Loading or reloading the semi-automatic pistol is something that most of us who are shooters do on a pretty regular basis. In a way, it’s the most basic pistol skill; if you want to accomplish anything else with that pistol, it needs to be loaded and it needs to be “cocked” – that is, ready to fire. But for something we all do so often, it’s amazing how often we do it wrong.
My interest in the pistol is as the civilian’s primary defensive tool. I realize that there are a variety of specialized reloading techniques practiced by military and law enforcement personnel, or by “gun gamers” in the sundry shooting sports. I’ve been taught a few of these and I’m not going to touch on any of them. Hick’s Law suggests that knowing more ways to do emergency tasks (such as getting a gun running again), the more time we lose when it really counts.
Hick’s Law: Response time increases proportionally to the number of stimuli and response choices.
This means we need to know one way to reload our gun in a gunfight – and this “one way” needs to apply to the broadest range and meet the most possible needs:
- Gunfights are dynamic, so our reload needs to be performed “on the move” and should not require us to look at the gun.
- The reload may need to be performed at an “inconvenient time” – so working with the gun at waist-height and retrieving our magazines from the shooting bench at the range may not be a good way to practice.
- Consistency is one of the most important facets of training; the shooter should condition a response to always reload the pistol upon recognize slide lock.
In the next post in this three-part series, we’ll discuss the proper reloading technique based on these needs.