When I started this blog, last year, I said that I was going to talk about firearms, but not exclusively. In the intervening time, I have said relatively little about them. Today will be different.
I had a conversation, recently, with someone that regularly reads my blog, and she asked me: "just what is that you do?" So I told her. Perhaps this is a good time to tell the rest of you.
Most of you know that I am a tactical firearms instructor for a government agency. Some of you know what that means and some don't, so let me explain:
I teach people how to fight with guns.
I also teach new people HOW to shoot, but that is secondary... maybe even tertiary to the main thrust of my job.
There is a world of difference between teaching someone how to safely operate a firearm and teaching a regular, decent person how to kill someone with a handgun... up close and personal.
Initial firearms training involves the following subjects:
Nomenclature (the parts of the gun)
Maintenance (cleaning, servicing)
The cycle of operations
Legitimate use of deadly force
These things are vitally important, don't get me wrong... but I usually get my hands on the people AFTER they already have this training.
What I do is take that basic training and take the operator forward and train them on what that gun is really for.
Unfortunately, many people in law enforcement are under the impression that their pistol is some sort of magic talisman that will ward off vampires or evil spirits. Too many officers and agents believe in their hearts that they will never have to use a gun in combat and are psychologically unprepared to do so. Too many of those people are dead now. I get rid of all such notions right away.
In my combat classes, I start with a lecture in the history of firearms, with an emphasis on fighting with handguns. I let the people know that gunfighting is the original American martial art. It is an art that is on an equal footing with the great Asian martial arts. It is a stylized system of personal combat. One which is easy to learn at the outset, but requires years of discipline to be really good at. I ask my combat shooters to regularly re-dedicate themselves to their own training, which they have to have the self-discipline to continue.
One of the most important aspects of training to fight with a gun starts in your own head, with the decision making process. The first thing that you need to do before you start training is to decide whether or not you can kill someone. This isn't an abstract question. You need to decide... right now, if you can or cannot kill. Never mind the statistics that say you will almost certainly never have to do it. Statistics never ran into an ex-convict that they put in jail five years ago, while they are in a restaurant. You have to know, and be OK with the idea that you might have to use this weapon, and the likely result is the sometimes gruesome death of another human being.
That decision being made, we move into subjects such as reactive shooting, elements of the draw, combat sighting, contact shots, drug and armor drills, shooting on the move, use of cover, shooting while down or disabled (wounded), shooting in reduced light (with & without a flashlight), post-shooting techniques, etc... but most important is how to effectively shoot someone.
It can be difficult to turn your average 24 year old into a meat eating predator, but it is rewarding when you come up with a finished product that has decided to really fight for his/her own life, and is capable and confident in his/her own ability to do so with successful results.
I ask myself every day, if I can kill or not. When that day comes that I answer "I'm not sure" I'll find something else to do.