30 Year Gun OwnerSteven Lieberman
30 Year Gun Owner
Thirty years of experience as a gun owner.
Last weekend we had our 50th weekend CCW program. As is the case with most of our CCW classes we have students that come to us with a variety of experiences levels. Some have come back from deployment overseas… some are literally shooting their guns for the first time.
Others, have owned firearms for years, but have not been formally trained. These can be the most difficult students.
Col. Jeff Cooper articulated it best, “Owning a gun and considering yourself a shooter is the equivalent to owning a piano and considering yourself a concert pianist.”. The only way to achieve mastery at skill at arms is through constant, consistent, repetitive practice.
There are two things that interfere with this process: Ego, and time.
Claiming that you “don’t have enough time” to train is simply an excuse. You make decisions of how you spend your time, and if you are sitting in font of the TV with a bowl of popcorn you have officially lost the “lack of time” excuse. Dry fire practice does not require more than a few minutes, and you can do it in your home.
Ego however, is an entirely different beast.
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As instructors we sometimes joke about the “accomplished thirty year gun owner.” They are adamant about their shooting prowess, they also have very strong and established options on weapons selection and cartridges. Unfortunately they have had very limited exposure to formal training. This often times is instantly recognizable in the manner in which they grip their guns, or in their one handed…”I’m a badass”… point the gun towards the sky, then slowly lower their sights on target, draw stroke.
Many also refuse to admit that their…ahem… methodologies, could use a little updating.
Then there are the “new shooters”.
These people can be subdivided into two categories. Those that are afraid of their guns, and those that are not.
The shooters that still have massive amounts of trepidation about their guns can be worked with, but we essentially need to overcome their nervousness before actual learning can begin.
Those that are novices, but don’t have that level of fear are the golden ones.
We had one of these people in our class this last weekend.
Margaret, had very limited experience shooting… but like most women, (this is a complement, so don’t read it as sexist)… had no real ego that needed to be broken through. She also had studied the functionality of her firearm, (a Sig) so she had a fundamental understanding of how it operated, and the de-cocker mechanism.
She was also was not afraid to shoot it.
Best of all though,… she was not only open to instruction, she actually followed directions. Her attitude and enthusiasm allowed her to achieve massive progression in her shooting in a very limited amount of time.
To her this was not about “marksmanship”… it was about defensive shooting, and ultimately saving her life. Far more serious, then simple recreational shooting.
At the end of the class we always do a “de-brief”. Her comments were interesting… she was grateful for the class… but specifically grateful that Sandy was there as an instructor. She said that the presence of a strong female instructor allowed her to feel comfortable, and have a “role model”.
This last point is critical.
We tend to think that our actions and learning styles as instructors take place in a vacuum. The reality is that there are often subtle things that go into a student that by definition we are unaware of. Margaret is asian, as is Sandy. For Margaret, seeing Sandy on the range and her own comfort level with her firearm allowed Margaret to feel comfortable enough to let learning happen.
Our job as instructors… especially ccw instructors are… are to ensure that each student possess the requisite safety necessary to walk around with a gun and not hurt themselves or someone else.
Beyond that though, we have a higher mandate. We must do our best to ensure that our students understand the fundamentals to such a degree that weapons manipulations and marksmanship are able to take a back seat to tactics and judgmental use of force. In other words…. we must do what we can to ensure that they survive a gunfight.
When our students actually assist us with this process the results are golden.