Training, We Are (Mostly) Doing It Wrong

Sometime back I had a friendly but spirited conversation regarding firearms training and its value to armed citizens with a friend. Like many others who take the defense of ourselves and our families seriously, he is a big proponent of training. So am I. It is the nature of the training that we disagreed on.

First, let me make on quick point. There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of defensive gun uses in this country every year. The Clinton era Department of Justice (hardly a pro-gun organization) commissioned a study that showed 1.5 million defensive gun uses in single year. Whether the number is 65,000 or 1.5 million the vast majority of these were by citizens with minimal training. Most people are able to successfully defend themselves and their loved ones with little knowledge beyond the basic mechanics of manipulating a firearm; load, point/aim and fire. So, from that perspective additional training is, statistically, unimportant.

Second, much (maybe most) of the firearms training available is largely irrelevant to the armed citizen. Let’s be honest, really useful firearms training, for CHL holders (not SWAT team guys) consists of just a few fairly simple skills including basic gun handling, effective trigger squeeze, smooth draw stroke, moving while shooting/reloading, use of cover/concealment (including the differences) and basic marksmanship. That’s about it, although some force on force experience would be a real plus.

While it may be really, really cool to fast rope out of helicopters, learn to transition between carbine and pistol while kitted up in body armor and molle webbing the fact is that unless you are headed for an active war zone those skills don’t provide a lot of real value. A serious first aid class will be FAR more useful for most people than a weekend spent fast roping from a helicopter or doing carbine/pistol transitions. A lot of what people consider “serious” training is really “enterTRAINment.” If you want to take such training, that’s awesome. I’m glad we live in a country where that is possible but don’t kid yourself about how those skills will help when someone walks up behind you at the ATM.

The idea that we need to train like SWAT/SEAL/Ranger teams is simply not correct. Most defensive gun uses happen at relatively short distances, in dim but decent, lighting and while standing. Plus remember, there are thousands of successful DGUs every year in the US and most of those are by untrained folks who never even make it to the range once a year.

And as long as we’re being honest, determination and aggressiveness are probably MORE important than any training.

Repeat after me, I am NOT saying that you should not train. I am not saying you shouldn’t take the really cool classes. I am saying is that if you are going to invest the time and money in training to help you survive a violent encounter make sure it is on really useful skills.

Just my two cents, please feel free to share your thoughts.

God bless


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