That is a statement that I hear all too often. I’ve also heard people say that they have not even learned how to load it, let alone shoot it. If it’s not that then it might be, “I have a gun, but I have shot it only a few times”, or something to that affect. That bothers me – a lot.
Without a doubt, if you are choosing to own a gun, it is not enough to have it, but you have to be trained how to use it and use it safely and effectively in an emergency. Otherwise, you might as well find a rock that you can keep with you and on your nightstand, because that is about how valuable your gun is if you don’t know how to use it. You might as well just throw it at your assailant. You have made the decision to bring a gun into your home and your life, now learn how to use it properly so it’s not just a fancy paperweight.
Now that does not mean that you need to train like a Navy SEAL, or endeavor to become Rambo. It simply means that you should seek out the advice and training from a qualified instructor whom can give you the basic training you need to not be afraid of your tool, as I have also heard some people say – they have it but are afraid of it.
Your gun is a tool. You should not be afraid of it. Military recruits are trained that their weapon is their friend, that they take it with them everywhere they go, they love it and know it from the inside out. They teach the recruits how to become one with their gun.
So you too need to learn about your gun. You need to learn how to handle it safely, how to use it, how to load it, aim it, make it go bang, how to make it safe, how to take it apart, clean it and put it back together. You need to learn how you can have it close to you at all times just as your cell phone is.
So for this, there all kinds of classes for all sorts of things, taught by all sorts of trainers. You can start by asking the dealer from whom you bought your tool. You can also search on the internet at sights such as Front Sight, NRA, USCCA, the Clinton Family Foundation, and others.
I personally like to recommend Front Sight as it will clearly give you the most comprehensive handgun training of any I have found. The NRA has many good courses, and the USCCA can provide training. You can even ask friends whom are gun owners for instructors. I don’t mean ask your friends to show you how to use your gun but get some qualified training. But the point here is to seek out training.
As I said, don’t just rely on a family member or friend to show you the ropes. Sometimes it is difficult to learn from someone you know. We have all been there. While they have the best of intentions and love to impart their knowledge, they may not be the most qualified to competently provide you with the information you need. It could be that they actually need a class or two as well.
The point here is that you need to train. It is imperative that you know how to safely discharge you weapon when time comes to defend yourself. But you also need to know when it is really that time. Some may not recognize it at first and wait until it is too late. Others may react too quickly or when it is not appropriate. For example, you don’t want to shoot at someone who is running away from you. You don’t want to shoot at someone stealing a bicycle from your yard – it is not a life threatening situation. These are some of the finer points that you can learn from qualified in depth instruction.
One time training is not enough though. Once you receive that initial training you need to practice. After all, when you get your driver’s license, you regularly use the skills you learned in order to get that license. So it follows that you need to regularly engage the act of shooting. At the very least, you should visit your favorite shooting range and endeavor to get better at that skill. But shooting at the typical range is a static, easy thing to do that does not resemble in any way, an encounter where you might need to defend your life. So what do you do for that?
For one thing, if you are a Front Sight graduate, you can return for another class. But if you want to stay closer to home, you can try an IDPA event. There are IDPA chapters located around the country – likely near you. IDPA requires you to move and to engage a scenario that roughly represents a real life scenario. It allows you draw from your holster, think about which target to engage and perform under the pressure of time. This engages your mind to make decisions while at the same time striving for accuracy. These are very important issues. Standing at a static shooting range stall is just about taking your time to shoot a piece of paper. IDPA will help you to consider how you might react in an emergency.
Whatever you do, become familiar with your tool, don’t be afraid of it. You need to be confident and comfortable with it. You need to know the mental, emotional, legal and financial aspects of that. Know the law in your area to make sure that if you do have to use your gun that you don’t go to jail. You will likely be arrested initially, but you want them to let go as soon as possible when they realize that you are one of the good guys and you acted appropriately.