Once, back when this blog was just an idea in my head, a firearms instructor told me about a series he was putting together. His idea was to teach firearms as if it was a martial art. Regular classes that would build on fundamentals week, by week, month by month. It would include force on force drills with simunitions, but it would revolve around safely and effectively deploying a pistol under stress.
A vision formed in my head. A suit and tie, a muscle car and a righteous cause. I would become Baba Yaga.
I know the difference between fact and fiction. There is no muscle cars in my future. No wars, no Russians. But that became my model of excellence. I didn’t want to be decent shooter good. Not former CIA operative good. I saw myself getting fictional character in a movie that’s loose with the laws of physics – good.
My first trip to the range with an instructor was humbling. He raised the bar.
Hitting the target wasn’t enough. He wanted me to hit the hole left by the previous bullet. Thankfully, he gave me the tools to reach that goal. He fixed my grip – not just how I held it but the pressure that I maintained – informed me of my flinch, showed me how to use the sights and gave me some dry firing drills for between range trips. I knew almost immediately that I would never be John Wick or Taken guy. If I just wanted to be capable, I had my work cut out for me.
The idea that excellence is easy might be the biggest obstacle between, “Just bought my first gun…” and “I can hold my own with a firearm.”
It causes people to focus on one piece of hardware – the gun- to the exclusion of a bunch of elements that might be more important. Things like holsters, gun belts, fitness and instruction.
Movies lie. But, while people know damned well that you can’t jump from one skyscraper to another in a really fast car, folks take the gun handling they see in the average action movie as gospel. They believe that shooting proficiency can be achieved in a single training montage, and slipping a gun into your waistband is safe. They’re wrong.
What is achievable for a regular gun owner?
I’ve been asking myself that question.
This isn’t a High Speed, Low Drag kind of blog, and if you’re Operator as Fuck, you clearly aren’t looking in my direction for knowledge. But if you’re a new Black gun owner, or if you’ve bought the gun but neglected the craft, you might be able to learn from my mistakes.
I’m not exactly a beginner, but I’m pretty close. I’ve got no military or LEO experience, I’ve never been a CIA operative and I am compelled to obey all of the laws of physics. In other words, I’m you after a few hours of instruction and a respectable dry fire practice. I’m better than average, which isn’t saying much.
This is about shooting.
How good do you need to be? That’s not an easy question.
If the gun isn’t a tool of your trade, you might not think that proficiency is that important. Keep in mind, if you ever had to use a gun in self-defense, you have to account for every shot fired. If a stray bullet leads to the injury or death of an innocent victim, not only will you have to live with that forever, but you’ll suffer the legal consequences.
Maybe the question isn’t how good do you need to be. The question is, given the time and energy that you can realistically devote to the craft, how good can you get?
I’ll establish a baseline with a professional and develop a set goals that go from achievable to far-out. Then we’ll figure out how to reach them.
This is about fitness.
No before and after pictures, because don’t nobody want to see that.
Anyway, my priority isn’t a six-pack. I just want to be able to protect my family to the best of my abilities. If that involves running with my daughters or wife in my arms, then I need to be able to do it with ease. And right now, it’s a struggle carrying one seven year-old’s sleeping body into her bedroom at night.
I’ll be hitting the basics. Running and bodyweight training. Later on, I’ll delve into sandbags, because nothing simulates a sleeping 7 year-old like a 100 pounds of sand in an old scratchy duffel bag. I’ll do regular check-ins to let you know how, or if, I’m making progress.
In case you haven’t already figured it out, this isn’t about you. It’s about me.
My original goal was to become effective with the gun. A recent trip to the range with AAAFRO (Armed African-Americans for Responsible Ownership) for their Basic Pistol Fundamentals class (post coming soon) let me know just how much progress I haven’t made. My accuracy was decent but my pace was the tactical equivalent of Driving Miss Daisy. That’s not good enough.
People say that accountability is one of the most important aspects of goal setting, so I’m making myself accountable to my readers. No gun owner envisions themselves sloooooowly engaging an aggressive target and then throwing out their back as they escort their family to safety. I sure don’t. I might not become John Wick, but I can definitely be sharper than I am now.