by Tiger McKee
It's amazing to me the number of people who have or recently bought firearms in the name of "self-defense" but never attend the training required to use that weapon to defeat a violent attacker. Many people carry firearms, and technically they are armed, but few attend the training necessary to actually respond to a dangerous confrontation.
I don't know the data, but the number of people who own firearms for self-defense and have attended training is probably so low that it doesn't deserve to be called a number. (The class you attended to obtain a permit to carry doesn't count.) I'm talking about instruction that focuses on the skills necessary to locate and identify potential threat(s), avoid and escape if possible, or if necessary engage and defeat the threat(s). In other words how to communicate, move, use cover, shoot and make decisions under stress. These skills are essential to safely and effectively solving the problem you may face.
Take the number of people who have attended one training class and pull out those who attend additional training. The "number" is shrinking. A two or three day class should provide a fundamental understanding of combative marksmanship, weapon manipulations like reloading and clearing malfunctions, the threat response, moving, communicating, using cover, and the principles behind solving defensive problems. This is only the very tip of the iceberg that has been sharpened down to a tiny point.
To be prepared, you need training on subjects like close quarters skills, which is where most confrontations occur. Unarmed responses - defensive tactics - are often required to create the time and distance necessary to get to your firearm. Do you carry a knife in anticipation of using it for self-defensive? Put that on the training list. Low-light skills are mandatory; most attacks occur in the dark. Spend a lot of time in a vehicle? It'd probably be a good idea to learn the principles and techniques for fighting in and around vehicles. A lot of people will attend one class. Your first class should be the start of a never-ending journey. Even if its only once a year, schedule time to attend additional training.
The training you attend should be relative to the problem you may face. I don't need SWAT training 'cause I ain't on a SWAT team. I do need to understand team tactics because there's a good chance that I'll be with my wife, who also carries. I carry and know how to use a back up firearm, because being prepared means when plan "A" - your primary weapon - doesn't work you have a plan "B." I have a "tactical" vest but the majority of my training and practice is with what I carry every day, pistols and knives, and maybe what I can get to, like grabbing the AR and shoving an extra mag in my back pocket.
You need training, but it must be balanced out with practice. Today there is a big trend to attend lots of training with a wide variety of instructors, but very few of these students will practice what they are shown in class. So, take those who attend training and pull out those who don't regularly practice. Now the "number" is tiny. Applying your skills under realistic conditions requires lots of practice. To benefit from training - the introduction of new skills - requires practice - learning through repetition.
Train as often as possible. Practice more. Learn as much as you can. When it's time you have to get it right. You want to be one of those very few who is truly trained.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html