reloading drills

Should You Even Bother With Reloading Drills?

Look...if you enjoy your pistol training, then you should do it, but the truth is that all the various reloading drills just might be pointless, at least for the civilian carrier. There is some utility to them, of course, which we will go over. However, it's less than it is for, say, the uniformed officer.

There are plenty of other aspects of defensive handgun training that do require a lot of attention; gun drawing actually being one of the most important. That said, myriad reload drills just might not be the best use of your time when training.

Civilian Defensive Gun Use Just Doesn't Involve Multiple Reloads

multiple reloads

While some cases exist, the truth is that there just aren't that many instances of defensive gun use that involve an entire magazine being emptied at or into an attacker, and a subsequent reload and further fire being laid down. It just doesn't happen.

There are, of course, some...but they are very few and far between. Now, reloading, say, a side by side shotgun may happen but a handgun? It just doesn't really happen.

Some people have images in their heads of stopping a terrorist attack, drawing their Glock and going all operator on multiple bad guys, nobly stopping the threat while unloading several magazines into the perpetrators. In this picture in people's heads, they have a full head of hair, are as ripped, jacked, tan and juicy as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and have a garage full of Ferraris. They get the girl, a parade, the key to the city and a Roman triumph erected in their name.

In the real world, that is so not what happens.

In the real world, defensive shootings tend to happen pretty quick. They take place up close and personal. And they are over fast; seconds, and with only a shot or two fired. If you are ever involved in one, it is more likely to occur in your home than out and about. The person in question is probably trying to take your stuff more than to specifically kill you; you just happen to be the person in the way of them getting what they want.

Civilians just do not engage in extended shootouts. A very few are, but hardly anyone ever is. Just like how you don't really need tactical gear if you have an office job.

Police Officers DO Need To Practice Reloading

police reload

Granted, there is something to be said for training like the professionals and professionals DO need to train for reloading under fire. They, unlike the average civilian carrier, face a possibility of an extended shootout.

A trainee in law enforcement might in their career; that's why the FBI and other various LEO agencies and the military have pistol qualification tests.

To build on that a little more, it's not so much that you don't need as refined of skills to be able to save your own life, that's not it. A person should and must-needs have at least some training if they are going to carry.

However, the civilian carrier isn't likely to be involved in something like the Miami shootout. As mentioned, those sorts of things just don't happen in defensive shootings involving civilians.

The incentives change entirely when a criminal deals with police versus when they deal with a civilian. A civilian isn't looking to put you in jail no matter what, which is more or less what police have to do. They have to win; it's their job. To a civilian, scaring a criminal off is a success. In other words, a violent criminal can just leave if they come up against an armed civilian. The police usually have backup inbound and will eventually find you.

Again, there are exceptions...but, again, the instances where a civilian has had a protracted shootout with mass shooter, armed robber and so on are very rare indeed.

Where Reloading Drills Have Some Value

value of reloading drills

There is, to be fair, a circumstance in which practicing reloading drills is beneficial to the civilian shooter, which is in case of magazine malfunction. As we know, magazine springs are one of the most common failure points in semi-automatic pistols but - again - longer shootouts just don't occur in the civilian world.

Learning the "Tap, Rack, Bang" procedure is likely to be just as beneficial. Tactical drills with one or two rounds in the magazine, followed by another partially full magazine...just when exactly is that going to happen?

If you're duck or goose hunting...okay. An incoming flock and the 3-shot rule means Or, for that matter, upland bird hunting with that Browning Citori or Beretta Silver Pigeon that so many of us dream and drool over...makes sense. But let's get real.

Bill Jordan, probably one of the greatest authorities on combat use of a handgun, wrote that about 90 percent of even a police officer's defense training should be the first shot drill. You draw, get a quick sight picture and fire; the first accurate hit, he found, usually wins a gunfight and he knew from first-hand experience as a combat Marine and Border Patrol agent.

Of the available evidence regarding defensive gun use, his advice seems to fit the best.

Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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