The big secret to winning a violent confrontation is that there is no secret. Successfully defending you, family or friends/team-mates against an attacker takes plenty of training and practice. It also never hurts when luck favors you.
In books and movies the story often begins with the hero sadly lacking in the skills necessary to defeat the antagonist. They seek out a teacher for training. At some point in their transformation they experience a mystical revelation, learning the one true secret that allows them to defeat their rival in the final showdown. Real life ain't "The Karate Kid."
There are no shortcuts or secret techniques. To fight effectively, regardless of whether we're talking firearms, knives, or unarmed techniques, you have to train and practice until the point where the necessary skills become learned. To learn something literally takes thousands of repetitions. To apply what you've learned under stress, when someone is actually trying to put the hurt to you, takes even more practice.
It is true that as you study the art of firearms there are revelations. For example it's a great thing to see a student pick up on the proper way to press and reset the trigger. You actually see them smile when they figure it out. As you progress the learning curve begins to flatten out; the revelations become less frequent but no less important.
Sam Sheridan, in "The Fighters Mind," mentions a study done on musicians that discovered that the more musicians practiced the better they performed. The musicians began playing at around age five with roughly the same amount of talent. "But when students were around the age of eight, real differences started to emerge." Those who began practicing more outperformed their classmates. "(B)y the age of twenty they were practicing ... over thirty hours a week." These were the ones who would go on to be famous performers. Everyone started out more of less with the same talent. Eventually what separated them was the amount of practice. There were no naturals, or students at the top.
The martial art of firearms is truly one of the only arts that allow almost anyone, regardless of size or strength to easily defeat a much stronger, bigger opponent. But there is no substitute for training and practice. Through practice you fine tune and polish your skills, becoming more efficient and effective. You get to the point where very few mistakes occur, and when they do you fix 'em immediately. As long as you practice you can be a good fighter.
Few of us have thousands of hours to devote to practice, but luckily it doesn't take that to become proficient at using firearms. While the mechanics are fairly easy, in the beginning it does take time and repetition. At some point the key becomes more about frequency than quantity. Anyone can schedule ten minutes a day to dry practice.
There are no secrets. The bad guys are out there getting practice on the job. They are ready and willing. Are you?
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, is an adjunct instructor with the F.B.I. and designer of the Shootrite Katana. (256) 582-4777 www.shootrite.org