Self Defense Training Articles
Self Defense Training Articles
The mistakes I see when new shooters are picking their new carry gun (CCW is the abbreviation I'll use for the remainder of the discussion), are so prolific it makes me physically squirm when I see the gun store clerk give terrible advice, or the boyfriend who "grew up shooting." Many of these mistakes are stupid and may not lead to anything beyond picking a pistol that is lower quality than what they could have purchased for a similar price; the more dangerous mistakes however could lead to a death or felonious actions on the part of the newer shooter. So let's discuss the biggest faux pas we see sold at the gun store counter.
1. How Does It Feel?
This one is not necessarily dangerous so much as it can lead you in the direction of picking a bad first pistol. People will go to the counter and the clerk behind the glass display cases will show a series of common carry guns and ask you how it feels; or the boyfriend or dad standing next to you will say what do you think. Inevitably you will feel flustered because you don't know any better and you don't know how it should feel.
The proper response you should state Is "I have no idea what it should feel like!" But that's not the reality of the situation. You feel pressured and retort back "it feels good / I don't like the way it fits my hand." First you have to dissect the decision of who told you it should be comfortable. Not a tactician or professional trainer certainly. So where did this idea get into your head? The guy at the counter or your dad/grandfather/boyfriend who continually made comments such as ".45 will knock em down!" or my favorite "it's won two World Wars" (speaking of a 1911 if you don't know that).
The bottom line here Is that the gun may not "feel" great, it may not be the most comfortable, but that has little to do with its capabilities and could lead you into picking a gun that is not adequate for your intended purpose or is simply just poor quality. Drop this notion that a gun should be comfortable... it should be comforting. Get out and practice with it and get training and anyone can make any firearm work for them. I like Glock pistols I have for nearly two decades they've always been my favorite. I can still shoot a 1911, an M&P, a Taurus, Sig Sauer whatever gun you throw at me I guarantee I can shoot it well and I will make it comfortable.
2. She Doesn't Need A Semi Auto
The story stays relatively the same; guy goes to work and sees something on the news that unsettles him; on his way home he purchases a revolver for his girlfriend/fiance/wife (hopefully not all 3!) The ultimate decision was made without your consent or knowledge and you're just supposed to trust that your significant other made a wise choice. The first clue here should be that he spent $500 without talking to you but I wont digress into marriage advice. There's a few problems with this anecdote: 1st you weren't consulted but the bigger issue is that the firearm purchase is a snub nose revolver because "that's all she needs." Is that right Rambo? you can guarantee that she will only need 5 shots? You can guarantee that she will be able to hit anything with a gun that is notoriously hard to shoot well and she has never had any training or practice with it?
Ladies, if this happens to you it's time to get offended because the back locker room talk is different than the softened words he used to tell you why he chose that gun. That gun was chosen because they rarely jam, there's no safety and takes virtually no training to fire one. Sounds like a great option for self defense? Skip forward to the revolver vs semi auto section to go into those details. In the mean time, this is way of telling you nicely that you are not capable of getting good with a mechanical device. Tell him to go to hell and come back with a real defensive tool!
My wife can eat a cheeseburger, put on mascara, while driving a stick shift and singing to the radio. She can turn off a safety, cock a hammer, and reload a pistol just fine. She didn't grow up with guns, I'm not even sure she ever fired one prior to our marriage.
The simple fact is that this is an antiquated piece of advice that needs to die and stay dead. Don't be too harsh on him, chances are he didn't know any better. But the best response in this case is how about instead of buying his 300th gun, he buy you a training class and 1000 rounds of ammunition to practice. With some training, the gun becomes a tool of the trade and the trade is self defense. Without training it is simply a talisman there to ward off evil spirits.
3. The Gun Is Too Small/Big
There are a few basic categories of pistol size so let's briefly break this down.
-1st is the Competition model which have lengthier barrels large grips to get two full hands on and often include things like adjustable sights, lighter triggers etc.
-2nd is Duty which are full size handguns that patrol officers carry. These are big and heavier which is why Soldiers didn't generally carry them but remember Soldiers primary weapons is their rifle while a police officers is their pistol.
-Next is Compact which despite its name is a full size gun and worn as a duty gun by military and contractors as well as police departments and a lot of plain clothes officers. It is only slightly smaller than a duty gun and is my personal favorite for daily carry whether open or concealed. I also compete with this size pistol.
-4th Is our subcompact which is usually about the size of a gun that an average mans hands pinky finger would not fit on the factory grip. The are smaller and designed to be a middle ground for people that want to carry. Both my wife and I carry one daily.
-Lastly, Is our small frame pistols known as "pocket rockets." These guns generally could fit in the palm of your hand and are considered inadequate as a defensive gun for anything other than a backup gun (BUG).
Two common mistakes happen when choosing pistol size. Guys tend to buy a gun that is too big and it ends up staying in the glove box of their car or on the night stand. Both positions do little good unless you're laying in bed or happen to be digging in your glove box when someone tries to carjack you.
Women make the opposite mistake and buy pocket rockets. Pocket pistols are difficult to shoot well even for professional shooters, they are so small as to be impossible to manipulate, and are generally in smaller calibers not suited for self defense.
As a women you really want to be looking in the subcompact range, and If you can, find a way to carry the compact range of pistol sizes. Both of these sizes are comfortable to shoot and carry a round count and caliber suitable for self defense. The mechanics are large enough to manipulate the firearms features and the gun itself is still small enough to be carried daily. Remember if it is not on you, it doesn't help you at all.
4. Poor Choice In Caliber
There used to be some debate among the big 3 calibers: 9mm, .45, and .40. As the last 20 years have produced a ton of research on terminal, internal and external ballistics theres less and less debate each year. Admittedly you still have a group of people that like .357 sig and a few 10mm hold outs but by in large 9mm has taken the crown of the tactical shooting community.
There's a number of reasons for the this. Modern ballistic technology has made 9mm superior to a lot of other rounds in terms of terminal ballistics. The reduced recoil and higher round count in magazines adds obvious advantages and it simply fits the bill of being the smallest round to effectively do the job.
The smaller the round the less recoil the firearm will have, the more capacity, and easier it is to carry. A Glock 19 holds 15 rounds while a standard .45 1911 holds 8 in a much larger and heavier gun. At the end of the day we have to realize that pistols are a compromise over the lethality of rifles and their main advantage is their size and carry-ability. Removing those advantages seems counterproductive. However, the opposite is true as well and many women choose pocket pistols that are difficult to shoot well and have very little incapacitation capabilities.
.22, .25, .32ACP, .380AUTO, are common small frame calibers that are grossly inadequate for self defense. They lack very basic functionality in terms of firing a round that can provide the incapacitating effect needed to end a self defense engagement. Some of these are expensive to fire and difficult to find bulk ammunition for making training a chore. Ultimately these are a poor choice for self defense the terminal ballistic data on this is clear and there's really no debate anymore.
Ultimately, someone will read this and make the generic statement "You stand there and let me shoot you with my .22 and see how you do." This is an infantile and foolish argument given only by untrained self proclaimed tacticians, not true professionals or shooters. The simple fact is I wouldn't stand there and let you stab me with a dinner fork either but it doesn't mean it is a good choice for self defense.
Someone else will jump on afterwards and proclaim the 1911 won two world wars. Again this is a ridiculous argument. 1st off- It surely didn't win Korea or Vietnam so you cant take the credit but not the blame. And secondly, the vast majority of deaths in WW2 were caused by a nuclear weapon which is what ended the war. I love 1911's and carried .45 for years and it does have it's advantages but not for an every day defensive carry pistol.
5. Not Training
Being told to get training by a professional trainer is a lot like having your mechanic tell you that your car needs more regular oil changes. But the simple fact is that you are a moral, ethical and legal liability to yourself and others without adequate training in weapons handling.
Here's our advice on training: the more training you can do the better and if you can train 3 times a week go do it! But for most people that's not reasonable and what ends up happening is most people get overwhelmed by the training that they never do it.
Take one professional training class a year. Even as certified Instructors, my wife and I go to training every year at least once from other schools to learn new techniques and get ourselves more proficient. It is your responsibility as a concealed weapon holder and protector to be proficient with it. Additionally, you should do at least one range session a month. More is better but most people can fit this in.
Notice I say range session; what I mean Is training session. Going to the range and shooting tin cans, impact detonated demolitions, and pumpkins filled with ketchup is fun and is certainly a part of owning firearms but it is not training. You don't get in shape for a powerlifting competition by going to Zumba class, you get there by moving iron and hard workouts.
You have to enter your defensive training regiment with the same mindset. Get out and train work on fundamentals. I recommend 150 round drills once a month. I'll give you a break down of one I would personally use.
-Draw and present on target 3 yards, 5 yards and 7 yards two rounds each. 25 repetitions.
-Add a variance here by moving while you draw and shoot.
-Moving and shooting box drill. 50 rounds.
-1-5 drill or El Presidente with mag changes for a total of 50 rounds.
If you did nothing but this with your defensive handgun once a month you would practice all your defensive skills and maintain proficiency with your firearm to be used in a defensive engagement.
is an entrepreneur and content creator. He lives on a small homestead in central Alabama where his wife and three children raise livestock and enjoy the quit life on their farm. He served as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army from Alaska to Afghanistan and currently owns, along side his wife, Timberline Security Solutions LLC based in Birmingham Alabama.
Amandalyn has spent her professional career doing a little bit of everything from being a licensed real estate agent, to a Private Investigator. Currently she operates, along with her husband, Timberline Security Solutions LLC to train civilians, military and police officers for the battle they may one day face. Together with Mackay they work as Private Investigators and conduct executive level protection details.