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By Cliff Heseltine

There is plenty of controversy among “gun guys” regarding the best caliber for a pistol. Even before gun guru Jeff Cooper put in his .45 cents, arguments over “big, slow and heavy” versus “small, fast and accurate” raged at the drop of a hat. Getting a heated discussion going on this topic is easier than trolling a liberal talk radio show (if you can find one) and suggesting that women should be encouraged to lean pro-life and be stay-at-home moms. But that is not what this post is about . . .

There’s another controversy among The People of the Gun that can almost as quickly devolve into acrimonious debate that needs to be discussed since the gun community is hardly homogenous (no, that doesn’t mean “queer” for those of you in Rio Linda). As in any society, skills, interests and abilities vary widely.

At one end of this group you’ll find those magnificent individuals and marvelous physical specimens that make up the military’s Special Forces. They have physical endurance, intelligence, speed, and amazing skills with weapons and tactics. I refer to these top-tier individuals as .45s.

But every bell curve has a segment on the other end as well, and those people have as much right as anyone else to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in order to defend themselves, their families and their property. They may be, in almost every way, the exact opposite of Special Forces types. These are the 9mms. Obviously there’s also a huge segment of the POTG who fill out the rest of the curve between the two tail sections.

The question I’m posing here is why so many people who lean towards .45 end seem to feel that every gun owner is obligated to invest the same time, effort, expense and obsessive view towards high-speed/low-drag training as they do. It should be clear – especially amongst the elites – that if everyone could do what they can, then no one would ever ring the bell at BUD/S. Maybe these are the same high school jocks who had only contempt for their classmates who weren’t athletically gifted enough or had no interest in sports.

Every society is made up of people with all sorts of interests and varying levels of physical ability. Arnold Schwartzenegger was once asked in an interview by a non-bodybuilder type how long it would take him to train up to Arnold’s level. The former governator looked him up and down and said, “Two generations, with the right parents.”

So why can’t people who like to train hard with their weapons, go to shooting “fantasy camps” and practice running and gunning like commandos in multiple attacker scenarios accept that there are huge numbers of 9mms out here in the real world? People who not only can’t afford that level of training, but don’t have the interest or ability even if time and finances weren’t an issue?

Should my 87-year-old mother with a pacemaker not have access to my Smith J-frame for defense when I’m not home just because she won’t budget $1,000 from her Social Security income to take a class at Thunder Ranch? Should a businessman working long hours to make ends meet not carry a pistol when he mans the cash register or makes bank deposits just because he can’t find the time or funds to take classes at Gunsite? Should an inner-city family not keep a shotgun in the closet for emergencies just because their breadwinner is a mousy little guy doing tax accounting for minimum wage?

We need some perspective here. People will fill out the bell curve from both extremes to various degrees. But there will be a greater number approaching the 9mm end of the curve where people will get as much relevant training as they can tolerate or afford. They’ll train to the extent they feel it’s appropriate to their situation, budget and interests.

At the 9mm end, many people are only interested in learning about proper weapon choices, safe handling and operation, suitable concealed carry options, and, to a very great extent the bottom line question: In the unlikely event that I’m have to use deadly force, do I have an adequate tool and can I put it to use? More than that is, in their minds, excessively intrusive into their lifestyle and finances. Why spend ten times as much on the training class as you’re likely to lose to the punk who’s trying to mug you? Who is robbing whom?

There must be a reasonable middle ground. I respect and admire SEALS and all the other highly trained individuals who protect us. I respect athletes, both professional and “weekend warriors”, who have the skills, interest and ability to pursue a sport they enjoy. Many of us, however, aren’t able to pursue either combat-style training or sports at more than a very superficial level. We practice to be a good shot with our chosen weapon(s) and to know how and when to should shoot. All other contingencies are approached intellectually, because running around, play-acting scenarios and rolling in the dirt just aren’t everybody’s thing. Should those people be held in contempt for that attitude?

Can we tone down the rhetoric about MMA-style training and CQB and weapon retention techniques that are only appropriate for the military and police (and that portion of the “civilian” POTG that have the physical ability to benefit from it)? Yes, these things should be – must be discussed. After all, this is The Truth About Guns. But the real truth about guns is that we all have a natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms that applies regardless of level of training or physical ability.

While we should fully support and encourage every gun owner to get as much quality training as they can afford, statistically the majority of confrontations occur at close range (under seven meters) and end with the display of the firearm — not with gunfire. Within seven meters, even if shots are fired, most people with any skill at all can hit a man-sized target once or twice out of six or ten shots. Even groups of attackers, faced with an armed victim and shots fired, are more likely to disperse post haste than risk being shot.

Every situation is different, of course, but “God made man, Samuel Colt made them equal.” For the vast majority of people the pistol replaces the physical ability to fight. That being the case, this is the level of confrontation they should be trained for, not helicopter insertion into bin Ladin’s compound or weapon retention when bum-rushed by a half-dozen gangster thugs.

Many of you may feel like pushing the extremes of training. That’s fine if you take enjoyment from that. Just remember that Chris Kyle, on a shooting range and with guns and ammunition available, was still murdered by someone who had no SEAL training and much less combat experience. I also suspect many a bad guy would pee his pants at the site of even a petite woman pulling a pistol from her garter or one hanging from her bra.

So please, go ahead and train to your heart’s content. And if by some chance we find ourselves side-by-side facing a high-risk scenario, I’ll be very glad you’re there and trained. And I’ll do my best to provide useful assistance. But in the meantime, don’t look down your nose at the rest of us who have other interests in life than high-end firearms and combat training.

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  1. Train within your budget. If all your budget allows is some weekend shooting, so be it. Saving up for a good class will obviously help however.

    • I thought about this article a bit and would like to put this forward:

      I swim in a pool – a lot. I typically swim 3-4 times a week, weekdays at 5:30 AM, typically between 1-2 hours for practice, a minimum of 3000 yards. I consider myself a middle-of-the-road swimmer with regards to competition. I’m going to a competition in march and I’m looking forward to being a solid middle contender.

      I haven’t shot a gun in weeks.. I’m going this weekend to shoot an newly acquired rifle, do some pistol shooting, and generally stay brushed up on my firearms handling skills. When its warmer, I go more often. When its colder, not so much. Do I obsess over shooting training as much as I obsess over swimming? Obviously not, even though I read the Truth about Guns and not The Truth about Swimming. I consider myself a competent fire-arm user and I’m happy with that.

    • Rather, train to your desired level, regardless what your wallet assumes.
      I’m confident there are many who go to Front Sight, Suarez, et al, and return home thinking they’ve now learned it all and stop right there, never thinking again of what they may have learned.

    • Sad thing is that everyone’s budget and time can afford 15 minutes of dry fire a day, and that goes a very long way.

      How many minutes did we all spend reading about guns when we could have been dry fireing?

        • It’s a cheap and effective way to practice perfect trigger pull, while also smoothing out the action.

        • It only helped one of the Olympians get a gold medal IIRC. There was an article here about it IIRC. but I can’t remember enough about it to find it easily.

        • Please tell me you are joking.

          On the other hand, if you aren’t, you are a great poster child for this sub-species of TTAG readers: The “I don’t need no fancy training” reader.

          • “Please tell me you are joking.”

            No, I’m not. I really don’t see what dry firing accomplishes other than train me to pull the trigger when I DON’T want to destroy something, and cause unnecessary wear to metal parts.

            “On the other hand, if you aren’t, you are a great poster child for this sub-species of TTAG readers: The “I don’t need no fancy training” reader.””

            Well, would you like to enlighten me and explain the rationale, rather than merely trying to insult me?

        • Every trainer and champion pistolero out there recommends as much dry-firing as you can work into your training. Becoming familiar with the feel of the gun in your hand and how the trigger feels when you can press it without disturbing your sight picture is of tremendous value. I always shoot better on a weekend after dry fire practice during the week. Why practice dry fire? Because up to the “boom,” it’s all about you. Your gun only handles the “boom” part.

          • “Because up to the “boom,” it’s all about you.”

            OK. I’ve seen the light. 🙂 So, does this mean that what they told me half a century is no longer true? Because they told me that it could damage the firing pin, which makes sense to me, because there’s no primer to absorb the energy from the hammer, so where does the energy go?

        • Spend a few bucks on some snap caps, many have a rubberized or gel type primer area to prevent firing pin damage.

    • but bubba knows his thuddy thuddy drops deer like nothing else and figures that most people aren’t much bigger than a deer so it should work in that direction too.

      • Bubba makes more sense than most internet commandos . To disparage him is no better than making fun of anyone else. One difference is that bubba has actually killed something which might be an asset compared to a paperwork expert.

        • I was not disparaging him, but making the point that you articulated, bubba knows what works cause he’s used it, it’s not theory and mental masturbation to him.

      • Mayhaps in the grand scheme of military analogy… But for the laymen gun owner/concealed carry practitioner, you can strategize all you want about staying clear of danger areas, keeping situational awareness and always having an escape route, but if you lack the tactics to win a violent encounter if one still finds you, you’re still f$&@ed.

        Train within your means and budget. Not everyone should or can be a .45. But if you choose to carry, take responsibility for it and learn some tactics.

        • I was just repeated on the internet what I once heard in order to appear smarter and better read than I really am.

          Did it work?

        • MadMedic – nailed it, I think. Even so, you can’t train for every damn thing/possibility and in the end we are all F*cked anyway. Do the best you can to postpone the event. 😉

          And for the not so affluent or physical, there’s a whole lot of strategy and tactics videos on the Internet. Choose wisely.

  2. Does Every Gun Owner Have to Train Like a SEAL?

    Yes, because if you can’t balance a beach ball on your nose while swallowing a whole fish head first, you ain’t sh1t.

  3. Isn’t Gabe Suarez a felon? I dont hate on anyone who likes spending a lot of money to listen to James Yeager run his suck, but dont expect me too.
    I am lucky enough to live far out in the country and shoot whenever I feel like it. I train not I hate saying train, I practice for scenarios that my actually happen. I practiced drawing from sitting down, because if something happens at work I’ll be on my desk. I’ve practiced with my left hand as well, things like this I believe are likely to happen in a defensive scenario, stuff like shooting a knee, or on my back.

  4. Just having the mindset to realize you may need a firearm is enough to start.. hell, the SEALS never quit training, so who is to say what is too much? But just recognizing you may need it is +infinity over not recognizing it, everything else is icing.

  5. HS/LD in the civilian world is a bit of a joke. The SEALS and other elites are being paid full time to train full time and when they’re not training they’re involved in real world scenarios.

    Any man on civvy street that has to hold down a regular job and pay for his training from the current “guru” is deluding himself if he thinks he’s in a higher league than any civvy that can safely handle a firearm and stand his ground when the bad guys show up.

    TTAG is awash with stories of old men and women that have cleaned up on the bad guys when the moment came.

    All the tacticool gear in the world won’t make up for the fact that you’re just another Mitty.

    • I’ve always wondered what actual special forces (or hell, even basic combat infantry) think of a lot of those courses. I mean, if you do them for fun, great, but I see a lot of people acting like taking one makes them the next best thing to a SEAL or Green Beret which is like thinking that a week long football camp makes you the next best thing to Aaron Rodgers….

      • Basic combat infantry guys would probably love to be able to shoot as much as people taking those courses do.

        Dunno about Special Ops guys. I imagine they’ve probably learned most of what’s being taught at them already.

        • Frankly, spec-ops guys aren’t the gods of US competitive pistol shooting. Rather they’re the gods of PT and ‘get the mission done’ attitude…which is what’s important for their actual job. There are many skills required. Shooting is just one. I know I wouldn’t want to be them, although I would like to be 25 again.

          I do know the truth about life after spec-ops for a reasonable sample of ex-spec-ops guys, which is that guns are approximately never needed to make their lives work, but knowing and following the law and assimilating civilian behavioral norms is vital.

          There’s a reason most cops don’t spend time learning to shoot much better than they have to. The reason is that in civilian life, including law-enforcement, surviving an armed encounter is almost never about shooting extremely well. It’s about shooting when you need to and not shooting when the law forbids it. It’s about safety, patience, early detection, and psychology. Above all, and the FBI knows it, it’s about discreetly getting your hand on your gun first, the instant you detect mayhem approaching. Think of all the news articles you’ve read in the last year covering shootings. In how many of them was shooting skill, not law and a cool head, the key determinant of the outcome? Q.E.D.

      • I was an 0331 which is an infantry position and those courses always seem to be about selling this stance or this grip and tend to flake over the fundamentals which will save your life before any fancy grip will.
        You’d be surprised how much ammo we go through. There was plenty of times I got tired of shooting the ammo just kept coming

        • “I got tired of shooting”

          Excuse me, I’ll be right back; need to step outside to investigate substantial local reports of airborne swine. After that need to check on some stories I’ve heard that Hell has, in fact, frozen, thawed, frozen, thawed, frozen, and then turned into a lush tropical paradise.

          Or maybe that’s just me.

          In all seriousness though – thanks for your service.

        • I can recall feeling that same way about the never ending range days. When I got in I was really excited about the all the shooting I’d be doing. By the time I went to my 3rd or 4th range I didn’t care if I ever went to another range again ever. The military can suck all the fun out of anything, shooting included.

      • If one, or two of us, can believe the advertising, Front Sight, Suarez, Thunder… et al… have SEaLS, SpecOps and elite cops attending their classes to improve their abilities.
        Of course, that is advertising.

      • I have not made an exhaustive study, but for those I did research it looked like an awful lot of the instruction was coming from either ex SpecOps or ex-LEOs or both.

      • Actually if you want to be an official member of the HS/LD civilian auxiliary it’s not enough to go to Master Chief Bobby’s Combat Camp; you also need to participate in at least a few tough mudders.

    • Yep.

      That’s what I keep coming back to when these “Serious D00dz” keep telling me that if you don’t send 10K+ rounds/year downrange, you’re “not prepared.”

      When I look at the people I know or who have met who have successfully used firearms in their defense, none of them look like operators. None of them are “tacti-kewl” or even using “tacti-kewl” firearms. .38 S&W’s, pump shotguns, .22 rifles seem to be the rule, not the exception in the cases of these people. One .32 ACP.

      None of them had been to anything remotely resembling the modern “gun professional” training camps.

      • Just recently, a 63 year-old great grandmother in Shreveport had here home invaded by a 16 year old punk with a loaded shotgun, demanding that she open the safe at the back of the house, which he knew about since he’d burgled her home just before Christmas. Well, Grandma took him back there, reached inside, and pulled out a sack of coins–and a .38 she’d just bought to replace the one he’d stolen. She pumped two into his chest when he reached for the bag of coins. He didn’t make it more than a block before he bled out. Grandma had never fired a gun in her life.

        Training? We don’t need no steenkin’ training!

        • And there’s a video that keeps popping up on the “reality” shows of a grocery store robbery. One of the perps goes to the back and tries kicking in the office door where the safe is. The manager in the office takes a pistol which seems to have been rubber-banded to her Bible and fires one .32 through the glass. All BGs un-assed the store real quick.

      • My training this week consisted primarily of ingesting an entire cinnamon roll at Johnson’s Corner.

        I’ll still carry.

  6. No. The more you have the better your chances are. We all don’t need to be a race car driver, well you get it. My house is trained to know when and where to shoot, most of all will shoot.

  7. At age 21, with my pregnant wife, I drew from concealment and immediately stopped the threats coming from a group of thugs all larger than me. One glimpse of that .45 business end cleared up their confusion. Don’t try telling me that training is a must in order to protect ourselves and family. Yes, I train now, but protection comes first. Flashing a red gun would not have protected us! Train WITH your gun, not BEFORE it.

  8. Appreciate this story.

    Currently I occupy one of the lower socioeconomic tiers in this society (read as: I’m both young and poor).

    I’m really tired of going to the only decent (read as: I can pocket my revolver brass without getting yelled at and I don’t worry about lead poisoning) “pay-to-play” local indoor range ($30 for an hour on the pistol range – that’s 1/3 of a days’ labor to you upper-middle class folks out there, not including ammo) to confirm my and my firearms’ accuracy under as controlled conditions as possible and getting seriously nasty looks like I’m some damn criminal due to being young and having metal bits stuck in my face ’cause I think body art is neat. Freedom of expression is a thing, right?

    These looks almost always come from the guys with $4k custom 1911s while I pop the few rounds that I can actually afford to send downrange with my not-gently used, 30+ year old .357 magnum. Are they just upset ’cause mine is louder and I don’t need a blue pill to make it work right?

    If you can afford the good stuff and you want to drop the coin, by all means, do. But like Dan said – please, PLEASE don’t look down your nose at someone who can’t/or doesn’t.

    It just makes it that much less likely that we POTG will be able to present a genuinely unanimous front on the important issues of the day.

    • Just because you think they look good doesn’t mean I have to think they look good.

      You wouldn’t put metal bits in your face if you didn’t want other people to notice them, so don’t get mad when they look.

    • good points man, though, and I’m not criticizing, merely suggesting, if you want to change your socio-economic status, one thing I’d consider would be ditching overly ‘unique’ body-mods. Just a thought and you totally have the right to look how you want, more power to you for it.

    • Gold Star for you for trying. If you were in Middle Tennessee I would pay the range fees and ammo for you to get some more practice. Hang in there. I remember my poor days of having enough money to eat for a week or make the truck payment but not both. Owning, let alone shooting a gun was a dream.

      • Yup. I remember sitting in the living room. Wooden mallet, towel, and a lee reloading setup. Banging away at my 100 rounds of brass to reload them. That was a couple of lifetimes ago.
        I’m in a better position in life now. But I still pick up my brass. I still reload. And I still practice.

        You are only limited by your imagination.

    • @Michael B.
      I’m not mad when they/you look – you’re at least partially right about why (there’s a hell of a lot of people on this Earth and sticking out a bit isn’t something I consider a bad thing) – it’s the resulting expression and up-angle on the face/nasal passages and the subsequent walk to the range officer to point me out that I’m griping about.

      Honestly, at this point I’m considering it – but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Being able to express myself somewhat without a conversation about it is valuable to me.

      *sigh*, and the economy not sucking here as much as everywhere else the past few years just means there’s a buttload (read as: 20% population growth projections for the next ten years, practically all of them from the Coasts – or Texas, because we don’t like pollution – er – highly profitable heavy industry – as much here) of people moving here that I’m now in competition with for “jobs that don’t suck” in the place that I love.

      Appreciate the offer, and doubly appreciate the “what seasoning should I use on my ramen noodles tonight to shake things up a bit?” solidarity.

      • Sticking out can be a MAJOR inconvenience because, like it or not, people are going to first judge you by your appearance. That’s just how human beings are wired. We all do it.

        I’m sure when you see a fat chick in tight yoga pants you’re probably disgusted by the sight (unless you’re into that kinda woman). It’s sort of like that.

        I’m not saying take all your piercings, rings, and studs out to appease anyone else, just realize that a lot of people are going to look at you like you’ve got two heads and think less of you until they get to know you because of them.

        Not to mention that sort of **** brings the increased attention of cops (who can and will **** you up if they feel like it and get away with it) and reduces your chances of acquiring gainful employment.

        I’m 27, so I’m not an old fogey yet, and I used to have longish hair. I had to get it cut to enter the working world and a lot of the crap I used to get for it went away.

        In the end, even though I liked my long hair, the costs outweighed the benefits.

        I’m keeping the beard, though. Chicks dig good beards.

        • I’m not exactly thrilled about your reminder on basic human psychology and “fat-chick-in-yoga-pants” analogy, but as it was

          1) entirely applicable, and
          2) hilarious (’cause that ain’t my thing so much, no sir, although I will admit that I Like Substantial Posteriors And I Won’t Say Otherwise)

          it’s definitely advice worth considering.

          Now if only I could actually grow a sweet beard … Damn genes; I’ve been excited about that since my dad shaved his righteous 80’s ‘stache in the mid 90’s.

    • Hey hey hey there American Spirit… don’t hate on the blue pill. It works great!!!! You too one day will learn.

    • Nope; See, it’s not POTG; what it should say is POTEGAET; People Of The Expensive Gun And Expensive Training. They are the only ones accepted into this club. Just kidding.

      My first carry gun was a Ruger .357 magnum while I was delivering pizza going to school and shooting out on the mesa. Once I graduated; I got a good paying job and got a more varied if not better selection of guns. (.357 magnum revolver is a great gun, I need to get another one) and joined up with a local gun range.

      No, the biggest leap are those that have decided to take responsibility for their own defense; and those that don’t. Once you are there; 99% of defense situations for most people can be handled with a basic gun with basic training and the willingness to use it.

      Of course, there is a but; but, it’s that other 1% that people then decide where they want to be on their personal defensive level. That’s when the discussion get’s lively.

    • “seriously nasty looks like I’m some damn criminal due to being young and having metal bits stuck in my face”

      Well, if you’re going to self-mutilate, you have to take the societal consequences. I would never do such a thing, because pain is Mother Nature’s way of saying, “Don’t do that!”

  9. While any training (I prefer to call it practice, I’m too lazy to “train”) is better than absolutely none, ultimately we’re talking apples to oranges. When comparing even training centers like Thunder Ranch and Asymmetric Solutions to BUDS the scale would be closer to .9mm to .45.

    I haven’t taken those courses, and I’m sure they are very good, but special operations training is a WHOLE lot more than just some CQB work. Those guys get the sh1t beat out of them and come back for more….it takes a special mindset to not ring a bell. I’m betting most civilians (myself included) would pack up after the first 2 days without sleep….

    • I might make all of 36 hours, no chance in hell would I go through two of days of no sleep without chemical stimulants. I did when I was MUCH younger, and before it was over I was hallucinating and not 100% sure what was real anymore.

      • My personal best is 54 hours…..bachelor project final report deadline. But I was sitting in a comfortable chair with obscene amounts of caffeine on hand. I wasn’t running 50 km, going for a swim, hauling big ass logs through the surf, marching some more…..

    • For the record, Dan changed my original Headline which was .45 vs .9mm. Maybe he thought it was a typo?

  10. Thank you for this. I’m tired of reading threads and reviews from armchair commandos and gun snobs. There is a lot of good equipment and guns that the SEALs will never carry that none the less will handle well in the civilian world. Every time I see the comment “I wouldn’t trust my life to X” I have to ask how many daily shoot outs these men face on a daily basis. Ridiculous. End rant

    • The only guns I wouldn’t trust my life with are the ones I have had first hand problems with. And they end sold off unless there’s too much fun factor involved, because i like my guns to work.

      I am a firearms instructor in my area, and I don’t get into the whole HS/LD, excessive tacti-coolness. Virtually all of my students are regular working Americans, and they just want to be able to defend themselves and shoot safely. There is no market for crazy “high end” courses, and thus no reason for me to spend my limited time and money on them either. I am skilled well enough to be able to teach others, and I am confident in my abilities for anything I may reasonably face in my lifetime. That is good enough by me.


      My wife’s concealed carry is a Glock 23. I bought one like this for her to practice with. Sure, you don’t have the same recoil, but at least you can find the ammo to practice with and you can do it in the back yard in town without a range fee and hearing protection. Even experts have handled both and struggle with being able to tell the difference easily.

    • Even though I have seen self-appointed experts on the Interweb refer to anyone who trains with AirSoft as a de facto Mall Ninja, I personally think this is a great way for low-budget scenario practice that can be done safely and even with a certain level of play and enjoyment. So long as all the participants also know how to safely operate a real firearm in the same scenario I think this sort of play-acting is nearly ideal. Plus, you get to do it in your own home where it may (hopefully never) be needed.

  11. Basic firearms proficiency should be part of a high school education, IMO. Including safe handling and basic proficiency. Extra credit for higher levels of accuracy.

    That is how the right to keep arms properly services the prefacing clause, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”.

    • +1

      I’m rather less than a decade removed from high school and I really wish there had been mandatory courses on things like automobiles (where does the brake light fluid go? how do I drive in the snow?), navigating the court system (so you’ve never gotten a big speeding ticket, huh? And I’m a terrible person because I have? STFU.), and firearms (because duh, duh and also duh).

      You know, proper education on the little practical things that our society just happens to be built around, instead of spending the budget on $%&#ing A/V surveillance of classrooms.

      Please vote for this or for people who will the next time the local school board is up for reelection. It’s nice that you afford the time and effort to home-school your kids; many don’t have that option, and a real, quality public education is the best defense against tyranny any population has ever had.

      • Nope, never got a big speeding ticket. Got a ticket for running a red light in front of the police department during shift change. Got one speeding ticket that could have been really bad but the judge cut me some slack. Cop had me dead to rights on an open container and possible DUI but I was active duty military and he cut me a whole lotta slack.

        In the service I partnered up with a guy that was given a choice by the judge. Prison or military. He liked to drive other people’s cars, without their permission, to chop shops. He turned out to be a life saver. Literally.

        I don’t judge people to harshly based on art or modification or past boo-boo’s.

        When I was young and poor there were times when the only gun I had was a Raven .25 auto. Couldn’t practice with it. I was afraid that every shot would be it’s last.

        Keep your eye on the prize, work every day and eventually you’ll get to where you can have cool range toys and money to enjoy them.

        • @jwm

          A sincere thanks for the anecdote and the encouragement. Sometimes it’s just plain tiring when you’re not particularly interested in acquiring 2.5 cars, kids, and K (Roman numeral) sq/ft houses and the societal status quo.

          I’m thinking about starting an article for submission that’s nothing but a list of Reasons I Spend My Time Lurking and Posting On TTAG Instead Of 99% Of The Rest Of The Internet

      • Drove my ’67 Cougar at 112 mph past a County Mounty hiding behind a ramp many years ago. I did not look or act like a punk. I gave him a lot of yessirs and sorry sirs and he wrote me for 79 in a 70 zone. As I signed he made sure that I understood his reasoning – if he wrote a ticket in excess of 80mph he was required to bust me on an excessive speed/reckless driving charge and haul my ass to county jail for arraignment. It was the end of his shift and he didn’t want to fvck with the paperwork.

        Some lessons are cheaper than others.

    • honestly I will the High Schools just taught American History and Civics/Government and not the biased liberal version that Common Core does. All the classic novels have been replaced with handouts on how good the current leadership followed by a multiple guess test/bubble sheet.

      When was the last time anyone saw a “blue book” in HS?

    • Please wear a Tap Out T-shirt, sir, so I know not to fvck with you.

      But be aware, anyone with any Tap Out gear visible that gives me any attitude is likely to see my EDC sooner rather than later.

  12. I agree wholeheartedly. Do the best you can with what you have. If all you can afford is a little range time every other weekend, so be it. While I suggest every shooter have at least some training, you don’t need to be Mr. Super Cool Mall Ninja.

  13. I think it’s the same mentality that the athletic people have of the non athletes…. I can, why can’t you? I do, why don’t you? Some people just push the edge of the extreme, just like in other disciplines. The majority of sane people (the middle of the curve) realises that even a little bit is better than nothing. More is better than a little. To paraphrase a speech I heard from Martin Luther King Jr., “If you can’t be a tree on the mountaintop, be a scrub in the valley, but be the BEST little scrub you can.”

    • I think your right but your comment made me think of something that I think is salient. When I approach someone who wishes to learn more about shooting from a defensive standpoint I can’t ever not critique, at least in my mind, their skill and dedication level from the POV of mine. As a 30 year shooter, competitively and ‘socially’ with a defense mindset my bar is pretty high. It’s not that I think someone has to train to a high level to defend themselves from 99% of most likely threats to them, it’s that in the back of my mind I’m always thinking that if they encountered someone with my skill level the weak spots in their skill set would likely get them killed, and I don’t want them to die.

      It is precisely the same thing that drives me to train more, I know that I’m not yet as good as I could possibly be at every discipline and so I try harder. At least I used to, now I’m likely on the decline skill wise, or at least for my dedication level and finances I’ve plateaued, though I know with enough time and ammo and more motivation I could improve still (or at least I think I could).

      It’s this mindset that the HS-LD people on the civilian side have that drives them to train like they do and that makes them drive others to do the same.

      I’m not arguing it’s right, just articulating why I think it is so, certainly any experience is better than none and just having a gun when you need it is step one. 99% of threats and all that apply, you don’t need to be even good to win a gun fight when you’re the only one with a gun.

      • “…it’s that in the back of my mind I’m always thinking that if they encountered someone with my skill level the weak spots in their skill set would likely get them killed…”

        I hope you are in the mall when I or anyone else needs you, however…

        Except in the movies, how many people with your skill level do you think are likely to be the Bad Guys most of us may face on the street or in our homes? I suspect the majority of Bad Guys/Punks/Gang-bangers are more lax about doing any actual training than the rest of us. Certainly don’t see them down at the range in the stall next to the deputy sheriff very often.

  14. If you really want to train like a Seal you’ve probably got to spend more time studying science, math, and technology.

  15. At least some training can go a long way–I’m not talking tactical HS/LD training but basic stuff like how to shoot accurately can help a lot of people. I’d rather have a 500 dollar gun + a 150 dollar training course that was worth it, than a 650 dollar gun and no instruction.

    But ffs ragging on people for not going to Gunsite or Thunder Ranch and spending the money for travel and training and gobs of ammo is stupid. Not everyone can afford that without cutting into stuff that’s a higher priority.

  16. This post reminds me of a summer training in the USMC Infantry Reserve Golf 2/24 Madison, WI unit. I believe it was the summer of 1997 in Coronado, CA.

    Our CO wanted us to get a feel for the Navy Seal obstacle course. In order to see if it would be a good training opportunity, he selected a few Marines throughout the physical fitness spectrum in our company. The course, for those who are familiar with it, does not contain safety equipment (at least, it didn’t back then – there could be a Starbuck there for all I know). I ran through the course 2 1/4 times before one of the less physically fit individuals behind me fell off an obstacle and injured his leg. I remember feeling like a badass, and seriously considered trying out for SEAL BUDS training.

    A few days later, we got ready for the amphibious assault course. We all packed our waterproofed combat gear, helmets, weapons, and blanks and headed into Mike boats. As a Squadleader, I had a good idea what the whole company was trying to accomplish and drill for. I was positioned behind our platoon commander, a Captain A., who was a hardass. The idea was for the boats to drop us into 3-4′ deep water, wade to shore, and set up assault positions.

    As we loaded up onto the Mike boat, one of the staff NCOs called us “pussies” because we were reservists. We apparently didn’t know anything about the fleet or the “real” Marine Corps. I told my squad not to worry about it, and to just execute the plan as well as possible. I stood behind Captain A., and let him know that our squad was ready to go. We motored out in as a company in several Mike boats. As we were about 1/2 mile from the shore, the boat Captain dropped the ramp and signaled the start of the assault.

    Captain A. waved his arm, leapt off the ramp, and dropped into the brink. I yelled “Hold On!” and tried to block the ramp, but was pushed forward by a sea of Marines. The water was cold and salty, and I fell a good long ways. My combat boots, helmet, pack, and rifle made it very difficult to reach the surface. After I fought my way back up, I noticed Marines all around me struggling to stay afloat. I looked for someone to help, but could barely stay afloat myself. I looked for the Mike boat, but it had turned around and was already motoring away.

    I felt a bit of panic at the realization that I may drown. I had no idea how deep the water beneath me was. I went under several times, and fought my way back to the surface. For the first time in my life, I considered dropping a firearm where I might not ever be able to retrieve it. One of the times above the surface, I yelled to the other Marines to drop their guns if they felt like they were drowning. I made it to the shore some time later, and helped other Marines out of the water. Some of the guys had dropped their M249’s and M240’s because they were sinking. It was a mess.

    Everyone was accounted for, but we had a number of weapons which were dropped into the ocean. Seal Team 6 got their dive gear and retrieved all of the weapons which had been dropped over the next several hours. The boat captain was demoted.

    Even as a 22 year old Marine in the best shape of my life, I had respect for warriors that operated at a whole different level than what I could manage.

  17. think of it as your “tackling fuel”. . . . . while I may not be a SEAL, frankly, the only motivation I have for getting up at 5 am every morning to work out is hoping I don’t have coronary on the street trying to protect myself from the locals who didn’t know how to ask me more politely for my hard earned cash.

  18. I’ve since retired from the military years ago and went shooting the other day at the range. I attended many shooting programs and at one time seriously considered competing in 3-gun. Now I’m just a private civilian who chooses to legally carry. Part of making that choice is to practice shooting (not just marksmanship) as it is a perishable skill. The ability to draw, make your weapon ready, and accurately engage your target significantly degrades over time. Quickly. Not having been to the range in several months, I was surprised on how rusty I had become.

    I believe everyone should try to get some sort of professional training. But probably more important is to regularly practice. Get a few dummy rounds and practice drawing your gun, taking the safety off and pulling the trigger. If you have a laser you can watch for the dot jumping around. Dry firing doesn’t cost anything. Try practicing at least monthly in different cloths as the seasons change and find out what gets caught where with different outfits. Try practicing drawing in the car (in the garage would probably be best as not to alarm your neighbors). Try practicing drawing while eating at the dinner table, of course probably not during a family meal. Try practicing drawing from the couch watching TV. Time yourself getting into your lockbox as fast as you can, pulling out your gun/flashlight and pulling the trigger once (with a dummy round) at an imaginary target. There are plenty of tactics videos on YouTube to watch and do in the privacy of your home with practice dummy rounds. All of it is free, unless of course you screw up and leave a live round in your Glock and put a hole in your big screen TV.

    You may surprise yourself on how awkward you feel at first. You may be surprised on how it is almost impossible to get your gun on your hip out with your seatbelt on. You may discover that your lockbox, takes 10 minutes to get into especially if you drop the key down the heat vent or in the pile of shoes in the closet.

    Repetition is key. Go slow and make it smooth. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. The only way you won’t screw it up when the pressure is really on (when someone is trying to kick in your front door)… when your ability for fine motor movement is totally gone…. is muscle memory. And the only way to get that muscle memory developed, so when you reach for that key, it easily/smoothly/quickly unlocks your lockbox so you can get to your gun without thinking about it…. is a lot of practice.

    We may not be able to afford to get to the range or attend professional classes, or find ammo… but we can dry fire/use dummy rounds for free. Your lockbox key should be so worn that it is like butter when you stick it in the lock.

    My .40 cents

  19. I haven’t been to a self defense class since I was 8yrs old taking Tae Kwon Do. I haven’t attended a firearm based class save the obligatory conceal carry. Would I if I had the money? I sure would.

    In my opinion, I think it is important to learn from a professional, be it hand to hand and/or firearm based self-defense; however I wouldn’t push it on anyone, beyond giving them the following opinion:

    -Do you absolutely need it? No. People have survived life and death encounters with very few hours on the range or mat at all.
    -Will it improve your odds? Maybe. It seems that chance always has a hand in these encounters, good or bad.
    – Will it give you more confidence in your abilities? Most likely. You will have someone scrutinizing your technical flaws and try to help you fix them. They will be attempting to instill a fighting mindset into you that some people just don’t have. Perhaps making you aware of different and better strategies.

    Most likely after a good class, you will be better armed with the mindset, tactics, and techniques that may increase your chances to survive such an encounter. Of course, there is always that chance that you will have a huge disadvantage and not survive no matter how well trained you are.

    I will say that anything beyond a decent core Handgun class or two and maybe some core hand-to-hand self defense classes; you are delving into the mall-ninja-fantasy area.

  20. I’ve taken more training, probably, than 95 percent of people out there.

    That having been said, that’s not very much training! I’ve certainly never been to any of those schools you travel to.

    The local gun range has NO trouble filling its basic concealed carry classes (either “Intro to Concealed Carry” for those who know which end the bullet comes out of, or “First Steps” for those who are totally new to firearms), but has trouble getting minimum registration for any of its more advanced courses. The number of courses I’ve NOT taken because they got cancelled for this reason greatly exceeds the number of classes I have taken.

    (As an aside, I strongly recommend regular retaking of classes designed to teach you self-defense law in your jurisdiction. There is a lot of nuance in most such laws.)

    Is training valuable? Yes. Do I highly recommend it? Yes. Is it also expensive? Yes. But even when they are barely trained, I am cheered by every single person who takes those beginner’s classes (especially the women) because they may have a gun with them at some point in the future, and may just vote appropriately as well.

  21. Training can really help but if caught off guard our abilities drop dramatically.

    My only concern is having trouble hitting a moving target while stationary and moving and hitting a stationary target. Forget about moving quickly and hitting a moving target.

    From this I’ve determined unless I train like a SEAL (not hardly), my best bet is to move quickly away from the danger. I don’t think I will do well in an offensive situation, I don’t train enough.

    Plus, I am very slow to aim and shoot. So I will just get the hell out of there, unless cornered, in which case I’ll do my best.

    I really would like to carry around a rifle but most folks seem to frown on that.

    • If you determine that you will go on offence, as in an active shooter situation, knowing the limitations of the handgun, you have to close to engage. In most cases just the show of armed resistance stops the shooter.

    • I am a strong believer in the “Get off the X!” gunfighting strategy, however, in most self-defense situations the fight is over in seconds, not minutes, and less than a full magazine is fired (or all 5 from a snubby).

      While taking time to practice move and shoot, shoot and move, would never be a wasted effort, the time to put it into use in your average emergency situation is likely to be very short. Might be better to practice getting your first few rounds on center of mass, THEN move or depart the AO. If your first instinct is to duck for cover the BG may well know exactly where you are, even if he can’t shoot you. This will make revealing yourself for any necessary offensive move or retreat VERY dicey.

      I am not an HS/LD trainer and so this is just my opinion. Consider it, but to not take it as Gospel.

  22. I don’t know which one would kill me faster — walking naked through the south side of Chicago at 3 am dropping fifties from my ass, or training like a SEAL.

  23. Know basic firearm handling rules, and be familiar with your firearm. For the average guy, that’s really all you need. Maybe an NRA basic pistol class. Took one for my ccw, and I really enjoyed it.

  24. Forget high speed low drag.

    How about high fitness low cholesterol. The most likely way we’re all going to check out won’t involve a bullet, but a blood clot in the wrong artery.An able person with 10,000 rounds of practice in the last month but no gym membership is prepping for the wrong fight.

    • Exactly. Many people of the gun practice firearms skills for hours and hours to prepare for a highly unlikely situation involving self defense against some unknown enemy. The real and most likely enemy that will kill most people is that spare tire around their middle and that triple cheeseburger they ate at lunchtime. Not to deride people that spend a lot of time shooting and training with their firearms (I try to get to the range at least once a month), but I fear heart disease much more than some thug trying to rob me. The dude that spends 10 hours a month at the range would be better served spending 9 of them at the gym.

      As to tactical courses, if it makes people happy, whatever, they can spend their hard earned money however they want. The average joe salaryman will unlikely ever have need for knowledge relating to dynamic entry, clearing a room or such nonsense. What little training I had in the army was enough for me. I hated every minute of that crap and have no idea why people would dish out 10s of thousands of dollars for it. There’s not enough money in the world to convince me to go through SERE training again. I’ll add a qualifier though, I’m not very familiar with what they teach at those schools, and I’ll permit that some of the stuff may indeed be worthwhile. It’s just not for me.

      • SERE training should be required for all Congressmen and Senators. You truly don’t understand freedom until you lose it. You truly don’t understand what is most valuable to you until everything is taken, including your cloths, dignity and spirit.

        • The average politician would die from it. After a time of sobbing uncontrollably. And all that before anyone captured them.

    • Low cholesterol is a ticket to an early grave. Low cholesterol is MUCH more dangerous than high cholesterol.

  25. It depends. If you are 18 to 55 with no disabilities, an armed citizenry is good but a trained one is better. You put LE in the category with SEALS. I don’t think so. Yesterday a DeKalb Co. police officer was shot accidentally by another cop. The cops I see at the range aren’t impressive marksmen. The ones that train others are very proficient but the average LEO…not so much.
    James Yeager’s name was brought up earlier as an example of the “operator” type this article was referring to. He seems to be the most criticized firearms trainer on the internet. The two day pistol course is half the price of similar 8 hour “gun fighting” classes and though he recommends physical fitness, it is not a prerequisite. I don’t know if he should be called a .45 when he strongly recommends 9mm.

  26. I think that you should train however you can. Do what you think you need. It will help you if the time comes for your skill set to be utilized. Do we have to be SEALs? Hell no, but if you would feel that would help you and you would feel more comfortable as one of the aforementioned “.45s” then go for it. Make it a hobby, make it enjoyable for you. The writer here acts like it’s a boon to do so. That’s the wrong way of looking at it. Getting in shape, learning martial arts, professional technique, etc. should be an enjoyable experience for you that may branch over and help you in ways you never considered. Or you could sit in your lazy chair eating chips, watching reruns of NYPD Blue, and say, “Woe is me, I don’t wanna move my butt and do basic calisthenics, I guess I’ll just not do anything and see what happens.” Your choice.

  27. It’s human nature to want to be like those rare magnificent, marvelous specimens…. like in sports or military special ops.

    But instead of wearing jerseys, gun folks are “tacti-cooling”, modding their firearms, participating in competitions, etc. The military-emulation trend in the civilian world has been working the past few decades.

    • Agree. Personally I really wanted the part of BUDS training where they teach Advanced Bar Brawling. SF used to run that in Tijuana on a purely voluntary rolling sign-up basis. I’m too old now, certainly.

  28. Firearms training courses are just like any other course of study. It’s all about retention. When you pass your class, when you get your degree, you don’t go back for seconds. If you have a bachelors and want a masters, you keep going. But once you have it, you have it.

    Taking a course at Thunder Ranch, then Gunsite, then Tactical Response, et al, is like getting a degree at one school, then the same degree at others with a different curriculum. Your end result will be confusion and a depleted bank account.

    If you take one class, remember what they taught you, and practice what you learned, that should be good enough. If you want a refresher, great. But overtraining is a thing.

    And as for the .45> 9mm curve… I consider myself a 10mm. At least thats what my used $400 EAA Witness says I am, and it seems to know it’s stuff.

    • I did notice he left The Centimeter out.

      I admit I’ve been tempted by that 10mm witness (a Glock 20 does nightstand and hiking-in-the-country-with-big-critters-possibly-nearby duty)

  29. No. Firearms are fairly simple devices. Advanced training is not absolutely necessary to use them effectively for self-defense.

    However, proper mind-set is critical. An individual must be mentally prepared and willing to fight back – immediately and ruthlessly. If they are not, all of the training in the world is worthless.

    Jeff Cooper’s timeless book ‘Principles of Personal Defense’ goes into this in some detail and is the first book I recommend to anyone interested in either armed or unarmed self defense.

  30. People don’t need to go overboard on their training but owning a firearm is like any other freedom, it comes with responsibility not just to yourself but to those around you and you should get the training associated with your needs. If you have a concealed carry permit and you want to carry concealed then you should be trained how to do it safely and effectively. If your purpose is to have a gun only in the house in the event of a home invasion then you should be trained in the ins and outs of that.

  31. Please keep in mind that in spite of all the HSLD training and equipment you have, when the time comes to get your ticket punched, you will have no choice but to check out of this life. Whether you want to or not. And not one minute sooner.

  32. Train like a Navy SEAL? That was beyond my capabilities on my BEST day. Train like a circus seal? That too is beyond my abilities. I’m training more like a walrus, I’m big and slow, make a lot of noise out of various orifices and don’t wander too far from my home stomping grounds. I do really NEED to get some time at the range, it has been too long since I made anything go “BANG!”.

  33. This is true. We’re all forgetting our most potent weapon – our tongue (no, not like that!). “A soft word turneth away wrath” or something like that. The ability to defuse escalating conflict BEFORE it erupts into gunfire is crucial to survival. Not many people WANT to take another human life. Those who do have problems.

    Unless you’re invading another country (Ooh America, I’m talking to you!), the chances of encountering hostile armed resistance is slight. Even criminals occasionally turn away when faced by an armed opponent.

    The question then is: are you in a good position? A moving target is much harder to hit. A good shotgun (and they’re ALL good) is more devastating than any other weapon (source: US Army report after German WWI complaints about shotguns in the trenches), so this is good to have. Plenty of ammo, aim at targets, and there ya go. Sounds easy, don’t it?

    Oh, you don’t mean Playstation? In reality I call the cops and pray.

  34. If everyone who claimed to be a seal or operator was one, we wouldn’t need a conventional army at all…

    • Steve Waterman, one of the guys who exposes people claiming to be Navy SEALs falsely, is quoted as saying, “There were about 500 SEALs that operated in Vietnam, and I’ve met all 20,000 of them.”

      • Too true! Back in the 1980s/1990s if you were in an officer or NCO club on a Friday or Saturday night a similar phenomenon took place. By about 23:00 the Vietnam Special Forces claims started. At midnight, the same people revealed that they had been CIA. At 01:00 – and by now, thoroughly lubricated with Mr. Daniels’ finest – they were in organizations so secret that they had no name.

  35. First when I hear “SEAL Training” I think team tactics, counter ambush tactics, sniper tactics, and other topics that are unique to the combat arms communities.

    Now I am going to follow the assumption that you really mean classes that do apply to the civilian concealed carrier like Gunsite, Tactical Response’s Pistol Program, Thunder Ranch, et al.

    My response to you article is that it is your life, plan for it however you want. But there are cases where things like weapon retention and CQB tactics do come up for civilians.

    A recently example where weapon retention came up would be the George Zimmerman case.

    But even pointing that out are these classes a requirement? No, not by a long shot. But if you can afford it, and you have the gumption it is a good idea to take classes that relate to your life.

  36. Cliff good article.
    No, most gun users dont need to be tactical.

    And real operators dont brag or claim to be the best.
    Thats how you can tell the wannabes and fools from the real deal.

    Gunfu is a martial art that like others requires self-awarness and humility gained thru practice in skills, step by step from the basics, and training is perishable.

    How much of what kind, depends entirely on your needs.

  37. Everything I know about shooting I learned from written materials, starting with the 4 rules and a rental handgun at the local indoor range, along with various pamphlets and articles about grip, sight picture, etc. CCW “training” was 8 hours of class time and 8 hours of range time–the latter consisting of 100 rounds at 7 yards over the course of the day. Since I usually shoot at 15 yards (with my eyesight at 55+, 25 yards is a blur), it was not a challenge or a learning experience. I am no marksman, but I can hit center mass. I shoot as often as I can, which is not nearly as often as I’d like. And that will have to do.

  38. Very few people can spare the time and money or maintain the fitness level required to “train like a Navy SEAL.” Also, the happy fact is that unless you live or work in certain high crime areas, it is very unlikely that you will ever have to draw a weapon in anger. Since most of us will spend 99.99999% of our time storing, loading, holstering, unholstering, unloading, and cleaning our EDCs we should place a higher priority on safely performing those tasks. One can get killed just as dead by an accidentally self-inflicted wound as one can by a criminal.

    Professional tactical training is a good thing and if people have the time, money, and fitness required for it, go forth and learn. However, arthritic centenarians in wheel chairs have as much right to carry firearms as Bianchi Cup competitors do. I say again, tactical training is good, but when you come right down to it, even the best training is not a real gunfight. If you can’t afford professional instruction or you physically can’t do it, don’t worry about it. A great many utterly untrained people have successfully defended themselves as long as they abided by the first rule of a gunfight: Have a gun. Yes, there are plenty of tactics, techniques, and procedures that are good to know, but to paraphrase Dr. Samuel Johnson: “Impending death concentrates a man’s mind wonderfully.”

  39. I worked 36 years paying taxes so the Seals can train hard and fight hard while I sleep (sometimes) peacefully at night. Train all you want to and can afford to. Retired seals need beer money.

  40. Sometimes brutality and cruelty wins over high tech tacticool tactics that change every year. I know it has worked for me so far.

  41. I guess I’m a 9mm+P guy. I’m not sure where that puts me in this scheme of things.

    Just my 2 cents worth, I think there is a danger in over training for those of us whom are at low risk of ever needing such training. If you enjoy it and can keep your mind in balance that’s fine. But I think there can be a fine line between ‘situational awareness’ and paranoia. We can’t be too rash in pulling out our weapons or Johnny Doughnut will come and put us in the clink.

  42. I’ve met Navy Seals and they don’t impress me. They are Marines basically. As far as caliber goes anyone who thinks a .22 is too passy is an idiot.

    • “I’ve met NAVY Seals and they don’t impress me.”

      I’m sure the feeling was more than mutual.

      But, I’d welcome you to come explain your feelings face-to-face with the SEALS I know and train with. I’m sure they would enjoy hearing your opinion of them. And you might enjoy their reaction, or maybe, not.

  43. Wrong analogy. Special Forces train for special missions. If they tried to stop an average trained mechanized unit they wouldn’t even be a speed bump.

    Train for your mission which is to defend your home and your person/family. You don’t need ninja training for that. Learn how to spot trouble before it spots you when you are outside and have a good early warning system and a defense plan at home. If there is any model to follow it is Michael Westen and not COL Mike Kirby. (Bonus points for movie reference.)

    • I have learned a lot more useful stuff from “Burn Notice” than I ever got from “The Green Berets.”

      It pays to watch the occasional Mythbusters episode that check out Weston’s strategies, however.

      • The tradecraft is authentic. There must have been retired case officers advising the writers. Like most action adventure shows, Westen and Company would have been dead many times over. Despite that little flaw, the show gives a good lesson on the basics of surveillance and countersurveillance, and securing your home from the kind of threats we face.

  44. Even SEALs are limited in terms of how much they can train. They do a load of water training, so their land warfare capability is more limited in comparison to say Special Forces (“Green Berets”) and Rangers, who train constantly at land warfare. And just the same, Rangers and Special Forces are more limited in their water capability.

    No one can be trained for every conceivable threat. Even in Special Operations, some guys become world-class shooters, some world-class martial artists, some wilderness survival experts, etc…

    • Do you realize how many rounds of ammo the SEALS expend working up for a deployment? They are more than ready for anything they have to face on the water or on land.

      The ignorance here is astonishing.

      • I take exception to your assertion that there is ignorance in this discussion, when the question is not “how many rounds SEALs fire in a pre-deployment work-up” but rather, in accord with the post “do we need to train like seals?” In point of fact teams, whether SEAL, delta, or other, don’t fire huge quantities just to tune up their accuracy in the isolation weeks leading up to their deployment, but more to practice coordinated action, team work, sequences. They already know how to shoot very well. What does that have to do with civilian self-defense? Nothing much.

        I had the opportunity to watch and even protect teams during insertion and, more exciting, extraction. Only on two days were the teams SEALS, from a small camp at An Loc, because the Navy refused to expose their choppers to high risk, so they got loaners, us, from Danang. Otherwise the teams were SF, with a small admixture of other people, from SAD for example. I watched them running and gunning. They got to watch me gun while they hooked up, and hooked up wounded buds. A number of them came home dead. So did a number of our crew members.

        What unit were you with? What do you really know about how a SEAL team looks totally spiked on speed and gunning their way through a surprise encounter in forest, observed from 110 feet up behind a working M60, as they try to make it ninety more yards back to a river bank clearing and their ride home, us? How do you know it?

        • Tell us about your experience as a NAVY SEAL and your training that you received in the past five to ten years. Then I’ll be much more inclined to believe you know what you are talking about.

        • Paul, did you even read my comment? I mentioned serving as part of a loaner aircrew to insert and extract them. You understood that? As a regular volunteer to provide crews for CCN’s needs in 1971 I frequently served at Quang Tri launch (because we were living in tents at Dong Ha, having moved there from Lai Khe in the south for Lam Son 719) and later in the Spring and Summer of 1971, from Danang C&C. I was with the 173rd AHC, 11th Group (on loan from 12th Aviation Group), 1st Aviation Brigade. The NCO in charge at QT launch was David Chaney, later CSM Chaney. With a prompt he would remember me. You have SEALs on the brain.

        • So, let’s see, you rode on helicopters in 1971 on which there were SEALS headed to their mission.

          That’s well over forty years ago.

          And you are here presenting yourself as some sort of expert on the SEALS and taking professional firearm training classes.

          I’m not impressed.

      • No they aren’t. No Special Operations team can be ready for everything. Special Operations is like having a Ph.D in a particular area of warfare. It doesn’t prepare you for everything. A Special Operations force that has to train extensively for water operations, and land operations, is never going to have the same level of land warfare capability as a Special Operations force that spends all their time training for land operations.

        The only reason they have involved the SEALs to the degree that they have in many recent operations is because of the Navy wanting to be part of the action. When you’re talking extensive operations in jungles (I know Afghanistan and Iraq do not have jungles), mountains, deserts, etc…that’s Army stuff primarily, not Navy.

        Even within the different types of Special Operations forces, they have specializations, for example, in Special Forces, they have combat diver teams, mountain warfare teams, military free fall teams, etc…Hollywood gives the impression that all Special Operations soldiers are trained how to do all that, but that’s not true. Things like combat diving and military free fall in particular are very specialized skill sets that require a lot of training to get qualified in and then lots of training to maintain. That training takes away from one’s ability to practice fighting on land.

        • “The only reason they have involved the SEALs to the degree that they have in many recent operations is because of the Navy wanting to be part of the action.”

          Kyle, can you document this assertion? In other words, do you have evidence for what you are saying?

        • In documentaries I have watched on the SEALs, they have said that they have had problems with retention due to there not being a whole lot of missions for them to go on. They also have spoken of how when 9/11 hit and the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, they had to completely change around their training. They have had to cut back a lot on their water training because of the level of land training they have been doing for missions as of late. And they have been involved in missions where they are to train Afghans, when training of foreign forces is generally almost always a Special Forces mission.

    • Nope, there are seals who haven’t had to swim in years. War on terror dictates training. Marops got dropped for a while, knowing you are going to the stan or iraq when you got back from deployment you could skip parts of training that wasn’t relevant.

      • This is because of the Navy wanting to be part of the action, which right now is primarily land-based, and thus resulting in the SEALs not maintaining proficiency in the very areas they are supposed to be super-proficient in.

  45. I’ve been reading TTAG long enough to recognize this story as one of the “regular features.” And, frankly, they always reek of, “I don’t need all that fancy-pants training, and neither do you.”

    Do you need my permission to feel good about not seeking any kind of professional training? No.

    But I think you want it.

    OK, fine. You did the right thing. I’m sure you are perfectly capable of using your firearm in a high stress situation even though you have never had any training to deploy your weapon under high-stress, from concealment and effectively put rounds into the target.

    There, I hope you feel better.

    I do feel sorry for people who think they are adequately prepared simply because they take their handgun to the indoor shooting range, stand still and squeeze rounds off slowly at a piece of paper twenty feet away.

    Better than nothing….I guess.

    • Paul, in the interest of full disclosure are you a paid trainer or are you in any way connected to a facility that gives training in the use of your guns?

        • OH, so you’re a professional student. I see now.

          Do you need my permission to feel good about not seeking any kind of professional training? No.

          But I think you want it.

          Actually, I don’t care.

          • No, you’re just a guy who feels the need to make yourself feel superior by belittling those who make different choices than you do. Every time this subject comes up and someone disagrees with you, you do everything but pat them on the head like a small silly child.

        • Everytime this “subject” comes up it is because a guy with a major inferiority complex feels a need to spout off about professional firearm training when they had either none, or very little.

          I’ve been with people who consider themselves self-trained and quite proficient, involed in IDPA and various other shooting disciplines like that.

          Get them out on a real dynamic range, with scenarios as close to real-life as possible and they simply and rather totally fall completely apart and at that point they realize there’s a heck of a lot about using a firearm as a combat tool, oh, wait, for the limp-wristed “defensive use,” that they had no idea about.

          But I expect we’ll continue to be fed a steady diet of these “I don’t need none of that-there fancy training” articles.

    • Paul, the point of the article is NOT that people should not get training, or that training is not a good thing to get. The whole point I was trying to make, and which you obviously missed, was that we should not belittle people who can’t get the advanced training or don’t have the funds for lots of range time or can’t find a range where they can practice move and shoot. In addition, many people are not physically or emotionally able to take martial arts training or calisthenics or other strenuous exercise.

      As you may see from reading the comments to this post, which I fully expected to be much more acrimonious, the vast majority of readers here are as tired as I am of people who like to write, “You ain’t shit if you don’t exercise and learn some MMA or other martial art to supplement your EDC.

      The point is that people are different physically and emotionally. Some people are physical/athletic and are like to or at least are willing to push themselves to exercise. A great many more people either cannot or would rather not. Some people want to be “preppers” and others just want to get on with life.

      The vast majority of people in the stadium for the Super Bowl couldn’t last 5 minutes in practice, much less a real Pro game. Should those athletes on the field hold them in contempt for that and ridicule them because they just aren’t trying hard enough and will probably die of heart failure on their couch watching the Lakers waste their lives running back and forth with a little ball?

      I have tried many times and so far been unsuccessful to find a way to get athletic people to understand that what they do is exceptional and many of the rest of us just don’t want to be bothered. It seems to be a blind spot in their mentality that they believe anyone could do what they do if they would just make the effort. Sorry, “Just do it!” is bullshit. Some people can’t, some won’t, doesn’t make us bad people or second class citizens.

      • “The whole point I was trying to make, and which you obviously missed, was that we should not belittle people who can’t get the advanced training ”

        Your “point” was simply yet another in a long line of TTAG articles that, as I said, are written by people who have chosen not to avail themselves of advanced firearm training.

        What classes have you taken Cliff H and what is your personal training regimen for maintain self-defense proficiency with your firearm?

    • Paul, it’s just a bit presumptuous to think that people want your permission to feel content with their training. Why should your opinion be relevant? You speak of training with SEALS. Why? What does SEAL training have to do with defending a law office or suburban home? Nothing. You think if we feel prepared because our training routine is actually shaped to the probable situations of need, we are living a comfortable delusion? I’ll ask the same thing of you that I once asked of LTC Cooper: What is your actual combat experience? What shooting threats have you actually and successfully responded to in civilian life? The true answer for Cooper is that he was never in a front-line combat unit, and he never had to pull the trigger on anyone in civilian life. Your answer?

      Certainly there are many posting on this site who do not have combat experience, extensive LEO time, or hoods-in-their-neighborhood engagement time, but there are also many who do. In our lives we allocate resources carefully in order to maximize our expected return. It is wise to follow the insights of Adam Smith and his intellectual heirs. Why are economical reality-based training limits not wise for those in civilian life? Why do so many former SOCOM types, from the ratings up through the highest officer ranks, have so many legal problems, especially flowing from the domestic relations area? Those guys shouldn’t be training with you. They should be studying accounting, psychology, law, and relationship management a bit more. Balance. It applies to both ends of the training spectrum. It’s not a silly concept. Frugality and work lead to prosperity. Prosperity and humility provide more safety than a gun.

        • God forbid I should ‘belittle’ spec ops! I’m not belittling former operators. A number of them are among my close long-term friends. They’re all retired now, and in their sixties, and our association dates from 1970-72. Not one of them has escaped the problems I referred to. It’s the price of such specialization and actual application in combat. I’m pointing out that there are more things to life than training in arms. I’m pointing out that people in the Spec Ops community carry a burden for all their training and operational service that is the inverse of those facing plumbers, truckers, and physicians wishing to prepare SD skills. My comment about legal issues is based on experience, getting calls for representation but more often referrals, specifically to find counsel in tidewater Virginia, Texas, and SoCal from members of one particular former-SO-organization. I have, for example, prepared Restoration of Gun Rights petitions for several. And those guys know the imbalances of attorneys too, I might add, and do not stint in expressing them!

          I haven’t been loathe to express my views in their presence, though I would not do so in a bar at 1 a.m. The point I would make is that the actual existence of many small-unit guys is not one to be envied or emulated by those who lack the actual need to fulfill themselves by pursuing special ops status. I could quote the former commander of MARSOC, who said those suitable for their training “also need to have just that little bit of a mean streak required to complete missions.” “Don’t,” I would say, “develop more competence in aggressive operator technique than you can handle.” I’ll stand by that. And I’ll point out SWAT as an area in which the sense of this maxim proves out, becomes obvious, repeatedly.

          I note you haven’t replied to my question, which is “what is your actual two-way shooting experience?” Why should I consider you knowledgeable about the needs of self-defense, or about what SEALs and their peers are like in actual contact with their human targets, as opposed metal and paper targets?

        • Speaking of “for heaven’s sake,” Paul, your entire career has been with the Lutheran Church as a pastor, academic, and publisher. Driving out to the Missouri countryside for courses staffed in part by former and reserve spec ops guys gives you stories, but not actual experience with them in their native environment, which is in the field on or around operations. You’ve fallen for the romance of Special Warfare, the fascination with great skill, but divorced from the context in which it is actually put to use. It has a down side.

          The suburban citizen not only does not need spec ops skills, but should be very cautious about taking on in training courses by osmosis the active spec ops soldier’s necessary accommodation to violence, not the public interview version, but the ‘just between us team brothers’ real view: It is a view, an ethos, shaped to the needs of a rare and demanding kind of work, needed as a psychological defense, and out of its native context a burden.

          To get a balanced perspective, ask the most experienced of them this: “Tell me about the worst of your blown missions, regrets from the field.” If they don’t have some stunning examples to relate, they don’t trust you. They all have examples. There’s a side to spec ops that is well-known to their pentagon and JSOC leaders, but which does not make the papers. it is the story of operations that head south for a host of reasons. It is that side that takes the emotional toll, forces the person to a hard and cynical view, and which makes the PR guys so happy to have a success story to publicize.

          This is NOT a criticism of spec ops. Not at all. It is a clarification of their burden, which is real. It ain’t all glory out in the field. Everybody with much experience has shot the wrong guy or blown up the wrong target at some point, by accident, or had to silence a villager on the way in, because real war is messy. Everybody. Being necessarily a purveyer of collateral damage brings stress long after the fact. It lives on. It is almost always kept private. I think it’s actually better that Joe Homeowner feels a certain reluctance to pull the trigger, and does not glorify the ability to kill especially well, because it is never his job. Lucky for him.

        • Paul, the courses you took and the location of the training were highlighted a few months ago on this very website. Indeed, I recall you offering a full description as to how you were first invited out to give it a try. Have you forgotten that posting?

          Do you mean you’ve…gone through BUDS in the interim?

          I’ve answered your question, identified my former unit and the circumstances of my contact, and clarified your confusion as to my clear statement about being on a loaner air crew.

          You haven’t answered mine about the extent of your two-way shooting experience.

        • Well, you win. Since you watched Navy Seals decades ago run to a helicopter, you are definitely well qualified to speak to issues concerning firearms training.

          There’s just no fixing stupid.

        • Paul, you clearly can’t perceive how you sound in your writing.

          I do actually suppose that my experience decades ago in Lam Son 719 and providing taxi service for CCN, and for two days the others, together with a lifetime of firearms experience subsequently, amounts to vastly more serious experience that you do or will have. But, hey, you’re “trained.” By SEALs, no less!

          Fixing stupid? Well I should hope some of your brilliance rubs off on me! You managed to squeak into a college “ranked 83 out of 98 regional Midwest Colleges by US News And World Report,” and went on to Concordia Seminary. I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa (Rho of Pennsylvania) in my junior year and was selected as a President’s Scholar as a senior, graduating from Georgetown Univ. Law Center three years later, being admitted to two state Bars by examination the same year.

          You make me laugh. Small wonder you’ve found middle-aged joy rubbing shoulders with operators. It can only help.

          You claimed I had no knowledge of your training. You were wrong.

          You never answered my questions about your actual experience under fire. Since you speak condescendingly to others on the site, I think it’s a reasonable question. No piling up of courses is going to give you insight into what happens when you are being shot at, and if the number of courses goes from 16 to 32, it will advance your understanding of that reality not a whit, except in your imagination, which obviously is very active in the absence of actual experience.

        • Your use of “Google” is impressive.

          And, I’ll simply note that only one of us has the guts to post using a real name. Consider that.

          Thanks for your service to our country, guy, but no offense, I really don’t think a guy who rode choppers watching SF guys dropped off and picked up, well over 40 years ago, is in much of a position to comment on modern firearm training for civilians who want to prepare themselves.

  46. i have trained mma for 7 years and have quite a number of fights and i am not afraid to say if 3 guys are trying to rob me i am not taking the chance to try to fight them off im pulling out my springfield xd9 and letting lose i am not superman and i have a son that i enjoy spending time with and cliff h i like the tapout guy comments i personally dont where tapout so of my team and i say wearing a tapout shirt makes every1 a badass till you fuck with the wrong guy. guns dont kill people in the right hands the save lives

    • Ricky, I watch MMA when I can and I truly admire the warrior spirit of those men, and their (generally) exceptional sportsmanship. I have observed in MMA, boxing, and in the military, some guys just NEED that combat rush. Most of the guys I see in MMA look like they have finally found the thing they have needed for their whole lives – an outlet for their aggression.

      But like anything else, there are wannabes that take on the image without understanding the rules and think that by wearing the clothes they can walk around pretending to be bad-asses.

      I recall a comment by that ultimate bad-ass Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon” when they told him he needed to go to the King Fu contest and get the bad guy: “Why you don’t just shoot him?”

      You can train your ass off and maybe improve your physical health and confidence in a one-on-one on the street, but any punk straight out of the barrio with a borrowed 9mm who catches you with your situational awareness at idle will cap you anyway.

      Hope you had fun with MMA and didn’t get pounded too bad, too often. Love to watch, but you couldn’t pay me enough to get in that cage.

  47. Caliber = Whatever you can afford and are competent with is better than the largest rock you can’t put on target.
    Training = Old saying that goes like: “Beware the person who only has one gun and knows how to use it.”
    Practice and train as often as you can. It will only make you more proficient.

    • “Never frighten a little man. He’ll kill you.” – Robert A. Heinlein, “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long” 1972

      • I never realized who Robert A. Heinlein was, so I thank you for the enlightenment. Genius and insightful and funny. 🙂

  48. a. Seals have unlimited money too train with!
    b. Missions are different, aggressive vs defensive!
    c. know your objective for training
    d. learn the use and functions of your selected weapon
    e. get training on the basics
    f. practice as much as possible
    g. gun games are not tactical training
    h. try force on force training if you can

  49. Training is nice….it “MIGHT” make the difference when things go south on you.
    Then again it might not be worth squat…..ask Chris Kyle, a highly trained SEAL
    and excellent shooter. Oh wait, you can’t, he was murdered. All his training was
    for naught. Situational awareness was lacking therefore the training was useless.

  50. How about shooting from the hip? Seals train that massive fire gives them the ability to ex-filtrate.

    To get out of a situation I’m not sure the bystanders can afford that level of punishment. Are you?

    So there are training limits too. They are different for everyone. Personally I believe you must do what you envision what you are faced with. Depending on situation and your ability, I may, draw or not draw, shoot or not shoot, evade at the first opportunity, etc.

    So in answer to the question, I do not believe that the seal level of training is required or even necessary. I’m not putting myself in positions where SEALS find themselves.

    And like always, I either live or die based on the decisions I make. (p.s. So do you.)

    In reference to the authors last para. Good on you bro! I’ll do the same for you.

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