By Michael Lacheta
Memorial Day weekend was winding to a close, the barbeque was over, all the coals had burnt out and I found myself with my girlfriend on the screen porch watching the rain and thunderstorms that had rolled in as we were finishing the last plate of BBQ for the evening. All our friends had gone home and most of the mess was cleaned up and put away. As we were killing the last few hours of the night, thoughts of the weekend fun and a great holiday started to float around in my mind and, as they always do, quickly turned to firearms . . .
The thought that stuck this night was one that has been there before. I’ve always considered my thought process as more of a “train wreck” of thought versus an actual “train” of thought and tonight was no exception. While we were listening to the thunder and watching the rain and enjoying a few more morsels of flame-kissed meat much to our waistlines’ dismay, the thoughts of our weekend fun and the reason for this great holiday became derailed when I shifted in my chair and felt the weight of the firearm on my hip.
“Why?” was all I could think. We live in a pretty nice neighborhood, a small rural town, with not a whole lot of crime. I wouldn’t call it Mayberry, but Mayberry is definitely not too distant a cousin to our mostly quiet little town.
With our state’s newly-enacted CCL laws, it’s rare that you will find me unarmed, even in my own home. Is it worth it? Do I need to be armed every waking moment? What about all of the OODA loops and the countless hours watching PDN videos? Reading book after book on everything from mindset to tactics? The color codes of awareness and the constant “what-if” scenarios that I play in my mind? (I’d throw the training classes and range time in here too but who am I kidding? That stuff is just plain fun.) The EDC gear? I mean for heaven sakes, I keep tourniquets in all our vehicles. Has my train run off the tracks?
Odds are — statistics are — that I will never have to put any of those things to their intended use. Why do I put myself through all the trouble? Life would be so much simpler without all the hassle and the hours spent. Has all this made me as big a train wreck as my thought process?
My answer was right across the table from me. The storm had begun to clear and the setting sun lit up my girlfriend’s face with the most beautiful light and when our eyes met I knew why all the hours and effort were and still are worth it. It’s the people I love most in this life.
The cold hard truth is that this world can be a dark place and even with a concealed carry license we are the potential victims. We don’t get to choose a time or place to be attacked. We don’t get to pick the weather or situation. Criminals don’t care if we had a bad day and just want to be left alone or even if were just an innocent bystander who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or any other circumstance for that matter.
The only thing that we do get to choose is how prepared we are going to be. What level of skill we will attain and maintain with our firearm. And, in my opinion, most importantly, how well we will use situational awareness and how vigilant we will be at maintaining Condition Yellow.
A saying that has really stuck with me is this, “We do not rise to the level of our expectations but rather we fall to the level of our training.” I whole-heartedly agree. So why would I not do everything in my power to prepare myself for the very real, though statistically slim chance that I may be forced to defend myself or loved ones?
I also came to the realization that I really do enjoy all of these things. Most of the books are fascinating and crammed full of great information. There are so many good training videos and sites out there that I could quite literally spend years watching them trying to soak up all the information. And who doesn’t love a new piece of gear and the opportunity to try it out at the range or a training course?
Chance favors the prepared and many of the things I love to do help me be as prepared as possible for the worst case scenarios. They point me down the right track of defending my own life and in becoming a sheepdog to keep the wolves away. These efforts also make me realize how little I really know and that I have a long road ahead. I must never stop being a student or improving my skills by any means available. All the OODAs and hours, all the reading and trigger time and everything in-between are just all part of the vigilance that is a necessary part of being ready for whatever life may have in store.
So when doubt and statistical logic start to tell me that I have nothing to fear, and human nature tells me that the effort is too great, all that’s needed is a gentle reminder that today could be the day that I’m forced to defend myself or the ones I hold closest to my heart. I can look into the eyes of my family and my friends, of my young niece and nephews and believe, without a doubt, that all my hours and efforts behind the gun haven’t caused a train wreck. I will continue to do whatever it takes to be able to wake up on all of my tomorrows and look into the eyes of the people that make my life worth living. Because today may be the day I am forced to defend myself.