MAY 16, 2019

Skill Set: Trust but Verify?

You’ve heard the saying, “Trust, but verify”? If you really think about this old Russian saying, it’s completely backwards. We should be thinking, “Verify, and then trust.” This is especially true when it comes to personal defense.

All people deserve due regard, “common” respect - unless they violate “common and accepted practices.” But “trust” must be earned. Reliable, honorable, incorruptible, loyal, steadfast – these are just a few of “trust worthy’s” synonyms.

A lot of people get lead astray by “bad” information/advice from “good” people. Usually this isn’t on purpose. Someone you know explained something. It sounded “right.” But, this doesn’t mean you should immediately trust this information.

Some of this incorrect info is just outdated. “The .38 Special won’t stop the bad guy” - a common left over from previous times. This was true - pre-hollow point. Before defensive ammo everyone, even law enforcement, shot/carried military ball ammo. Full metal jacket rounds are designed to punch through mass, which is what they did to the body, passing through and often without inflicting a lot of damage. With today’s modern defensive ammunition anything from a .380 up performs well. “Revolvers,” another one goes, “are the best gun for the ‘little lady.’” At one time revolvers were the only option, so in that sense it was “best.” Today’s semi-autos are easier to shoot accurately, simpler to manipulate and easier to conceal and carry than a revolver. We know now that wheel guns, especially lightweight “snubbies” are best left for experts. Sometimes the advice is dangerous and illegal – “just shoot ‘em, drag ‘em into the house and stick a knife in their hand.” I think we all see the problems with that one. Verify prior to trusting.

Even experts make mistakes - verify prior to trusting. This is especially true when it comes to defensive, life or death matters. You can take advice from a friend/cousin/significant other. Sure, they may know more than you do, but that doesn’t mean what they know is correct. Verify before trusting. This is especially true with the “information highway.” On the ‘net there’s no shortage of experts; actually, percentage wise too many. Verify – twice - then trust.

“Verify, then trust” applies to your gear too - prior to purchasing, and after taking it out of the box. I expect the well-known ammunition companies to produce good ammo. However, I’m not going to trust it for carry until it’s verified reliable in my weapon. The same applies to every piece of your kit. Verifying ensures there are no weak links.

Finally, you must verify your defensive skills prior to relying on them in a life and death confrontation. You practice marksmanship, manipulations, moving and the other fundamentals, improving your skills and creating confidence – trust. You study documentation on actual fights – I strongly suggest FBI Miami Firefight by Ed Mireles. You realize just how bad things can get, and what it takes to win the fight no matter the odds. Fighting is problem solving at high speed. You discover to trust your first, almost instinctual solution to the danger - as long as it’s verified with plenty of training and practice.

Verify, then trust. Verification precedes trust, ensuring the information your life depends on is correct. Confirm your gear functions before trusting it in a life and death situation. Don’t “assume” or “guess.” Research and study to verify the skills you’ll need to solve the problem, and practice verifies you can apply them under any conditions. Verification, prior to trust, is your cheap life insurance.

Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of The Book of Two Guns, AR-15 Skills and Drills, featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911” and has regular columns in Gun Digest and American Handgunner.