10 Things Gun Owners Can Do During the Pandemic

Welcome to the age of coronavirus. Many people are working from home for the first time. Others have been told to just not show up for work. And a lot of activities have been postponed or cancelled. People's calendars are looking pretty empty right now.

But there's no point in sitting around and getting depressed about it. The one great thing about being a gun owner is that you always have things to do and skills to sharpen.

So here are 10 things you can do during the pandemic.

Adopt the right mindset. The best mindset in a crisis situation is to be alert, aware, and clear headed. Strong emotions can cloud your judgment, so staying level-headed is key. One of the best ways to keep your wits about you is to practice situational awareness so you don't get behind the response curve and panic when things go sideways. This is something you can practice when you're out and about buying groceries and running errands. Here's a short article on situational awareness by Drew Beatty.

Catch up on your reloading. If you're off work or self quarantining and going a little stir crazy, now would be a good time to get busy at the reloading bench. Organize those buckets of brass. Clean your dies. Check your supplies and restock. Fire up the tumbler. Having extra time on your hands could be a blessing in disguise.

Do some dry fire practice. In moments of extreme stress, your body will revert to "reflexive" actions. Those are actions programed into your nervous system and which happen with little or no conscious thought. To draw and fire your defensive weapon effectively in a stressful moment, you must perform thousands of repetitions to program those actions into your nervous system so they become instinctive. But since ammo and range time can be expensive, dry fire at home is a practical alternative. Here are some tips on dry fire for defensive shooting.

Run through basic malfunction drills. Most people hate this. But if you carry a semi-automatic handgun, it's essential. That fancy, expensive carry gun won't do you any good if it won't go bang and you don't have the ability to quickly and instinctively get it functioning again. Here's an article with 3 basic drills you should practice.

Practice skills at the range. A lot of things are closed, but many ranges remain open. Outdoor public ranges are a good option with the weather warming up. But here's the thing to remember about practicing: you want to actually practice defensive skills and not just poke holes in a paper target. There's nothing wrong with plinking just for fun, but there's a difference between practicing and plinking. In fact, we ran a good article from Gary Evans about this topic a few years ago.

Perform gun cleaning and maintenance. It's most people's least favorite chore, but eventually every gun needs some TLC. Inspect the "safe queens" to make sure there's no rust. Check the batteries in lasers and tactical lights. Get out the cleaning kit and get the crud out of your favorite range guns. If it's been a while since you did a complete disassembly and cleaning of a particular firearm, maybe now is the time. And always follow manufacturer directions for lubrication. Most people overdo it and that just invites more cruddy buildup next time you visit the range.

Clean out the safe and range bags. Let's face it. Some of us are clutter bugs and eventually all that extra stuff we've collected starts to take over. Are you really going to repair that bent magazine? Why are you saving that empty bottle of Hoppe's? What about the collection of old holsters you tried but rejected? And what exactly is that little metal thing you picked up at the range? Tossing or selling the stuff you aren't using can liberate a lot of useful space.

Read (or re-read) a good book. Maybe the easiest and cheapest thing you can do during the pandemic is to sit down and read or re-read a good book. Here are a few suggestions: "Armed Response" by David Kenick, "In the Gravest Extreme" by Massad Ayoob, and "Principles of Personal Defense" by Jeff Cooper. Books stores may be closed, but Amazon is always open. Or you can re-read books you have in your own collection. Quality books deserve multiple readings.  

Survey your home. Some years ago, I learned an important lesson after family visited for Thanksgiving. My wife and I come and go through the garage entrance. But apparently, some of our folks were sneaking in and out through a patio door we never use. Purely by chance, I discovered that the door had been unlocked for nearly two months! Now I routinely check doors and windows to make sure our home is secure. Add to this checking and replacing exterior lights as needed, making sure security cameras work, function testing the security system, and performing routine maintenance such as replacing batteries in smoke detectors. 

Do one more thing. There's always something else to do. Maybe you've been thinking about assembling a go bag for your vehicle. Or maybe you'd like to put together a first aid and bleeding control kit for your home or range visits. Or just get online and do a little shopping for a new holster or a better carry belt or other accessory. You have the time now, so put it to good use.

Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.