Velocity Systems

Gunfighter Moment – Pat McNamara

I occasionally get push back or skepticism during courses when I have guys utilize the rifle’s safety while doing mag changes up close at say…7-10 yards. So I present them with this situation; you and I are fighting side by side from behind cover. The fight is mid-range. The cover is small. This is close quarters. I am within inches of you while performing a magazine change, or while moving around you to better my position. At times my muzzle may be oriented over your bow. Do you want me to use my rifle’s safety? I’m thinking your answer will be “Yes”.

If we are fighting together in close quarters, not only do I want you to use your safety while working alongside of me, but I am hoping that your safety manipulation is spontaneous.

Push back comes from those too lazy to perform the appropriate amount of meaningful repetitions until safety manipulation becomes an intuitive task or until one can perform this at a subconscious level.

If you can’t think to ‘Safe it’ at seven, what makes you think…you can think to do it instinctively, in close quarters?

Patrick McNamara
SGM, US Army (Ret)

Patrick McNamara spent twenty-two years in the United States Army in a myriad of special operations units. When he worked in the premier Special Missions Unit, he became an impeccable marksman, shooting with accurate, lethal results and tactical effectiveness. McNamara has trained tactical applications of shooting to people of all levels of marksmanship, from varsity level soldiers, and police officers who work the streets to civilians with little to no time behind the trigger.

His military experience quickly taught him that there is more to tactical marksmanship than merely squeezing the trigger. Utilizing his years of experience, McNamara developed a training methodology that is safe, effective and combat relevant and encourages a continuous thought process. This methodology teaches how to maintain safety at all times and choose targets that force accountability, as well as provides courses covering several categories, including individual, collective, on line and standards.

While serving as his Unit’s Marksmanship NCO, he developed his own marksmanship club with NRA, CMP, and USPSA affiliations. Mac ran monthly IPSC matches and ran semi annual military marksmanship championships to encourage marksmanship fundamentals and competitiveness throughout the Army.

He retired from the Army’s premier hostage rescue unit as a Sergeant Major and is the author of T.A.P.S. (Tactical Application of Practical Shooting). He also served as the Principle of TMACS Inc.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer some words of wisdom.

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10 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Pat McNamara

  1. CTF says:

    Great post, Pat.

  2. seans says:

    Cag guy talking about safety manipulation being important, now I have seen it all.

    • Mac says:

      The “this is my safety” thing went out the window a long time ago. Paul Howe was also very big on use of the mechanical safety when I took classes with him and he was one of the operators present in Mogadishu.

      • Crayon eating booger eater says:

        I asked Paul about that line in the movie…whether it really happened that way, or if that was Hollywood embellishment. Apparently, the “this is my safety” comment actually took place. He went on to say, however, that they kept the weapon hammer down on an empty chamber, back at the base.

  3. Ed says:

    Makes perfect sense to me.

  4. Will M says:

    Makes sense, however, this is a much debated issue. We do not (or cannot) advocate putting a pistol on safe during magazine changes, but we should on a rifle?

    • Terry B says:

      I’m not understanding your point about not being able to “advocate” putting a pistol on safe for magazine changes.

      If you ran the pistol dry the slide is back on most semi-autos when you need to put in a new magazine and it is physically impossible to engage the mechanical safety.

      But that is certainly not the case for the AR platform. So, I think what Pat is simply advocating is that you use the tools available (mechanical safe) on any weapon where it is applicable to be as safe as you can be – whether you are in close quarters or not.

      And if you train that way it will become instinctive, smooth and ultimately fast.

      Finally, I would emphasis the point that even the best “gunfighter” can lose muzzle awareness or even have a ND in a high stress situation. It happens. Why would you not want to do everything you can to make it less likely?

      • Jason says:

        The pistol isn’t necessarily empty. You could be doing a tac reload with the pistol.

        Maybe he’s of the opinion that since the pistol is typically your “oh shit, rifle’s down” kind of go-to weapon, it shouldn’t be safed at all, only holstered. Or maybe he believes that you can more easily control the muzzle on a pistol but with a rifle, you sometimes lose track of where the muzzle is when up close and manipulating it. I dunno. I’d be interested to know what his opinion on this is.

        • Terry B says:

          I’m not sure but I think Will M was talking about consistency (or lack of it), i.e. if you advocate manipulating the safety on your long gun then the same rule would apply to handguns. If that is what he meant then I would agree. But I wasn’t sure so I commented.

          However, Pat McNamara didn’t mention handguns in his commentary or transitions. In this piece he was only referring to safety manipulations during magazine changes for long guns.

          Pat clearly advocated using the mechanical safety in the example he used. So would I.

          I don’t know about anyone else, but as a general rule I would advocate engaging the mechanical safe on any weapon that has one when you are doing something with the weapon that doesn’t involve engaging targets.

          Just my 2 cents.

  5. Vince says:

    I think the key to the situation provided that puts me in agreement here is that the shooters are behind cover when conducting the reload. As with any “close contact” engagement at the given 7-10 yards, if in an uncovered position, a transition to secondary would be appropriate before reloading, however, if without a handgun, an emergency reload would be the course of action and in my opinion, a safety manipulation would be be the last of my worries. It’s always good to train safely, but who ever said gun fighting was safe is delusional. Train like you fight and learn the mechanics of those situations over and over. Take the good with the bad and find out what works and doesn’t work. Stay safe and fight hard. Good post Mac.