Whenever we talk to new shooters or people who are looking at guns for the first time there is often a huge disconnect between what they’ve heard from the myriad of experts versus the reality. We often refer to a lot of those stories as ‘Old Guys Tales’. Much like the proverbial old wives tales, Old Guys Tales are perpetuated generation after generation, sworn to as if it were the Gospel but are almost always factually wrong. Go to any gun forum on the internet, walk into any gun store in America, heck even take a class from an amateur instructor and it is virtually guaranteed you will hear one of these misconceptions within the first 15 minutes.
Everyone seems to want to focus on the gun in their search for the Holy Grail of gun fighting. I taught a student a couple of months ago, former military, who had come in to requalify for his CCW, clearly a person you would believe knew how to operate a handgun. Time and life however marches on, as had the skills he had 30 years ago. During the qualifying course of fire he barely qualified with two guns and failed with a sub-compact .45 ACP. At the time he stated he wanted to get a different gun and come back so he could add his new gun to the permit. A month later he came back with a sub-compact 9mm 1911 with the belief that this new gun was the solution to the problems he had with the sub-compact DAO. We set up the 15 yard course of fire and he goes to work . . . and fails to qualify. You see it was not the gun, it was the shooter. Certainly some guns will be easier to manipulate incorrectly and still make hits but in the end, accuracy comes from the shooter, not the gun.
The bottom level of the triad is the tool. A real shooter should be able to pick up any gun and make the hits. They might not make a perfect first hit but the remaining shots fired will all be practically perfect. I shot the aforementioned gun before my student tried to qualify, put seven rounds inside a three inch circle at seven yards rapid fire. It wasn’t that hard to do with the action of the gun.
The caliber argument can simply be resolved with ballistic gelatin testing using the FBI Standard. With the new design in bullets today the 9mm is as effective if not more as the other common handgun calibers. Some bullet makers are more consistent in terms of penetration through different materials without over penetration. In terms of lethality the correctly placed 9mm will do the job. The myth that the larger the bullet the better is bunk. If you are going to stop the bad guy there are only two ways of doing that if when you present your gun he decides to stay a fight. You have to hit the Central Nervous System or the organs such as heart and lungs that will bleed rapidly leading to the loss of consciousness. All of the records show, there is no such thing as stopping power from a handgun so the bullet size is to a large degree irrelevant.
So in selecting the tool keep in mind two critical points, pick a gun that will function flawlessly every time you press the trigger and pick as large of a gun you can conceal. Any criteria beyond that is simply handicapping yourself.
Skills are certainly more important than the tool. As mentioned, a shooter should be able to pick up any gun and shoot it fast and accurately. The smaller the gun and the heavier the bullet your accuracy and speed WILL fall off, that is a simple fact. Little tiny 1911’s chambered in .45 ACP require constant attention to the condition of the gun and a perfect grip. Any failure in grip WILL cause a malfunction of the gun. Any failure in the grip WILL cause inaccuracies during rapid fire. That is not to say that a highly qualified shooter cannot shoot these guns, but the average shooter stands no chance of doing as well than they would with a full sized 9mm.
Full size guns are easier to quickly obtain a perfect grip. Full size guns will not muzzle flip as much as the tiny gun. Lighter bullets have less recoil and muzzle flip. Those are factual statements proven in testing. Should someone see your gun by accident, it is not against the law. You do not have to carry a wee, tiny sub gun to conceal a gun.
Train under stress, regularly, either in competition or under physical stress that will increase your heart and respiration rate. Demand accuracy from yourself. When you shoot your gun do so in a manner that scores your effectiveness. DO NOT just go to the range and throw bullets at a piece of paper. Aim for smaller and smaller target placed farther and farther away. Analyze your errors, have an instructor analyze your errors and then GO HOME and DRY PRACTICE.
We stress dry practice. It is pretty darn boring. You can do it wrong which in fact makes it worse on you if you didn’t do any practice. Practice dry VERY SLOWLY. Dry practice programs your neuro-pathways so you remember on a subconscious level, how to grip, where to place the gun, how many pounds of pressure on the trigger to fire the gun, where to place the gun on the target so you can make ACCURATE hits FAST.
How will you learn these skills? From the YouTube video? How about gun mag articles? While certainly you can pick up some tips but real training, really learning skills comes from taking professional instruction. There are a ton of instructors in America today, so which ones are professional? How do you pick an instructor? A professional instructor teaches full time, it is not a part-time job done on Saturday and Sunday. There are several really good schools out there but of course that requires travel and time but after all you are learning skills that you are literally betting your life on so you would think some expense would be appropriate. Far more instructors teach GROUP classes rather than individuals. In group instruction you reduce your cost but you also reduce the contact time with your instructor, which is why you went to take training, to spend time with an instructor. Schools will almost always teach groups. Group classes are going to a large degree minimize the amount of material they present due to the sheer size of people they have to watch.
Skills are important, they have to be committed to subconscious memory so during stress you will perform as you have trained and practiced.
The Mind is the Weapon. What is the best way to win the violent confrontation? Don’t get into one. This is accomplished in a myriad of ways. Situational awareness simply means knowing your surroundings, who is around you and how can you get out if you need to. It does not require you have your head on a swivel, it is a simple act of being focused and not being distracted. Give this a try, get on a busy freeway and try reading a blog article on your phone. Virtually guaranteed being distracted will cause you to get into a violent confrontation with another car.
Knowing the law is a must. If you cannot articulate the four basic requirements of when you can use deadly force most likely you should not be carrying a gun on the streets. In almost every state where I’ve reviewed their laws it boils down to four things, the bad guy has to have the ability to cause you or another grave bodily injury. The bad guy has to have the necessary proximity to the victim to employ that ability and it is imminent. The bad guy has to have shown the intent to cause said injury. You have no way out, all other options have been explored, using the gun is the last res AND a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstance would agree that deadly force was required to stop the threat. Not that difficult until we start running scenarios with photo realistic targets in a threat recognition exercise.
Just because you have to present your gun does not mean you have to shoot. It is not against the law to present the gun if you believe it is going to happen. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHOOT! Bear in mind however that should you present your gun the three criteria still have to be in place. Pulling your gun to get some guy to move away from your car is a guaranteed ride to the police station for brandishing.
We use threat recognition exercises, using photo realistic picture designed to force you to quickly make that Shoot/Don’t Shoot decision. We provide you with plenty of cover to get behind which could increase the time you could take to make those decisions. If you have to shoot we make certain your gun will fail. The entire intent of the exercise is to drill home, under great stress, when you can use deadly force. It is a mental exercise with some shooting involved because in the end the Mind is the Weapon and it is the most important aspect of the Armed Self-Defense Triad.
Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training