If you want to get better at something, you practice. Your local high school Baseball team practices three to four times per week. An Olympic athlete trains for four years in order to be prepared for his or her one chance at success. Your local bar is filled with guys practicing for their dart league on Friday nights (even though they're probably just there for the beer). While you’re practicing for events that are obviously important, none of which are as important as the fight for your life.
If you lose your baseball game, you don’t get ice cream on the way home. If you lose the 100M Butterfly at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll most likely never have another chance at success. If you lose to your buddies down at the local pub, you’ll probably just drink another pitcher or two and forget you even played darts that night. However, if you lose the fight for your life, that’s it; it’s over. All we know for certain is you lost; your life on earth has ended and what happens after that is up for discussion.
Why is it that people train religiously for these events that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t matter? Yet, when it comes to carrying a firearm, they have their license to carry, bought their Uncle Mike’s #5, vaguely recall going to the range once with their uncle two decades ago, and walk around with this false sense of security as if they are ready to take on the world.
Everybody has heard the expression “Practice makes perfect,” right? Well, I’m not a fan because the same guy that says that will turn around and tell you “nobody is perfect” when you make a mistake. I much prefer “Practice makes permanent, so practice perfectly”. When you go to the range, you’re spending your hard earned money on ammunition, targets, etc., so make the most of your time and money. All too often we see people come into our range and aimlessly put holes in paper. They walk out with a sense of achievement. They feel as if they accomplished something because out of the 50 rounds they fired, 43 hit the paper. Meanwhile, their life-sized silhouette looks like a gigantic slice of swiss cheese. Don’t get me wrong, shooting a gun is good fun. Between the noise, power, and adrenaline you experience while operating a firearm, it’s sure to put a smile on your face. However, you can work to accomplish a goal and still get all those warm, fuzzy feelings inside.
Increasing your proficiency with firearms doesn’t have to be a costly process. To help you better understand your options I’m going to break it down in order from most to least expensive.
While this is the most expensive, you are going to get one-on-one attention. Every last thing you do, right or wrong, is noticed, critiqued, and corrected. This form of training gives you the ability to work on exactly what you want to work on. If you have a question for your instructor, you don’t have to raise your hand or wait your turn, you get your answer immediately.
By far the best value for money. Normally these classes run for at least 4 hours, so make sure you bring coffee. This is a great opportunity to learn a lot of different things in one day, all while working and shooting alongside your peers.
Considering the fact that this form of training offers no live-fire portion, it is an awesome opportunity for you to train your mind. This aspect to training is often overlooked as most people don’t realize that the mindset is one of the most important things to work on.
There are numerous books out there that will help you learn exactly what it takes to survive a violent confrontation. Some that I have read and strongly encourage you to pick up are the following: Warrior Mindset by Dr Michael Asken; On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman; On Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
When it comes to educational videos via the internet, be cautious of what you soak in as “truth”. Anybody with a camera can make a video and upload it. While there are plenty of channels out there with awesome content, take some with a grain of salt. Some of the channels that I personally subscribe to include the following: The Gun Collective, IV888, Military Arms Channel, Tremis Dynamics, Tactical Response & Demolition Ranch (the last one is because it’s awesome to watch him blow shit up).
Performed at home, WITH NO LIVE AMMUNITION IN THE ROOM, dry fire is a great way to fine-tune your muscle memory. Depending on what you’re working on, it can be performed with an empty gun or snap-caps. You can practice holster-draw, loading/unloading, clearing malfunctions, and much more.
Word of Mouth
Ask questions, People! If there is something that you are unsure of, don’t be afraid to seek advice. All too often gun shop employees forget that they were once in your shoes and, unfortunately, that’s caused many customers to be tentative to ask for help. Here at Sensibly Armed, we strive to be the polar opposite of the stereotypical “guy behind the counter” at a gun shop. We have a regular that comes into Sensibly Armed and almost every time he asks me for my opinion on something that popped into his head earlier in the week, and honestly, I love it. Instead of just trying to figure it out for himself, or diving into the wide world of the internet, he asks me for my opinion. A truly humbling experience.
Remember when you were a kid and got your first bicycle? It came with training wheels. You rode up and down the block, practicing your new skill until your dad took them off. Then, on your 16th birthday, your parents took you to an empty parking lot and taught you how to drive. You spent hours behind the wheel before you pulled onto the highway. However, when it comes to firearms, the necessity for training is overlooked. Unfortunately, there’s a good percentage of people that bought their first gun, took it home from the shop, loaded it, placed it on their nightstand and haven't touched it since. Yet, they’re under the false pretense that when they hear a bump in the night, they’ll be able to eliminate the threat.
Recently, I heard somebody say: “If you carry a gun and don’t train, you’re just supplying the bad guy with a firearm.” Please, for the sake of humanity, go get trained.