While the probability of us encountering a situation where we need to get our gun out WHILE we’re carrying our children is extremely low, it is worth thinking about how our gun handling would need to change and what we should practice. Since my son is too young to follow directions to run and hide and can’t understand how to use code words to enact a plan, I have to have repetitions of gun manipulations while handling him. This post isn’t about tactics, but just the mechanics of getting a gun into play while toting a small child. I’ll lay out several practice methods and some props that will help you get more proficient.
As with all things, in order to have clarity in our practice we need to define our mission. When out with my son (no wife) I have defined mine as “protect my child at all costs, and escape with my own life if possible”. In my mission statement, I have placed his safety above mine. This will drive my tactics and strategy. The focus of this blog is how to complete that mission assuming I have no option for positioning, hiding him in a place of cover, passing the child to my wife, moving away from him to draw the action to myself, retreat, escape, compliance, etc.
A situation where this might be the case is in a parking deck. Imagine you’re walking with your child in your arm (you carry them in your non-shooting arm, right?), you don’t periodically break your focus on them to look away and scan around the deck, and you are confronted with an unknown contact (term from Craig Douglas, Shivworks). A situation unfolds that requires the immediate deployment of your gun.
One Hand Shooting: This can be worked dry or live. Practice clearing your cover garment, establishing a strong full firing grip, and executing a perfect draw stroke to full extension with your dominant hand only. Consider your muzzle awareness. Is your current one hand draw stroke oriented towards the target during the full presentation? Are you muzzling inboard at any point and possibly covering where you’d be carrying your baby? Your mechanics need to be clean and efficient. One handed shooting has applications outside of this scenario, and therefor should be a staple of your training.
Busy Hands Drills: This can be worked either dry or live. Find a bag of potatoes or kitty litter and keep it in your off hand while you work your one handed draw stroke and trigger press. You will be surprised how having weight in your offhand will throw you off of your game. Your draw stroke will feel awkward and might get fouled by the mass on your chest. I’ll get some photos from the range of some drills using a cat litter prop. I find it best to do a ‘rip’ and get your shirt high and out of the way, and then pin it in place with your shooting arm elbow. Practice blading your torso fully away, using yourself as a meat-wall between you and the bad guy. Make yourself the FBI ballistic gelatin maximum depth of penetration. You can do this by taking a drop step with off side leg, or by stepping aggressively forward with your shooting side leg. Practice movement in your dry practice. Practice crouching, lying, and otherwise conforming to cover with an emphasis on protecting your ‘prop’. If you’re doing dry work (a blue gun or a dummy barrel is preferred here, as it keeps the wife from having a stroke), pick up your kid and move around with them and practice. A squirming tot is the best prop for this.
One Hand Malfunction Clearance and reloads: If the chances of having to get your gun out with your baby in your arms are low, the chances of your gun having a malfunction at the same time are simply astronomical. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a useful skill to get some meaningful reps of. It has saved the ones who practice it. Practice clearing type 1, 2, and 3 malfunctions one handed. Your carry gun has a ledge on the rear sight to facilitate one handed manipulations, right? Can you rip out the magazine one handed? Ever thought about it? Practice your one handed reloads. You just never know.
About 40% of my shooting and dry-fire these days is one handed. As I see it, there’s a chance I might have to do it with my boy in my arms. There’s also a chance that I’ll be all alone, but in my haste to start shooting, I’ll just use one hand. I’ve seen it many times in force on force, as well as in CCTV camera footage. Like this guy: Shooting in Internet Cafe. Though I hope my technique will look better on the closed circuit cameras and I’ll get a better hit ratio…
Get some practice, and then give your family a hug. It’s for them, after all.