This past weekend I spent it out at the Texas Gun Fest. I was surprised by the number of conversations I had regarding basic instruction.
Good times were had by all
I am tickled pink to see so many folks interested in firearms education and with The Range at Austin opening up here real soon it is perfect timing. I had a few fathers looking at memberships ask about instruction for their family members, mainly their wives and adult children. This is perfect and I was very excited to be answering all their questions. Two conversations stuck out to me; both had to do with cycling the slide on a modern semi-automatic pistol. One was from a father asking for his teenager just starting out and the other a female shooter looking for advise on different firearms platforms.
It wasn’t always easy
Many of us take cycling the slide for granted, whether it is experience or strength we all need to remember back to when we first started and how awkward it was learning to cycle the slide. Yes, it is a learned skill; which means most anybody can learn how to perform this action with a little practice. I see this in classes frequently to the point we will front load with two major safety concerns. If you are having troubling cycling the slide you will also be susceptible to two major safety violations. The first is inadvertently placing your finger on the trigger while performing this action. In an attempt to grip harder some students mistakenly move their trigger finger to the trigger; a big no-no. The second has to do with turning the weapon in an effort to gain more leverage. This typically points the muzzle across the firing line at other students another big no-no.
Always the enabler
Both of these safety violations are avoidable with proper instruction, but it still leaves us with figuring out how to manipulate the slide. A question I have gotten comes from some who who to avoid committing these safety violations and ask if they should choose a different firearm, one such as revolver. I love revolvers, but only in limited capacities do I see them valuable and a new shooter is typically not one of them. Then there is assistance from staff who will lock the slide to the rear allowing the student to load the firearm more easily. This only kicks the can further down the road and doesn’t help the student. We want to empower the student, to encourage them to be self sufficient so I do not agree with actions that ultimately do no enable a student.
Back to school, old school
What we teach is pretty simple and truthfully what I personally have been using for well over two decades. The good old fashion “push/pull” method. While using your strong hand to firmly grip the pistol and maintaining your trigger finger on the index grasp the slide with an overhand grip. This is the key, it must be an overhand grip with your thumb pointing back at you. Once you have your hands placed correctly, bring the firearm in close to your body. This next phase is where you must coordinate movement that is in a sense opposing from one another. It starts by generating momentum from your core, by literally twisting your hips as your start to push the firearm forward. Simultaneously you want to pull the slide to the rear so it fully compresses the recoil spring and slap yourself in the shoulder with your weak hand. This will ensure you did not ride the slide forward allowing the recoil spring to do it’s job. Now, depending on your skill, strength and coordination you can omit some steps outlined. You may also may add a step by having the student pivot their body to help ensure the muzzle stays in a safe direction while performing the actions described.
If you have family members new to shooting or looking to start shooting, cycling the slide could be a mountain to them. Break it down to a mole hill and help them recognize their abilities early on.
The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. Confucius; Chinese teacher and philosopher