You need skill!
I admit the title of the article is a bit of a clickbait. If you are an avid reader of my blog, you are likely not my target audience. But I hope you share it with someone who might think that a firearm is the solution to their self-defense needs. How many of you know or have heard of that family where the husband or wife has put their foot down and for whatever reason does not allow a gun in the home? I know I have and am sure plenty of you have as well. Fast forward to 2020 during a global pandemic (COVID 19), mass rioting and looting in many large cities, and that same spouse that was previously denied having a gun is told by their better half, “I think we should get a gun.“
I am not sure why, but I find that ridiculously funny…”Hey honey, it appears violence is actually real, we should get a gun!” In particular, I find it really interesting that many Americans are still living with their head in the sand and have a hard time believing that something bad can happen in their neighborhood. Have they not read the news? This is not the first year where crime or violence has occurred in America. There has always been a criminal element out there that has the desire and ability to do us harm. Those that ignore this are simply living in fantasy land.
I find it interesting when those who wake up and realize the threat is real have decided that a gun is their saving grace. A gun is no more of a self-defense solution to the untrained individual than a car is a method of transportation to a child who does not know how to drive. Trust me, I have two teenagers. Without training, a gun is easily as dangerous as a car driven 80 miles an hour by a 6-year-old. Yet millions upon millions of Americans now flock to gun stores and buy their first gun, so they can “protect their home.” Yet very few, and I am guessing less than 5% of buyers actually approach their gun purchase and prioritize getting some training after their purchase.
It does not take a half dozen high round count tactical shooting courses to get proficient with a firearm, but it does take a dedicated effort. A large percentage of the skills needed to deploy and use a firearm for self-defense can be learned and practiced without shooting live ammunition. Loading, unloading, stance, grip, sight management, trigger management, the draw process, shooting positions…the list goes on. They can all be learned or practiced without firing a shot. Indeed there are some things that MUST be practiced live fire such as recoil control, and there is no skipping the process. The point is that if there is a will, there is a way. Even during times when ammunition is impossible to find.
I’m guessing that most new gun purchasers spend about $500 on the gun, and maybe $50-100 on ammunition. Throw in some accessories like hearing protection, and they will have likely spent about $750 total on their purchase. And they then take the gun home…and it sits in the closet. Just like the hundreds of thousands of AR’s did after the AR purchase scare during the Obama administration. Most of those rifles never even got loaded, much less trained with. So if someone is going to invest $750 in the gun and gear and never seek out the skill needed to use the tool (the gun), it is useless and maybe even dangerous.
I want to see everyone that legally can, go armed. But to those that are the “its time to buy that gun to have in the house” with zero intention of acquiring the skills to use one, I would say: Don’t waste your money! Spend it on other things that might actually make you safer like a better alarm, security lights, pepper spray, better locks, cameras, etc.
And now for those of you that actually want to have the ability to use a firearm to improve your self-defense posture, let me suggest how I would recommend approaching this goal:
- Buy Ammo, not Gadgets. Plan to spend about double what you did in your initial purchase on ammunition, and unfortunately now even more. There is only one way to learn to shoot good enough where you are confident in your skills, and that is to practice. Once you get your gun and related gear, skip the expensive gadget purchases. You DO NOT need the gadget of the day, you need knowledge and skill.
- Seek out and schedule training from a professional instructor. This goes way beyond your state concealed carry course (if one is required), and plan on spending a few hundred dollars on a good 2-4 hour class. Better yet, invest in small group private instruction with a local instructor that you have vetted, and meet up once a week for a couple of hours. For most of you, this will be more effective than a longer (2-4 day) course. Start your education process here for free.
- Invest in safe storage devices. Plan to invest a couple hundred on a few quick access safes where you will store your handgun when you are not carrying it. I am not a fan of just throwing a loaded handgun into the nightstand, and I much prefer the secure, fast access safes like the ones made by Gunvault. And if you have decided to carry a gun in your car (and not on your person), then invest in a similar safe for your vehicle. Please DON’T just throw it in your center console or glovebox!
As I finish this article our country is in chaos. We have a long road in front of us, and self and family defense should be a priority for everyone. Guns are self-defense tools (yes they have other purposes too), but just like any tool require the end-user has the skill to use them. I have recently been working with a couple of friends of mine that are very mature, skilled in martial arts, and dedicated to learning how to use a handgun for self-defense. It has been an eye-opener for them as they realize how much it takes to effectively, and safely deploy a handgun for self-defense. But in five training sessions, while not masters are confident, proficient, and much more prepared than they were before.
Most people don’t know what they don’t know. This is not acceptable with a firearm. Please help me spread this article and motivate those that don’t know to seek the help and instruction they need! If you are skilled and able, PLEASE take the time to bring someone in need to the range. Start them on the right path!
Until Then – Train Hard!