Modern Warfare Week

Gunfighter Moment – Frank Proctor

Gun Handling etc…

What’s up, shooters!

Today, I want to talk about safe gun handling and some of the valuable tools I have taken from competition, back to my world as a tactical shooter. Some of those main tools are aggressive vision, efficiency in movement and very safe gun handling under pressure. There is a video clip attached to this showing me running a stage in the shoot house at my range. This is a stage from my monthly 2 gun (carbine and pistol ) match. This is NOT CQB. But, some of the things it takes to do well at this game translate to tactical shooting. Aggressive vision and efficiency play a huge role but what I’m going emphasize in this article is safe gun handling under pressure.

In some other articles and videos, I have seen some push back about putting the rifle on safe during a reload with some folks even having an SOP of leaving the rifle on fire because “it might be too difficult to take the rifle off safe under stress”.

Well, I live by some simple gun handling rules and I find them very easy to do with just a little training. Rule number 1 is to keep the pointy end of the death machine (AKA the muzzle) in a safe direction at all times. Rule number 2 says that if your eyes are not connected to the gun then your trigger finger is connected to the frame of the gun with some positive pressure. For rifles, the gun is on safe with some positive pressure up on the selector lever using your thumb or finger, based on whether you’re a right or left-handed shooter. Those things are super easy to do and I have long said they will not cost you anytime in an engagement.
If you watch the video, you will see my firing hand moving every time I disconnect my eyes from the gun. I’m putting the gun back on safe. The movement you see is the firing hand grip loosening to allow the firing hand thumb to go forward and hook the selector lever and sweep it back to safe. Historically, I didn’t always do this in a competitive shooting environment.

Around 2008-2009, I shot some 3 gun and I did get into the habit of leaving the rifle on fire during a stage like all the other 3 gunners did and still do. It bugged me that I did that but was easily able to switch techniques come Monday morning when it was time to be a tactical shooter to train and teach CQB again. In 2012, I started my training company where I emphasized my 2 easy gun handling rules. I didn’t have time to compete, which hurt my soul a bit, but when I started again, I noticed that I was putting the rifle on safe every time my eyes disconnected from it and it wasn’t slowing me down! You can see that for yourself in the video. I had the fastest stage time against some pretty dang good 3 gun shooters and I was putting the gun on safe during every transition.

As mentioned earlier, this is NOT CQB and NOT TACTICAL shooting. It is a game or sport requiring fast processing, control over the gun, efficient mechanics, efficient movement and a strong mental game. ALL of those things translate to tactical shooting. This is also Competition Speed as opposed to CQB Speed. In my opinion based on my experiences, CQB Speed is 25% of Competition Speed so it’s much slower. If we can manipulate the selector switch at Competition Speed, we can certainly do it at CQB Speed.

In summary, I truly believe that it won’t cost you anything to put the rifle on safe every time you disconnect your eyes from it. It does take training to make it a habit but it is easy and fast to train it, if you train right. For many years, I kept the rifle on fire during bolt lock reloads. One day, I watched a video with Pat McNamara talking about putting the rifle on safe during reloads. I immediately saw the value in it and trained my hands to do it in about 30 minutes!

As always, I want to thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say about shooting. I hope that some of the things I have figured out, through experience and trial and error, will help you reach your shooting goals!

-Frank Proctor


Frank Proctor has served over 18 years in the military, the last 11 of those in US Army Special Forces. During his multiple combat tours in Afghanistan & Iraq he had the privilege to serve with and learn from many seasoned veteran Special Forces Operators so their combined years of knowledge and experience has helped him to become a better operator & instructor. While serving as an instructor at the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course he was drawn to competitive shooting. He has since earned the USPSA Grand Master ranking in the Limited Division and Master ranking in the IDPA Stock Service Pistol division. He learned a great deal from shooting in competition and this has helped him to become to become a better tactical shooter. Frank is one of the few individuals able to bring the experiences of U.S. Army Special Forces, Competitive Shooting, and veteran Instructor to every class.

All this experience combines to make Frank Proctor a well-rounded shooter and instructor capable of helping you to achieve your goal of becoming a better shooter.

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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5 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Frank Proctor

  1. Ed Hickey says:

    Excellent & have recently started doing it on my shotgun also.

  2. Paul McCain says:

    Just a matter of repetition, repetition, repetition.

    Good post. Thanks.

  3. Ben says:

    Excellent. Got some grief from other shooters over this. Good post.

  4. T says:

    I run an am I safety on my rifle, and have noticed it’s faster for me to engage safe with my trigger finger, which also removes it from the trigger area. I also switch to safe every time I don’t have my gun up, and now I can point to this article (as well as your last) as to why. Good stuff.

  5. Chris K. says:

    Hit the nail on the head. Competition shooting is like PT: it better prepares you for the fight. Also excellent point on muzzle awareness under stress, especially with a pistol. You have to practice it in unfamiliar situations on demand to master it.