By Paul McCain
What can Latin teach you about guns? Quite a lot, and it only takes a few words. Non multa sed multum is an old Latin phrase that means, literally, “not many, but much,” or loosely translated: “Better to have less, but learn it well.” Along those lines, my mind has changed quite a lot about guns and shooting. When I jumped into guns and shooting with both feet a number of years ago, I found myself buying new firearms at an alarming rate (particularly so for my wife as she saw what it did to our bank account). Not only did I never meet a gun I didn’t like, I hardly met one I wouldn’t take home with me and tuck into my gun safe. Oh, look, I’ve got to have that one! Oh, wait, and that one and that one and that one. I want them all! . . .
Soon I outgrew my first gun safe and had to add another. And then the new safe was growing too small. Before I knew it I was up to over fifty firearms and more seemed to be appearing all the time. What were they doing together in those dark safes? I’d sit and admire them, take them out and shoot them now and then, clean them, etc. I didn’t have just one of various types, I had multiple copies of the same gun. There is nothing at all wrong with collecting firearms this way, but for me, I realized I was missing something.
I began to realize I wasn’t actually spending real quality time with any of them in particular. I was into the “many” but not the “much.” I spent so much time buying new firearms, shooting them a few times and moving on to something else I wasn’t spending the time to really learn any of them. I was becoming the firearms equivalent of the Jack of all trades, but master of none.
That old Latin phrase began to loom large in my mind and I realized I was actually doing myself a grave disservice. I was treating guns more as collector’s pieces and less as tools. It was as if I was collecting every type of hammer I could find, but not spending much time actually using them to drive nails. For good reason, an oft-repeated axiom in the gun community is: “Beware the man who shoots one gun, for he probably shoots it very well.”
What really helped me rethink all this was when I began to get some professional training at Asymmetric Solutions in Farmington, Missouri. There my shooting interests and, hopefully, my skill level, have been taken to a whole new level and I have found myself being more interested in using a few firearms as well as I possibly can rather than aggregating firearms. Now I want to spend as much time as I can learning how to shoot the firearms I own and master them.
I have been spending a lot more time drilling and learning and refining my skills, using only a couple handguns, a couple rifles and my shotgun. I’m no longer as interested in buying a lot of firearms and storing them. Instead, I’m more interested in ever-improving my draw, grip, trigger and sight picture with my handgun. At this point my favorite handgun is the GLOCK 34 with the Daniel Defense M4 V1 as my go-to rifle.
It has come as quite a revelation to have the chance to engage in high-level training where the focus is on “not many, but much” when it comes to guns. Firearms have, for me, no longer become an end in themselves, but merely a means to the end: proficient use of a firearm and training to be prepared to use it well should, God forbid, that need arise.
The constant drilling and training has brought its own set of challenges that continue to stretch my skill sets to the breaking point. And when I reach that point, I know what my next goal is. For example, I can draw and put several shots in a fairly tight group at 12 feet at a respectable speed. But how about doing that while moving? How about drawing and turning 180 degrees and doing that? How about moving quickly left and right? How about moving toward cover, reloading, dealing with malfunctions? How do those groups look now? Not so good. And there’s where my next personal challenge is set. Add a bit of stress and difficulty and the fundamentals begin to suffer. So that’s where the training needs to go from here.
I think there is a lot of wisdom in learning one or two firearms extremely well rather than jumping from platform to platform. I know it’s not an either/or situation and many people will, and in fact are, master users of a few firearms while also having fun filling their gun safe. But, maybe we can all learn something from those old Romans: non multa, sed multum. Better to use less, well, than to have more, and not master it.
Paul McCain runs the VDMA Videos YouTube channel.