Since January 1 of this year, through the end of September, about 29 million guns were bought by the American public; 2020 has been the biggest year for gun sales in our history. Why? You all know the reason, people are afraid of the violence that is going on, seemingly supported by our own government since they will not stop it. Thus, there is fear and a great deal of panic and stress in our society on a wide level, especially as millions of jobs have been lost, which is causing desperation on an unprecedented scale in the U.S.

So, you have a gun, a go bag, a backpack survival kit, and any number of other gadgets that you believe will help you survive a crises. How well do you know what you know? For example, you probably own a car. Can you drive it as well as Denny Hamlin who won this years Daytona 500? Likely not, because you have not trained like he does. There is an adage, “Professionals train to never get it wrong; amateurs train to get it right!”

All the gear you have, whether it be a pistol, rifle, knife, or survival equipment are tools. Each performs specific functions. And, like driving simple common sense would dictate that anyone who has a tool and may use it, should have at least a measure of knowledge about how to use said tool. My experience is that the deadlier the tool you intend the use, the more knowledge is needed to use it well to avoid death or injury.

This is particularly true of guns, edged weapons, and hand-to-hand combat. Learning via assmosis by watching a video may familiarize you with the basics, but in a critical situation, you will need to rely on good training and or muscle memory. The use of a deadly weapon comes with ethical, legal, and moral justification for their use, unless you are a criminal; they simply do not care.

For this short post, let us focus on firearms. A great many who own them have a mere passing knowledge of how they work. Likely they would be incapable of hitting a 300 yard target every time with his or her rifle or be able to hit a 34 yard, 10-inch metal gong with a pistol and if they did, they would probably hold it for so long before they took a shot that their hair could turn gray.

Our psyche, especially when inexperienced, develops a confidence, even a faith, that we can overcome any obstacle in a critical scenario, no matter how little we know. Somehow, we think that we will overcome all the odds and be victorious. This is not so in a combat situation. While guts take over where knowledge and skill ends, it is better to build an entire toolbox of skills than to find yourself in the ‘guts take over’ situation.

Where is your prone position?

Many of the students I teach come because they want and need greater training. Although I have served in the military, training in many areas in such groups is lacking. Just because you may have trained and qualified as a sniper does not mean that you are at the apex of your game. One can never train too much. As an example, I was on the U.S. Army Rifle Team for quite a while. We had great instructors and did a lot of in-class stuff then, we got thrown to the wolves in the real world. Place: Grafenwöhr, Germany; Time: Winter; Conditions: Snow and Mud. Objective: shoot 8 hours each day and hone precision skills to 90% accuracy plus. Every day we would be on the range firing from 200 to 600 yards from standing, sitting, and prone positions. It didn’t matter if it was sunny or snowing or raining, we shot all day. On the range at 8:00 am, shoot until noon, have lunch then, back at 1:00 pm and shoot until 5:00 pm followed by evening mess. Afterward, all of us retired to the barracks area where we engaged in two more hours of dry-fire practice. But hey, no complaints because we gave up our union card when we were sworn in lol. Even with this amount of training, there is still more training to do. And the more you train, the better you will get. In a combat situation you must be able to shoot, run, use a knife, or any number of other things to survive. You must be reflexive because you will not have time to fumble around for that next magazine.

Let us test you on two scenarios: (1) you have your backpack on and are bugging out of a major city, being chased by a group of thugs. You must take cover and return fire from 375 yards to preserve your lives. What pocket is your range finder in? Of course, we are assuming you do not have one on your rifle scope. You get the point; one must train to be successful and to live given the violence that seems to be growing continually. All the fancy gadgets cannot make up for well-honed skills, especially when time is critical. (2) You resume your journey and are about out of the city when you traverse an alley way and find yourself confronting three bad guys firing at you from across the street. You draw your pistol and return fire. As luck would have it you only get off one shot and your magazine dropped out because it was not securely in place so, you quickly put in another magazine and are able to escape another crises. First, why wasn’t the first magazine secure and second, how long did it take you to insert another magazine and re-engage? If it took you longer than five seconds, we are paying our respects at your funeral!

You failed because you did not know how to do the basics well and because you used time and money as an excuse. And yet, you just bought a $4,000 sniper rifle with a $3,000 scope that will likely become a safe queen along with the rest of your collection. It is better to know how to use one firearm well than to have multiple ones that you cannot. Therefore, it is better to prioritize spending money on training than yet another new gun or other gadget.

Training is about prioritization. With the Covid-19 going on, it is a perfect time to use the downtime one has since they cannot go to movies, dinners, or a number of other luxuries. Instead of putting your money into the pockets of Hollywood, put it into yourself and or your family. Seek out courses that train you either in open or restricted enrollment. In open enrollment, almost anyone can attend, and you will find civilians mixes with law enforcement or the military. Restricted training can be explosives or training not given to the public, but it can also be restricted so that there is no mixing of military and law enforcement with civilians. I do not generally mix students from these areas because there is a different mind set between civilians versus the others. However, there are times when it is good to do so.

One cannot hope to come out on top of a crisis due to hope and luck. My dad used to say, “Pour water in one hand and hope in the other and see which one fills up fastest.” It does not take a rocket scientist to get the analogy. If you want to survive in a hostile, combat type environment, you need to train! To get started on the path, humble yourself and begin with the basics – a good strong foundation based on basics will take you a long way down your path, whether it be using a pistol, rifle, survival or empty hands, a good foundation is necessary.

A great number of training facilities offer beginning, intermediate, and advanced training in a great many areas. One of the weaknesses of many training areas is that they use a typical square range and all you do is shoot. This is fine for learning basic marksmanship, but afterward you want something more dynamic to increase your skills and build you foundation. These will include all kinds of drills for pistol, rifle, etc. For example, can you use your pistol to clear a room, perform home defense, or shoot from a vehicle in defense? Or you’re a sharpshooter doing over-watch and suddenly you find it necessary to engage five targets from 300 to 750 yards in 10-seconds; training, lying prone on the ground on a square range doesn’t cut it because most buildings, as well as high terrain prohibit prone positions without building a rest and most shooters fiddle too long with their scope turret to engage more than 1-2 targets in the allotted time. Square ranges are not optimal for these types of activities.

Training is not drudgery, it is a lot of fun and you need to do it in all kinds of weather, from hot summer to brutal winters. During training you will be taught specific techniques that you can practice at home and go back for more training. When you learn something, practice it so much you can perform it effortlessly under stressful conditions. Not only will your training be fun, but you will meet a lot of great people along the way and build lasting friendships. Put all the effort you can into each training course you take because you will get out of it what you put into it. Your training will teach you what you do not know, as well as build your foundation and your understanding, boost your confidence in your abilities, and develop competence under pressure due to time spent, persistence, and focus. What you need to do first to start down this path is ask yourself several questions to determine what type of training is most helpful given your current circumstances.

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