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Efficiency and Immediate Action


I filmed the associated video as a reference. In the video I show two different methods to solve a handgun malfunction known as a failure to fire.


Before we can begin to discuss some of the topics in the blog post we should establish a baseline understanding of concepts and terminology.


Immediate Action, i.e. immediate action drill, Tap-Rack-Bang, Tap-Rack-Assess, the action can carry several common names. Here is what it refers to:


Solving a Failure to Fire malfunction.


Failure to fire is defined as the firearm does not fire when the trigger is pressed. You get function of the sear/hammer/striker, but the gun does not fire. This is most likely caused by an empty chamber or a bad primer. In fact, anything more serious and depending on the broken part of the gun you may not be able to continue the fight with that firearm (i.e. broken firing pin).


If the firearm does not fire, and it needs to be fired, and the most common causes are an empty chamber and/or bad primer, then an immediate action must be taken to get the firearm back into the gunfight.


That looks like this:


Ensuring the Magazine is Seated


Strong magazine springs, over-loaded magazines, and poor loading mechanics can all result in a failure to fully seat the magazine. Furthermore, this is also commonly caused by the manner in which the handgun is carried. An exposed or overly large magazine release can be depressed during carry causing the magazine to unseat slightly. Not enough to fall free from the gun, but sufficiently to cause a malfunction. Or, you could have a good carry setup, and Murphy decides to unseat your magazine while out and about.


So, the magazine is the source of ammunition for the handgun. The first step in the immediate action is to ensure the magazine has been seated. This is sometimes called TAP for tapping and seating the magazine completely.


Cycle the slide to extract bad round and feed new round.


This stop is sometimes called the RACK. It refers to cycling the slide: pulling the slide all the way to the rear until it can move no further. And then letting the recoil spring do its job of feeding a new round into the chamber.


Whether the chamber is empty or the round was bad it imperative to quickly get the firearm loaded in order to continue in the gunfight. Common mistakes in this are not fully cycling the slide to the rear: “short-stroking” the slide can cause a couple common malfunctions: failure to load a new round because the slide does not come fully to the rear to pick up a new round off of the top of the magazine as the slide returns to battery (goes forward locking into place before firing) and not having enough return energy to chamber the round can fail to load the round into the chamber causing a stoppage at the feed ramp or chamber lip.


Assess the situation to see if the target still needs shooting.


This part is important. Automatically tap, rack, and bang could get you in trouble. Say your failure to fire came mid string or after the first round because the magazine became dislodged during carry and the one round or first string of fire caused the threat to go away during your immediate action and the justification for the last shot is now gone. That is something to consider. Refer to your local laws, but generally self-defense use of a firearm will be scrutinized and people have been sentenced to prison for what started out as a justified use of force and ended up no longer being reasonable and landing them in legal hot water.


So, assess may be more appropriate. Assess is not a time consuming process. It doesn’t have to be a drawn out matter. If the threat is still present you should know. Stay out of prison and only use force you can justify.


That’s the baseline for referencing the above attached video. In that video I have demonstrated two different methods of performing an immediate action for a failure to fire.

Why two different methods? Well, simply put, one is more efficient than the other. Which one? Well, honestly, that depends on the shooter. As you can see I perform both relatively at the same speed, even under slo-mo. For some the top will be noticeable faster than the bottom.


What I will say is one allows me to reacquire sights must faster because it requires less movement of the firearm.


What I will also say is that a video is a poor teacher. Some key points can be made by watching video, but it takes a person to person teaching by someone who understands the why behind the how and is able to help the student see that as well understand it internally. This cannot be done via blog posts or videos.


You will have to find a teacher. An instructor may only be able to regurgitate training without having grasped the concepts. This can lead to a see-do not know why or defend it under scrutiny method of instruction. This is bad. Your instructor should be able to explain why beyond merely saying it’s better or that’s the way it’s done. All technique has a why behind it and those that are competent teachers can help you see the why and knowing the why will open up comprehension far better than merely trying to mimic a movement.


If the only instruction your instructor can give you is stop jerking the trigger or stop doing X, but not be able to diagnose why you are doing X or help you improve, then you need to find a better teacher.


Your instructor should be able explain what makes one movement/technique more efficient and why it matters.


There are places to learn these things. You should feel free to engage the instructor via email and ask questions and get real answers. Solid instruction is not magic nor a secret. It’s a matter of finding a competent teacher who can coach you to become better, even better than the teacher. If your teacher isn’t concerned with making you better at all points of your instruction and skill, find a better teacher.


That’s the sole job of a competent teacher: make the student better than he was yesterday. Not just show off their “unattainable” skills. Sure, not every student will become a superstar, but the teach should be focused on helping that student improve.


Go out and learn. Excellence is a habit.

Richard

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