Buzz Guns.

Buzzfeed, that bastion of liberal muckracking, goes to Taran Tactical in an attempt to re-create that iconic Keanu Reeves 3 Gun run with a couple of regular joes.

What’s expected to happen next, doesn’t. They actually do a fair, even-handed report, and also manage to toss in a few talking points about how guns are the ultimate in women empowerment and how insanely fun it is to shoot 3 Gun.

More of this, please. Much more. This is what guns becoming part of lifesyle should look like.

When I Became A Man, I Put Away Childish Things.

Kathy Jackson makes an excellent analogy about firearms training: At first, we climb up the mountain because we are want to escape the rising floodwaters. In time, however, we realize that we enjoy the climb, and we go up the mountain for the sake of the journey itself.

I’m not saying I’m on the North Face of Eiger, hanging on for dear life, but let’s say my life has a distinct vertical tilt to it right now.

Last year, I trained with Bob Vogel. This year, so far, it’s been a class with Andrew Branca, and in May, I’m taking MAG40 with Massad Ayoob. I wanted to take a John Farnham class as well, but time and tide worked against me.

I’m not lacking for training: I’m at just over three hundred hours right now, and while that’s a paltry sum compared to some of my peers, it’s got me to the point where I’m comfortable defending my life or the lives of my family with what I have with me most days.

But I didn’t get into this to be comfortable, I got into this to be better, and that’s why I’m moving on to the next level and learn from the masters of the craft.

How DARE You Show Up To MY Class With A Gun Like That!

Thinking more about this post, whether we like to admit it or not, we are in a golden age of guns. With a very few notable exceptions (coughcoughR51coughcough) we expect our guns to work correctly with most types of ammunition right out of the box, and guess what, they do. This is true of Taurus, Glock, Kimber, you name it. Now, do all of those guns handle long stretches of high round count shooting equally well, like at a training class?

No.

But guess what, that doesn’t make those guns “bad guns,”, it makes them bad guns to take to a class, but not a bad gun to carry on your person.

Right now, a significant portion of the firearms community is saying to themselves, “THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE TWO, BECAUSE MY TRAINING IS WHAT YOU NEED SO YOU DON’T GET KILLED ON DA STREETZ TOMORROW (and twice on Sunday)!!! YOU NEED THE GUN THAT I HAVE PERSONALLY DECREED AS THE ÜBER-WAFFEN (or similar) IN ORDER TO KEEP YOU SAFE!!!! IF YOU DON’T DO THAT, YOU’RE NOT ‘SERIOUS’ ABOUT YOUR TRAINING AND I DON’T WANT YOU IN MY CLASS!!!!”.

And chances are, the gun that those trainers are saying is the best (and only) choice for you is a compact, striker-fired 9mm double stack handgun. They’re good guns. I recommend them a lot. Those guns work GREAT on a training range and they’re really good off the range as well. But are they the only viable self-defense pistols out there? Of course not.

Which person is more serious about self-defense, the person who carries a Glock 19 in an AIWB holster to the training range, but then carries nothing with him on a day-in, day-out basis, or the person who has a compact .380 (or better) on him every waking moment? We tell people that “A .22 on you is better than a .45 in the truck” (or some variant thereof) and then we insist that people bring that .45 with them to class, rather than provide training opportunities for the .22 they have with them.

And then we wonder why no one wants to get training beyond what’s required to get their CCW.

Confidence. It’s What You REALLY Carry.

“If it isn’t on you when you need to fight, it ain’t your primary.”

– Tim Chandler.

I find no end of amusement in those who say, “YOU SHOULDN’T USE METRICS IN TRAINING BECAUSE FAILING A TEST DOESN’T IMPROVE A STUDENT’S CONFIDENCE !!1!” and then turn around and say “YOU STUDENTS SHOULD NOT USE THE GUNS YOU ACTUALLY CARRY EVERYDAY WHEN YOU COME TO MY CLASS!!!1! YOU NEED TO BUY A GLOCK 19 AND A KYDEX OWB HOLSTER RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL BE KILLED ON DA STREETZ TOMORROW!!!1!”

Well, which is? If we are so concerned with people’s confidence in their abilities, why do we mock them when they show up to class with perfectly adequate guns like a Sig P238 or a S&W SD9VE instead of an FDE Glock? Are those *bad* guns? No, they’re not. Are they *great* guns?

Well, they’re not made by CZ, so no.

I kid, I jest. Mostly. But they are good enough guns.

I’m not sure how many trainers out there are aware that it is possible, VERY possible to take a class with a gun that isn’t a 1911 or a striker-fired, double-stack polymer 9mm.

I’m not sure how many trainers understand how useful a pistol that slips into your pocket and stays out of the way really is, and I’m certain that most trainers don’t understand how asking new gun owners to lug around a Glock 19 rather than something smaller is a big barrier to new gun owners.

You want to increase the confidence of new gun owners? Give them confidence in their ability to chose a firearm that fits THEIR lifestyle, rather than telling them which gun fits your lifestyle best.

 

Après Le Déluge, Nous Sommes.

“After the flood, there is us.”

So what happens now, after the levee has broken? Well, aside from all the things that I mentioned before, the companies that will thrive in the future are the ones who can best answer this one, simple question:

“Okay, I just bought a gun. Now what?”

Sounds easy, right? The fact of the matter is, though, that Gun Culture 2.0 has grown up and matured without having to answer that question. For just short of ten years now, the only reason needed to buy a gun was “It’s a gun, and I should buy it now, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to buy one in the future.”

Imagine what’s happening in California right now, writ large. That’s what we were afraid of, and that’s what drove gun sales. That’s not happening for the foreseeable future, and now we’re in a new phase of gun ownership in America, where gun owners are buying guns for positive reasons, not negative ones.

This is a challenge for Gun Culture 2.0 because it’s driven, by a large part, by negative outcomes. Gun Culture 1.0 was about positive outcomes: You take a walk in the woods, you see Bambi, and you provide meat for your family and a trophy for wall by blasting him into oblivion. Everyone was happy with the outcome (except Bambi, that is).

This is not true for today’s gun owner, because we are preparing for the very, very bad day when we may need to use lethal force to protect a life that is dear to us. It’s not something we enjoy thinking about, but it is satisfying knowing we’re ready. Is it fun, though? No, and the company that is most-able to bring the fun into Gun Culture 2.0 is the one that will grow the most in today’s new gun world.

Harley was successful because they transitioned a negative brand image (biker thug) into a postive brand image (Open road! Freedom!). No one (yet) is working on transitioning from a negative outcome (killed on da streetz) to a positive outcome.

Heck, I’m not sure we KNOW what a positve outcome even is yet.

 

Oh, and what’s up with the title? Well, to borrow a line from the third-greatest Christmas movie ever made*, it’s one of the benefits of a classical education.


* Ronin is #1 (yes, it’s a Christmas movie) and Lethal Weapon is #2.

No One Expects The Gunsite Inquisition

Because I hate wasting good stuff on an away game.

“Our chief weapon is the 1911. And the color code. Our two chief weapons are the 1911 and the color code and the Weaver Stance. Our THREE chief weapons are the 1911, the color code, the Weaver Stance and the surprise trigger break. AMONGST OUR WEAPONRY are such diverse elements as the 1911, the color code, the Weaver Stance, the surprise trigger break and nice decals of a raven on our trucks.

Oh bugger. I’ll come in again.” *

Explainer:

* I should probably state for the record that I absolutely and unequivocally believe that Gunsite is one of the best places in the world to learn how to use a pistol. However, if you can’t laugh at the people on your side, you’re going to be bloody useless at laughing at the people on the other side of your cause.

Metrics Don’t Matter. Until They Do.

Metrics in firearms training are needed. When we’re at a range, we are training people to pass a test that will determine if they life or die, so why wouldn’t we want to see how well they’re doing at that sort of thing and track things like draw speed, accuracy under pressure and split times? That sort of thing becomes VERY important when bullets start flying.

The problem is, all the things that lead up to that point, the de-escalation, the awareness of a potential violent counter exist in a metric-free zone. There is no way to empirically judge how ticked-off a potential attacker is at any given moment, there are no ISO standards when it comes to how much beer is required to turn a milquetoast accountant into a raging berserker, and mastering the skills needed to not get into a fight in the first test is a very, very ambiguous task, one that relies more on intuition and (dare I say it) feelings than cold, hard facts.

Let’s face facts. The firearms training world is dominated by guys, and guys (Trigger warning: Cisgender, heteronormative stereotypes ahead!) tend to be more goal-oriented, left-brain types who crave metrics*, and we tend to like training that caters to our demand for ordered, “rational”progress. Is that the way it SHOULD be? Is that the way it will always be? Is that a good thing?

Dunno. But denying reality ain’t gonna get us to where we want to be.

Metrics matter to those who want to improve their skill because they give us goals to strive for. They don’t matter to people who want a gun to “feel safe”. To borrow from Kathy Jackson‘s excellent analogy of swimming lessons, most people learn to swim in order to not drown: It’s only a few people who take up competitive swimming as a hobby or career. It’s been decades since my last swimming lesson, but one thing I remember from all of my Red Cross-approved swimming lessons was that there were metrics, even for us wee small children. In order to move on to even the next level after dogpaddling, you had to prove to the instructor that you were capable of drown-proofing for XX minutes or could swim X^2 lengths of the pool in Y number of minutes using a variety of swimming styles.

And no one freaked out about how those requirement were discouraging students from learning how to stay safe in the water. The basic swimming classes gave enough info to not drown for those who needed such thing, and set up the next rung on the ladder for we Type A personalities who needed more.

It’s not No Standards / Standardize All The Things, it’s using standards to get better where standards can help, and leave them alone when they’re not needed.


* As pert of my long and varied job history, I’ve taken psych test after psych test during the hiring process, and they pretty much all show that I am almost perfectly balanced when in comes to left brain / right brain or rational / intuitive types of things. This means I crave metrics, but the metrics I crave are… weird. 🙂

Justify Your Existence On This Planet.

So the question was asked by a friend on Facebook,

Just exactly what is the purpose and goal of defensive firearms training? It really can’t be based on probability, because the probability is you will never need to use a gun to defend yourself.
So what circumstances should we train for and what should be our priorities?

I have three answers for that question.

  1. Because I can, that’s why.
  2. Yes, the odds are very, very low. The stakes, however, are very, very mortal. It’s like being in a traffic accident. No, I don’t get into an accident every day (even with #FloridaMan as a constant companion on the roads), but despite that, I still wear my seatbelt every time I get in the car.
  3. One of the reasons why I got started in this was because of the perception of increasing violence in and around my city.

Now, though, ten years later, things have changed. I still want to be become a better gun owner, but in the process of becoming a better defensive gun owner, I’m a quieter, gentler soul (because of the need to de-escalate), I’m an active participant in the (fun) sport of practical shooting, gotten in better shape, met some great people, learned how to be a better driver and a better parent thru more awareness and I’ve *definitely* become more aware of the long-term consequences of my actions.
As it turns out, one of the biggest reasons for the journey is not the destination, but rather the journey itself.