Time to encourage my good readers to kick the crap out of me.
There’s an unpopular reality about training for civilian self defense. The majority of people that successfully defend themselves with a firearm have little training beyond the basic operation of their firearm and – one hopes- some level of firearms safety training. Maybe they made a single trip to the range and fired the pistol, maybe not. Yet somehow they manage to successfully defend themselves, and often against multiple opponents. Do I advocate this approach? Absolutely not! You very definitely should train and get quality professional instruction if at all possible. It’s like a gun’s magazine capacity; no one survives a gunfight and says, ‘Man, I wish I had less training!’
Currently there is a school of thought that if you haven’t trained to be the Second Coming of John Wick you are totally unprepared and a useless loser. “You haven’t done force-on-force training? Just kill yourself now.” Except the majority of people that successfully defend themselves with a firearm have little training beyond the basic operation of their firearm and – one hopes- some level of firearms safety training.
All training is not created equal either. I have seen many videos of force-on-force training that is extremely unrealistic and does not reflect reality in any way, shape or form. I have seen instructors tout their credentials as ‘ex-Special Forces.’ I’ve known quite a lot of folks in Special Forces, and while their training is better than the average infantryman’s it’s not next-level stuff either, and little of it applies to civilian self-defense. I’ve known people in Special Operations as well, and while their training often is next-level stuff again it is not necessarily applicable to civilian self-defense. This doesn’t mean they don’t offer excellent, appropriately directed training, but the mere fact of their military training does not qualify them to do so because that’s not what people in the military need.
Likewise people with extensive police training. They are likely to be closer, but the mission of the police is fundamentally different than the average person’s self-defense needs. They may offer excellent training for self-defense, but their previous law-enforcement experience doesn’t guarantee that.
There are a lot of good, solid programs out there. Determine what your needs are and ask around. Find a good instructor that teaches skills that are relevant to your needs and if at all manageable train with them. More good, relevant training is a good thing. Do it if you can, by all means.
There’s a hell of a lot of training that isn’t relevant to civilian self defense, and if you want and can take that too. It’s fun, and even if not directly relevant it can inform your skills in useful ways. Good training is good. More good training is better.
There are also things that are less expensive/more available than quality training is for some people. Action shooting matches are useful; learning to manipulate your gun at speed and under stress cannot be anything but a good thing. Action Shooting International has low-key, very accessible events where the whole point is to do so.
But if all you can manage are monthly trips to a shooting range and dry-fire practice then do that. Will you be as skilled as someone who has extensive, good quality training? Of course not. But you will be better trained than most people who successfully defend themselves with a firearm.
When it comes to self defense a gun is a useful tool. Being skilled with that gun is a great force multiplier. But don’t let some scrub sneer at you because he has more training. We all have different lives, circumstances and financial means. Doing what you can will always be better than moaning about what you can’t…
…or sneering at others because they have less training.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 16 October 2022