Self Defense

Train How You Fight

Training how you fight is an idea I really like and can get behind. However, it's not possible to always put it into practice during live fire at range sessions, training classes or competitive events.

Short post this weekend while I’m busy attending the Rangemaster Combative Pistol training course to share my experience attempting to train how I fight. Training how you fight is an idea I really like and can get behind. However, it’s not possible to always put it into practice during live fire at range sessions, training classes or competitive events.

I did my very best to start out wearing the VP9 exactly how I carry it on a day to day basis. That’s in an IWB hoslter positioned on my strong side while wearing a t-shirst and cargo shorts. Extra magazine located in an auxiliary small front cargo pocket located high on the front of my left thigh.

After the first drill, I threw another mag in my back pocket. I wouldn’t normally have one there, but it was necessary to keep up with the pace of the class. A few drills later and I had to reconfigure my other EDC gear to be able to pocket 20-30 loose rounds of ammo in order to keep up with topping off the magazines at the pace the class was moving.

Then we got into reload drills. I quickly learned that the left front cargo pocket was really slowing down my reloads. As a result, I attached a couple of magazine pouches to my belt and carried on with the drills. This really has me thinking that I may need to add at least one magazine pouch to my belt as part of my every day carry setup. This is because I’ve built up quite a bit of muscle memory from repeating reload motions from the support side magazine pouch at IDPA matches and every other training class I’ve attended.

About halfway through the day, the gun became hot enough that I could feel it on my leg when it was holstered repeated during and after drills. Event though IWB holster is full Kydex and completely covers the barrel and slide of the gun, the heat got uncomfortable enough that I switched out to an OWB holster. I suppose I hadn’t counted on how hot the gun would actually be after a couple hundred rounds with just the Kydex separating it from my skin. The next few drills had slow draws as I had to adjust the draw stroke that I had repeated throughout the morning.

My point is that I learned quickly how muscle memory can be developed and how it can work against you when using different equipment than the equipment one would likely depend on during a life and death situation. There are a couple of choices here. One option is to change the every day carry equipment (assuming it works with one’s lifestyle) to match what is typically used in practice and training. The other option is to plan on using dry practice at home to redevelop the muscle memory that may be required in a self defense scenario. The second option requires a lot more work and dedication than the first, but it may be the only suitable option depending on equipment required by training courses or allowed at ranges where live fire practice occurs. The key take away here is not to get complacent and assume that one will be as effective and efficient with equipment not used in practice and training without some extra conscious effort.


  1. The few live training sessions I’ve attended, they recommended wearing an OWB holster for a few reasons, one which you mentioned: the heat. Another was that skill acquisition is about reps. If you are hindered by having to draw from concealment every time you run a drill at the range over the course of an 8-hour day or multiple days, it can wear you down making you actually shoot less. I think drawing from concealment has its place in training, but I practice that at home with my blue gun.

    1. You’ve got some great points there.

      As an update (which I’ll include the after action report I’m working on), I ran the entire second day with the IWB holster. It got hot again and was uncomfortable, but I decided to push on to get more repetitions in with it under the supervision of the trainer. I did find that my strong hand got worn down faster than it has in other courses where I exclusively used an OWB holster. I think this is it because it rubs on a lot more things (pant materials, holster clips, undershirt) and takes more work to get a good firing grip before drawing. While I certainly expended more effort, I think it was worth it as I got to work on some nuances that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed if I didn’t put in the work with it.

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