Last week we covered a firearms accident that resulted in the death of a young man. This week we are going to look at what training should look like for defensive use of a firearm.
I took a couple of students to the range a few weeks ago. The gentleman had a little experience around firearms, but not much. The lady had essentially zero experience. These two were middle aged, interested in being prepared for self defense and taking their education and training seriously after coming to one of our Free Concealed Carry Classes.
Perfection of skills or preparation in a self defense context is impossible. There are too many variables to account for.
Both of these people struggled with a number of skills throughout our 1 hour together. It seemed obvious to me that they were getting a little discouraged on the range and were feeling like they had failed. Part of this is my fault for not doing a good job setting the expectation before we started of what the actual goal is for the training. Part of this is also the mindset that they brought with them to the range that they were going to have to perform to some kind of standard and that without that performance they were failing.
Aside from their perception of the goal and their performance, both made significant progress in the time we spent together. But progress in what? If I was to set a standard, let’s say consistently shooting 3 rounds in the high center chest at 5 yards in 3 seconds, then they didn’t get anywhere near that. But if I set the goal as progress in essential skills and understanding for how the gun and the body should work together intuitively in a dynamic critical incident, then there was progress. If the goal was for each of them to become better prepared to use a handgun to defend themselves should the need arise, then we accomplished the goal.
Perfection of skills or preparation in a self defense context is impossible. There are too many variables to account for. The more controlled we set up the training, the more likely we can attain a standard. If the training is set up in a way to control for distance, movement, gear, preparation, clothing, etc, then we can set a standard to say, draw from concealment and put one round on a set target in a set amount of time. But there is very little that we can control in the dynamic world of human beings. We are also morally and legally responsible for the consequences of our actions in the real world and training methods that do not make room for decision making do not accurately represent the necessary totality of self defense.
So how do we approach improvement if we don’t have a standard? First is understanding the context of the fight. We can look at objective truths about self defense fights, such as most likely distances, physiological and neurological processes and limitations, ballistics and more. We can use these facts to determine how we train and what we focus on for skill development. Then as we teach these skills in a training environment we put the student in more and more dynamic situations as we make sure the student continues to learn and apply the essential skills.
Back to our couple and their improvement at the range. Both of these people got much better at their gun handling skills. These are essential for using a gun safely in any context. Both improved their full extension of the gun into and parallel with their line of sight, trigger press and use of sight alignment and sight picture for intuitive sighted fire. Neither of them “perfected” anything on the range but again, that’s not the point. The last 10 minutes we spent together I made sure that they understood what the goal of our time together was, what they did well on, where they needed improvement, and how to work on that improvement. Ultimately it will be their responsibility on whether they will continue their practice and training.
The reason all of this is so important is because we are talking about skills and tools for preserving life in a dangerous circumstance. These high stakes necessitate the dedication to the correct approach to learning. This is how we conduct our Free Concealed Carry Classes as well as all of our other training and education.