Thank you, Rambo…

Don’t get me wrong. Philosophically, I don’t disagree with the spirit of this at all.

The abilities to load, rack/cock/charge, point, and shoot a weapon do not comprise firearm competence.

Weapon competence means you must acquire your weapon, bring it to bear, then physically bring yourself into the fight and/or evade, make accurate hits while under great duress, recognize malfunctions, clear malfunctions, and reload. All in a manner that is sure, deliberate, and effective.

The increasing normalization of the keeping and carrying of personal weapons is a very good thing. The proliferation of training professionals and facilities for teaching the use of arms is, in general, a positive development. I’m in favor of these things. It can get kinda silly, but I’m encouraged by the fact that even some of the “operators” seem to recognize it

If you’re interested in self-defense with a firearm, it definitely isn’t enough to just go out and buy a gun. A basic familiarization course won’t give you any level of justified confidence in your ability to defend yourself with the weapon. Sometimes you can do it yourself and sometimes you need professional help, but you should train. No argument there.

A couple of years ago, living out in the dirty boonies as I do and surrounded by unfriendly critters that don’t shoot back but do appear rather more commonly than looting hordes, I switched from a 1911 to a revolver. Five rounds in a .44 isn’t much ammo. I’d already been in situations where I needed more than that, which meant I needed to learn to use these damn things…
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First time out of the pouch it became clear to me that “speed strip” is a bit of a misnomer. They need to be broken in, and they need practice. Had I waited until a high-pucker-factor situation to learn this, bad things could have happened. So yeah. Practice is good. Professional training is good.

You know there’s a “but” coming, right? It has arrived…

Can you name the tactical errors that old guy made? It’s not a short list. But he won.

Not only did he win, it wasn’t even close.

A fat man in his 70’s with a pocket pistol sent two younger, stronger aggressors stumbling over one another and filling their pants, though he clearly only barely knew what he was doing with a handgun. Why? How? According to this guy, the old man should have died on the spot.

He had aggressiveness and audacity, a willingness to attack, to bring the fight to the bad guys. They weren’t there to fight and die, they only wanted to fleece some helpless sheep. Suddenly they found themselves in a gunfight, and it freaked them right the hell out.

It’s all very well to be a trained operator, operating operationally in an operational area. Aggressive dominance of any potential battlespace. And all that shit. Sure. Whatever.

Get professional training. Then get more professional training. And do it again. Practice on your own. Every week. With each of your weapons.

If you’re not going to train with your guns, don’t buy guns for self defense.

When I was young and single I would have pumped my fist and yelled “Amen!” I did all that stuff. I got professional training, and then I got more professional training. I practiced several times weekly. I competed with battle rifle and handgun. It was easy then – I was young and strong and undistracted. It was what I did. It was pretty much all I did. If I do say so myself, I was pretty hot stuff for a while.

Then I got married. Got serious about a career. Got a kid, got a mortgage. Got a lot more things to spend money and time on than gear and travel and classes. Had I suggested I spend my vacation time and hundreds or thousands of dollars on a shooting class … well, I didn’t make any such suggestion, so I don’t know what would have happened.

Did I then become unworthy to carry a gun for self-defense? I certainly had more things to defend, at the same time that – conceded – my proficiency went right to hell.

If I were the proprietor of a training facility, self-interest would probably drive me to make suggestions like the above. And yet…

…and this implied – and often expressed – notion that if you ain’t a ‘trained operator’ you’re a sheep who’s better off putting up your hands and going off quietly does a terrible disservice to people who would otherwise achieve basic proficiency and just carry a frickin’ gun, but who won’t because they injest the lesson that if they’re not high-speed-low-drag they’re unworthy dangers to themselves and others.

I’d rather live in a world filled with half-trained or even untrained CCW carriers, if that’s the best we can do, than in a world of unarmed and helpless sheep. That’s all I’m saying.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to Thank you, Rambo…

  1. MamaLiberty says:

    Amen! I’ve been saying this for a long time. All the stories about little old ladies and gentlemen who manage to prevail in spite of poor or no training, poor or just plain inadequate weapons, or even by taking the damned thing away from the young, buff criminal… Oh yeah.

    The will to survive, to fight and to carry that fight to the aggressor is the key. The criminal doesn’t have any even close to that kind of motive. But they will gladly kill or injure those who don’t resist. There’s a story about two hikers in Calif. in the news today. They surrendered to a robber… one of them is dead and the other is in critical condition. If either one had been armed, or even shown some real fight, the story would have ended very differently.

  2. Tam says:

    The Armed Citizen column in the NRA’s mag is full of good citizens who brandished their ballistic rabbits foot and carried the day.

    The stories about the people who didn’t make it to the sock drawer in time to fetch ol’ Bessie before they were beaten to death with a hammer don’t make as rah-rah reading for the troops.

  3. Tam says:

    (Which isn’t to say that the vast majority of the time simply having a gun and expressing the will to use it isn’t enough to send the bad guy packing. It is. Of course, the vast, vast, vast majority of the time, I don’t even need a gun at all because I follow Farnham’s Law: Don’t go stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things. 😉 Were I simply playing the odds, I wouldn’t carry at all.)

  4. Sam Yosemite says:

    In olden days the stories of pioneer women who picked up a Colt SAA for the first time and protected their kids and/or homestead with deadly effectiveness were so widespread that SAA’s were often recommended as good self-defense pieces well into the 1960’s.

    It isn’t the gun you use, it is the willingness to use it. When you open fire, most bad guys are going to run away, not hang around counting rounds, figuring out when it is safe to turn around.

    All rounds after the first one are for the rare bad guys who are not part of the “most” mentioned above.

  5. Goober says:

    Okay, here is the thing:

    I agree with both points of view, to an extent.

    Yes, you should practice with your gun. If you don’t practice a lot, and don’t seek profession training with it, I don’t think that precludes you from carrying, as long as you can do so safely.

    You are factors of ten better off with a gun that you don’t use to full effect, than you are without one at all. You are factors of ten better than that, even, if you learn to use your gun to full effect.

    The problem is that most of these people demanding that you seek professional training are also, coincidentally, selling professional training. One is tempted to wonder if maybe they are biased. But the advice to not carry at all if you haven’t reached level 5 operator status is just BS. Shoot your weapon. Become familiar enough with it that you can draw and fire it under duress. Practice with it a couple times a year. Then carry it with my blessing. The bad guys you’re going to be using it against are most likely not “operators” themselves. Just punks looking to harvest some swag off of you with as little effort as possible.

    I never personally received any personal training for any of my gun skills. According to the men Joel references, I’ve no business carrying a weapon.

    That being said, I am capable of firing my rifle accurately out to 1,000 yards, which is farther than most people can see a target with their naked eye. I practice with my pistol at 50 YARDS shooting clay pigeons. Not feet. YARDS. I don’t miss much, and when I do, it is still a kill shot – just not through the heart. Maybe a lung.

    I practice quick response drills thousands of times a year – try pheasant and quail hunting without having greased lighting reflexes. Even sporting clays.

    The fact is, without any tactical training at all, I think that I could use any one of my weapons to nearly full effect, better than 90% of the general public. Probably more. I put more money’s worth of rounds down range per year than I would ever want to admit, and many of them are not theoretical situations, shooting at targets. I shot a moose at 375 yards, running full out, in September. I shot it through the center of the center of its heart. Killed two deer in less than 5 seconds in October, with three rounds total, both deer running at 175 yards, full speed across my field of view. Lee Harvey Oswald, eat your heart out. No one “trained” me how to do that, and to say that I could not have learned how to do that to effect without being trained is proven false. I’ve a freezer full of moose and venison that proves them wrong.

To the stake with the heretic!