I have decided that for me, 2017 will be the year of training. I’ve spent the last few years shooting a lot on my own, and while I’ve put north of 10,000 rounds down range, most of that shooting was pretty unfocused. This year, I plan on taking a number of classes. I’m not the first to suggest that if you carry a gun, you should be trained. I believe that. And I will tell you that the 4-8 hour “class” you take to get your carry permit is not training. At best it’s a quick overview of your state’s laws followed by a quick range session that almost anyone should be able to pass. None of that prepares you to deal with a lethal force encounter.
In just the few classes I’ve taken, it has amazed me at how much my skill level has improved. Moreover, I’ve seen other guys come to classes who were really not very competent shooters improve to the point where I would feel comfortable standing next to them in a gunfight.
Last week, I took my daughter to a Defensive Handgun 1 class at Nashville Armory. I’ve taken the class once already, and most of the drills we did were review for me. However, I still got faster on our benchmark drill, and 4 hours and 250 rounds later, my accuracy definitely improved. My daughter has shot some in the past, and is a decent shot when standing in a shooting bay. However, she was a bit out of her comfort zone when we all stood downrange and engaged our targets. In the beginning, she struggled with her accuracy and speed, especially her draw. By the end, she had improved a solid 25% on her draw and fire time, which is a huge improvement. Her accuracy also improved, as did her overall comfort level.
How Much Is Your Life Worth?
Now it’s entirely possible that there are some out there saying, “But Mike, training is sooooo expensive!” Ok, sure. It might cost you $125-150 for a class, plus $50-60 in ammunition. Call it $200. But let me ask you this: Are you willing to bet your life on being able to perform under the threat of a deadly encounter at your current skill level? If you have done nothing but take your state-mandated class, then simply strapped on your gun every day for the last year, do you really think you can draw, fire and get shots on target in under 2 seconds? After one class my daughter can, though she couldn’t before.
When you find yourself under extreme pressure—you know, like an armed assailant attacking you—you will not suddenly develop super-human gunfighter mad skillz. You will default to your level of training. What’s that? You have no training? How’s that going to work out for you?
You’ve never practiced drawing your firearm from the holster you carry with your everyday clothes? How do you plan to get the gun in play? Can you even draw given your standard carry gear? Can you move, draw and shoot—with hits on target—while staring at an attacker’s gun or knife? These are serious things to think about. And we practiced doing just that in class.
I’ve said before that the gun is not a magic talisman that wards off evil just because you’re carrying it. If you are carrying a gun for personal and family protection, you best know how to deploy it if you ever need to.
Responsible Gun Owners Rise Up
There are a lot of people—especially in the anti-gun crowd—who want to mandate training before we honest, law-abiding citizens can carry a gun. I disagree with that position entirely. The Second Amendment is clear; shall not be infringed. However, I also believe every one of us honest, law-abiding citizens who carry a gun need to be trained. But it’s incumbent on us to take the training.
I’ve heard some suggest, “Sure, let’s do mandated training, as long as it’s free from the state.” That’s a terrible idea for two reasons. First of all, to take money from one person and give it to another for “free” firearms training is immoral. There is absolutely no way to justify that. Second, can you name one thing government does really well? No thanks, I’d rather seek out really good training that will actually help me when I need it.
Getting Better = More Enjoyment
And you know what? Training is a lot of fun. I’ve taken four classes now at my local range, and I have not only met some really great people, but I’ve had fun. Shooting is an enjoyable sport. Learning to shoot better makes shooting more enjoyable. Better yet, when I go back to the monthly matches at the Nashville Armory, I see many of the same people I took classes with. Shared experiences give us something to talk about and friendships grow.
In this hyper-connected online world where everyone has a thousand online friends but no real ones, it’s nice to get out and enjoy an activity with like-minded folks while we improve our skills. There is just no downside to this.
I get that some people can’t afford to drop $200 on a training class every month. But can you save up $200 over the course of 6-12 months and take 1-2 classes a year? I bet you can. It’s all a matter of priorities. When it comes down to it, we do what’s important to us. If protecting your family is important, take a class. Find a way. I promise it will be money and time well-spent.