This is the first in a 14 part series, one for each day of the “14 days to be a better shooter” series and will cover Loading and Unloading. This will not cover reloading which is what you would do in a gunfight, this will cover loading (like in the morning before you go out for the day) and unloading (when you return at night). This will cover both handguns and rifles, particularly military assault rifles, either the real deal (fully automatic) or the much more common semi-automatic look-a-likes.
All of the practice in this series is done with NO LIVE AMMUNITION. We commonly call no live ammunition practice “dry fire” practice. Or “dry firing”. With that in mind I highly encourage you to adopt my Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of having at least one closed door between my “no ammunition practice area” (dry fire) and any live ammunition. Make sure you have NO live ammunition in any of your magazines! Check them all.
DRY FIRE PRACTICE WITH THE HANDGUN – DAY 1 – LOADING
Day 1 is loading and unloading with the handgun and the long guns. This is NOT reloading – this is loading (like in the morning) and then unloading (like in the evening). Starting with the handgun in one of your hands, bring it up so it is well in your peripheral vision, but not blocking your eyesight. We do all handgun/pistol manipulations up here. That way you maintain your situational awareness. Grab a magazine in your other hand, and firmly push the magazine into the magazine well in one smooth motion using enough force to fully and completely seat the magazine. We call this “attacking the magazine”. Then with your now empty hand firmly grasp the rear portion of the slide and pull it all the way to the rear and then let it go. We call this “attacking the slide”. You now (probably) have a loaded handgun. To ensure you in fact do have a round in the chamber, grab the slide and pull it back just enough to verify with your finger that there is a round in the chamber. Now just double check the slide is all the way forward. Push it if it is not. Now would be the time to holster your firearm as it is ready to go.
DRY FIRE PRACTICE WITH THE HANDGUN – DAY 1 – UNLOADING
To unload the handgun, keep it up near your face in your peripheral vision. Release the magazine and hold it with your little (pinky) finger of your firing hand. Then “attack the slide” two or three times. It is beneficial to have the ejection port facing down a bit to allow gravity to help get the round out of the chamber. Now lock the slide back. Use your non-firing hand (typically the trigger finger) to check that there is no magazine in the handgun and that there is no round in the chamber. It is important to do this without looking. EVERYTHING we do we want to do without looking. That way when it is night time, low or no light – you won’t panic as you will have practiced to do everything you need to do without looking.
PERFORM THE LOAD AND UNLOAD DRILL WITH YOUR HANDGUN 50 TIMES.
DRY FIRE PRACTICE WITH THE LONG GUN – DAY 1 – LOADING
Remember – this is NOT reloading – this is loading (like in the morning) and then unloading (like in the evening). With the long gun (or carbine as some call them), be it the AR series (M4, AR15, M16, etc.) or the AK series (AK47, AKM, AK74, etc.) or any other long arm that you have, the loading sequence will start with the muzzle at eye level. If your muzzle is higher then eye level, you will give your position away if you are hiding behind cover or concealment. It will be a “flag” that shows your enemy EXACTLY where you are. In other words we don’t bring our long arm up “in our face” like we do handguns, we must keep the muzzle at eye level. We will do ALL long arm manipulations from this spot.
Hold your longarm by the pistol grip. With your other hand, grab a magazine. Use your finger to determine whether the top round is on the right or left side of the magazine. Insert the magazine into the rifle using the “push/pull” method for the AR series, or the “rock-n-lock” for the AK series. We call this “attack the mag”. Now take your hand off the magazine, and pull the charging handle all the way to the rear and let it go. We call this “attack the slide”. I know that your rifle doesn’t have a slide, but we keep the verbiage the same across all firearms to maintain continuity. At this point your longarm should be fully ready to go, so move the safety to “safe”. However you want to ensure you do indeed have a round in the chamber. So remove the magazine from the rifle and using your finger determine which side of the magazine the top round is on – and it should be the OPPOSITE of where it was prior to you inserting the magazine into the rifle. If it is indeed on the opposite side, your rifle has a round in the chamber. Once this has been verified properly reinsert the magazine (attack the mag).
An alternative to using the magazine to ensure you have a round in the chamber is to actually do a chamber check with your longarm. For the AR series, pull back with the charging handle with your left hand until you can feel “brass” in the ejection port with your right hand pointer finger. Care must be taken so that you will not pull the bolt carrier too far to the rear, or it will eject the round from the chamber. Pull it back gently and slowly just to the point to where your finger can feel a round. Then let the bolt go forward. Push the boltcarrier forward through the ejection port with your finger or use the forward assist to ensure the bolt carrier is indeed fully forward. Close the ejection port cover and you are good to go.
What most people do not realize is the AK series was made to do a chamber check very easy and safely. Leave the selector on “safe”. Pull back on the charging handle. With the safety ON is it impossible to pull the charging handle too far to the rear as the safety stops the charging handle from coming back too far. Insert your finger into the ejection port to verify there is brass (or more likely “steel” from the steel cased commie ammo) in the chamber. Let the bolt go, and give it a small hit to ensure it is all the way forward. You are now 100% good-to-go with the AK.
DRY FIRE PRACTICE WITH THE LONG GUN – DAY 1 – UNLOADING
Remember to keep the muzzle at eye level or below. Remove the magazine. Hold it with your pinky (little) finger of your firing grip hand. (If you have small hands or if your pinky is too weak, put the magazine in your dump pouch or some other place – DO NOT put it back in your magazine pouch.) Now “attack the slide” by cycling the action two or three times to remove the round from the chamber. It helps if you can have the ejection port facing down a bit to allow gravity to help the round fall out of chamber.
Lock the bolt to the rear (AR series) or hold it back (AK series) and use your fingers to verify that there is no magazine in the rifle and there is no round in the chamber. Once that has been accomplished, let the bolt forward.
Next up is Day 2!