About an hour ago, I fell off my bike. I have no idea how it happened. I was talking to Foghorn on the ‘phone. Suddenly, I was crashing. I aimed the bike for the verge, missed a tree, threw my phone onto the grass, fell/jumped off my bike, slid on the grass and walked away without a scratch. Note: I am not trained in controlled bike crashing. I didn’t consciously aim my body or bike in any given direction to prevent injury. I reckon I’d perform the same way in a gunfight: instinctively. Countless hours of training will have little to do with it. Or will it? Gunfighting; nature or nurture? Back to bikes . . .
At first glance, my reaction to the onset of two-wheeled disaster was down to nurture, or training. The last time I fell off a bike was sometime during the Polk administration. But I skied every winter for four decades. As an inveterate mogul basher, I’ve had hundreds if not thousands of spills, from childhood all the way to middle-aged-crisis-hood. I know how to fall.
Ah, but genetics made me the type of person who wanted to go skiing and, thus, someone who became an instinctive tumbler. It’s the same genetic makeup that attracted me to guns. My nature makes me able to enjoy shooting them—to the point where I’ve gained enough skill to consistently double-tap .45s through the same hole at seven yards with a Glock 30. At the range, anyway.
I can’t say what would happen in a real crisis. As far as I know, I haven’t developed an analogous skill set that would see me through an armed encounter. For example, I haven’t played paintball for forty years. This lack of applicable skills, and the depth of my firearms training, may not be the key variable when it comes to surviving a defensive gun use (DGU). In other words, it may not be as important as it’s made out to be.
For one thing, carrying a gun in and of itself may be the most important part of defending yourself with a gun. Ask any gun guru: situational awareness is the most important aspect of armed self-defense. It prevents attacks (through body language) and it give you time to avoid bad guys. Packing heat makes you more aware of your surroundings.
Secondly, although “mere” brandishing is not popular amongst people who train for DGU, I suspect showing your gat is an enormously successful self-defense technique. We’ll never know for sure; most gun owners who brandish don’t report the incident to the police. In any case, you don’t need a whole lot of skill to threaten a bad guy a gun.
Even if it comes down to actually shooting a perp (i.e. if you need to hit what you’re aiming at), I’m not convinced that basic marksmanship is an acquired skill. I took a forty-something former high school lacrosse superstar to the range for the first time. After a short grip and stance demo, the newb fired Sam’s Smith & Wesson 686 at a target from about five yards. His first-ever group was tighter than anything I’ve ever shot with a revolver.
If we accept the assertion that most civilian gun fights follow the three-three-three rule (three yards, three seconds, three shots), how much shooting skill do you need? The most important skill required—grace under pressure—depends more on nature than nurture. I bet the newb would be better in a up-close-and-personal DGU than a lot of gun training junkies.
Perhaps better. The problem with training is that it can limit your ability to improvise. Of course, that doesn’t apply to good training. But how many people get good training?
Bottom line: I don’t think firearms training is so mission critical that it should be an impediment (i.e. a prerequisite) to concealed carry. Given that much of defending yourself with a gun requires no shooting skill at all, tens of millions of people are genetically suited to using a firearm to defend themselves without any training whatsoever.
What of potential collateral damage? No training, no accuracy, innocent people get shot. Only not so much. Even drive-by shooters and trigger-happy cops rarely hit the wrong person (but BOY do we hear about it). I reckon gun safety’s mostly down to common sense—a characteristic that’s as much a reflection of a gun owner’s testosterone levels as their education.
In a straight fight between instinct vs. training, instinct wins. If you don’t agree, I understand. That’s just the way you’re wired.