April 2nd, 2008 08:07 PM
As self-defense instructors (including firearms) we see and hear a lot of things. We hear people brag about their skills, whatever they may or may not be. However, truth of the matter is that a lot of people do not have the necessary skills to survive a life-threatening situation. Mindset plays a major role in people not getting training because they think that “It won’t happen to them”.
We believe there are basically four levels of self defense skills involving the pistol. Although I like the idea of a ranking system, I have mixed feelings about having a “ranking” system for “firearms” training. The reason that I have mixed feelings is because firearms training and unarmed combatives should not be separated like it is because a gun is only a tool! Therefore, martial arts systems that are combat oriented should be implementing firearms training into their self-defense training. But, for some reason people tend to believe that someone has to be an “expert” firearms instructor with a long list of credentials to teach them how to use their gun. Nothing is farther from the truth! A lot of firearms instructors do not have any hand-to-hand skills. And it is for this reason that a lot of firearms instructors haven’t implemented unarmed combative skills into their training. The gap between the “self-defense” and “firearms” industry is an unnecessary and unfortunate thing. And quite honestly, I believe that someone who comes from a martial arts background can teach you more about implementing the gun into a fight better than most “firearms” instructor because a good martial artist understands all of the elements of a FIGHT better than most firearms instructors. Why, because the gun is NOT the solution, it is ONLY A TOOL!!!
The ideal training system would incorporate hand-to-hand skills with weapons skills, including firearms.
The first level is where you are just learning the basics of shooting and gun safety. You should know and understand stance, proper grip, sight alignment, breath control, trigger control, and follow through. One of the most important skills you should possess at this level is proper gun safety. Proper indexing of the trigger finger in a good school is along the slide or on the cylinder and NOT on the trigger guard! A very important element that is not commonly taught at the basic level regarding accuracy when shooting a pistol is trigger reset. The NRA Basic Pistol Course is a good course to attend to acquire most of the basic skills.
You should practice shooting at stationary targets while you are standing still. If you are learning to shoot for self-defense purposes, practice shooting at human silhouettes because this will help you to shoot the adversary with less chance of hesitation when having practiced shooting at just some sort of non-human target. Most people at this level do not practice drawing from concealment and shooting for safety reasons. The majority of their shooting is done by simply picking the gun up, loading it, and shooting. You should learn to shoot one and two handed from various stances such as the Isosceles, Weaver, etc. Once you have achieved accuracy with two handed shooting, 80% of your training from here on should be done with one hand because in a real confrontation, chances are that you are going to be shooting one handed. Unfortunately this is not something that most firearms schools teach. Most firearms instructors primarily teach two handed shooting which is something that is good for learning at the basic level.
Now, if we had to rank you on a belt system like in martial arts, you would undoubtedly be a white belt. The sad fact is that the majority of gun owners never get past the white belt level of training and skills. One of the reasons is because they do not see the need to receive more training. What they do not realize is that they are a bit on the “dangerous” side because they do not know as much as they think they do. A lot of people at this level think they can handle themselves in a potentially life-threatening situation and nothing is farther from the truth! At this level a lot of people don’t know or won’t admit that they don’t have the skills necessary to survive a confrontation.
Before moving to the next level you should possess the ability to shoot stationary targets two handed and one handed keeping all of your shots in the 10 ring from 21 feet out. This should be especially true while shooting one handed.
The next level of training should utilize proper concealment techniques as well as drawing and shooting from concealment. You should learn the three basic techniques of the combat draw stroke at this level. Most schools only teach one of the three different methods of the combat draw stroke.
Since mindset is critical in self-defense training, you need to fully understand what all is involved in having the proper mindset so that you can train realistically. Knowing and recognizing the attacker’s cues is very important in your survival. As far as target engagement, you should be practicing delivering multiple rounds into single and multiple stationary targets. Once you are able to deliver all of your shots in the 9 ring you can begin to work on rapid fire skills. Begin moving basic directions of movement such as laterally left and right, and back at 45 degrees (left and right) while shooting one handed. Approximately 80% of your training should be done drawing, shooting, and re-holstering one handed.
At this level you should know the 3 basic types of malfunctions and how to clear them. Malfunction clearing drills with dummy rounds should be a large portion of your training when you are shooting. You should be able to clear a malfunction without really thinking about it while moving and not slowing down to get your gun working! In addition, you should learn proper techniques of scanning the area for additional threats.
Ideally at this point you are exposed to the distancing and reaction time continuum in a realistic manner which will help you to understand why typical firearms training does not prepare you for most life threatening situations against an attacker who has a gun or knife. If you are not exposed to this critical element of the fight in a realistic manner at this level, then future training may lead you to believe that you can do things in a fight that are unsafe and could result in serious injury or death.
You have come to terms with the realization that you have much more to learn about fighting with a gun at your disposal. At this level you would be ranked as a green belt. Hopefully now that you realize you need realistic training (if you are not already receiving it at this level), you will seek out quality trainers who specialize in whatever it is that you are looking to better your skills in such as concealed carry. Just because someone has “firearms” credentials does not make their training realistic and/or practical. This is a common misconception! There is MUCH more to self-defense when using a firearm than what a lot of instructors are teaching!!!
The third level of training is the brown belt level. While at this level you have a good grasp on the previous levels. You are confident in your skills. During this level of training you should be exposed to realistic and practical methods of implementing a gun into the fight. Most methods are not found at most “traditional shooting schools.” Since the gun is not the solution, your training should involve unarmed combatives integrated with the use of the gun. This level of training will include shooting multiple threats with multiple shots while both you and the targets are moving. Of course, you should know how to fall to the ground safely and get back up while remaining in the fight. All of which should be done on various surfaces in different environments. This level of training involves force-on-force training in order to provide you with the most realistic training possible.
The fourth level is the black belt level. At this level you should be able to perform all of the previous skill sets without thought. Your focus at the black belt level is shooting at moving targets while you are moving at fast speeds, if not at running speeds. You are constantly training to improve your skills and obtain new ones through realistic training. However, you have reached the point of drawing your gun and firing before ever realizing it was you that fired. Very few people will actually achieve this level of training due to time restrictions, lack of dedication, or the lack of understanding the true necessity of acquiring these skills.
As you can see, this is not a complete listing of the skills you should have at each level. This is simply a guideline to help you to gauge where you are and where you should be going in our opinion. Some of the things can be done at earlier or later stages depending upon the person.
So, where are you in your skills?! Are you with the majority of people still at the white belt level or limiting your chances of survival by training only with “inside the box schools” because they have been around for a while? There is SO MUCH to know about FIGHTING and using a gun. But until you step into the reality based training arena, you will never know how much information and good information you are missing! As I mentioned early on in this article, a good system will incorporate unarmed combatives with the use of a firearm and other tools because you need to be able to handle most situations without a firearm!!!
April 2nd, 2008 08:49 PM
Great writeup! Now the question you're gonna receive is "How much will it cost to skip all the steps and just get the Black Belt?"
Treat me good, I'll treat you better. Treat me bad, I'll treat you worse.
April 2nd, 2008 09:10 PM
I guess I can eliminate white belt from my aspirations. What is a '10 ring?'
Originally Posted by Brian@ITC
Is there a suspenders level?
April 2nd, 2008 11:14 PM
You owe me a keyboard
Originally Posted by SelfDefense
Hero's aren't born, they're cornered - According to Jim
April 3rd, 2008 12:22 AM
Sounds similar to Hojutsu.
I agree that focusing exclusively on the handgun to the exclusion of other methods of defense, especially unarmed techniques is a mistake. However, the manner in which you have divided the skill sets does not make sense to me.
Given the importance you place on unarmed techniques, I am not sure why you are waiting until the "Brown Belt" level to introduce them. The same applies to force on force training.
If what you are talking about is a comprehensive, integrated self-defense system, then unarmed techniques should be integrated at every level and should compliment the other skills being taught at that level. For example, when the draw stroke is taught, a few unarmed techniques that allow the individual to create the opportunity to draw should be taught as well.
Likewise, force on force exercises should be integrated at each level as well. I am not referring to the full-scale simulated gunfights frequently seen, but rather a scenario that reinforces the integration of the firearm and unarmed techniques (or other defensive skills). Scenarios should obviously be very simple at first and should progress in complexity as proficiency increased and more techniques were added.
April 3rd, 2008 11:49 AM
Well, the 10 ring would be the center ring that is normally red (aka bullseye) at least on the targets I've used in the past.
As far as waiting until brown belt, like I said, this is a guideline and it is flexible.
Do we implement training at the green belt level with unarmed combatives? ABSOLUTELY. Ideally we would like to "catch" people in their training just out of the white belt level so they don't develop what we feel are bad habits in "firearms" training.
We teach unarmed combatives as part of our Advanced Pistol Fighting course. I believe that people should experience unarmed combatives at the green belt level. I think that I made the following statement at the green belt level.
Agreed, FOF could be integrated at each level except the white belt level because people are still getting the basics down. We don't have people spar in martial arts at the white belt level very often because it is dangerous because they don't have the basics down. The same would be true in the "ranking" system we have proposed.
Hopefully now that you realize you need realistic training (if you are not already receiving it at this level)
Again, this is nothing that is in concrete. Getting people to see the NEED for TRUE realistic and practical training is what is important. And, the ealier you can get that into their training the better off they will be. But, they should have the basics of proper gun safety and shooting down before moving on.
The major problem is that a lot of people are not going to get the training they should!!! And, we have a limited, very limited, time to spend with them when they attend a class. We teach green belt and brown belt material in our Advanced Pistol Fighting course because we feel that people need to be exposed to certain things and again, we only have a small amount of time with them. How many people really go to two, three, or four classes in a year or two year period? Heck, most people are lucky to get basic level training and then even begin to think about advanced training.
So, as I said, this is a guideline. Nothing more, nothing less. If everyone who needed training were to get training and keep training, then we would be a little more "anal" about the system.
We do what we can with the limited time we have with them in a class and we assume that we will only see students one time because of the fact that few people progess in their training because of money, time, priorities, etc.
April 10th, 2008 02:04 PM
Thanks Brian for the info. I will check out those websites.
April 22nd, 2008 05:12 PM
Originally Posted by SelfDefense
It's the center dot and it's outer ring on the distance shooting target very commonly used in bullseye competition shooting as well as with archery too.
"Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy
"A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing
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