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TTAG invented the term OFWG (Old Fat White Guys) to make a point: there are a lot of us. And a lot of us are armed. But wouldn’t we all better off spending our time at the gym rather than the gun range? The odds of dying of a weight-enhanced disease are, what, a thousand times greater than suffering serious injury of death at the hands of a violent criminal? And aren’t our odds of surviving a violent encounter significantly better if we can run rather than shoot? Are you balancing looking after your health with practicing your gun-handling, marksmanship and self-defense? Or is CCW an excuse not to get fit enough to fight?

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  1. I have to agree with you on the loosing wieght vs how well you can shoot. there are so many times my husbannd and I go to the range and see several overwieght guys practicing their aim and all the while I am thinking ” If they were in a real gun fight, the perpitrator would have no problem shooting his target based on the girth alone.

    How agile can on be in a shoot out when they couldn’t move fast enough to hide behind something to get their gun out of concealment in the first place. I have ofen found this an oximoron. Good physical health is as needed as good mental health. How can you think when your sweating and hardly breathing?

    When I first saw your post on Twitter, I thought where are they going with this? After reading your article, I tottaly agree 100%.

    Thank you!

    • Totally agree 100%. Was at the range about 2 weeks ago and saw a guy with a WASR-10 (this guy screamed closet mall-ninja) who was so obese, he had to rest his gut on the shooting table in front of him after 10 rounds, otherwise he would’ve fallen over. His range bag had a sticker that said “ready for anything.” Wtf!?!

      I’m a former marine and if there’s anything we do more than shoot it’s PT. I would even say that PT is slightly more important than learning to shoot, and if anything they go hand in hand. Being in shape is vital if you’re serious about self-defense. If you’re not in shape and think being armed takes up the slack, remember that being a stationary target that shoots back is still a stationary target. Priority #1 should always be mobility. If you can be caught, you can be killed.

  2. Short answer: Yes.

    Long answer: If the goal is to increase your life span, the typical overweight white middle-class American who doesn’t use drugs or associate with people who do is better off spending time at the gym than the range. You are better off taking the money you’d spend on ammo for regular practice and spending it on gas/payments for a larger vehicle that is more crash-worthy.

    Then again, we don’t always arrange our lives to minimize our risk. Every time you get on the road to go visit grandma, you’re taking your life in your hands. You do it anyway, because you love your grams. Some people ride Harleys. Some people hang glide. Some people ski. Some people eat fettucini alfredo. There are things you do not because they extend your life, but because they make life worth living in the first place.

    I shoot.

  3. Try this the next time you are at the outdoor range: Set down your pistol on the bench, then run a 40-yard sprint away from the line. Then run a 40-yard sprint back to the line. (If 40 yards sounds too athletic for you, try 40 feet. Whatever.) Now pick up the pistol and see if you can hit a damn thing.

    • Sometimes you confuse me, Magoo. If I run 40 yards away from a bad guy, why would I then run back 40 yards just to shoot the bastard?

    • How far away is the target?? Surely the most out of shape OFWG could hit something at 1 yard… 2 yards… maybe 3 yards… let’s say 4 yards… that’s 12 feet. That is doable.

      • Try it. Obviously, the more out of shape you are, you more you will suck. At any range.

        More importantly: the physical exertion roughly duplicates the increase in stress level and heart rate you will experience in a physical confrontation. The fatter you are, the more they will spike.

        If you are fat or in poor physical shape, you can’t shoot under stress. It doesn’t matter how many guns you carry or what caliber they are. So you may as well have some more bacon. You’re somebody else’s breakfast anyway.

    • “Magoo says:

      May 25, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      Try this the next time you are at the outdoor range: Set down your pistol on the bench, then run a 40-yard sprint away from the line. Then run a 40-yard sprint back to the line. (If 40 yards sounds too athletic for you, try 40 feet. Whatever.) Now pick up the pistol and see if you can hit a damn thing.”

      Sure. I have hit everything. I have done it at a 1000 yards. What’s the point?

      • I so hate to agree with Magoo, but I know that a lot of serious training schools (I think Mas Ayoob) recommends a similar drill to help you learn to mimic/manage the effects of adrenaline.

    • I’ll give this a try. I walk a lot but running is a different flavor exertion. And I’ll see if I can get any of my friends fired up to give it a try. I understand that the point isn’t so much to run a specific distance as it is to get winded and then test your shooting ability. So we’ll see what happens.

  4. Luckily you don’t have to go to the gym to be lean. Processed foods (specifically when the processing increases the amount or bio availability of sucrose, fructose, vegetable oils, or nasties found in grains) make all people inflamed and many people fat. Working out is still a good idea to delay sarcopenia and increase your chances of success in physical hand to hand combat.

  5. Hey, I just lost about 30 pounds rapid-fire, so I’ve made the transition from OFWG to OOWG (Old Overweight White Guy) and I’m on my way to ORTFHAWG (Old Reasonably Trim for His Age White Guy). I should arrive at the Trim level at about the same time that I become Medicare eligible, but heck, it ain’t a race.

    There are two ways to achieve rapid weight loss: you can have abdominal surgery, or you can just have your all guts entirely ripped out by your significant other. Both methods are equally effective and equally expensive, but personally, surgery scares me. YMMV.

    • Been there, just did that, now down to OJSOFWWG. (Old Just Short of Fighting Weight White Guy) 15lbs to go. Just reasonable eating and lots of cardio and weights. And I now shoot better to boot.

  6. I agree with pretty much everything the other commenters have posted, especially my Devil Dog cousin DougieR. The military trains us to be well rounded warriors for the most part, aside from not being able to give us the trigger time we would like due to funding issues. One has to hone every aspect of their martial skills in order to build the confidence level necessary for combat. PT is paramount. You cannot afford to have your body unable to perform for you when you need it the most. Plus, that big ol table muscle sticking out from behind the cover you picked sure makes a tempting target…

  7. Staying/getting in shape is important. I spend about 5 hours at the gym versus 1 hour at the gun range in a given week.

  8. Self defense is by far the most important part in defending yourself. Not some Karate class but real self defense classes. Classes where the rapist shows up hundreds of times a night and really tries to assert himself. Classes where you pretend to walk to your car in a dark room with nothing but the exit light as your guide when out of nowhere a guy with a knife wants your keys and money. No, they are not real. No, you are not in any real deadly danger but the sucker punches from out of nowhere and the kicks to the guts as hard as someone can are. Make it out of those and you really do have the best chance at surviving the actual situation.

    Being in shape is vital and often go hand in hand with self defense. Circuit training is by far the most intense training you can do to prepare. We did a modified version of circuit training where if you were doing crunches and you were cheating them it meant you had the wind knocked out of you by the guy punching your stomach as hard as he could. If you did the crunch right the punch was now a sign to do another. Another example was knee jumps. We would have to jump in the air and bring both our knees into our stomachs as high as we could and in time with the class. If you didn’t do it just right the stick at the bottom would send you flying onto your head. The point was to keep the pace going as fast as you could and if you couldn’t there were penalties.

    The fighting goes without mention. It was dirty and no one forgot their cups and groin pads. It was also full contact if you signed the form every time to participate. You can’t win them all but you can sure as well make sure they are hurt if you lose.

    In any case for me the gun is just an elevation of use/readiness that I had already had. I will rely on what I already know but I will use the gun first to keep me from the foray and my family with a living husband and father. But in no way shape or form would I be defenseless without it. I have a hard time coping with the few guys at the range in the obese condition. I don’t understand it.

  9. I am shade under 5’10”, weigh 180lbs give or take and do not fit the fat white guy image. I got this way from listening to my father, who was a pre-WWII regular soldier, about the importance of exercise and good diet. At 61, I am probably in as good shape now as I was 25 years ago minus the normal wear and tear. I work out at the gym at least three times a week and walk 4-6 miles a day with my coonhounds. I also attribute my continued good health to Zocor, Cozar and Norvasc because my genetics pre-dispose me to high blood pressure and lousy cholesteral levels.

    To stay healthy eat right, exercise and take plenty of drugs.

  10. Excellent point! Our chances of dying or suffering life-changing injuries from violence are extremely low. We can’t prevent criminal violence from affecting us, we can only train and equip ourselves to respond (hopefully) effectively it if it happens.

    On the other hand, lifestyle-related illnesses (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, strokes) will kill or eventually cripple *most* of us, and they’re largely preventable. Spending two or three hours a week at the gym (and fewer hours at the table) pays much better longevity dividends than spending two hours a week at the range.

    And carrying an extra 40 pounds will kill us more surely and quickly than using our thumbs to release the slide locks on our 1911s.

    Where’s our resident Risk Analyst?

  11. lifestyle related illness will not attack your wife or daughter . who cares what the odds are , if your’re the one in 50 that need to defend yourself or family, you better be armed. offense requires much better conditioning than defense. I am past 50 and can bench 275. go to the gym 5 times a week, but I don’t kid myself that I could beat 2 or 3 reasonably fit early 20’s thugs hand to hand .
    ofwg cops win gunfights all the time with training and thought.
    I know more people who have quit heroin,cocaine or booze than I do who have kept weight loss off over 2 years. you can lose it , but keeping it off is almost impossible . look at the stats for patients 5 yrs out after bariatric surgery. even they gain a lot of it back.

  12. As a recent convert to concealed carry I have started taking Krav Maga classes to help both in my self defense and to keep Dunlap diseases away. Yes I have a gun, put multiple layer of defense are better then one or none

  13. Great post and great question. Gradually I’m beginning to see the method in your madness, Robert. Your Armed Intelligentsia is beginning to polarize into two camps, the Buuurrs and the Ralphs.

    But, I guess there’s got to be a middle ground there too. If you want you can borrow my “The Venn Diagram of Gun Owners.” You know where it is.

    • “Your Armed Intelligentsia is beginning to polarize into two camps, the Buuurrs and the Ralphs.”

      Whoa, mikey, Buuurr is my brother. But I like you, too, so you can be my sister.

  14. Ok, I agree with the being fit thing. But at the bottom line, isn’t CCW a way to further improve your odds of coming through a self or family defense episode on top?

  15. Ideally, you’re CCW and in shape. Having a gun won’t stop a heart attack or diabetes, but having sweet cardio isn’t going to make up for not having a gun when you need one.

  16. My personal feeling about it is that bearing arms comes as a result of the broader mentality (and law of nature) that you and you alone are ultimately responsible for your own life and well being.

    This would include keeping yourself healthy. Statistically, being unhealthy is several times more likely to interfere with your well being in most regions of the USA than an violent encounter, and just as gravely and unexpectedly.

    I would expect those serious about a self-reliant philosophy to be correspondingly that much more serious about their health.

    So yes, I am even more proactive about my health as I am about bearing arms.


  17. Short answer: No. I recently lost 25+ pounds by changing my diet and lifestyle.

    Long answer: It’s not the lack of lbs that bothers me, it’s the lack of muscle. I am essentially a “skinny fat person”. I need to get in shape, not lose any more weight.

  18. Okay, pet peeve: The words “loosing” and “losing” are not the same! You lose weight, you loose the dogs of War.

    That being said, yes I am an OFWG. I am 6’5″ but tipping the scales at 375 (where I peaked a couple of years ago) was too much. Over the last 5 months I have lost 40 pounds (the Paleo Diet ( ) if you’re interested), helped by a bribe from my mother: She agreed to buy tickets for my wife and me to go to the Bahamas if I hit my weight goal. As for range time as an excuse not to go to the gym? Nope. I carry to protect my life and my family, being is shape has nothing to do with it.

  19. Ok, I can’t help myself…
    Short answer : Yes
    Long answer : Hell yeah! Sappers lead the way! (Airborne!)

  20. At the age of 60 and after 20+ years of not doing anything, I’ve started Cross Fit training and changed my diet. It seems to be working. I hope I stay with it.


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