Thursday, February 21, 2008

The reload

The second of the 5 things you need to practice.

Ever see a GM blow a reload? You probably haven't. That's because the reload is a basic skill that they practice over and over and over.

A reload is best used as a planned manuever. In theory you should know exactly when and where you will do every reload during a course of fire. You may determine that point by knowing when you finish a given target or array it is time to do it, or sometimes you actually know that after you fire the __th round you need to reload. Generally you should try to do it BEFORE you run your gun dry.

You're going to find once again, that you want your movements to be SMOOTH, CONSISTENT, and EFFICIENT.

The reload is about as simple as the draw, yet probably as hard to put into words. I'll try:

1. Finish shooting the last shot. Seems like I shouldn't have to say it, but trust me the opposite happens when you get in too much of a hurry. If you start the reload procedure prematurely and don't follow through enough you're asking for trouble. Maybe a miss or even a no-shoot.

2. Simultaneously hit the mag release and start reaching for a fresh mag with your weak hand. One key point here is to keep the gun up. The gun should remain between your eyes and the target (or wherever you will be looking next) Do not drop your gun down to the mag. You're going to bring the mag up to the gun.

3. As your weak hand picks up the mag your index finger should run along the front of the mag with the fingertip towards the open end of the mag. This allows the index finger to guide the mag into the magwell. As it is being guided in you should be watching the mag start into the gun.

4. After you have seen the mag start into the gun you want to shift your visual focus back to the next target or whatever you need to see next. If you kept the gun up like you were supposed to this should be a quick refocusing not a looking up.

5. When the mag is fully seated (you should feel it click) shift your hands back into the proper firing grip, align the sights and continue firing.

How are we going to practice our reloads?

Dryfiring is once again an excellent (and free) strategy. You're going to use the same basic procedures you use for dryfiring the draw. Super slow motion and perfect several times. Slow motion and perfect several times. Real time but still continuing to be perfectly smooth, and technically correct.

One invaluable aid for dryfiring are a couple of the blue CRTC training mags. These plastic mags are made specifically for different models of guns and are weighted to simulate a loaded mag. The adavntages of these inexpensive mags (Less than $20 each)are manifold.

First, there is no chance of a live round getting into the gun. An empty mag weighs much less than a full mag and doesn't go in as well as one with rounds. Dummy rounds work well in a real mag, but you have to be sure not to get them mixed up with live rounds.

Second, they save your real mags the abuse of putting them in the gun and dropping them on the floor. Mags can be expensive to replace and there's no reason to take a chance bending the feed lips dropping them or wearing out the mag release notch.

Third, the plastic mags don't wear out your mag release like metal mags might. Trust me if you do it enough this can happen.

Fourth, less wear and tear on your mag well.

Fianlly, and this is a big one, they go in you gun easier and faster than real mags do. The plastic is slick and they glide right in as long as you start them properly. It teaches you through our friend muscle memory to do a faster reload.

Live fire, just like with the draw is necessary for the feedback. The same principles we used to live fire the draw also apply to the reload. Start super slow-motion and work your way up to real time after several repetitions. Accept nothing but A's. Slow down if needed. Use targets at all kinds of various distances. Isolate the reload as much as possible when practicing it. Practice it standing, and moving in all directions. It's also a good habit to practice reloading around a barricade some.

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