Airsoft Training with Umarex Pistols and Rubber Dummies
Major Pandemic 05.17.17
During some recent training with Craig Douglas of ShivWorks, I was introduced to the world of realistic training with the help of airsoft guns. I really had no idea that available airsoft trainers were so realistic, accurate, or well made.
The idea behind it is that regular and higher-risk live training can be done with an airsoft gun to minimize training risk. I still believe a year spent dry-fire practicing will net more advantage than weekly range trips with live fire, but I think airsoft holds a legitimate place between those two extremes.
During the “Armed Movement in Structures” training, we used airsoft to metaphorically kill each other, but you can do so much more than entry training. Want to do high-stress fast draw drills without accidentally shooting yourself? No problem if you use airsoft; it will only provide a stinging reminder that you were outside of your safe control speed with the handgun.
My airsoft gun of choice is the Umarex USA (AKA Walther USA) green gas airsoft PPQ M2 pistols which match my real PPQ M2 22 LR and PPQ M2 9mm pistols. Heck, Umarex even has a PPQ M2 .177 caliber pellet pistol if you want the entire progressive training kit.
Previously I’ve heavily used the 22 LR version as a trainer on steel, but now I also have a back yard option for training as well. Green gas guns are refilled with a larger canister like you would a butane lighter. Press in for a few seconds and you are ready to shoot again. The upside is charging the gun is quick while you are reloading the plastic BBs, but the downside is that it recharges are required often, usually every other time you reload the magazine.
During my review of Rubber Dummies targets, which by the way is the single best training target I have ever tested, I learned that airsoft BBs would leave smaller, but still noticeable, impact marks on the Rubber Dummy target. Coupled with a quality airsoft training pistol and a comparable holster to your carry holster, these three items deliver a realistic and safe back yard urban training setup.
My green gas powered Umarex PPQ airsoft gun produced visible marking hits all the way out to 15 yards on the Rubber Dummies. Add in a free shot timer app for you smartphone and you have everything you need to start some real training work.
I have been using airsoft training a lot, and my draw-from-concealment speeds have increased significantly from a solid average around 0.5 secs to a few 0.28-0.30 sec first-shot. Part of that is being able to do MANY repetitive drills with the ability to work through the kinks and micro motions without worrying about an accidental and potentially fatal live round discharge. The other aspect is that after the investment in a high quality $100+ airsoft gun, shooting becomes much more affordable than burning actual ammo. Airsoft “BBs” cost around $0.84 per 100, or about $42 per 5000 if you buy premium gas and premium BBs. Airsoft is cheap practice that can quickly pay for itself.
You can also practice riskier drills, such as placing your left hand on the right hip to simulate a captured draw stroke of your opponent while drawing and shooting. Generally this drill is done with a bent support arm up with the left hand near the ear to get the arm out of the way of the bullet. The right hand partially draws the gun with a high elbow and a shot is taken on the opponent in a downward 45-degree direction away from your body parts. Again ShivWorks does some training on this and has some great videos about how to do this correctly without shooting yourself.
Obviously modifying this drill to place your hand more in line with a potential bullet path is risky, but it’s a realistic scenario and a great use for airsoft. If you shoot your hand you will know it, but you won’t turn it into bloody tatters. Generally I use airsoft for close drill less than a foot away, but sometime much closer in grappling range. It really is interesting to get entangled gripping the Rubber Dummy target and go through the drill while slowly looking at the gun angle, bullet trajectory, and where the shot ended up in comparison to your body parts.
With the typical urban sounds of most housing subdivisions, the report of most airsoft guns is about as loud as a kid playing basketball and cannot be heard more than a house or two each way. It is still far softer than the blap blap blap from the ever-present re-roofing job in any neighborhood. What I have enjoyed most is being able to get outside in my backyard for to work through realistic training and basic drills while waiting for the wife to shower or while waiting for the kids’ bus to show up.
As we all know, once you have kids those long uninterrupted full-day range sessions seem to dwindle and this is one way to get back out there and work on your fundamentals.