Question of the Day: Where’s the Line Between “Prepared” and “Mall Ninja”?

TTAG reader ST writes:

The genesis of this question came about as I perused my gun collection and wondered which carry weapon to choose. Unfortunately, the decision isn’t the easiest one to make in the best of circumstances. In the past I’ve had to reach for my gun twice in criminal encounters. So in my case there’s ugly real world experience on top of the individual merits of the guns themselves. I came to some interesting conclusions . . .

In both of my incidents, the bad guy was no farther than five feet away. We commonly consider seven yards to be close range for shooting purposes, but the first time I reached for my carry pistol I had to RUN BACKWARDS during the draw, for my attacker was approximately two feet away when hostilities commenced.

The second time I was walking to my car and spotted a character making a beeline for my vehicle in the deserted parking lot with his right hand hidden in his sweater pocket. I exposed my carry weapon—legal in my state, by the way—which caused the guy to abruptly change direction. By that point he was on the other side of my car from me, at a distance of perhaps four feet.

Understand: I have nothing against training or seeking more knowledge on the safe and effective use of firearms. We cannot ignore the crucial role mindset poses in self defense. That said, I can’t help but wonder about the merits of expert training past a certain point for the “ordinary Joe.”

Military and police personnel have to confront deadly threats as a part of their jobs, whereas a typical guy such as myself probably won’t be facing down a terrorist. And if one does appear, dialing 911 and leaving the situation probably makes more sense, especially if family and spouse are around.

Reflecting back on my situations, I can’t think of how prone shooting or carbine-to-pistol transition skills would have done me any good. Nice techniques to know, and fun to employ. But that is not the same as practical is it?

I don’t want to kick off some tangential reference to 10-round magazine bans, as the government doesn’t have a right to tell you what bullets to use or how many of them you gun should hold. Looking at my close range cases, I again find myself mystified at the insistence of 17 round mags and multiple spares for general CCW. The bad guys were so close I could spit and hit them.

I wish not to brag about my skill, but at the distances mentioned hitting the bad guy(s) was a certainty , and a Mozambique drill wouldn’t be difficult at that close of a range. Seventeen rounds? Two reloads on the belt? Speed Reload training?

If it seems like im dogging professional instruction I apologize. That’s not what I’m trying to do at all. Its just that I’m seeing a major disconnect between real world practical skills for CCW and what some instructors and members of the AI believe is absolutely necessary. It doesn’t help that a discussion about this topic has a habit of devolving into mall-ninja demagoguery and SHTF exotica that goes nowhere.

What say you guys?

comments

  1. avatar Wade says:

    Why should we draw a line on how much we train? Training is as much for skill retention than anything else.
    Why do you think the military trains soldiers to do the same things, over and over?

    1. avatar Bill says:

      Author is not referring to how much you train, FLAME DELETED. He is referring to type of training one seeks in comparison to what is realistically expected.

    2. avatar dubbs says:

      The soldier and marine train because when they deploy its life and death period. 99 % of the “go down gujd blazing” crowd will NEVER be in a life or death situation- the avg unarmed park ranger faces more danger!

      Good to train on firearms deployment if you carry concealed, BUT not all problems can be solved with just a firearm-sensible choices equal safety, not charles bronson mindset

      I once came to the aid of a,fellow LEO that got blitx attacked by some thugs-guy was in shape but four pootbutts almost took him down and disarmed him- many concealed carry types are not even astute enough to have held on as long as he did(3 min all out fifgr)

      Just,saying, it takes more than extra mags to be safe, and knowing when NOT to go for the concealed piece is jist as important as “when”

  2. avatar kb says:

    The line? Somewhere between the ages of 34 and 36.

    1. avatar Avid Reader says:

      You beat me to it! Rats!

  3. avatar Chris says:

    This is a good point. Coming from the martial arts arena, and seeing the explosion in BJJ that has taken place I can say from experience that every fist-fight I’ve ever been in has ended up on the ground. Unless you’re damn good, and most of us aren’t. You need to practice retention drills – in a home invasion scenario you may end up in a battle for your own gun. The idea of popping off 41 rounds to win a battle is just mind-numbing. We scoff at police when they do this, and we like to claim we hold ourselves to higher standards.

    You bring up some good food for thought.

  4. avatar JTPhilly says:

    I think that there are many who probably go overboard with the type of training they receive, but at the same time, what we as people of the gun are training and preparing for is the “one time” not the “most of the time”. I completely understand the “MOST encounters happen at less than X yds” argument, and while that information is important in how we decide to train, I also always think about the fact that MOST people won’t ever have to draw a weapon in self defense, so by choosing to carry a weapon and train to use it, we are already giving credence to a theoretical “low odds” situation. I personally think that the best route to go is to strive to be well rounded individuals whose minds, bodies, and tools are best prepared for the variety of situations that make up “the unknown”.

    1. avatar DBeans says:

      /\ This

  5. avatar Robin says:

    If I’m in a DGU situation and I need more than one magazine, it is time to leave very quickly. Hopefully you don’t live in a neighborhood that requires you to decide whether or not to shoot someone every time you walk out the door. If that is your state of mind, you need to seek help with stress reduction and/or move. You are an innocent death waiting to happen.

    1. avatar Elliotte says:

      For me, and I think for at least some folks who carry a spare mag, the reason for carrying a backup mag isn’t the idea that I’ll need that many rounds, it’s the idea that if I get a jam, whether from a round getting stuck in the mag or the chamber, I just drop the mag, rack the slide, and load the new mag, hoping that clears the problem.

      1. avatar Bill says:

        yup. If it happens sometimes at the range, it can happen when you need it to. The bad guy is not going to give you the time to casually look over your malfunction. Also, what if the malfunction was somehow the mag’s fault or that ammo in the mag? Answer is a fresh magazine.

    2. avatar Jim Barrett says:

      Well, my first response to your comment is “how many rounds does your mag hold?” Are you talking about a six round .380 pocket gun mag or a 19 round 9mm one? Obviously, you are more likely to need a second mag in the first case than the second.

      My other response is “can you leave as quickly as you want” Let’s say you were in the middle of the Trolley Square (Wikipedia it) shopping mall when the shooting started? In the case of the 2007 incident, there was only one gunman. What if instead there had been two or three and you needed to get yourself and your family out? Under those circumstances, I wouldn’t consider an AR-15 and half a dozen 30 round mags to be excessive (okay maybe just a little).

      Point is, you can’t always assume that you will be on the edge of a conflict and that you can easily get away. Its always possible that one day you find yourself right in the middle and you need to fight your way out.

      1. avatar Chris says:

        Paranoid

  6. avatar Don says:

    The difference between someone who is smartly prepared and someone who is a mall ninja is that a mall ninja lets his time spent training skew his perception of the realistic likelihood of a particular scenario occurring.

    1. avatar DisThunder says:

      Or that a mall ninja considers Call of Duty “training time”.

      1. avatar Jim says:

        Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

      2. avatar Gyufygy says:

        All CoD ever taught me was that if I ever got into a firefight, I need to curl up in a corner and cry, because I’m a damn bullet magnet.

        1. avatar speedracer5050 says:

          Me too!! Found that out with F.E.A.R and Far Cry 2 also. Especially like in FC2 if I am in a vehicle. I swear the game designers must know some inside secrets about JFK magic bullets!!!

        2. avatar DisThunder says:

          I gave up those games after the second one. I thought I was the only one that unlocked the special player class that has a giant magnet in his ass…
          I learned much more from Metro 2033: Buy all the 5.45 while it’s cheap, so I will be a rich man in the future, turn over ANYthing you come across, because that’s the only help you’re going to get, and shooting while wearing a gas mask suuuucks.

  7. avatar jwm says:

    I have said this for years. In the real world of civilian self defense shootings the person who owns a .38 revolver and a pump shotgun is prepared, equipment wise, for 99.9 % of the scenarios that are likely to occur.

    Am i saying you should limit yourself to 1 revolver and 1 shotgun. No. Buy whatever you feel the need of and is legal in your area. But understand, that in any realistic self defense scenario for a civilian you will not be better equipped than the old school police standard revolver and shotgun combo.

    As for training, we have a whole bunch of DGU’s by the over 50 crowd on this site that were resolved in favor of the good guys and gals with no mention of which academy these people trained at.

    Once you have basic safe handling of the gun down I feel that mind set is vastly more important than learning how some x black ops operator did things before he turned to training civvies at a huge profit.

    1. avatar Michael B. says:

      Can’t beat a good revolver in .38 or .357. I prefer .357 since it gives you more options (like using your full power hunting handgun for home defense) but either will do.

      And a shotgun? Pumps are damn reliable and versatile as all get out.

      1. avatar skeeter says:

        In a pinch, even an over-under with two rounds of 00 buck will still give you 18 pellets of fury, and you can’t beat a double barrel for reliability. As always, Rule #1 of gunfighting still applies: be sure to bring a gun.

        1. avatar Cameron S. says:

          I’ve even heard of a home being successfully defended with a single barrel break action 20 gauge. A long gun is a long gun. Just make sure to have one kicking around.

        2. avatar WLCE says:

          “A long gun is a long gun”

          LOL damned right. I would rather have a surplus M1 carbine, vintage browning auto 5, or a winchester 94 in a fight to defend my home than any of my 9mm or 45 handguns.

    2. avatar Jim Barrett says:

      Not sure if I necessarily agree. A little over 15 years ago, we could have said that the U.S. had never experienced a major terrorist attack while some city in Europe seemed to be getting blown up every couple of months. The nature of the threat has evolved. A .38 revolver is fine if you plan to deal with the common street thug or two and the shotgun is great to deal with the robber kicking in your door. Neither though will be of much use if you find yourself in a real issue.

      This (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumbai_attacks) happened in India, but there is nothing that says it can’t and won’t happen here. In a situation like this, I’d like a bit more firepower than what a five round slow loading J-frame is going to be able to offer me.

      1. avatar Michael B. says:

        I would agree that more is better in an active combat situation like that but I still wouldn’t want to go up against attackers armed with AK47s while only wielding a handgun anyway. You are at a huge disadvantage. In the unlikely event I saw a terrorist in public with a full auto-AK I would attempt to get out of Dodge rather than engage with any pistol, depending on the circumstances. YMMV.

        When you’re that badly outgunned the best option is probably to run.

        But for home defense and CCW use, revolvers are just fine.

        1. avatar Joseph says:

          I think you’re putting out a good criteria for where the line should be drawn with your comment about running being the best option when you are outgunned. Amount of training and the situations that you train for aren’t what define a mall ninja IMO so much as the failure to recognize that in most real world scenarios trying to “go diehard” is the worst decision you can make.

          I would have to conclude that “mall ninja” is the point when you go beyond having secured your own safety and ideally the safety of those immediately around you and attempt to “finish the fight” or whatever similar metaphor appeals to you.

        2. avatar speedracer5050 says:

          +1000.

  8. avatar Joe says:

    4 foot wide car? What do u drive? A mini Cooper? I think the question I’s what do u think will happen? A mugging is one possibility, but how about riots and social breakdown? I lived through the crown heights riots as a teenager… Training for that type of defense situation may require hitting multiple targets at 30 yards to prevent a mob rush towards your home and family… Or knowing how to speed reload a shotgun under adverse conditions…

    1. avatar ST says:

      I’ve actually been in a minor riot at my first year in college.If a mob is rushing toward your home and family,there’s not a Glock pistol made that can save you from being overrun.3 vs 50 does not end well no matter how many mags you strap on.

      1. avatar Joe says:

        Disagree… And since neither of u’s have been in this situation we can leave it at that… But if you can break the charge with enough firepower you can get the mob to retreat.. And yes, if all you have is a pistol for that then that is what u should use…

      2. avatar WLCE says:

        I disagree strongly and I have been in a riot situation as well as New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. They’re human beings, not zombies. A single gunshot sends a powerful message.

  9. avatar Sid says:

    Common sense is always applicable. “Where do you keep your second magazine for your PDW?” Son, it is a personal defense weapon. I use it for things that go bump in the night. I have to rely on the fact that I am facing a mortal enemy. Usually, a wild animal that the dogs have sounded off about and I am shooing away. “But if I am being overrun by a squad of ninjas wearing Level III ballistic vests?” Son, I can’t talk to you anymore.

    A Glock (or equivalent handgun) or a pump shotgun is what most of us need to train with in realistic scenarios. Can you shoot accurately under low light conditions from your kitchen door to the far side of the family room? I am not going to transition from my long arm to my handgun in the hallway of my house. Aimed shots at close targets holding a flashlight. That is what we should focus on for home defense.

    I was a military police officer. We had to qualify using weak hand and barriers. Absolutely appropriate training for our proposed environment. Completely overkill for home defense.

    1. avatar Skyler says:

      Weak hand training is “overkill?” Barriers are “overkill?”

      I agree that carbine to hand gun transitions are a bit much for home defense for most homes, but homes are filled with barriers, and how do you shoot to defend yourself if you hurt your arm a week earlier and can’t shoot with it today? I think these are hardly overkill.

  10. avatar Greg Camp says:

    Training of any kind for any skill is good in the sense that it makes the person more skillful generally. Things that I learn can translate into other fields. The key is to maintain perspective by relating the skills that we learn to the real world.

  11. avatar In Memphis says:

    Hmmm well, this is more tricky to answer than I though it would be.

    I think that if you attend a training class you should do so in your street clothes. I kind of scoff at pictures from prominent training facilities, the ones that are labled something like “Home Invasion Drill” and everyone is in a shoot house decked out in tactical vests, 5.11 pants, drop holsters, etc. You know, they look like a private security force. If you dress like that all day and at home, great. But Ill take a class in a t-shirt and jeans. Maybe a paddle holster because that seems more practical to grab when someone is pounding on your door.

    “Wait Mr. Intruder! Let me get dressed first, please.”

  12. avatar Culpeper Kid says:

    Wow, you must have more exposure in your EMT role Nick. For a young guy who hasn’t been carrying that long (I got my first CCW permit in 2002) you have racked up about two too many ‘incidents’ already. I’d like to hang with you, but you are too much of a magnet for the bad guys. On your point about training, I guess it’s like a multi purpose fire extinguisher, you never know what type of fire you’re going to encounter.

    1. avatar TTACer says:

      It is not Nick, it is a commentator named ST.

    2. avatar OHgunner says:

      ST is a regular commenter here in the conments section. This was his story, Nick just posted it for our perusal.

    3. avatar Culpeper Kid says:

      Oops! Well, then, Nick, you are good to go! ST, stay safe!

  13. avatar Ropingdown says:

    Unless a guy’s getting better paid, laid, or fed through the efforts, doesn’t going beyond the basics of defensive preparation indicate a hobby choice, an expression of the individual’s subjective marginal utility views? Since I’m still finding the first three options more desirable at the margin, a very reliable small 10-shot pistol seems sufficient, together with occasional practice. As a former combat soldier I can confidently say that no one is ever “ready for everything,” not even the spec ops guys. On the other hand I’ve know an elderly farmer with a double-barreled 12 gauge in VA able to stop an encroaching gang of biker dudes just by calmly pointing the thing at them as they roared up his rural driveway. No fancy training there. I accept that not everyone has the priorities I do, and that the detritus of my occasional guns-are-interesting moods has left me with a large safe full of of items I never carry and rarely use for hunting. To paraphrase the well-known Frenchmen, “Money and guns cannot by happiness, but they do calm the nerves.” But so, too, does a good meal and a beautiful lover.

  14. avatar ThomasR says:

    I’m sure most people would say that a pistol with one extra mag and a shot gun at home is fine for most scenarios, along with a basic self defense course, until they got caught in the LA riots or New Orleans after Katrina; now we can add in the people currently dealing with the aftermath of Sandy.

    Will most of us ever deal with these type of scenarios? Depending on where you live, probably not; but the odds are not zero; there are a lot of people on the East coast right now wishing they just had a gun, any gun, along with some food, a heat source and a generator.

  15. avatar Ed Head says:

    Anything beyond the basics is training for its own sake. I can’t remember after reading decades of the “Armed Citizen” once reading once the person needed to “Get off the X”. Learning to use a holster, present, shoot and evaluate is all you need and practice.
    Most of the people I see in classes could do far more good for longevity by hitting the gym than More Classes.

    BJJ ? Really? Does anyone really thing 55 yr old males or females are going to play choke out ? Time is far better spent getting in shape to get away then wrestle.
    After a career in Law Enforcement I find so much of what is stated is far from the reality I saw on the street. I never had to shoot at anyone and only unholstered it. All the rest of the time was From Mace and Battons to OC and Tasers.

    All street fights end in the ground? How have not seen may then. Very few do in fact. We have to cuff people that don’t want to go to jail. It’s far easier to hold them down and do it.

    Now retired as a Civilian I would suggest do the same as I am now. Take a 2 day basic class and practice. Carry OC or another not lethal alternative based on state laws.
    Hit the gym and stay in shape or get in shape.

    Retention training is needed by Police with an exposed gun. It is less important by Citizens the conceal carry as it is hidden away. BTW even with training over 40 % of Police in practice will lose the gun in retention drills. For 30 years I took a handgun and basic controls etc every year

    1. avatar ThomasR says:

      I disagree EH with a couple of things you said; you come from being a cop, so your perception of what being a citizen out in the street is different. A human predator sees a cop with a badge and a gun with back up only a radio call away; he sees someone he wants to avoid, the predator looks at a lone human walking down a dark street and sees a potential target.

      I started carrying a gun after I got into fight with a mugger; we ended up on the ground during the fight; it was because of my years of martial art traing that I was able to win the fight, that, as well as being very fit from running and working out; ( you are correct about being physically fit as being important).

      The other aspect is that by taking advanced shooting classes and then joining a shooting range and shooting in competitions like Action Pistol or 3 Gun Tactical gets a person out and on the range shooting under pressure with speed and accuracy as a goal. Always a good idea if there are innocent by-standers.

      It keeps the skills fresh and if a DGU happens, though rare, a person has a better chance of comng out of it alive.

    2. avatar fred says:

      +1 this is what makes sense to me

    3. avatar Joseph says:

      I’ve also got to disagree with you on that one EH.
      I joined the military when I was 21 and have served my entire career in a combat service support role but that doesn’t prevent me from cross training whenever my time off and invitations from friends in other units permit it.
      I absolutely do not think I will ever see combat in the military due to my MOS but I still train because it’s enjoyable and because if there is a possibility, no matter how remote, that I might find myself in a firefight at any point in my future I see no reason why I should not be as skilled, competent and efficient as it is possible to be going into a first and hopefully only time firefight.
      It’s great to have the basics down, but to say that there is no reason to continue past them is reductive. I feel it would be far more accurate to say that “there’s no reason not to train to the highest possible standard.”

      As for your comment about 55 year olds playing “choke out” I invite you to google the lives and careers of both Fred Ettish and Dan Severn, both of whom quite literally “play” choke out for money and both of whom are well past 50 years of age. Both men came out victorious in professional MMA matches after their 50th birthdays, Severn in particular has done so multiple times. My point is that just because you might not need to do something isn’t a sound argument for not being capable of doing whatever “It” might be should the need arise.

  16. avatar Sid says:

    Swithc to decaf. You are fragging your own side.

    I proposed learning to shoot in realistic distances in low light situations while holding a flashlight. If you think practicing weak hand drills is realistic, then go for it. I won’t tell you to stop. But I agree with the theme of this post. Too much of what I have seen is line-of-duty training. It is not practical in civilian use. If you had to choose, would you spend time practicing clearing a malfunction or tactical reloads? I would argue that clearing a malfunction would be of more value. If you had to practice shooting standing in your hallway or laying on the floor, which would you choose?

    I don’t think most people will shoot weak hand or over/around barriers. The elderly Marine in OK shot a burglar through his front door.

  17. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    So, you’re just concerned about CCW and self-defense? Perfectly reasonable. However, I seem to recall something about a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state. Wouldn’t that imply at least having a basic combat skillset? I’m not saying go out and join a “militia” or do “military maneuvers” every weekend, but able-bodied men should have some proficiency with the basic individual combat skills required for employment in battle… in my opinion.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Your opinion is valid Henry, Quite a few of the people putting comments on this site, myself included, were Regulars. My primary concern these days is being involved in the civilian oriented DGU.

      As for being in the militia, supposedly we all are. But who commands the militia? The G or a committee of citizens?

  18. avatar WLCE says:

    if you can take it (a training course), then take it!

    it will be a good series of tools to put in your tool box. If you walk around dressed like a private contractor with a bat belt complete with two flashlights, a medical kit, magazines, and a fixed blade, then you might be overkill (save that “uniform” for the monetary collapse).

  19. avatar 277Volt says:

    The end goal for all of us is confidence. Whether it takes just a little training or a whole lot of training is beside the point as long as confidence is achieved.

  20. avatar sanchanim says:

    Well lets look at this reasonably. How many folks buy a hand gun, maybe that $200 dollar shotgun jobby at Big 5 for home defense. No training, no extra work into how to be safe, and handle their weapons?
    It is there choice sure.
    Do you need to practice carbine to pistol drills, no. If you are doing this it is more than likely a hobby, and you want to be proficient in what you own. It also provides handling skills in general, on how to safe your weapon while switching etc, so nothing wrong with that.
    I do feel weak hand shooting is a nice addition to any skill set. You never know what you will face, where or how the DGU will happen. Knowing how to handle your primary carry weapon in both hands under varying scenarios to me makes sense. I would call this common sense training.
    BG’s don’t stand in clear light absolutely still for you to shoot them so your training needs to reflect this. To what extent you train is up to you, whether it is a class, or maybe shooting at moving targets on your friends ranch. Regardless it is something besides just a paper target sitting there in good light at 10 yards.
    Knowing how to clear jams on your weapon, change mags, or deal with the unexpected is something any one should do. It is like understanding how your car works. You don’t want to be looking down fiddling with whatever while driving. So knowing how to deal with your defensive weapon is much the same way.
    I do admit getting the whole tactical get up and such isn’t realistic. You should train like you were going to the store or what ever. Train like you would fight and fight like you train.

  21. avatar Bill says:

    Where’s the line? Depends on what you’re preparing for. A mugger in the parking lot, the aftermath of a hurricane or the collapse of civilization after a large CME takes out the entire planetary power grid.

    No matter the scenario, training certainly doesn’t hurt.

  22. avatar DJ says:

    There’s nothing wrong with training, as long as it does not teach bad habits. Unfortunately, I’ve seen guys who’ve trained themselves into some ridiculous habits. A DGU is not a qualification range or a competition.

    “Shoot them in the middle of where they are biggest,” is usually sound advice.

    1. avatar ReyDeeeezy says:

      “Their drills are bloodless battles, and their battles bloody drills” – Flavius Josephus, Jewish Historian

  23. avatar Tom says:

    Training is good, competition is good. Both will make you better. You just can’t deny that fact. Not that you can’t defend yourself without them but, they will hopefully give you the edge you need to avoid the situation or come out of it with minimal damage.

  24. avatar Curzen says:

    mall ninja: carrying equipment suited for a warzone as seen in Call of Duty while going to Walmart, often buying crap for no other reason than it being marketed towards them and coming with biohazard signs and in neon green. tends to mutilate guns with a soldering iron to make them more tactical.

  25. avatar Accur81 says:

    Not to worry, your wife will tell you.

  26. avatar James says:

    Interesting point Leghorn…..would be interesting to dissect DGUs where more than one clip was needed. Perhaps you could task your team and break it down? I think most readers would be intrigued.

  27. avatar DisThunder says:

    I have to do it, sorry to even bring it up, but am I the only one who hates the damn term “Mall Ninja?” I’m sure it started as an internet meme somewhere and in context it made good sense and was hilarious, but it’s nonsense. It’s so damn pervasive I even use it, but I feel dirty whenever I do. We’re a creative bunch, we ought to come up with something more clever (and accurate) to describe our less than fellow gun-lovers.

    1. avatar speedracer5050 says:

      Yea!!! Glad I am not the only one!!!
      How about….Overly Prepared Super Citizen!!!
      Or…..Super Shopping Soldiers!!
      Job Security Specialists!!

      1. avatar Joseph says:

        I like to think of them as “Tacti-cool Carl action figures, now with kung-fu grip!”

        But that’s an awful lot to scream at someone who won’t stop offering unsolicited advice or show you his credentials as an instructor at your local range.

  28. avatar dustyvarmint says:

    I was kind of wondering the same thing myself; about where the line is drawn. Been wondering the same thing about the difference in being prepared (folks in Brooklyn would probably liked to have had one of those 60 packs of dehy meals on hand) and being a prepper (3-5 years worth of meals). I’m not a SHTF or an EOTWAWKI guy. I avoid risky situations as a natural part of life. I’d say my risk is extremely minimal.

    However, one thing I haven’t seen mentioned here is that shooting is fun. I took a CCW class even though I didn’t have too. It was fun and I learned from it. Took a Defensive Pistol course also. It was so fun I took the same course over again so I could take it with my dad. More fun with dad and I got to refine a thing or two I was doing wrong.

    Next year I want to take a defensive shotgun course. Shooting is fun. It is a hobby for me.

    Did I need to take a dogsledding course? No, I’m not going to run the Iditarod, but it was fun. Did I need to take a wood bowl-turning class? No, I’m not going to make my living from turning out stupid bowls that break when you drop them or they dry, but learning was fun.

    I don’t know where the line is drawn, but for me shooting is a hobby and pistol, shotgun and carbine classes are of interest to me as they seem like an interesting extension of a fun hobby. Bullseye shooting and competition hi-power shooting? Not so much.

    happy shooting, dv

  29. avatar KR says:

    There is no shortage of professional schools teaching practical skills relevant to armed citizens. Many of them, despite being in business for many years, get a tiny amount of press from gun bloggers because they are run by quiet professionals who do not promote their schools by making outrageous statements or putting out questionable videos on youtube.

    There’s no shortage of data on the characteristics of what armed citizen incidents look like: 50 years of “Armed Citizen” reports in NRA magazines, reports collected from trainers, even youtube videos. Round counts are typically low, gun DGUs rarely involve physical combat, and most of the time the criminals run when the gun is presented or after the first shot is fired.
    Fights are generally won/lost with whatever gun is grabbed first. People do not “fight their way to their rifle”, nor are they doing speed reloads during the fight. The main reason to have spare ammo with you is to reload when the fight is over, if for no other reason than the psychological comfort of once again having a fully loaded gun. A backup gun is probably more useful than a spare magazine, since the cops will take the gun you used, and/or you could arm an unarmed friend or family member with the backup gun if needed.

    The fun/hobby aspect of training is a factor in which courses are popular and which are not. Every trainer I know that offers both live fire and force on force training says that FoF classes are far harder to ‘sell’, even though all those trainers believe that FoF training is more important than live fire in teaching defensive skills. High round count high speed training has the same appeal as competition – adrenaline and fun, with a secondary benefit of practice applying fundamentals under time pressure and stress. I don’t see how you can throw stones at “irrelevant” training, as someone that shoots competitions which are essentially just as irrelevant to real incidents as the training you condemn.

  30. avatar Aaron says:

    This is a good system, two glock 26s and a spare mag with a fixed blade knife next to the mag. (To fight off an attacker in the rare case you have to reload) Don’t worry about malfunctions, you’re not going to be able to fiddle fuck with your gun while someone is on you, drop it and grab the other gun and continue injecting lead until the attacker can no longer fight. A gun that is out of battery due to a malfunction or an empty mag is not a gun, it is a useless hunk of metal only suited to smashing your attackers head in! Kill or be killed, and while you’re being attacked, use everything at your disposal, you as the weapon, after all everything else is just a tool.

  31. avatar Tom says:

    Coincidentally I just completed a Rob Pincus’ “Combat Focus” course yesterday. Excellent — glad I did it. It was both invigorating and humbling. Invigorating in that one gains practical skills for the type of real-world self defense scenarios one would encounter, and humbling for one quickly realizes that they are not very good at this in a stress situation. That said, much progress is made in two days under the watchful eyes of Mr. Pincus and his instructors, and one gains confidence, as well as the realization that self-defense competence is a journey (I’m not even talking proficiency or expertness, which is an even greater journey). Having been through this, I’d submit that anyone who engages in CCW and has not had at least some training of this caliber (no pun intended) is actually a risk to themselves and others. I have started my journey, and intend to continue.

  32. avatar Jerryboy says:

    my opinion is this: if you can afford it, do/take/buy it. training never hurts; any excuse to get out on the range is a good excuse. as for backup mags/guns, you don’t want your headstone to read, “he should have brought more ammo”.

  33. avatar justice06rr says:

    There IS a line between being a Mall Ninja and being Prepared. Having proper Training and sufficient Equipment makes you prepared, while having too much tacticool or unnecessary accessories on your firearm makes you Mall Ninja.

    Reminds me of this funny vid:
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q362H-xg0ZA&w=560&h=315%5D

  34. avatar Don from CT says:

    Nick,

    I draw a distinction between fun firearms training and practical training. Training to engage multiple targets with an AR in an urban environment, along with team techniques and like you said, transition from rifle to handgun is good clean fun. Its a blast. But chances are close to zero that I’ll ever have to use those skills.

    In contrast, training on the effective use of a handgun from conversational distance out to roughly 25 yards is a skill that I can’t get enough of.

    Like you, I have had to use a handgun defensively. Like you, it didn’t play out even close to how I had pictured it in my mind’s eye. It was faster, I was less prepared mentally, and it was much closer than i had envisioned. The aftermath caused a lot of soul searching.

    The end result was that i came to the conclusion that I need more general defensive training, that the handgun is just one tool in a continuum of tools. Don’t get me wrong. Its the most effective tool besides your mind. But my mind was not up to the task. For example. I’d like to have known better how to create distance, or how to better draw with little to know distance between myself and my attacker.

    Like Nick, neither of my encounters required me to actually shoot. Which is a good thing.

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