Shooting From Cover For The Defensive Shooter
If you have to shoot in defense of yourself, it is always a good idea to be shooting from cover if at all possible. Obviously, it won’t necessarily be in the extremely rare event that you’ll ever have to use your gun in defense of your own life or that of others.
That said, a situation in which you may have to may arise in a setting where cover is available. If it does, use cover instead of concealment. The former can give you a bit of safety; the latter only hides you…for a while.
How does one shoot from cover? It isn’t complicated, but there are some definite dos and don’ts. Be sure to incorporate them into concealed carry training and practice, as it may save your life one day.
Cover Vs Concealment: A Brief Rehash
Perhaps it’s overkill to do so, but it bears repeating that there is a difference between cover and concealment. The latter is merely covering; it hides you from other people’s view. The former, however, presents a barrier impermeable to gunfire. Good cover is also concealing.
A brick wall is cover; the typical wall being little more than gypsum board, insulation and a bit of framing, is not. A car is very poor cover unless you position yourself with the engine block between you and your assailant(s). A good thick tree is also good cover.
A door is usually little more than concealment. Most furniture is not cover, though a bookcase filled with books is.
And so on and so forth. Learn to recognize the difference, and be aware of what in your immediate vicinity could be used as cover if needs be.
Slicing The Pie: Utilize Angles When Shooting From Cover
The first thing to know about shooting from cover is what’s often called “pie-ing.” You’ll see or hear mentions of pie slices when referring to shooting from cover. Essentially, you want to utilize angles in order to get your gun onto the target.
You need to get the greatest degree of vision while presenting the least amount of yourself. Little more than your gun and your eye should be presented when peering around cover.
If you can’t see the target well, you need to change your angle by shifting position rather than peering further around your cover. This means you’ll have to reposition on top of your cover, if applicable, or on the left side.
You’ll need to learn to shift from side to side while standing or kneeling. If in a crouched position, drop the knee of the side you’re leaning on. If leaning to the left, drop the left knee for better support. If to the right, put down the right knee.
Remember, if you don’t see the target in the “slice” of the pie you’re at, shift position to get a better slice. You need to see who you’re shooting at, but they need to see as little of you as possible.
Keep Arm’s Length Away When Shooting From Cover
In the movies, people shooting from cover are right up against the object they are using. This is actually wrong and for two reasons.
First, if engaging a gunman, they’ll be shooting at you and ricochets can happen. The closer you are to the object you’re using for cover, the shallower the angle at which the ricochet is traveling and the great the odds you’ll be wounded or killed by a ricochet.
Secondly, you’ll have to present more of yourself to return fire. You’ll have to lean all the way out on either side or further over the top of your cover. This presents a larger target to an attacker.
You need to be able to move when behind cover, and a bit separation allows you to do that. As a result, you’ll want to stay arm’s length away from cover. This lets you see the target while presenting less of a target to them as well as keeping you safer from ricochets.
Acquire A Sight Picture Before You Shoot From Cover
Another cardinal sin in shooting from cover is having to aim after you break cover. This is another reason why you should be arm’s length away from the object giving you cover. You want to see through your handgun sights.
Instead, you should get a sight picture BEFORE breaking cover. You do need to see who/what you’re shooting at, but you also need to give them as few opportunities as possible to harm you.
Therefore, when you break cover, you need to be looking for the target with a sight picture already present. Seconds count in a gunfight, and you want to be ready to shoot the threat as quickly as you can. They are already looking for a target to engage with. Your prerogative is to get shots on target before they can.
Never Shoot From The Same Spot Twice When Shooting From Cover
Every time you break to shoot from cover, you need to do so in a different position.
By varying the position that you shoot from, your attacker won’t anticipate where you’ll appear next when you shoot from cover. This gives you a tactical advantage over the target that you’re engaging with. They may know where you are…but they don’t know where you’ll be and more importantly where you’ll be shooting from.
The goal of seeking cover is to get a certain amount of safety in the midst of a very unsafe situation and therefore an edge over the person or persons posing you a threat. To ensure that edge, you need to fire from a different position every time you break cover to fire.
The shooter will most likely concentrate on where they last took fire from. If you re-emerge with your sight picture already acquired in a different spot, they won’t be able to get onto the target as fast as you can. It isn’t the first shot that lands that wins a fight, it’s the shot to the right area.
Accuracy, as they say, is final. If you can more accurately engage the target than they can, that’s an advantage you need to take.
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