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Let me begin by first apologizing to firearm instructors who are of good repute and understand the realities of civilian concealed carry. As you’ve probably determined by that disclaimer, we’re tackling a thorny subject in this short treatise. As a new shooter myself, once I got into guns I realized quickly that a firearm is only as good as its user. To quote the late Jeff Cooper, owning a gun doesn’t make you a gunfighter any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician. Thus motivated, I researched options for training and discovered that most trainers, sadly, have jumped the shark . . .

It seems that the social norm in the gun community is that a CCW permit holder is unprepared unless they’re carrying a polymer frame pistol with a large magazine, spare mag, flashlight, weapon mounted light, Kydex holster accommodating said weapon mounted light, tactical stippling, and some kind of advanced training in ninja-type shooting.

And all of that might be right, if the record bore out that such skills are needed for basic survival. Yet for most of us reading this, the instrument of our demise will be a lifetime of eating cheeseburgers or a bad crash driving the car in our own driveways. It is a select few citizens who will ever have to draw at all. And even a desperate thug knows it’s stupid to rob an armed person, given the multitude of ‘condition white’ alternatives. I’ve seen this in person when I had to reach for my gun and the bad guy stood down once he knew I was armed.

Let us go further – even if the bad guy starts shooting, the fight is not a drawn out affair. The FBI pegs the average shootout in under five minutes in duration, and if The Armed Citizen column is any indication, elderly people armed with “obsolete” 1911s and pocket .380s with zero time at Tactical Response seem to manage just fine against the criminals of America. I’ve yet to read an article on how an elderly man smoked three gangbangers with his 33 round mag by getting off the “X”.

So, we have a training community which says a prudent CCW holder shouldn’t walk out the door with less than 31 rounds of ammo and two pounds of spare equipment, in a country where the empirical evidence says we may not even need to fire a shot.

Why the gap? Being a veteran myself, I chalk it up to a difference of mission. An ex special operations trainer is doubtlessly hyper-competent about their skillset and firearms selection, because the free world literally might be at stake when those Tier 1 folks cleared holster. Those folks carry the guns and gear they do because when they’d be sent on a mission, it wasn’t to deliver a Hallmark Card. Their gear had to work and they had to be prepared for whatever life may throw at them to accomplish their mission. And on said mission, if they had to clear holster, it wasn’t to encourage the bad guy to surrender.

That mindset can lead to problems in civilian life where the likelihood of clearing holster is low and the core objective is to stop the assault, not to specifically terminate the life of the attacker. All bravado aside, as a CCW permit holder I’d submit that AVOIDANCE of a dead body is a goal to strive for. Especially considering our left-leaning media, the resulting legal problems and the certain loss of your firearm to police custody and whatever associated gun permits you hold. Plus the minority-centric special interest groups who despise self defense and want to make an example of you and your family. That doesn’t mean we should aim for the leg or some similar ridiculousness. It does, however, mean that we should emphasize avoiding having to shoot someone to start with, instead of packing a handgun to repel an L shaped ambush via dynamic tactical maneuvering.

Taking training for pure fun is hardly objectionable, but let’s not kid ourselves in suggesting advanced ninja skillsets are a basic requirement for carry. It does a disservice to the new gun owner and it’s a slap in the face of law abiding men and women who don’t have the money, time or ability to spend $2000 for a pilgrimage to a training class.

My closest friend just got married and is trying to raise his young family in this uncertain economic environment. He doesn’t have a spare $100 left at the end of the month, but he does have a newborn and a wife to protect.We should not collectively suggest to people in that place in life that gun training take precedence over their other responsibilities.

There’s nothing wrong with carrying whatever you like – that’s your right as an American and as a human being. But don’t think that having two spare mags for your tactical plastic wundergun makes you more prepared for realistic threats than the little old grandma with a .380 Walther .

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  1. Great article. I would also point out that the .380 Walther is a lot easier to conceal than a service pistol with a combat load of ammo.

  2. Good read. Some get carried away playing out operator scenarios when in reality the most hostile environment ‘behind enemy lines’ most of us laypeople operate in is the unfortunate stop at the gas station in the bad part of town.

    Practical training on carry strategy, malfunction clearance, seeking cover, when to shoot, and how to handle the legal aftermath would be ideal. Accompanied with range practice as ammo budgets allow.

    • Don’t know what DZ’s gripe is with Tactical Response but that sounds like what they teach in the fighting pistol course.

  3. I agree. I think training to the best of your ability is critical. I don’t have thousands to spend on training either, but having a simple double tap or feather weight 38 revolver is better than nothing right?
    Ok I am a polymer geek sure, I like what I like, but I also have this affinity for a 1911 too.

    Bottom line learn to shoot what you own and know your limitations. That puts YOU at the advantage.
    Safety safety safety, training, more safety…

  4. Great post.

    I tire of all the impractical tacticool training.

    Training to recognize and avoid threats is just as important, if not more, than training how to respond to them.

    As far as equipment is concerned?

    “Better a .38 Special in your pocket than a 1911 .45 at home in a dresser drawer.” – Syd

  5. “I’ve yet to read an article on how an elderly man smoked three gangbangers with his 33 round mag by getting off the ‘X’.”

    How about an elderly couple robbed by 7 men:

    Just because the norm is 3 yards and 5 shots, doesn’t mean that there aren’t cases where more rounds and more bad guys are involved. Ideally if possible you should be prepared to the worst. And you use an elderly man and a 1911, a Glock 19 with a spare magazine would weigh about the same as the 1911 alone in your example. And it about as concealable.

      • So you are betting your life that you get in a gun fight will follow the average.

        I have a good friend that is a cop, he has been in three gun fights. Two of those he was shooting at someone 25 yards away armed with a rifle. He laughs at people that prepare for the 3 yards, 5 shot gun fights.

        Particularly when being prepared for the outside of the average gun fight isn’t too hard. Take my friend’s 25 yard gun fight, though a rifle would be optimal a Glock 19 can make hits out to 50+ yards on a man sized target as long as the shooter is half descent.

        Take the home invasion I linked to, the Glock 19 has 16 rounds in the gun, so you have at least two rounds per a bad guy, assuming that they don’t leave after the first couple fall. And that spare magazines gives you 15 more rounds.

        No one is advocating that you should be walking around looking like you were raped by a 5.11 Catalog. Simply that there are tools that can make you better prepared if your gun fight, as unlikely as it may be, might be outside the norm. And that carrying them, honestly doesn’t take that much work. Outside of women, it honestly isn’t that hard to carry a Glock 19 sized gun.

        • I can’t figure out what you’re actually saying.

          “Anything can happen so prepare for anything? But don’t actually prepare for everything, just anything.”

          Was that it?

        • Jeff,

          Yes, and no.

          Should you be prepared to fight an invading army every time you walk outside? No that isn’t practical.

          But if you can be prepared for the worst likely case, without undue burdening yourself, why shouldn’t you? Choosing to carry a Glock 19 with a spare magazine doesn’t make one a mall ninja.

        • Your friend is paid to go into harms way and take care of the baddies. If I run across a guy with a rifle I’m trying to get the hell out of there, not engage him from 50 yards with a pistol.

        • And what were the circumstances? Was he engaging (or engaged as a private citizen), or was he doing it as part of his job. Because if it’s the latter, we’re talking about two completely different issues.

      • I rewrote this four times and couldn’t come up with a grammatically correct way to make my point, that said:

        Isn’t concealed carry in itself preparation for a statistical outlier event?

        • In place of “statistical outlier”, try “statistically rare”. I think what you’ve written is probably correct, strictly speaking, but it doesn’t “scan” well.

          Sorry – it’s really hard to overcome that Jesuit training, even fifty years on!

        • Reads well to me.

          To answer your question, it depends on what you consider an outlier.

          10% chance? 1%? 1 in 10,000?

          But consider this … If I have, say, a 1:100,000 chance of needing a gun on any given day, over the course of 20 years there’s just over a 7% chance I’ll have needed it at least once.

          That isn’t what I’d call a far outlier on the typical Gaussian distribution.

        • Fire extinguishers and seat belts are preparation for “statistical outlier” events. So is a reasonable EDC pistol and (maybe) a spare mag.

          If you live in your average residence you don’t schlep in one of those airport fire extinguishers on a giant set of steel wheels and park it in the living room. If you are an average driver in everyday traffic you do not install a five-point quick-release harness (or wear Nomex underwear). If you are going about your everyday life in a reasonable manner you don’t carry a Glock 17, two spare mags, tactical flashlight. first aid kit, collapsible baton, $300 folding knife, spare batteries. etc.

          Two quotes come to mind: 1) Stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things, and 2) If you find it necessary to do a tactical reload under fire you are almost certainly at THE WRONG ADDRESS!

          In other words, stay away from places and people where the chances of having a Hollywood style shootout are increased and you will most likely never encounter that statistical outlier. Either way, life is not without a particle of risk.

        • CliffH,
          “If you are going about your everyday life in a reasonable manner you don’t carry a Glock 17, two spare mags, tactical flashlight. first aid kit, collapsible baton, $300 folding knife, spare batteries. etc.”

          I typically carry a full size M&P and two magazines, it conceals well on me, and I don’t see any reason not to. If S&W made a more Glock 19 sized model I would probably switch to that. If my clothing dictates I will switch to a Shield with one magazine, or a LCP with no magazine. But I favor the full size M&P whenever possible.

          Tactical Flashlight – I don’t know about where you live, but around here it is hard 6-12 hours a day. I use it for a lot of things, including many non-tactical uses like inspecting my rental car for damage before I accept it.

          First Aid Kit – Don’t normally carry that on me, though I do a blow out kit at home, one in my car, and one attacked to my range bag. I do carry a tourniquet on the range in my pocket, but that is because I figure that is the most likely place I am to encounter someone bleeding out from a gun shot wound.

          Baton – I don’t know very many that carry batons that aren’t cos

          $300 folding knife – I have $300 folding knives, but I never carry it as it is impractically large. I do carry a $100 folding knife. But that honestly is more for utility than for defensive purposes. In fact yesterday I used it to clear the nozzle of the marking chalk that I use at the range.

          Space batteries – I typically keep a set of spare batteries for all my non-rechargeable electronics in my computer back pack, and in my range bag. Though the batteries differ as they each support different electronics.

        • “Two quotes come to mind: 1) Stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things, and 2) If you find it necessary to do a tactical reload under fire you are almost certainly at THE WRONG ADDRESS!”

          Or you could be simply driving down the highway and accidentally run over a biker who brake checked you.

          Or you could be at home and 7 guys enter your home looking to rob you.

          Or you could be at your local gun shop when a crew of criminals decide to rob it.

          Also doing a tactical reload under fire show ignorance. No one advocates changing magazines like that anymore.

          Finally it hilarious the you are using the exact words of the instructor that the author decries. Tactical Response during their lecture will tell you the two things (among others).

          1. Don’t go to stupid places, with stupid people, at stupid times.

          2. Carrying a fun is a lifetime commitment to Avoidance, Deterrence and Deescalation. – In that you avoid getting yourself in trouble. You don’t act like a victim, avoid standing out in such a way that a criminal will target you. And finally if you get into a situation that is borderline you should first attempt to talk your way out of it.

          Now at times I’ve disagreed with some of their practices, but Mindset Lecture that Tactical Response does as part of Fighting Pistol is probably the best you will ever get. It is worth the price of admission just for the lecture IMO.

    • Seven men sounds like too many to fit in a car, and too many guys when you split up the proceeds. That aside, the story ids one pistol and one shotty–start firing and the rest will flee like cockroaches when you turn on the light.

    • If I’m preparing for the worst, I’ll call the Marines and go the hell home.

      Okay, fine, I’m reaching for a long arm… and going the hell home. Even so, there is most certainly a point of massive diminishing returns.

    • The only issue I have with that is this: I have yet to meet someone over the age of 70 (what I consider elderly) who would be caught dead with a Glock. Or anything not chambered in .45 for that matter.

  6. The “high speed, low drag” crowd probably discourage more regular folks from even contemplating arming themselves than they ever actually train. Elitism is not the tool to win converts.

  7. Perfectly stated.

    It’s okay to train like a ninja if you want to be a ninja. For the rest of us, there has to be a better way.

    • Many people in my circle of friends and coworkers know I got in to guns as a hobby (and means of protection, of course) a few years ago and I go out of my way to still be the same not-crazy guy I was before the gun hobby.

      In my business, people are going to look at me askance if they know I’m a gun owner no matter what. No reason to add Operator Speak and looking like I got barfed on by the Surefire catalog on top of it.

  8. Good article. Thank you. 🙂

    Your article also applies to those who open carry. There are still places in these United States where the right to keep and bear arms is exercised instead of a licensed privilege. Those individuals engage in training too.

  9. ST:

    Bravo. You have condensed all my arguments about the training and preparedness industry into one excellent coherent piece.

    I would add one more thing. The wrong kind of training could actually leave the person less capable of successfully completing his “mission” than having no training at all. All that a citizen wants if he gets into a DGU situation is to walk away without getting killed or wounded, not killing someone or ending up as the next George Zimmerman. If you are trained to respond like a cop or authorized private security guard you may indeed take out the bad guy(s) but in the process go well beyond the legal limits imposed on self defense and end up spending the next ten year years in the slammer.

    Nothing amuses me more than reading about DGU tactics for a situation that sounds like a rogue CIA extraction team shows up at your house by mistake. Guess what? if that or the equilvalent tactical situation actually happens you are going down regardless of how well trained you think you are.

    As always my empahsis is on identifying the bad guy before he identifies you or avoiding/detering him if he has. As they say at “the Farm,” as well as other places you win 100% of the gunfights you don’t get into.

    • 1000+.

      The instructor at the place I took my son for his handgun safety certificate (that both I and and his best bud’s dad insisted they take before going to the range), said much the same, and had them watch a good video on consequences of unsafe gun handling. That made a big impression on both of them, 13 years old at the time.

      I’d also recommend the Massad Ayoob books, and would be interested in hearing more about other good books or training on situational awareness, the three S’s, etc.

      I’m not saying you have to do this first, but it should be something every responsible shooter things about, not too long after getting comfortable with their gun at the range, and also practices in terms of shoot-no shoot scenarios, whats legal lethal defense per the laws in THEIR state, (as opposed to the internet wisdom), along with dry-firing and malf drills.

      BTW, for that new dad on a budget, dont forget you can save a LOT of money and time starting with basics, including mental skill sets, first.

      Then, you add on the three gun and operator stuff for fun, when you have the spare bucks.

  10. Well written. I’m not faulting anyone who wants to be uber-prepared, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the latest and greatest gear/tactics/techniques/ammo are necessary.

    I would add that most tacticool class attendees would be better served by an hour or so of dry fire and malfunction drills a week than attending a class. It’s much cheaper, too.

  11. Well said! I completely agree. Although I am in agreement, I personally do carry some extra mags and gear because even though I know I have a better chance of Bill Gates calling me and offering to make me his heir in exchange for certain… ahem… favors, I want to be prepared if I’m caught up in the next Westgate mall/Aurora Co. situation. That’s just me and when my friend tells me he feels comfortable with his LCP, I don’t argue with him cause I know in the very unlikely case he or I would need a gun, that that 380 would be more than sufficient.

  12. I keep saying it….ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY. Period. That is why you hear the drill over on “other” blog sites and radio shows. Everyone needs training. Everyone should take a course every couple of months. Everyone should have the latest Ninja certificate… also made me sick. I can spot a con-artist Huckster a mile away. The gun community is filled with them.

    Matter of fact, everyone should see the post WWII movie with Clark Gable…The Hucksters. Its a great honest education for the young folks….


      Conservative radio/TV is the absolute worst with this stuff.

      • Never inderstood that. Why would you hoard gold?

        If the shit really, truly went down, no one is going to give a rat’s ass about your useless, smudgey yellow metal.

        You’d be way better off hoarding toilet paper and Oreos.

        • Most any form of civilization that springs up will eventually have some form of economy above the barter system, and gold has, for thousands of years, been a customary medium of transaction. It’s of limited availability, it’s compact, it’s infinitely divisible and fungible, and people recognize it on sight. Those are just a few reasons why it might be used.

    • Or perhaps you don’t know what you ability level is and are commenting out of ignorance?

      I am in the top 25 of my gun type at the national level matches I have attended. My shooting skills typically out class anything you will see at a typical public range. I typically win the local matches I shoot. And yet at least once or twice a year I either get training from a professional instructor, or do an informal coaching session with friends. Why? Because you can’t always figure out what you are doing wrong from the target alone. And if I want to make that climb to number one, I need their help to identify what is wrong and correct it.

      And it is no different than those at the bottom of the skill level bracket. Yes you can get the basics down with self instruction from the internet or watching others and eventually become a descent shooter. But you can reach the same level with much less time with professional instruction. It took Cooper, and the early guys a lifetime to reach what many would consider competent level today. And that is no disrespect to the early guys, it is just today’s shooters get to stand on the shoulders of giants.

      That is if they choose to, or they can ignore training like you recommend and spend a year or more trying to reach the same level a good instructor can get a student to in a couple of days of training.

      • Wow, dude! You are so full of win, it is almost painful! You know…I hear there is a new mall opening in town…maybe they need a ninja? Did you think about applying?

        • So illustrating how a person is full of BS makes me a mall ninja?

          People that want to get good at golf hire golf instructors. People who want to get good at baseball work with a coach. Sailing you hire sailing instructors. Yet with guns men seem to think that they are born with a natural talent how to shoot. I got news for you, you don’t. Nor did the military teach you much either, unless you were in a unit that was progressive and brought outside instructors in.

          Also this mall ninja thing is getting out of hand. Any time someone disagrees with you, they are a mall ninja.

        • “Any time someone disagrees with you, they are a mall ninja.”

          To be clear, it’s “anytime someone does more than you think is necessary, they are a mall ninja.”

          But to be fair, that’s par for the course on the pro-gun side. We eat our young. Anytime someone doesn’t agree with every single crazy word you say about supporting the 2A, Molon labe, From my cold, dead hands, etc., they are a gun grabber. Witness when Leonard Embody comes around here and asserts that nobody, not TTAG, not the NRA, not the SAF, not the GOA, nobody really supports the 2A, because they don’t support him or go as far as he does in his beliefs and actions.

          We are a bunch of intolerant bastards when dealing with people with whom we are supposedly fighting in concert.

        • You don’t want to be called a mall ninja but spend a paragraph telling us how awesome you are?

          I get that you are really into IDPA. That is great. But are you seriously suggesting that the only way I can survive the suburban jungle is to be “number one” in my gun class? Most people don’t have the funds, time and/or will to attend the latest/greatest tacticool training class every month. Geez, the cost in 5.11 “tactical pants” alone would eat up part of my mortgage payment.

          It is possible to establish and maintain a basic competency with one’s chosen weapon without devoting every waking moment to grooming one’s operator status. To imply otherwise simply discourages new owners and alienates potential recruits.

        • “You don’t want to be called a mall ninja but spend a paragraph telling us how awesome you are?”

          I was illustrating that even though I am what most would consider an excellent shooter, I still see value in training. Granted I am more picky about who I train with, but the value is there at all skill levels.

          “I get that you are really into IDPA. That is great.”

          IDPA, I wouldn’t be caught dead at an IDPA match anymore. The sports I shoot are the more technical action shooting sports. And no it isn’t USPSA either, though I do shoot a match or two a year.

          But are you seriously suggesting that the only way I can survive the suburban jungle is to be “number one” in my gun class? Most people don’t have the funds, time and/or will to attend the latest/greatest tacticool training class every month.

          I am not suggesting that you need to attend a training class monthly. Once a year, or even every two years at the maximum with range practice at least once a month is sufficient to give you competence and a skill level that is well above the average.

          I also discourage people from simply attending training as their only shooting. A good instructor will teach you what to practice, and you then put time on the shooting range internalizing the lesson through practice. Similar to the way some personal trainers will teach their clients routines once a month and expect them to do it on their owner after that.

          Geez, the cost in 5.11 “tactical pants” alone would eat up part of my mortgage payment.

          Though you sometimes see people that look like they’ve been raped by the 5.11 catalog. Classes are typically split between tactical pants and jeans. Myself I favor 5.11 shorts but I use the extra pockets for prosthetic socks as my leg changes volume a lot during the summer.

          It is possible to establish and maintain a basic competency with one’s chosen weapon without devoting every waking moment to grooming one’s operator status. To imply otherwise simply discourages new owners and alienates potential recruits.

          Never said you had to. I do encourage new gun owners to seek professional training, but I am also willing to help them out with the basics if they are willing to follow the safety rules. And I am not an operator, unless you include the computer I am currently working on.

          Anyways my whole point is this, if training isn’t for you, great go right ahead. But don’t call people hucksters when you are simply ignorant on the subject. But I will say this, unless you’ve measure your skill against a known measurement, how do you know your are competent? There is a lot more to shooting than standing in a range booth and blasting away at a target down range.

      • We’ve been talking, all through here, about statistically unlikely events and outliers. I just want to point out, without any snark or criticism, that if everything you’ve said is taken and believed at face value, then you, PPGMD, are a statistical outlier, and thus are a poor example for comparison to the average individual. If everything you say is true, and I have no reason to say it’s not, then anything that most people do to prepare is going to seem inadequate.

      • Most gun owners (that don’t hunt) keep an unloaded handgun locked in a drawer and the ammo in a separate room closet. Now you dare them to train?
        It comes down to whether you are a sheep or a sheepdog.

  13. I mostly agree. I think practice is DEFINITELY good as is selecting a reliable firearm…but I remember when I was looking into CCWs, I watched on youtube video where a person advocated a firearm with at least a 10 round magazine, 2 full reloads and a BUG with at least one reload. That is one hell of a load out to worry about.

    And all I could think of was “damn, that sounds like a royal PITA.”

  14. Give this guy the FNS-40 already. This is the best article. And while we’re at it, can we all agree to never say the word ‘operator’ again?

  15. Yeah, there are absolutely exceptions to the old “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth OVER doing” rule. Great op-ed.
    I would also suggest that if you are in the market for training, try to pick something FUN. I took a carbine class last year not because I expect to be in a fight with my carbine anytime soon, but because the instructor was great and I think everybody there had a good time. It’s a lot easier to justify the expense when you and the people your with are enjoying themselves, rather than being barked at by a beer-bellied “ex-operator” about how you gave away your position to the super robber/sniper/rogue government agent who’s trying to break into your car.

  16. Exactly…that’s why I’ve recently started offering a class on carry for the everyman. Nothing on assaulting a bunker in Afghanistan, but realistic stuff like going to the movies and wally world. And a lot of emphasis on avoidance.

  17. I carry a spare mag and BUG when out and about. Two mags that hold more than 10 are some pants anchors put together, plus roughly a space the size of two Galaxy Note 2 cellular phones. That’s big and unless you’re on duty a duty belt is just a bit much for daily walks. I don’t advocate so much gear you need to take inventory. Shit, I don’t even believe in hand flashlight strobe features.

    Separating reloads for primary and secondary is a pain in a pocket. Then learning your secondary reload reflex is a project in itself. I just don’t see lugging a backpack in your pockets and belt as the way to enjoy life.

    Great article. I like my spare mag and I carry a BUG as a preference and in case who I’m with is unarmed but…The rest just isn’t a great investment based on the return.

    • “I carry a BUG as a preference and in case who I’m with is unarmed”

      So if you get in a DGU situation, you’re going to start handing out extra guns to those around you? Humm.

      • Typically one of 3 friends or my lady. All of whom are ready range companions. The loner doesn’t want to make extra work and cut his few close friends loose if bad things happen.

  18. People say/believe what they need to say/believe to make them feel more comfortable.
    “My 17rd glock will protect me better than a 5shot steel revolver that weighs the same weight”
    “My 5 shot revolver is more likely to work reliably at all times than a 17rd glock”
    “I’d rather buy a 65″ LCD tv this year than replace my .25acp raven POS that my uncle gave me, since just having a gun is good enough”

    The author seems to dismiss equipment outright, while I think it’s important to consider all elements as being important. That being said, just do the best you can. I was able to procure the funds for a 9mm pocket pistol that I now can practice with at every range outing, as opposed to my old .380, that was expensive and difficult to keep fed. Would I dissuade someone from carrying a 25acp pistol if that’s all they could afford? No… but I wouldn’t tell them that they’re set for life either.

    Ultimately we’re not cops, choosing the wrong equipment largely falls on your own head. You carry what you want, it makes no difference to me. Just don’t tell me that my 11+rd magazines are overkill and useless, and that a 10rd limit won’t affect us citizens since we don’t need a high capacity combat weapon. After all, grandpa’s 5rd smith and wesson worked just fine for him, why don’t you surrender your glock…for the children.

  19. I would love to see the stats on it, but anecdotal evidence & common sense tell me that contact shots make up a relatively large percentage of DGU’s. Even if you are a lousy shot, you can unload 5 shots from grandpa’s archaic, snub nose. 38. Five shots that will do more than the average 5 punches. Training is good, necessary, and even great but first one must have a gun and the will to use it to be in the fight.

    And who wouldn’t want grandpa’s Walther?

  20. After Aurora, I wondered how well I could defend myself in a darkened theater without a red dot sight. I still don’t have the answer to that question.

    • I just ran into a similar, but probably more likely problem…..

      Last week I did a dry fire drill when I got home, around 5. Just dusk. And it had clouded over. I scared myself when I realized I couldn’t see my front sight. At all.

      At the very least there be a night sight in my future…

  21. I agree with this article, but I don’t want people to read this and think you don’t need training. Everyone DOES need professional training and taking at least 1 class every year or so is hardly too much of a burden if you are serious about using a firearm to defend yourself. At the very least, you should stay up to date about whatever new laws are being passed in your state/federally.

    As with most things, there is always a critical mass to be found. Do you need a full on tacticool course that runs you a couple grand every 3 months? Of course not. But there’s little doubt that you would come out of it better with able to defend yourself, and I’m sure you’d have a blast as well.

  22. Great article. I’ve heard it said elsewhere, but it’s probably worth repeating that cutting down on cheeseburgers and getting to the gym is probably better than over training as long as you have a basic familiarity with firearms and can use what you carry. That will also contribute to an increased life span by fighting the threat that is most likely to kill us all, viz. blocked plumbing.

  23. Hyperbole is one of those things we see all too often on the internet. It’s always all or nothing, and if we can hurl an insult or exaggeration or two at our chosen boogyman while we are at it, all the better.

    Thousands spent on training, classes every month? Nah, but $450.00 spent for a two day Fighting Pistol class is money very well spent. First hours of class being taught to avoid avoid avoid confrontation as much as possible and the legal ramifications of shooting someone explained in detail. The next hours spent on a 360 degree range learning practical ways of shooting a bad guy, reloading, clearing weapons malfunctions? Priceless. No “operators” in this class. No “ninjas,” whatever that means. Just plain good information and excellent training for the everyday defensive shooting man or woman.

    Tons of tacticool gear on my duty belt? Nah. A spare mag or two on my belt? A good knife? YES, PLEASE. Anyone who has actually been in an armed confrontation always says the same thing: “I wish I had more bullets.”

    And if defensive shooters really can’t see the value of taking a big step to the right or left when facing an armed adversary (getting off the X) than we have a bigger problem here. Back to school, kids.

    The best gun is the one you have with you? YES. The best training is the training you go and take.

  24. I agree in general, tacticool training isn’t essential. Mindset is, particularly keeping in mind the goal of self-defense is to survive. You never lose the fight you avoid. But I would disagree in saying one should prepare based on the statistical average. It should be based on your personal risk assessment.

    CCW or even the decision to use a firearm for self-defense is a risk decision. It is an insurance policy against a low probability event to begin with. Most folks don’t even bother carrying a firearm because of statistics, the likelihood that they’ll never be attacked/mugged by someone intent on hurting them vice just taking their money. In choosing to carry, you have already made a decision that the preparation/hassle is prudent insurance against a low probablity event.

    So, whether you carry a 5 round revolver or a 17 +1 wonder gun with 3 magazine backup- I don’t care and I won’t criticize the choice. Since it really has to be an individual choice of the cost/benefit/risk/reward that you are comfortable with. Education always helps, training helps to make more informed choices. It’s your life and only you need to be comfortable with the choices/risks you’ve decided to take.

  25. I must agree. Tactical training is a luxury I cannot afford, and I have doubts that I have the physical stamina to take an 8 hour class, much less a two or three day affair. Further, I have a hard time finding the money to just go to the range, now that ammo is either not available at all or $20-$30 a box for FMJ 9 mm. (I remember when you could buy range ammo for $9 a box of 50.) Moreover, my wife is totally disabled. This has two consequences: 1) I can’t leave her at home for a whole day or more to go take a class, and 2) if we were to be attacked outside the home, I am not going to abandon her in her wheelchair while I go run for cover. I will stand and fight. Thus the only skill I really need is perfecting the ability to put rounds center mass and drawing from cover.
    I should add that I have never had any formal training, not even a gun safety class. I am totally self-taught, starting with the four rules, with the aid of some pamphlets and videos. Would I like to be coached? Of course–I know the value of coaching, and while I can put lead center mass, I am sure I could shoot better with training.

  26. Very good article. There is a bit of elitism going through the carry community that looks down on guys who carry wheel guns or 1911s or something like that. Its the will to win which wins the battle. One of books that shows just that is the book “A Rifleman went to War”. Talks about the pistols available to them in WWI. One guy won a close quarters one on one fight in a foxhole, not because he was a faster draw but because he was faster with using his gun on his belt as a mace instead of a gun. The german never had a chance.

  27. One way I help out the little guy who doesn’t have money is not to charge for my NRA handgun safety/personal protection course. Whatever gun they bring is fine. i’ll teach them how to use it, what it’s limitations are, and encourage an upgrade with more free training as soon as they’re financially able. As a teacherfor many years in many subjects and venues, I know that looking down my nose at students doesn’t work.

  28. Analogy Time.
    With a nice Porche, BMW etc. and my kid gloves (black) with no finger tips, I will be able to deftly manuver myself out of an accident creating situation.
    We all gotta have a car, we all are not going to be driving a Beamer/Beemer.
    So we get a Ford Focus and we try to avoid stupid drivers, driving stupidly on the stupid road and usually get where we are going.

  29. I have my CCW and I do carry (Idaho). I like to put it in comparison to a ICBM missile silo in the Dakotas, . Much like that missile silo, it is always ready to launch on warning if the need were to arise and I treat my CCW and carry weapon in the same manner.
    I want to be prepared for a worse-case scenario but hope that it never, ever happens. It is why I go to the range, keep my carry weapon maintained, and stay up to date on existing and future laws involving concealed carry. I do not need any more than what I comfortably carry (Springfield XD 9mm subcompact in an IWB holster).
    Anything else is excessive to me. If one feels they need to conceal carry more than one firearm, have at it. In the end, it is your decision.

  30. I feel pretty close to your friend. I don’t have $100 at the end of the month, but I’m still socking away $20 for the gun of my choice when the right gun and me having the money come into alignment.

    I feel like this sums up my feeling on defensive guns better than anything else: you carry to give you options.

    I think a guy going out and getting a gun to carry is perfectly legit. I don’t believe that you need a certain amount of training to carry. Sam Colt made men equal because point and squeeze are about as easy as it gets in a fight. So for the most part we agree.

    My issue comes in with stuff like “social norms” and “realistic threats” that you talk about.

    First: The industry caters to mall ninjas b/c it sells. Plain and simple. I think most of that crap is hilarious and entirely superfluous. But if it’s useful to you go for it.

    Second: Realistically none of us is in any threat. Crime is falling. the likelihood of being in a fight where you need a gun is incredibly rare. So your advocating ‘this carry’ but not ‘that carry’ seems a little backward. It’s the same logic that’s used to justify not carrying at all.

    It will take me a long time to save up for and find any decent training probably, but I want to be as capable as possible in as many situation as possible. Yes the gun you carry is better than nothing, but if you have gone to the effort and inherent liability that it is to carry a gun, why would you settle for something that is going to give you less options for no clear benefit? Familiarity is a benefit. If all you got is a snubbie, carry it proud, but if you CAN carry reasonably a snubbie or a glock, wouldn’t you take the glock? The whole idea of the gun is “just in case.” There is only a really small chance you’ll ever draw the thing, so carrying at all is unncessary, right? But you do it. Or advocate it at least, because you want the option. So why deride others who are only out to provide more options.

    Just my thoughts.

    • There are threats and there are threats. Getting mugged by some shit is one threat, with a certain (unlikely) probability. Getting attacked by five ninja-rambos in your house is… much more unlikely. But I support your ability to walk around the house with an AR and multiple full-size sidearms, just in case… if you can afford it!

      • Yeah not even talking about that. Just mean you never know what will happen. Few extra rounds aren’t a bad thing. Getting mugged by several guys isn’t THAT unlikely compared to getting robbed by one. Bah. Can’t find numbers. It’s a lot more than you may think.

        I am not trying to say the author is wrong. I agree that is is pointless and stupid to force training on people. Especially impractical training. I just take issue with how he’s phrasing things and some of his logic.

        I am with you on something practical over something asinine. Trust me. I will probably never own an ar.

  31. Less prepared and unprepared are not the same thing.

    The whole point of carrying a firearm is to be more prepared. Where you stop is up to you. People that advocate for their choices to carry 5 lb of gear are as right as you are in bitching about them advocating.

  32. While I understand the spirit of this article, he bundles two issues into one.

    1. That you don’t need to be able to run a semi auto pistol 1 handed to defend yourself (and other over the top skills)
    2. You don’t need a combat styled handgun.

    I won’t argue with 1, but 2 I do take some issue with. No you don’t need necessarily a plastic fantastic for defense, but it doesn’t hurt anything either. Using police statistics, the NY police department hits less than 20% of the time. What if there is more than one dude? With a 7 round magazine + 1 you can knock off 2 guys playing to the law of averages, maybe. With 15+1 rounds, you can potentially handle 3 dudes as long as you shoot as poorly as an officer who does not take firearms training seriously. I recognize the likelihood of there being multiple attackers is low, but the likelihood of my house burning down is pretty low too, but I still have homeowners insurance. I recognize this can lead to an arms race sort of mentality that stops at nothing short of an AR with a 100 rd drum, but 3 is the number I arrived at and wanted to be prepared for based on living in the city for a time.

    Long story short, I don’t feel great leaving the house with less than 15 rounds of ammo in a gun I can get 3 fingers on the grip for. Wearing a Walther in a holster is as inconvenient as wearing a Glock 19 in a holster. Going to my LCP, I’m confident I can fight at bad breath distances if I have to but my MO will be retreat as long shots are tough and the cartridge just ain’t that great.

    • Except your average assailant doesn’t live by the no man left behind rule. Once someone goes down they will be gone. Show me a case where an armed defender was overwhelmed by a group of attackers where it was not a criminal-on-criminal attack or LEO engaged in a firefight. Your attacker knows that you cannot pursue him unless you are in Texas and they are on your property so he knows that he has the option to retreat to mug another day.

      • I don’t make a habit of studying crime statistics. As I mentioned, in my head 3 is the number I felt conviction in being prepared for. I carry a weapon because I’m seeking to stop an attack when as the piece mentions, is statistically unlikely to occur anyway.

        The inconvenience of carrying a skinny 9mm to a compact doublestack 9mm is not so large in my mind to justify giving up the firepower just to appear practical.

        Finally with all name brand combat tupperware, they are generally less expensive than the weapons mentioned in this piece, with more options typically available for carry.

        Do you NEED a combat handgun for carry? No, as the article mentions, you don’t “need” a handgun period if you play statistics. To acknowledge statistics to reinforce a minimalist gear position vs. combat tupperware then completely ignore statistics when even weighing the decision to go armed is intellectually dishonest.

        People who pick smaller rigs aren’t “smarter” for knowing the FBI statistics and arming up to that point, especially with a Walther. That basically meant you spent more money for a weapon you still have to wear in a holster on your belt that has more expensive parts in a cartridge that doesn’t perform great and costs about the same as 45. You can prefer wheel guns, and that’s fine. You can prefer combat tupperware, and that’s fine too. It’s ultimately about the users preference, as they are equally unpractical to carry.

  33. I like my EAA Witness, but dangit, my 1911 feels better in an IWB holster (Texas.) 7 of .45 vs. 12 of .40. I always carry 2 spare single stack mags in my extra Galco even though statistics say I’ll never need them. There’s a convenience line, and mine says my 1911 gives me enough firepower. I won’t deny any one else the right to decide they want a 30 round G19 though, my circumstances aren’t theirs.

  34. I personally think that the shaved head crowd has made a bigger deal of this than what it warrants. The best defense is awareness, awareness and awareness at all times in all situations. The old man with a 1911A1 probably has owned that gun for thirty or forty years, and knows it forwards and backwards. Same thing with a S&W Model 36 snubbie. That snubbie can diffuse a situation pretty quick, I know that from personal experience. Knowing when to pull the trigger and the willingness to stand and fight because it is the right thing to do is far more important than a boatload of hi tech stuff.

  35. There’s a big difference between going into combat and a defensive gun use. If someone is just trying to mug you, any display of a firearm will usually be enough to convince your would be mugger to skeedattle. On the other hand if someone walks in and starts shooting, your biggest obstacle will be believing your own eyes and not just standing there like a deer in the headlights. Any cop or soldier who goes into a shooting situation will have the mental preparation aspect of the task taken care of before they ever leave the MRAP. You won’t have that luxury. It won’t be whether you do this or that, you just need to do something, and fast. I’m not sure mall-ninja training will help with that much. I think the raised situational awareness that seems to be part of carrying a weapon probably helps. But then I’ve never been in a shootout.

    • If I remember correctly, the numbers are like 50-60% will go away with the display. It’s like 90% with a “warning shot”.

  36. Excellent article. I always get a good chuckle when I see guys training at the range in full tactical rigs. Sure, they wear those around town all the time…

    I wear to the range the same equipment I wear around town…namely, whatever holster I feel like using at the moment and a spare mag in my pocket. Now let’s get good with this shit, because it’s what I’m going to have on me if I ever have to deploy this stuff.

  37. Great article and many good comments afterward. I agree about the training aspects. I’m not joining the military so why should I train like I am. But training aside, if the young man mentioned above is interested in CCW and only has a 100 bucks left at the end of the month he better start saving up.

    Even if he already owns a gun it still costs. Living in IL I’m just getting into CCW. The required class costs $350 plus another $50 or more for a couple or three boxes of ammo to shoot the qualification. The application fee is over $100. You’ll need digital finger prints and those cost $50-$75 from what I hear. Plus you’ll need some kind of locking storage at home and in each of your cars so that’s at least another $100 even if you’re cheaping out (much more if you go biometric or something).

    So, for me, its going to cost north of $700 to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights. And that does not include the cost of a gun! In its current state, at least here, CCW is not for the poor or those just making ends meet.

    Now add the cost of the gun and the young man will need to save up all his spare change for at least a year for CCW. Its probably less expensive elsewhere but this IL after all.

    • I agree. It’s a fresh take on the subject, something that’s been a bit lacking in some of the other entries. Most of them have been very well-written, but many have been pretty predictable stuff.

  38. Interesting read, but I doubt that many people new to concealed carry feel much peer pressure to suit up and rock it out SWAT style. In Texas, anyway, a quarter of new CHL’s go to women. They’re going to keep it sensible. Overall in Texas, over 60% of new CHL’s are going to people in their 40’s-60’s. New to concealed carry at those ages says to me that they have realistic threats in mind and aren’t buying into the whole tactical scene.

    That said, plenty of people do get into it, but I’d bet they’re eyes wide open about it and realize it’s more fantasy role playing than something reflective of scenarios they’d ever encounter.

  39. very decent common sense article. while I truly believe the more training and bullets the better, (can’t have too much of either) I also realize there are many people out there living the PMC/ call of duty fantasy which is okay just realize it for what it is. 30 years ago the majority of legal CCW people were off duty cops carrying snubby .38s or full sized 4 inch models. Is 15 rds better than 6? sure but the vast majority of those guys got by okay when they had to use them.

  40. The entire world of training can be a complicated mess these days. It’s a shame that there are so many tactical gurus out across the web especially spouting off about what needs to be. Talking is the easy part, and that’s why so many are so good at it. To borrow a phrase from someone I have deep respect for: The Dream is damned and Dreamer too if Dreaming’s all that Dreamers do.

    Misleading folks is not what I do, and that’s not what I am about. I do believe in realistic training for ordinary people. Wearing 5-11 tactical garb to the firing lines won’t make you shoot any better. Showing up with an attitude to learn will.

    I think the efforts to push training are quite a bit misunderstood as well. Seeing people over extend their financial well being is NOT something that any trainer/instructor regularly sees, let me assure you. In fact the exact opposite is the norm. 99/100 people attend some sort of an event called a “concealed weapons class” that may last up to 4 hours (many are over in less than 1 hour) and that is it. Forever.

    These folks soon adopt an attitude of ”I have a gun & a permit to carry so what else is there”. “If something happens I just pull my pistol and blaze away”. To further their “training” they watch a few videos on YouTube,,,,, and BINGO! They have arrived. Skills are NOT going to fall freely from the sky upon you in your 3 seconds of need. Un less you were born with some God given talent like Jelly Bryce or Ed McGivern, you will work hard to develop some practical defensive skills.

    I have spent a good deal of my life working as a CRSO & a professional firearms instructor. Some days I am stunned that some folks are allowed to drive a car let alone carry guns. Many time upon approaching someone I observe committing a serious safety infraction I am presented with the classic response “well I usually don’t do that”. Well then why the hell are you doing that now? If I observe long enough I can typically see the same safety infraction committed multiple times before that individual leaves the firing line.

    Not everybody out there can safely handle firearms. Some need ALLOT more help than others. Go to your local gun shop or gun show & observe the SCARY firearms handling going on. OH,,, I forgot, the gun was unloaded. Silly me,,, pardon me.

    A while ago I was contacted by a couple. They told me “we already have our permits, but we need to learn how to shoot”. OK,,, to me this is the cart before the horse. Upon their arrival, I commanded them to unholster any firearms, and make them safe, laying then on the bench in front of us. I got blank stares from the both of them,,, kinda like that deer looking into the headlights. After I made both guns safe, I inquired just how long they both “had their permits”. 9 years was their answer. I asked if in those 9 years we had ever shot the guns, or cleaned the gun. NO was the answer. My next question was WHO loaded these guns originally. The guy at the gun store they replied. So for 9 years we had two clueless campers wondering about with loaded handguns they understood nothing about. I don’t exactly get all warm n fuzzy here.
    WHO holds these people’s hands while they are carrying out in John Q. Public?

    Training in my opinion is 90% mental and 10% physical. There is a factor of mindset that most instructors never touch upon. If they do it is quick. Most ranges are not user friendly to concealed carry practice. They prohibit drawing form a holster or other carry method. Many have target distance restrictions. Movement??? Are you kidding me?!

    So the average Joe carrying has NEVER drawn his handgun from a holster. Add a good dose of stress while under attack, and he will surely muzzle sweep everything within a 240 degree radius whipping out his shooter, Muzzle awareness,,,, what’s that?

    The patina we call civilization these days recognizes possession of a tangible item as success. Buy as new gun or holster, and you are well armed. Skills don’t come in a box, and they can’t be bought. Skills are techniques that are properly learned, and then practiced & refined by mass repetitions until they become muscle memory. I consider muscle memory to be an absolute when it comes to defensive issues. Why? Because in a fight you likely will not be thinking,,, there won’t be time. I contend that we will function from knee jerk reactions,,, habits,,, muscle memory.

    Males more than females have EGO. The average male doesn’t want to look like he doesn’t know. So more than not, he pretends. All of us were beginners at one time. I consider myself to always be a student. In the defensive lifestyle, you NEVER “arrive”. There is always something new to learn.

    Many people confuse shooting with training. Many folks measure the intensity of their training by round count, if you shot 50 rounds,,, well it was an easy day. But if you dumped 300 rounds into the dirt,,,, well, you really trained hard. There are may days I train before classes. Some days I never fire a round. I do practice moves, and dry fire too. A gun doesn’t always have to go BANG for me to be training.

    Shooting is a perishable skill. I would not ask anybody to live beyond their means and go broke in training fees. But with the current state of affairs in this country I consider training to be defensive insurance. We have car insurance, homeowners insurance, health insurance, etc. So what not plan to have defensive insurance as well, plan for it, lay a few shekels aside when you can and make reasonable plans to train.

    • Yea! What you said.

      I am no instructor, and yet I teach people firearms handling a LOT. I was raised around weapons and had many very good teachers over the years, I just pass on what they passed to me from their teachers/fathers/uncles/DIs. I am a bit more patient than some of my teachers were, but unsafe handling of guns is not something I tolerate. I will point out to a total stranger that they are being unsafe, if it continues I will pack up my range box and stroll. I like to shoot, I especially like to NOT get shot. That has always been my favorite part of the day.

  41. This is by far the best entry of the lot. I keep looking at pictures from these tactical training courses, and I can’t help but wonder, “Why?”

    I mean, they look like a ton of fun, but that’s what most of these look like: fun, nothing else.

    • Also, while I’m at it, the best gun is the gun you have when you need it. Most people have a personal interest in not dying, and I’m willing to bet Mr. Gangster won’t care if you shoot him with a .22 or a .44 magnum. He won’t say, “Oh, look, he’s only got a .380, I’ll be fine,” but rather, ‘Oh crap, he’s got a gat, I’m outta here.”

  42. The snipes at James Yeager throughout are obvious. While I liked the article and agree on many points, it is important to recognize the fact that classes like Fighting Pistol and The Fight are not simple CCW courses. They are designed to get an armed citizen to more of a masters degree mastery of armed self defense whereas the CCW course offered by an off duty cop is more of a competency check. No, my 68 year old mom won’t be running and gunning in any of the TR courses but as a current active duty servicemember, I’ll be there.

  43. I agree. If you can afford to get some training, go for. You will benefit. Either way, do some basic drills at home to “keep in shape,” (just like any other activity such as exercising) go to the range when you can for live fire practice, but have fun. Not everyone can be a master arms man. You really only need the basics to survive, though it never hurts to be overqualified.

  44. Love this article. Too many Ninja Gunfighter Instructors out there today, you wonder why they aren’t out constantly fighting insurgents or separatists somewhere instead preaching their Ninjitsu in the States.

  45. Safe gun handling is the most important training we can get. If you can safely negotiate your environment and not shoot yourself or others by accident you’ve got 99% of what it takes to be a citizen concealed carrier. The other 99% of what’s needed is mindset. If you have made up your mind that indeed you can kill another person, then you are as ready as you need to be for the very rare occasion when you may have to use your gun.

    We are not cops or soldiers. Those of us who were soldiers understand that HS/LD training in the civilian market is mostly a crock. It’s not about shooting skills. I know a lot of people that never had a day in uniform that can outshoot me.

    What real training(military training) does is put you in a pressure cooker 24/7. If you fvck up you get real punishment, from your trainers and your peers. No business man(and that’s what these civilian trainers are) can abuse his client base to this level and expect to get paying customers. Real training goes on for months and years, never ending. It’s your job, not your hobby. Real training involves real risks. Military people die every year in training snafus.

    Find a citizen trainer that operates like that and we’ll talk. In the meantime let’s remember, we’re not cops or soldiers. We don’t have to be. Our oppenents aren’t spetznatz or uber commandos either. Can you say tweakers, boys and girls.

  46. first rule of a gunfight. Bring one.
    second rule of gunfighting. Hit the target.
    your training and gear must support the above rules.

  47. A few months ago, a young widow in Oklahoma used a shotgun to blow away a guy who broke into her home. More recently, a mother in Georgia(?) used a six-shot revolver to shoot in the head and neck another home invader who came after her and her children. I don’t know how much experience the Oklahoma woman had but the one in Georgia had been to the range once with her husband. It’s my unprofessional opinion that the following are steps of equal size in your ability to protect yourself: (1) unarmed, (2) armed with minimal training, (3) armed special forces operator.

    I’m 68 years old, 5’7″ tall and overweight at 160 lb. My Colt Gold Cup and S&W model 19 are great guns at the range and for home defense but are oversized for CCW. A Kahr CW9 or an SP101 fit me.

  48. It’s true the average gunfight is quick, close range, and low round count. It’s also true the average DGU results in no shots fired at all. If you were really optimistic, you could just carry an empty gun and be prepared for 85% of likely encounters.

    Personally, I’m not comfortable with “best case” or “average case” thinking. I guess it comes from being the son of an engineer. I can’t just assume everything will go to plan; I have to build in a margin of safety for elements I can’t control and consider the worst cases. I may not go as far as actually implementing something for those worst cases, but I will ponder them.

  49. While I agree that most people do not need to take expensive multi-day courses from a big name trainer, I will never tell people they don’t need training.
    If you look for them, you can usually find good local training for FAR less money.
    You don’t want the 1st time you draw from concealment to be when you NEED to draw from concealment. Getting off the “X” is smart. Marksmanship not withstanding, if you carry a gun you should at the very least know how to draw and move with drawn gun effectively. That means you’ll need some kind of training and LOTS of practice.

  50. IMHO… The best possible training you can have is mental training on how to GTFO FAST. Fast means knowing what’s coming which means PAYING ATTENTION! Call it condition white, brown, platinum…. whatever, most people seem to have no idea whatsoever what’s happening 5 feet from them at any given time.

    Stupid people, stupid places, stupid things.

    If you’re in an area where people look at you like you don’t belong there you most likely don’t want to be there anyway.

  51. I see people at public shooting ranges that are WAY over the top with the tacticool gear and clothes, and most of those are banging away much to fast to actually achieve any semblance of firearm proficiency. Hey, its their money, go for it. When at these type ranges with friends/whatnot I stress the basics and yes, I am an absolute safety nazi. Whether it is 4 rules or 3 or 10 keeping the emphasis on awareness and following the basic procedures of firearms handling can not be beaten. Do that until it is second nature and you can save a pile of money.

    Not that I am against tactical training, hell, if you got a smooth patter and teach the basics you can make a good chunk’o change teaching people,,,,,,,what they could actually teach themselves. Same can be said for a lot of things people pay good money to be taught. Confidence in yourself and your skills is not something you can be taught by somebody else, you got to get their on your own.

  52. The CCW is a license to be trained in how to carry, deploy and use your concealed weapon.

    No idea where this continuing stream of anti-training sentiments keeps coming from, probably from some people’s inferiority complex.

    If you feel you are prepared to react to a high stress SD situation simply because you can go to grandpa’s gun club, stand still and slowly punch holes in a paper target, good for you.

    No need to continually be disparaging those of us who would rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.

    • Actually, my concealed permit class was a lesson in the basic legalities surrounding concealed carry, and it had virtually no instruction on “how to carry, deploy and use” a concealed weapon. I realize that was a failing of the particular class I attended, and I have sought out more information since then, but making a blanket statement that a permit is a lesson in those things is patently false.

      I actually had a very similar conversation with my folks over Thanksgiving weekend, because my mom is considering taking a concealed carry/weapons familiarization course. My dad, who has his permit, and got it at a gun show, is a big proponent of the gun show model, mainly because it’s inexpensive and gets all the requirements taken care of in one shot. But like my class (which wasn’t at a gun show), it only covers the basic legalities. I argued against that for my mom, who knows nothing about guns. Instead, I advocated for the more expensive three day class that not only took care of the permit stuff, but also taught her about guns and how they work, in a much smaller class size, and had 2-3 hours of range time (more than just the half-dozen shots you pop off to fulfill the requirements of the gun show class).

      You say the disparaging comes from an inferiority complex, and in some cases that may be true. Some people who can’t afford to drop big bucks on training will often have a “sour grapes” attitude toward that training, i.e. “I don’t need all that anyway, it’s stupid and overkill.” However, it’s also true that there’s a superiority complex that often comes from the other side. There is very often, from the uber-prepared, a subtle “tut-tut” whenever they’re talking about the folks who choose not to go as far as them, as if they’re somehow lesser people because of it. There’s a tiny hint of it in your comment, even, when you say, “If you feel you are prepared … good for you,” but then go on to refer to those people (in contrast to yourself) as “under-prepared.”

      And even you, over-prepared (or just prepared) as you are, can’t deny that a lot of the training that’s offered and recommended as “necessary” is way over the top for the average gun owner. That’s what this post is about. It’s about the folks who sell Advanced Pistol Defense Levels 1, 2 and 3 as absolutely necessary for anyone who carries a gun for personal protection, and those sales pitches always contain the subtle (or not-so-subtle) hint that if you’re not willing to go to this level, you’re a babe in the woods who probably should leave the gun at home and the serious work to the better prepared.

      • Um…Matt…read my first sentence more closely. The CCW is a license to TAKE a training class. It was subtle humor, no doubt, but I agree entirely with you re. the nature of CCW classes.

        My class consisted of, quite frankly, a very good focus on gun safety. I appreciated that part of it. The rest of the class was spent, quite literally, taking turns reading the entire NRA basic handgun book. Some of the local hicks were unable to read at anything above about a third grade level, so it was rather embarrassing. They we shot our requisite rounds at a target that was easy to hit. Class over.

        My remark about a rather consistent theme in posts here about raining, with some exceptions, is based simply on reading the posts. There’s always that, “I don’t need all that training, and neither do you, so there!”

        If somebody chooses not to get any formal training, that’s their choice, of course, and whatever practice they do to get themselves as proficient as possible is good too, but that can never be a substitute for a quality defensive handgun class or two or three. And I see little point in trying to make-believe it is.

        Yes, I firmly believe it is a potentially very deadly error not to take at least one really good defensive handgun class after you get your CCW. It’s well worth it. But if there are those who remain invincibly ignorant about that, nothing I can do for them, or anyone else. Just hope they don’t pay for that ignorance with their life when the moment of truth comes.

        There is a distinct lack of balance on TTAG when it comes to training beyond CCW. We’ve had some posts explaining positive experience, but when they appear there is an inevitable cascade of nay-saying comments.

        Frankly, it’s just stupid.

        But…it’s a free country.

        • The sad thing is I read over your comment at least three times while I thought about my response, to make sure it wouldn’t be aimless/confusing, and I still missed that.

          I think it’s important to distinguish between people who want to get more training, and some of the trainers out there. I don’t think anyone who desires more training deserves derision, no matter what form that training takes, unless they then use that training to dump on other people. On the other hand, as I said, there are some trainers or training agencies that are clearly over the top. They’re catering toward a certain crowd, and that’s fine, but be honest for what it is. Run-and-gun carbine courses are a blast, but most people aren’t taking them with any legitimate expectation of using that knowledge in a real world environment, and for trainers to act as if that information is “what you need to know is dishonest.

          The value in those courses for most people is that they are fun, they’re an opportunity to do stuff you don’t normally do, and they teach you things that will hopefully trickle down into your every day life. I’m talking about the “door breaching and hostage rescue-type” skills, I’m talking about basic weapon handling and manipulation. Things that will make you better and safer, whether you’re in a shoot house, on a square range, or in your living room.

  53. I think I finally grasped the difference in the two camps you have separated here.

    a: Thinks they have a handle on what is likely to happen to them

    b: Thinks they have aboslutely no clue what will go down, so instead wants to be prepared for anything.

    I tend more to camp B. Statistics and experience are all well and good, but you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The past is no garuntee of the future. That’s not me advocating plate carriers for everyone, but I do understand the desire to want to know how to use them. You never know.

    Obviously the mall ninja stuff is kind of superfluous, but most of the training I’ve seen focuses on shooting fundamentals and improving abilities that are applicable across different kinds of situations. It’s not so much “Here’s how to 360 no scope the sniper in a mall while blind folded” it’s more “what do you do if you’re on the ground”, “how do you find and utilize cover effectively”. Not saying it’s all useful to your average carrier, but it’s more usefal than snide remarks about it. :p

  54. Simply put: Better to need it and not have it than to have it and not need it.

    I’ve done enough training now with people who came thinking they pretty much knew what they needed to know about defensive handgun use. And without exception, at the end of the training, they, to a person, all said they had no idea how much they did not know and how truly unprepared they were actually to use their handgun. And this includes IDPA shooters. Once they are put into a situation where there is very high stress and a dynamic range with realistic scenarios their skills go into the toilet and then they realize there is a lot more to defensive gun use than punching holes in paper targets.

    Mindset. Mindset. Mindset.
    Training. Training. Training.

    As I said, I read here, fairly regularly, articles that have the overall tone of, “All that training stuff is kind of silly, we don’t need it. It’s over the top. Only mall ninjas want it. It is unrealistic. You’ll never need it. You’ll never use it.”

    • A minor counterpoint:the problem I’m noting is not the raw need for training itself ,but the ORIENTATION of such training.

      What good does “getting off the X” or hitting 2″circles at 25 yards do someone if they get shot in the head by an unseen attacker at two paces for lack of basic situational awareness?

      How many people are carrying .380s and skipping advanced classes because the “Tactical Politburo” has decided anything less then a 9mm is just not good enough, despite the piles of coroner reports on dead people put in the ground with that caliber and smaller?

      What’s the point of pushing tacticooled out guns with 2lb trigger connectors, weapon lights, and frame modifications when those weapons will be seized by the police after an incident?

      Where’s the combat class that teaches people how to defend themselves without a gun? Or are we to suggest that the Tactical Politburo is correct in ignoring the training needs of college students and government workers forced to spend most of their waking hours in gun free zones?

      I see a major imbalance in that we can sign up for a class which teaches us carbine manipualation unlikely to ever be used in real life, but the poor sods stuck behind metal detectors , non carry areas like Los Angeles and New Jersey , and folks who wish to use guns smaller then 9mm are left in the cold.

      • Yea! Lets us put that in caps. ORIENTATION. Nothing makes an aspiring firearms user soggy and hard to light faster than being treated like a red headed stepchild because they don’t have the same weapon as the “cool kids”. Talking down don’t help matters, either. CCW training should be tailored to what most people carry, not telling most people they should carry something else.

        And I love this term “tactical politburo”! I am going to shamelessly steal that one.

    • I see a lot of comments in that vein here, and elsewhere, though main articles here mostly criticize the over-the-top tacticool training courses you so often see adverted in many magazines and on “gun” webpages/blogs. A lot of it is just,,,,,,wow, really? I have been through military courses, back in the long ago, that were pretty intense, so I get a bit skeptical about a lot of what I see being offered. But hey, people got ducats and florins to spend and I can think of far worse things to drop a pile on.

  55. Nice article.

    A couple of opinions on the topic of training…

    I have to admit, I’m big on training, to the point were my GF signs me up for classes as an Xmas present, or purchased the ammo for one.

    That being said, civilians should only consider practical training as a necessity, one designed for the real world. Nothing wrong with taking 1000 round, advanced rifle classes, but in reality, its a want to, not need to.

    As far as cost, yes, it’s can be costly. But, so are vacations, nice cars, iPads, eating out, and news clothes. If you don’t want to take training because you see no value in it, or won’t be able to put food on the table, then be real about that. But, don’t pull up in your new truck or whip out your new iPad while bitching about the cost firearms training, just be real and say it’s not a priority, or you see no value in it.

    Also, I see nothing wrong with the “run what you brung” idea. If you carry a pocket rocket, great, it’s better than nothing, but you better make sure you know how to use it effectively. You’re responsible for every round that comes out of that pocket rocket. If you put a round through your neighbor’s window shooting at an intruder in your house the police, your neighbor and his lawyer are all going to have some words with you.

    Lastly, I love the plastic wonder-9’s, they really are the way to go if you want starting training more often. They’re inexpensive, making them easily replaceable, so you will care less about scratching them up, or whatever, why mess up your grandfather’s WW2 1911. The wonder-9’s run like a champs with the cheap, Commie, steel cased stuff too. Both those things will make training more economical, which means you’re more likely to do it.

    • “Also, I see nothing wrong with the “run what you brung” idea. If you carry a pocket rocket, great, it’s better than nothing, but you better make sure you know how to use it effectively.”

      I appreciate this statement. Because I don’t carry a “big gun,” I’m pretty much locked out from any real-deal pistol training classes, and that makes me sad. I own a .40, but it can’t be my EDC right now, so training with it would be silly and a waste of money. I understand that some training encounters use steel, and that my .380 might not knock the steel down (hell, some 9mm won’t at certain ranges), and I can appreciate that limitation. But beyond that, I’d really like to be able to get some actual self-defense-style, shoot-no-shoot training with the gun I carry on my hip 14+ hours a day.

      • Call up some schools and see what they allow and don’t, capacity wise.

        I took two real deal classes (advanced and low light, both well over 500 rounds) in 2011 with a Glock 26 and wore jeans, boots and a polo shirt- that was my practical daily carry and attire. I walk onto class ranges like I walked out my door everyday, even possible.

        Just bring double, or triple the minimum mag count listed for the course, if you shoot a smaller gun, as not to hold up the class because you will need to jam mags more often.

        Best advise I’ve ever heard on the matter- Are you taking the class for you, or for everyone else in the class? You’re there to get better, not show off.

        If I have to reload more, so what?

        If everyone else has some HSLD, drop leg holster, and I have a leather IWB, so what?

        If everyone else is shooting some 2.5 lbs, Hog leg, full size, hand cannon and I’m shooting a subcompact 9, so what?

        If everyone else is in BDU’s with the full combat load out and I’m in jeans and polo, so what?

        If the instructor permits it, run what you brung.

    • I get why some people get defensive about training, from both sides. My issue for quite awhile has been that the training most people are signing up for is, well, outside the curriculum they actually need. The majority of people who have joined the ranks of gun ownership in the last 10 or so years need Basic Firearms Handling and Safety Course. And then they need to repeat it a couple of times. Not because they are stupid, because that is how you gain proficiency. Once they reach that level they can move on to other training.

      MattinFL hits it, people need to look honestly at the training they need and proceed accordingly.


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