There are many reasons for training. Training is a serious business but also a profitable business for many. A few genuinely train to save lives. Others train and go through the motions and seem to have lost contact with the reason we train. I maintain that training often reflects the individual’s personal values.
There are natural emergencies such as floods and storms we must prepare for. Firearms training, to many of us, is a necessity rather than an option. For some, getting a concealed carry permit is a whim, and the shooter doesn’t follow up with training and practice. They do not consider legal issues.
Training motivation must come from within—it is internal. External forces such as the will to survive may come into play, later. Whatever the motivation, we must organize in order to train. Those who grew up around firearms often rely on past experience, others must learn. Short-term training is replacing life experience for many of us. Many individuals have intellectual confusion as to how to begin and what track to take.
Colonel Cooper advanced firearms training to a science and separated truth from error in his training. There were good trainers before him, such as Fitz Fitzgerald, and of course we all remember Ed Mcgivern, the famous trick shooter, who devised a surprisingly practical course for training peace officers. The NRA has developed several layers of training. Cooper developed good training by devising competition that matched one discipline against the other. Consistency in technique won freestyle matches and he was, as he said, on to something. This is a proven and perhaps even scientific method.
Addressing non-scientific issues is more difficult. For example, while raising children or having a successful marriage may be accomplished, there are few formal rules. When training shooters to fire a handgun well, the actual problem is to hit the target. We do so with speed and consistency and do so from varied firing positions and ranges. Making value judgments is a far more difficult problem to address. Shoot and no-shoot drills and targets are one answer. However, most of the problem lies between the ears.
In some ways, the subject manner we are most concerned with is human behavior. People are notoriously unpredictable and do some God awful stupid things, or worse yet, evil acts. It is a rare text that contains sound judgement for personal defense and value judgments. A certain sequence of events will demand one action, another sequence a different response. It is important that training contain both positive and negative incentive objectively scored.
The student should know how to shoot but also when to shoot. There must be a clear understanding of the rules of engagement and the force continuum. I have often ‘mentioned’ that the gun was not there to prevent a few bruises or an ass whipping. The purpose, simply stated, is to prevent loss of life only. Perhaps my manner of stating the facts was coarse, but this is my value system. It may not be yours.
My ethics demand the belief that human life is precious. Even if that person is a low life burglar or mugger, and certainly for someone who is merely having a bad day and turned their anger upon you. Feeling threatened just isn’t a trigger for a lethal response—although it is certainly an alert.
Violent, lethal action is a trigger that rises to the level of a lethal response. Each student must learn this. Some have different difficulty in stopping violent action, although it is personal defense. Each student isn’t an abstract. Instead they are an individual. Gunfights, the event we wish to avoid but must be prepared for, are not a set piece event. Gunfights are disorderly and messy.
Short-term training does not reinforce skill growth. Only after training for weeks on end, consistently, and practicing your skills until they are ingrained in your muscle memory, do we become proficient.
When you are training, you need to train in a scenario that is appropriate for your needs, and not necessary something worked up the night before. We want something that challenges us and which will serve us well in developing personal skills. This shooter doesn’t always shoot against others as skilled as he may be in competition. Often enough, he will shoot against those with greater skill levels. This is integrity of training.
The advanced shooter, the one with important core values, will practice getting the pistol into action quickly, getting the piece on target, and getting hits. Only hits count and it seems to me that penetration and shot placement count for the most once the shooter has at least a .38 +P or 9mm Luger caliber in his hand. The bottom line is that if you are serious about training and personal defense, you should choose a handgun that will do the business in a wide variety of scenarios, including not only home defense and personal defense, but perhaps even public defense if need me.
This means defense against an active shooter. Only the shooter that trains hard and does his best to excel will be well prepared for a life saving encounter. After all this is serious business. Train hard, train with various disciplines, and if you must defend yourself and those that depend on you, will be able to look yourself in the mirror and know you did your best.
What values do you place on training? Do you see more people going through a concealed carry class on a whim or as a serious part of their training? Share your answers in the comment section.
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