Beretta M9 Hands On Part 5: Master the Gun

This is the final step on a journey that began with last week’s discussion of Beretta M9 history , and this week led you through a lot of Beretta tribal knowledge and confidence building. If you’ve been following along with gun in hand, and on the range, you’re probably getting pretty good. You’ve got the first four steps down. Now it’s time to Master the Gun.

  1. Embrace the gun
  2. Understand the gun
  3. Maintain the gun
  4. Master the basics
  5. Master the gun

Master the gun

You can do some amazing work with an M9 once you have truly mastered it. That includes extending its range envelope — an experienced shooter who has trained to do this can engage man-sized targets at 100m with the pistol, consistently. The steps that begin to bring you there are shooting basics and gun knowledge. Applied, on the range or in combat, they extend your lethal range with the M9.

Mastery is thinking three-dimensionally in combat. Most people never practice to engage targets that are not in a level plane with themselves, and as a result, when faced with a target on a higher or lower elevation, they miss. Ballistics is funny that way — have to aim up, your shot will go high if you don’t compensate. Have to aim down? Your shot will fall.. high, if you don’t compensate. So if you’re not shooting level, aim low.

Mastery includes moving targets, which should never be engaged before one is hitting the stationary target consistently and in tight groups during timed fire.

Mastery is being able to hit targets when you are moving, and this is something one needs specific training for.

Mastery is being able to hit targets with one hand, either hand, and with two hands but firing with the weak hand. It’s being able to hit with either eye closed. True mastery means staying in the fight even if wounded.

Mastery is being able to hit targets at normal combat ranges without using the sights. Yes, you should always use the sights and almost always can. But a master can will a round on to a target, because he’s practiced until the extended boreline of his pistol is practically visible to him.

Mastery also includes CQB training, including drawing the pistol and transitioning from rifle to pistol. This is not training your should give yourself. The 100-meter thing is, definitely (and it’s a great range trick to impress your friends, once you have it down. The secret is judging range and holdover, using your steady-hold factors, and simply knowing that it can be done). But any kind of CQB or quick-draw practice without professional instruction and range control is extremely risky, and that’s probably why your range forbids it. Firing on the move is risky.

Night fire is risky — but if you have a gun for defense, it is likely that night is when you will need it. Night fire, in the eerie partial illumination of moonlight, the strange lights of urban areas, and the pure inky darkness of the new moon, is part of mastery.

Will you be ready? You will when you achieve mastery. “But sensei,” you say. “It’s an asymptote, no, it’s worse than an asymptote — the closer I get to mastery the more I feel I must practice and learn.” Ah, yes, Grasshopper. You begin the path to enlightenment.

2 thoughts on “Beretta M9 Hands On Part 5: Master the Gun

  1. Morgan Lewis

    ‘Nose,

    Not exactly M9 specific, but a valuable skill often ignored is a one hand, combat reload. There is a very real possibility that an injury received in a gunfight could put one arm/hand out of commission. Serious shooters often practice weak hand shooting skills, but I don’t run into that many shooters who have practiced doing reloads with just one hand (weak and strong side). It could be a life-saver.

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