Handguns: You Will NOT Rise To The Occasion…

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Allow me to paraphrase a few choice things I’ve heard over the years from folks with respect to handgun usage / training / personal defense.

  • I’ve been around guns my whole life
  • I’ll take a CCW course, I wouldn’t need to shoot though
  • I carry a gun but keep it locked in my glove box
  • I do have a gun, if something happens I’m sure I’ll know what to do when that time arises

I once spoke to a very nice lady who takes her dogs on a walk while carrying a pistol….that she has never fired.  As a matter of fact she has never once fired a gun at all!  Now imagine something were to happen, be it wild animal encounter or bad guy, I suspect she would have a better chance of throwing the gun at the threat than actually employing it in the manner prescribed.  It is mind boggling to me how many folks almost NEVER train but do carry a gun for self defense, citing some of the reasons I listed above.  When the chips are down, stress levels are high and there are mere seconds to react, one can only hope that all the time spent purposefully training will pay off.  If there is no training to fall back upon, failure will be the likely outcome and as the quote goes: you will not rise to the occasion but default to the level of your training.

I’m fortunate that I live in an area where I can shoot just about any time I want, the main constraint is ammunition because to date I have yet to find someone to give it to me for free.  Yes I know there is an option to reload, which I do for precision rounds (.308) but plowing through 4,000 rounds a year of 9mm I have no desire to stand over my turret press plugging away at an average of 100 rounds per hour.  I shoot a variety of drills and scenarios both on paper and steel, strong and weak hand and also with a shot timer.  I’m no pro out there with my Glock 19 but I do what I can to keep my level of proficiency up, including dry fire techniques while at home.  It’s a skill set that must be constantly honed otherwise the rust starts to set in, I know this from personal experience as well.

I train with the mindset that while I want to be proficient I truly hope to never have to use my pistol in a personal defense situation.  Yet should that day come,  even with all the training, there are still no guarantees.  Imagine how far less prepared the average person who shoots 50-100 rounds of year at a giant paper target at the indoor range would be.  Someone who carries concealed but never practices draw from the holster, someone has never fired a single round under stress or experienced a malfunction.  This is what perplexes me, why is there no emphasis on training?  These folks carry a gun to protect themselves or their family but actually do not possess the skills to employ the gun in a proficient manner.

Through no fault of their own I truly believe that good people are just ignorant with respect to what needs to go into becoming remotely proficient with a firearm.  Unless their target is a static full sized “person” at 7 yards under full lighting in a climate controlled range with an NRA instructor standing over their shoulder they wouldn’t have a clue.  Some folks wouldn’t even have that experience in their kit, owning guns they have never even fired.  Ridiculous!

These aren’t issues I can solve, all I can do is emphasize to everyone reading this how important the training is.  On a local (read: what I can actually control) level I do take folks out and teach them how to shoot, help them refine their skills while always keeping the fundamentals at the forefront.  Currently there is around 6 inches of snow on the ground and the temps are hovering in the 20’s, I’l be out today ringing steel and running drills.  It’s always a good day to train, get out there yourself and stay safe.