June 26th, 2012 10:11 AM
Reality Check - Large guns, big calibers, lotsa training...or not so much?
From today's "Tactical Wire" e-newsletter:
Talisman or tool?
This piece is written in response to Paul Markel's opinion piece, written and posted in Shooting Wire, June 15, 2012. To refer to it, go to Handguns: the American Talisman? | Shooting Wire.
It's true that a handgun doesn't look like your Fairy Godmother's Magic Wand or a rabbit's foot. The answer to the question "Which one of these doesn't belong?" is fairly obvious. Despite that, most gunowners don't spend the amount of time training and practicing with their handguns that we of the 'cognoscenti' would like them to.
Still, every year hundreds of thousands of people, who have had no training whatsoever and who seldom practice, successfully defend themselves with firearms, often small ones, from villains intending them harm. Accordingly the statement: "But you need to actually train with said gun and practice often if you expect to save your life with it one day" isn't necessarily true. In fact, there's not much real evidence to back up that kind of statement at all.
The essence of the problem is that those of us who study mortal combat professionally have constructed a fusion of the worst possible law enforcement and military incidents. The resulting amalgamated adversary is an extremely formidable boogeyman who a T-1000 Terminator would have difficulty defeating. Actually finding a criminal who remotely resembles that boogeyman is quite a different matter.
Many, perhaps most, criminals are capable of committing the most unspeakable acts against pliant victims. Once defensive tools come into play, the criminal's motivation tends to flag quite rapidly. Economically based criminals are in the business of victimization not fighting. As soon as a gun comes out, it's an obvious clue that the victimization has gone sour and turned into a fight. Not good from the criminal's point of view. The most common response is to point to their watch - "Oh, look at the time. Have to go now." Actual gunfire makes the souring of the process even more evident.
Another platitude among the 'cognoscenti' is that small guns aren't powerful, are difficult to shoot well, and are less reliable than service pistols. So what! Pocket pistols are portable, concealable in almost all environments [emphasis added], and unintimidating to the user. They are convenient in a way that the best service pistol and holster combination will never be. Hence, they will be there when the service pistol isn't. By the way, without hearing protection, the difference in sound level between a .25 and a .45 is 2 dB FreeHearingtest.com - Gunfire Noise Levels ; hardly distinguishable by the human ear. It's a fact that wearing good hearing protection all the time has caused us to forget.
Is the difference in "power", reliability and functional accuracy significant? Especially when most of us admit that the term "powerful handgun" is an oxymoron at best and a dichotomy at worst. When the results of encounters between criminals and private citizens are scrutinized there's not much evidence to support that contention. I have asked the training community to provide me documented examples of incidents where a private citizen was injured after shooting an attacker with a small caliber handgun. To date, the silence has been deafening. The responses all invoke the "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda" paradigm. To wit: she Shoulda had a bigger gun, because if he Woulda been a more determined attacker, it Coulda turned out differently. That's not a convincing argument when exposed to daylight.
Citations of the exploits of fanatical overseas savages and authority hating criminals resisting the police like cornered rats are also completely non sequitur to the question. If the exploits of fanatical savages overseas were relevant, we'd never leave the house unless wearing a helmet, hard body armor, and carrying a rifle with at least a basic load of ammunition. Preferably, we'd also be accompanied by a platoon of our peers. But I don't see much of that except at fantasy camp training weekends. We certainly wouldn't be going out alone while carrying only a pathetic popgun that can be fired with one hand and a handful of spare ammo.
It's an odd statement coming from someone who makes his living doing firearms training, but, as I see it, the NEED for training and pistols whose caliber begins with 4 is much overblown. And often what is taught is of questionable relevance to the needs of a mainstream person. If we in the community want to see more people get trained, we need to adopt a "less is more" philosophy and make our training relevant to the mainstream's needs and resource constraints. [Emphasis added]
The training industry has only existed for 30 years or so and people have been successfully defending themselves with handguns for a lot longer than that. Maybe the talisman does work. Or maybe people are just smarter and more capable of taking care of themselves than we give them credit for.
-- Claude Werner
Claude Werner served in Airborne, Ranger, Special Forces and Mechanized Infantry units in the US Army as both an enlisted man and an officer. He eventually became a Special Forces A-Team Commander, Intelligence Officer and Mech Infantry Company Commander. Well known in the shooting community, he was formerly the Chief Instructor of the elite Rogers Shooting School and has won six sanctioned IDPA Championships with snub nose revolvers. In his civilian career, he was Research Director of three commercial real estate firms and was the National Director of Real Estate Research for Deloitte & Touche LLP. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to say that there isn't anything there I disagree with.
I sometimes think that the insistence that some "experts" have that folks "dress around the gun" and that a gun is "supposed to be comforting and not comfortable" discourages some/many/most (?) people from carrying anything at all. And that is a dis-service to our fellow citizens.
Posted for thoughtful comment and consideration.
Last edited by 10thmtn; June 26th, 2012 at 10:00 PM.
Reason: visual clean up
The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
Glock 30, 19, 26; Ruger SP101, LCR, LCP (2), Mini 14; Marlin 336 .30-30; Mossberg 500
June 26th, 2012 10:37 AM
I agree with this line of thinking. From my experience in dealing with criminals on the street, the firearms training that is pushed by the business engine of tactical training, is much less important than other aspects of SD. How you conduct yourself, carry yourself, and learning to pick up on the little things in those sticky situations are much more important than " run and gun" methods pushed today.
In my opinion, real life situations in which a private citizen could possibly face, bear little resemblance to the " tactical training'' that many are being told they must have.
Learn how to properly shoot, load and carry your weapon, and be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances, is the best method I know.
Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.
June 26th, 2012 10:39 AM
I'm with you. Even though my primary carry gun is now an lcr I don't feel unarmed when I put my lcp in my pocket.
"Was there no end to the conspiracy of irrational prejudice against Red Ryder and his peacemaker?"
Revolvers, “more elegant weapons for a more civilized age.”
June 26th, 2012 10:47 AM
As the article points out most people survive or don't on simple luck, this is absolutely true. If relying on luck is acceptable to the collective "You" then training is a waste of time. But then based on that so is carrying a firearm.
Armed robber shoots three times, gun misfires
Last edited by sgb; June 26th, 2012 at 02:01 PM.
"There is a secret pride in every human heart that revolts at tyranny. You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you." William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830)
Best Choices for Self Defense Ammunition
June 26th, 2012 10:52 AM
Good SA is worth much more than "tactical training", and good SA has nothing to do with firearms.
Originally Posted by glockman10mm
June 26th, 2012 11:02 AM
I freely admit that I have become a "training" junkie. It is fun and it builds confidence.
However, I certainly see a difference between the tactical trainers and the self-defense trainers. I tend to steer away from the "tactical" classes. I'm not walking around in a combat zone.
While I agree that a good head on your shoulders and a willingness to do what is necessary will get you through just about anything, I strongly believe that training is needed. The author mentioned that the training industry is only about 30 years old. 30 or 40 years ago you could go out in the woods and shoot your dad's gun on your own. Firearm safety was considered common sense and was taught in the home. It isn't today. Many folks need to learn this from somebody. If it isn't family or friends it should be a competent professional.
Now, will that training make a difference in a violent confrontation? Maybe, maybe not, but I know I would rather have it than not.
Mouse guns vs. service pistols? You decide. I know what works best for me. I have no idea what works best for you.
Good post, thanks 10thmtn.
"Mind own business"
"Always cut cards"
June 26th, 2012 05:54 PM
That was a good read. The guy makes a lot of sense.
June 26th, 2012 07:08 PM
Here is the article that the OP is a counter to:
Handguns: the American Talisman?
Most everyone has a favorite story teller or someone about whom the stories are always worth listening. In my circle of friends there is one man about whom more stories have been told than any other. My friend is a retired Special Forces soldier and the story in question took place while his "A" team was in West Africa training the local indigenous forces.
Gris-Gris and Good Luck Charms
After being trained and before their first real combat patrol, the indigenous West African forces told my friend they were going to see the local medicine man to get a "gris-gris" (gree-gree) for each soldier. The local troops explained that the gris-gris was a pouch filled with mystical elements that they hung around their necks.
The gris-gris would ward off the bullets from the rebels' guns and protect them from danger, so they said. Not surprisingly, my friend and his SF troops dismissed the gris-gris as superstition and told the indigenous soldiers that they needed to rely on the training they were given, not some voodoo talisman.
Every culture has had some kind of good luck charm or talisman throughout history. We have four-leaf clovers, horse shoes, rabbits' feet, lucky coins, etc. In our modern society we often look at these lucky charms as quaint reminders of our past. Most folks don't hold to the kind of superstitions that their ancestors once did. While modern men might scoff at the idea of carrying around good luck charms or that somehow a gris-gris will ward off evil there is one talisman that is still very popular.
Handguns: the Modern Man's Gris-Gris
The more I thought about the gris-gris story the more convinced I was that there was a correlation between ancient good luck charms and the habits of modern man. You see, the West African soldiers understood that there were bad men and evil in the world and they were seeking some kind of supernatural insurance to protect themselves.
Which one is a good luck charm? Or are they both?
Many American citizens fall into that same category today. They realize that there are indeed evil men on the planet that might do them harm. The concerned men and women don't go to see the witch doctor or the medicine man; they go to the gun shop. In the gun store they search for a talisman to ward off evildoers.
For as long as I can remember I've heard gun owners repeat phrases like, "I'm not paranoid. I only carry when I think I might need it." "No, I've never had training, but I'm pretty good I think." "I keep the chamber empty, it's safer that way." I even had someone tell me, "I don't need to take self-defense course, I own a gun."
"I own a gun". That statement really says it all. Many men and women deceive themselves into thinking that owning a gun somehow makes them safe or merely carrying a gun somehow makes them safe. I have bad news for you folks, if you have no training or proficiency with a firearm, dropping one in your pocket is not going to ward off the evil spirits.
Pocket pistols seem to be the favored talisman for modern men and women. Compact revolvers and pistols by their very nature and design are the most difficult to employ effectively. With their short sight radius, light-weight, and small grip surface, pocket .38's .380's and .32's are easy to carry but tough hit anything with. Pocket guns are also the least fun to shoot and so their owners rarely take them to the practice range.
The pocket gun becomes the cross to Dracula. When evil is near the owner imagines pulling it out and showing it to the 'vampire'. Maybe the villain will flee and then again maybe they won't.
It's not just pocket-sized handguns, larger and more costly guns can become gris-gris. If you are carrying a gun that is half-loaded, is loaded with the cheapest ammo you could find and hasn't been fired or cleaned in over six months that's not a genuine defensive tool, it's a good luck charm. If you drop a compact pistol naked into your pocket but have no plan for less-than-lethal force, don't carry a flashlight or a pocket knife and have no spare ammunition for said gun, it's a talisman not a fighting tool.
Talisman with Bling
Not all gris-gris are inexpensive. Just as our ancestors paid extra for charms made of gold and encrusted with jewels, many good citizens will spend thousands of dollars for a handgun with the most expensive custom features available. These folks spend more money therefore expecting greater mystical power. They stand amongst their peers boldly announcing "I have a Kimber loaded with Hydra-Shoks". The statement is put forth as if casting a spell of protection.
There's nothing wrong with buying a Kimber pistol or shooting Hydra-Shok ammunition. But you need to actually train with said gun and practice often if you expect to save your life with it one day. Owning and carrying a two-thousand dollar gun ensure your safety any more than owning Porsche makes you a racecar driver.
The Choices We Make
If you like to buy guns but not shoot them the Firearms Manufacturers of America thank you, the ammunition makers not so much. Carrying a firearm is both your right as an American Citizen and a tremendous responsibility. Not everyone can be or should be a gun carrier, and that's just fine. That's why God gave us big dogs.
Having come to the end of this piece if you are embarrassed or offended I apologize. You can see the lady at the front desk for a refund. However, if you are serious about defending your life and that of your loved ones you need to ask yourself a hard question. "Am I capable of using this gun in a life or death crisis or is it just a good luck charm?" Reach into your pocket. If the gun has rust on it and more lint than your dryer vent you might just be kidding yourself. Either way, the choice is yours to make.
-- Paul Markel
Markel is a former U.S. Marine and law enforcement veteran. Today, he is a full-time Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. During the late unpleasantness, Mr. Markel has trained thousands of U.S. Military troops prior to their deployment to combat zones. Markel is also host of the TV show Student of the Gun and Managing Editor/Partner of My First Gun | MyFirstGun.net, www.paulmarkel.com or Student of the Gun
Myself I buy insurance because I don't believe in luck. I have a fire extinguisher but don't believe it will put out all fires that may happen at my house. I carry a pocket pistol only some but only when I can't carry something bigger. If I am ever in a situation where I need a gun I want the ability of knowing I can, not thinking I can "WIN".
To each his/her own.
It's gotta be who you are, not a hobby. reinman45
"Is this persons bad behavior worth me having to kill them over?" Guantes
June 26th, 2012 07:32 PM
Yup, totally agree.. Like I said many times before; I doubt it very seriously if too many "Navy Seals, or Special forces" types are going to lose their minds and go on a killing spree. The average foe for most all civilian encounters will end up being some lowlife with a pretty weak constitution.
"He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." – Luke 22:36
"If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." – Thomas Jefferson
June 26th, 2012 08:10 PM
Originally Posted by Bill MO
The "I own a gun" crowd keeps getting bigger and bigger everyday. The reason? Small guns. I like to call them "designer" guns. They're not just for pocket carry some are actually a little to large for that. I liken them to motorcycle helmets and seat belts. All are good for something up to a point, and they all make some people feel good about having (wearing) them.
June 26th, 2012 08:55 PM
If we in the community want to see more people get trained, we need to adopt a "less is more" philosophy and make our training relevant to the mainstream's needs and resource constraints.
Sounds like to me the 'community' is mainly interested in making more money by the way of making quick, cheap(er) training sessions marketed to people that don't think they need more, if any.
June 26th, 2012 09:20 PM
It seems to me, that the only people who are getting into the real SD situations in real life are the people who are not doing any training at all, or the ones who have the convenient gun on them when it happens.
Actually, if you look back in history, for better or worse, in non wartime incidents performed by average Joe, the deed was done with a small gun. John Wilkes Booth, Sir Han, John Lennons assassin, John Hinkley, Jack Ruby, and George Zimmerman, all used small guns easily carried and concealed upon their person. While the murders or attempted murders cannot be justified, the Keltec P-11 that Zimmerman used seems to have worked pretty damn good.
I'd say that a small gun used with great intent has a pretty damn good track record of getting the job done for it's user. One shot was all it took, and lights out for all intended recipients.
I doubt any of the went to Thunder Ranch.
Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.
June 26th, 2012 09:35 PM
While I agree with your point I think the lack of intent is more common with the designer gun crowd.
Originally Posted by glockman10mm
June 26th, 2012 09:45 PM
I'll be the first to say that I don't think the "tactical" training of today is needed to successfully defend yourself. You'll likely be able to defend yourself with just enough knowledge on how to load and fire the gun. However, training is an added bonus. Training will never make you worse off, unless of course you're trained incorrectly, by a bad instructor.
Same goes for the guns themselves. I carry a .38spl J-frame 5 days out of the week, gladly. But when I can, I prefer to carry a larger, more powerful gun with more capacity because I can and prefer to. I also shoot them better. Would I likely survive a self defensive situation with my J-frame instead of my G19... probably. But as I said, I'd prefer my G19 over my J-frame for a few reasons.
Super duper tactical training and a big caliber gun is NOT a must to successfully defend oneself. However, neither of those two things would hinder your success, but more than likely give you an advantage.
FWIW, I have no formal training and carry a .38spl j-frame that vast majority of the time (Mon-Fri, when I'm not free to dress to my own liking). When I have the choice, it's G19 of G30. Or maybe still the j-frame.
June 26th, 2012 09:46 PM
Probably a lack of resolve may be a better term for both our " intents", lol.
Originally Posted by 21bubba
But, my point still stands, that everytime we hear of a real defensive shooting, more often than not, it's the guy or gal who grabbed a gun from a pocket, purse, or drawer, and cut loose.
While I can appreciate the term " designer gun", which appropriately fits in with my " designer bullets" pet peeve, there seems to be alot of compensation for training and caliber being made up for by adrenaline dumps by Sam and Suzy citizen across the U.S. of A.
There's something to be said for having any gun handy and desperate determination.
Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.
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