Some Thoughts on Firearms Training

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A Brief History

I first got involved with firearms, firearms training, concealed carry and self-defense at the end of the last century. Haha, that sounds funny; I guess it was 1998 or 1999. At the time, I lived in Colorado, (and I still do).  Back then however, Colorado was considered a “may-issue” state.

That means that state law was silent on the issuance of permits to allow ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons. It was up to the individual sheriff of each county to 1) decide if they wanted to allow residents to legally carry concealed weapons, and 2) if so, what the requirements to qualify would be.

At that time, most county sheriffs in Colorado simply chose not to issue CCW permits to common citizens (subjects).

Like many other states, Colorado has since become a “shall-issue” state, which means that every County Sheriff MUST issue a CCW to qualified residents of that county, and the state has dictated what those qualifications (and maximum costs) are.  This is a good thing, because no individual sheriff can deny a qualified citizen the legal right to carry a concealed weapon.

A Cool Sheriff

Back then, I was fortunate enough to live in a county whose sheriff was willing to issue permits, and his requirements were reasonable: pass a background check, show proof of training (or be ex-military or law enforcement), and have about a hundred bucks to give the county.

Not too bad.  I may have also needed to get a couple of personal references; I don’t recall if that was a requirement or if I just did it anyway.

I had already taken the mandatory training, and passed the background check, so this was looking like a possible task.

Oh, yeah, I also had to write a brief explanation of why I wanted to carry a weapon.

What’s funny is that for days I agonized over writing my ‘thesis,’ explaining why I wanted a concealed carry permit.

I probably wrote several hundred words, covering divergent angles of arguments ranging from “you never know when you may need to protect yourself” to “better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it” to “bad things happen to good people” to “it’s my constitutional right.”

During my application interview with the sheriff, he briefly glanced down at my paper with its bullet points, highlighted text and persuasive prose, looked up at me and said, “So you wanna tote a gun, eh? That’s cool.”

And that was that.

One (Not Very Good) Philosophy of Firearms Training

In order meet the firearms training requirement to get my CCW, I had attended an NRA-approved training class that met the criteria of the state.

It was slated to be a 10-hour course, with classroom instruction and live-fire range time. I was anxious and excited about taking the course, and I arrived at the appointed time of 10am.

At noon, we took a half hour lunch break, and at 2:30pm, I was on my way home with a certificate of completion in hand.

That seemed like a pretty quick ten hours.

I had come to the course a virtual newbie in the world of firearms, and four hours later I left the course, just about as uneducated as I had been earlier.

I had, however, fired 30 rounds (albeit poorly) into a paper target 15 feet distant.

So I had met the “stringent requirements” of firearms training and education necessary to show competence in the use and handling of a weapon that I was now going to strap on my hip and carry in public. Hmmmm.

Now I need to look up the definition of the word “stringent,” because if I were to describe that four hours of training, “stringent” would not be in the same sentence. Probably not in the same book.

So the question I’m trying to ask is that if we’re going to have mandatory training for this permit (or any other activity), why on earth don’t we require it to be worthwhile training?

This “training” that I received, and its lack of any in-depth instruction, was one of the primary reasons that I went on to become a firearms training instructor. I felt that I could, and should, do so much better to prepare folks for the responsibilities of carrying a self-defense weapon.

Perhaps a Better Approach

We established our training facility (Originally Knight-Owl Defense – subsequently merged with KnightOwl Survival Store) to answer a need … to provide everyday practical self-defense training to the armed citizen.

It was over twenty years ago when I first got involved with firearms, and the concepts of self-defense, training, and concealed carry.

As I mentioned earlier, I had attended an approved firearms training course to fulfill one of the requirements to get my CCW permit. After completing the course and getting my permit, I honestly felt woefully under-educated in the proper use of firearms, especially in any defensive scenario. The training I had received offered little, if any, practical information regarding self-defense, or even simple subjects such as which type of gun to choose, what ammo is most effective, what type of holster, and the list goes on.

So I took it upon myself to search out and learn all that I could … I found many valuable resources (and many many not-so-great ones too) that offered insights into the world of the gun culture, especially self-defense. I will share the knowledge I gleaned, as well as the skills I was taught, on these pages.

I have earned several NRA Certifications as an instructor in a variety of disciplines, and through the years I have taught NRA course material to people so they can qualify for CCW permits.

“The Pistol. Learn it well; wear it always!” — Col. Jeff Cooper

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a few multi-day training courses taught by one of six Master Instructors who had been so designated by the late great Col. Jeff Cooper.

Col. Cooper founded the original ‘Orange’ Gunsite Academy, where he taught what  he called the Modern Technique of the Pistol.

Cooper’s Modern Technique emphasizes pragmatic use of The Triad of Gun Handling, Marksmanship and Mindset in order to overcome and survive a deadly encounter.

We adhere to his principles in our training, and break down each of those elements into blocks or modules that are easy to understand and master, even for (or perhaps, especially for) the newcomer in the firearms world.

Rights Are Inherent

“The point to remember is that what the government gives it must first take away.” – John Strider Coleman.

I am a second amendment advocate in the strictest sense, and I believe we all have an inherent right to self defense and to bear arms, concealed or otherwise. And that right is ours simply by our mere existence.

If you believe in God, then it is a God-given right; if you do not so believe, then it is “self-given” or “Natural Law.” But either way, that right is not dependent on a government agency to grant. It is ours, and ours alone. It is not theirs to take away.

Having said that, I also believe that we as individuals and as citizens have a personal and a social obligation to conduct ourselves in a responsible manner.

This applies to just about everything we do: we should learn to be proficient in our activities. And this is where firearms training enters the equation.

Here’s the paradox: we should have the right – the unrestricted right – to carry a firearm (or other means of self defense), concealed or otherwise. And we should (and must) take it upon ourselves to become proficient in the use of that weapon.

Proficiency comes from training and practice. And we should seek out and engage in that training and practice of our own accord. Because we care enough about our selves, our community, as well as our performance with that tool that we feel no other choice but to become proficient with it. It’s not mandated; it’s inherent in our philosophy or world-view.

We don’t put our 15-year-old kids in the driver’s seat of a car for the first time, hand them the keys and say “have fun … see ya’ll in a few hours.”

We give them instruction first; we show them how to operate the vehicle; we talk about situations that may arise when driving, and how to deal with them. We coach them through their first few ‘live-driving’ experiences, to give them real-world experience, with our guidance close by, and let them gain the first-hand knowledge of driving while we’re right there at their side.

So too should we receive the necessary training for weapons handling and firearm proficiency. And whether it’s state-mandated or sought because you just want to learn more, the training should be personal, practical, and applicable to your daily real-life circumstances.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Our purpose here at Knight Owl Survival Store (formerly Knight Owl Defense – we’ve merged), is to offer education and training that can apply to newbies and experienced shooters alike.

We’ll offer suggestions on how to improve your personal security, be that with or without a firearm. Ultimately, we want to tailor your individual training to your individual needs. Again, one size does not fit all.

If you are nearby the Western Slope of Colorado, and want some real-life hands-on training, contact us. We’ll schedule a convenient time for you.

We do individual lessons, and we can accommodate small groups as well. (Groups of over four people may require a small deposit, and may be subject to longer advance scheduling due to range availability.)

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