Last Wednesday we did a Shoot with Steven and Sandy.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this offering, twice a month Sandy and I go out to the range (typically Prado) and host two separate two-hour live-fire shoots.  The first is from 09:00 to 11:00, then Sandy and I have an hour-long date for lunch.  After that we do it again for a new group of people from 12:00 to 14:00.  We limit the participants in each class to six people, and no… you do not need to be a member to join us; however, if you are thinking about coming… we HIGHLY ENCOURAGE you to have taken Pistol 1, 2, and 3 before joining us at the range.

During last week’s class, I noticed (repeatedly) three separate things that I want to discuss… and hopefully banish from your world forever!

  1. Sloppy administrative draws

2)   Empty mags in pockets

3)   Comfortability with guns in slide lock

The Angle of the Dangle:

At the beginning of each shooting string we give the students an opportunity to load-and-make ready.  Procedurally, this means taking the gun out of the holster (while facing downrange towards a target), inserting a loaded magazine (if a mag is already in the mag well, then removing the mag to verify it is fully loaded), racking a round into the chamber if it is unloaded, and then performing a press check to ensure a round is in the chamber.  Then the gun is returned to the holster and the student waits for the first range command. 

The way this is supposed to work is the student draws his empty gun all the way out to the target in a perfect five-count presentation.  Each and every time the gun comes out of the holster, administratively or with full hostility, the gun comes up to the target.  (Law Enforcement:  drawing directly to the low ready is perfectly acceptable… and encouraged… your rules for use-of-force are decidedly different than regular citizens.)

What I have seen is that the more experience a shooter gets, the lazier that shooter gets.  There is full knowledge that what is about to take place is completely administrative.  The full five-count presentation is converted into a limp-wristed, pathetic removal of the gun from the holster, usually to the level of the belly button.  Then the student takes a magazine and casually slides it into the mag well, while looking at his gun.  This is followed by a chamber check, if they do it at all, then a return to the holster. 

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My favorite is when the shooter disregards placing the support hand on the chest during position one, and instead goes directly to the magazine pouch, then both the gun and the mag come out at the same time.


Sloppy administrative procedures breed sloppy gun handling.  Clean it up, guys!!!   From now on each time I see a pathetic “draw” from the holster during a load-and-make ready procedure, I am going to make the student submit to me a full written synopsis of Season 3, Episode 7 of The Golden Girls… or 20 push-ups… whatever strikes my mood that day.

Is that an empty magazine in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

God, this is a pet peeve of mine!

When a magazine is empty, it goes to one, and only one, place:  THE GROUND… and it goes there FAST!

An empty magazine only serves two purposes:  1) obstructing the magazine well, preventing another loaded or partially-loaded magazine from taking its place, and/or 2) serving as a massive time delay to getting another loaded magazine in the well because the shooter ended up grabbing an empty magazine and loaded it into his gun mistakenly. 

The only way “b” can happen is if an empty magazine is located somewhere on the shooter’s body. 

“But, but… what if my magazine is damaged being dropped on the ground?”

Good question… if a drop of four and one-half feet damages your empty magazine, then that magazine is a piece of garbage.  It should NEVER be carried for defensive purposes.  If your seat belt is so delicate that a tug on it will cause it to tear, why are you wearing it in the first place???

If I see empty magazines in pockets… be prepared to submit a written report comparing and contrasting the philosophical differences between Rue McClanahan’s and Bea Arthur’s characters in the critically acclaimed Season 3 of The Golden Girls.

Ummmm… Your gun doesn’t look quite right.

Three quick shots and the gun goes to slide lock.  Once you notice the condition of your firearm, what do you do?

Instantly get it reloaded!!! 

Like HOLY CRAP!  RIGHT THIS [email protected]#@ING INSTANT!  OMG!  DO IT!  DO IT!  DO IT!

Honestly… I should never, ever see a gun in slide lock (unless we are doing something administratively).  The speed of your gassing up your gun should be so fast, so instantaneous, that the light bouncing off of your slide locked gun never gets the chance to make it to my retina.  If I think that maybe, just maybe, your gun is empty, my eyes should tell me that the slide is forward, and I might hear the faint echo in my ears of a gun being racked. 

Too often I see students complete a course of fire, and after the last shot goes down range, their gun goes to slide lock.  Knowing the drill is over, they stand there with an empty gun looking at their handiwork on their target.


The instant a gun is in slide lock, it comes out of slide lock with new ammunition going into the chamber.  If it was the end of the drill, fine.  Who cares?  You have absolutely no idea what is coming next.  Get that gun gassed up NOW!!!!

“But… but… what if I don’t have any more ammo?”

Again… good question!

Pretend like you do!

Pantomime inserting an imaginary magazine and racking the slide forward.  You might know you are empty… but that bad guy who has been holding back his flanking attack, might think twice about engaging, believing you still have magical ballistic abilities. 

Never… ever… just stand there with a gun in slide lock.  You are telegraphing to the world that you are open for vulnerability. 

If I see a student with a gun in slide lock, he should be prepared to submit a written report on the interior decorating choices employed by the characters in the critically acclaimed Season 3 of The Golden Girls. 

Minimum five pages.

Single Spaced.


Steven Lieberman and Sandy Lieberman are the owners of the Artemis Defense Institute. A tactical training facility headquartered occupied California.   (  Mr. Lieberman is also one of the founding partners in the Law Offices of Lieberman and Taormina LLP.  Their law firm specializes in use of force, and Second Amendment defense and litigation.