
10 days ago I had carpel tunnel surgery in my dominant hand. It felt good enough to give shooting a go today. Prior to going to the range today, my main concern was reloads. Working at home after the surgery, even two days ago, reloads were hampered severely.
Today I did two runs through the Rangemaster instructor qual, which requires some reloads and is under time. Once I got rolling the reloads came as fluid as they did before the surgery. The pressure of the time constraints and the focus led to muscle memory taking over. The reloads were as fast as prior to the surgery and smooth.
Point is, If we train and become proficient it will take care of itself. Look, don’t look, doesn’t matter, it will become engrained and you will be able to do it either way.