Gun Writer Believes in “Gun Control”

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I am a firm believer in reasonable gun control. Now, before you get your tonsils in an uproar, let me explain my idea of gun control.

My old Border Patrol shooting instruction used to say that the only things you needed to master to be a good shooter were trigger control and sight alignment. While it really isn’t quite that simple, that pretty much explains what true gun control is. If you properly align the sights and release the trigger without disturbing the sight picture, you will hit the target  ̶ period  ̶ gun control. The trick is doing this with a pounding heart, panting lungs, and raging nerves.

Easy, right?

I used to practice trigger control when dry-firing my double-action revolver. I’d place a coin on the front sight, then squeeze the trigger until the hammer fell, all without the coin falling off the front sight. After a couple of years of practice I could accomplish this feat several times in a row.

This practice greatly enhanced my qualification scores, but I doubt it did a thing for my accuracy when someone was shooting at me. Actually I don’t know whether it did or not, since I never had to use my handgun in a fight. Mostly because if I thought there was a chance in . . . well, a chance at all, I had a long gun in my hands – usually a 12-gauge shotgun.

The only time I ever had to fire a handgun in self defense wasn’t against an armed attacker, but against a water moccasin.

shot gun control

Several of us, including my children, were sitting under a huge willow on the bank of a stock tank in South Texas. We were fishing and just enjoying the peace and quiet when a small cottonmouth crawled up on a limb of the willow that was sticking out in the water about ten feet from the bank.

One of the kids in attendance had a pellet gun and before anyone could say no had plinked the snake with the pellet gun. The snake didn’t take too kindly to this, and with its head out of the water, hissing in a most frightening way, it came at us in a rush.

People scattered to the four winds, scattering lawn chairs in their wakes. I stood up, surprised that the snake was actually, for lack of a better word, charging. Then, the next thing I knew there was a loud noise and the snake was floating at the edge of the muddy bank. I actually had to look down to realize that my Glock 17, which habitually rode in a pancake holster on my right hip, was in my right hand. I did not remember drawing and shooting, but my reflexes had taken over and done the job. Thank God for all that practice. I hit the snake about three inches behind its head, killing it instantly. Again, gun control.

Trigger control can be anything from a slow squeeze and a surprise break, to a quick draw and shot in less than a second. But one thing it absolutely must be is controlled. A jerk can cause a miss, even at knife fighting distance. The trigger must be squeezed, not jerked, but the squeeze can be condensed until it doesn’t take much more time than a jerk. That is where the practice comes in.

I once read a story of a professional hunter in Africa who had a client who wanted a big elephant. The client was carrying, if memory serves, a .465 double rifle. The professional had a .375 H&H, usually considered minimal for charging elephants. They had stalked up to within about 30 yards of a big bull and the client was getting ready to shoot when, without warning, the bull whirled around and charged.

The pro was screaming for the client to shoot as the bull ate up the 30 yards. The client, obviously not a coward, didn’t cut and run, instead he raised his cannon and shot. The first shot hit the ground about halfway to the bull, the second shot just grazed the bull’s head, not slowing it down at all. With about 10 yards left, the pro raised his little .375 and killed the bull in its tracks with a frontal brain shot. The bull fell close enough that the pro could reach out and touch it with the barrel of his rifle.

The moral of this story is that the client managed to miss once and almost twice at an animal the size of a small summer cottage, all from about 25 yards. Why? He yanked the trigger. The professional hunter did not jerk his trigger, which is why he survived to write about the incident.

In the good old days the first part of the Border Patrol combat course was six rounds in six seconds, fired from seven yards. If you wanted to shoot a decent qualification score you had best put all six of those shots in the 10 ring, and the X-ring was even better.

After a bit of practice it was possible for most shooters to cut one ragged hole at the seven yard line. This was all double-action shooting. No cocking the gun, at all. Today, with a good single-action trigger on a 1911 .45, I can do even better. But I practice a lot.

The old saying is that gun control means hitting what you shoot at. I am often amazed at the shooters who come by my place and cannot keep all their shots on a combat target at seven yards when firing from the leather in rapid fire.

If you carry a gun you need to develop the skills necessary to make those shots count when someone is attempting to stamp out your life, just as surely as that elephant intended to stamp out the life of that professional hunter and his client. Trigger control and sight alignment is gun control. I guess it really is that simple.

Steve LaMascus


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