When I first bought my gun I thought I would buy it, take a class, put it on my hip and that would be that. The be all, end all to every self defense scenario there was. Yeah, to say I was naive would be a huge understatement.
The more I learned the more I discovered I needed to learn. Occasionally I get questions about the level I train. It mostly goes like this…
“You are not in law enforcement, you are not in the military, you don’t lead a high risk life, the odds of you ever getting attacked again let alone in a violent manner are slim. Don’t you think you are over doing it?”
I also get “I think you are just a tiny bit nuts and are doing all this just for fun and not because you really think you will need it”.
It is true that I do not live a high risk life style and that my daily life does not put me in obvious life or death situations such as a police officer or a person in the military, but I led an even less risky life the day I was mugged, so odds are not all that important to me.
To be honest with you most of the situations I play over in my head are not ones where I even think my gun will come into play. I carry my gun because I believe in stacking the deck in my favor. I want to have every option available to me in case I should need it, but I do not intend to just whip out my gun and shoot someone at the slightest provocation.
Sadly, before all of my training that is probably exactly what I would have done. My thoughts were pretty much anyone who even tries to talk to me in a parking lot again is going down. Thank god I had John training me way beyond a simple CCW class. He not only trained me to shoot well and to deal with my mind in case I had to use deadly force, but he spent hours upon hours training me when not to shoot and testing my ability to think and not engage. He created as much stress as possible and put me in scenario over after scenario that required me to think and assess the situation and often time the end result was me not shooting. That really needs to be practiced.
The odds that I will be in a place like a theater where a gun man goes nuts spraying bullets is even less likely than me being mugged in a parking lot, but they both happened. Even so, I do agree that the odds of my needing to use my gun are slim. I do think that it is far more likely that I may have to use other methods to keep myself or my family safe. So, if my thoughts are that my gun is my last resort and not always the best choice doesn’t it make sense that I might want to hone some other skills? Things like paying better attention to what goes on around me, recognizing a potential threat, diffusing a situation. Perhaps it might benefit me to learn how to fight and using a knife. That’s an awful lot of things to learn and it is hard to get all that from one 2 day training course. So, no I don’t think I am over doing it.
Not to mention there are times when I don’t have my gun either by choice or by limitations placed on me by the law. If I only take one gun course a year to keep up my basic skills then what do I do if trouble comes when I am in a gun free zone like say interviewing to become an EMT?
I am not going to deny that I am a tiny bit nuts and I will admit that I absolutely love to train, but still there is value in what I do.
Just because I enjoy something does not mean it doesn’t have a purpose. The joy of training comes partially from the experience of the activity itself, but the bigger reason I love it is because it gives me skills and it builds confidence in me. Two years ago if you asked me if I was calm and confident I would have said yes and I think those who sat in my college classes and knew me as a friend would agree with that, but looking back I was missing something. The more I train the calmer I feel. I live a more peaceful and more controlled life. Even though my life before was non-violent and I thought I was full of peace the reality is I was nervous and uneasy in a variety of situations. I avoided danger(I don’t mean dangerous situations, I mean things like hiking off the trail or shooting a gun even for fun or standing up for myself) and in doing so I missed out on a whole host of experiences. My fear kept me from taking risks of any kind, it held me back and I was not really prepared to deal with any kind of crisis real or otherwise. The thing is I didn’t even know I was afraid. The fear had become a part of me and I reacted out of that place. I didn’t walk around nervous and tense, but the reality was I was afraid.
When we got the phone call from our daughter’s principal that she might be injured severely, I was calm, calm, calm. 18 months ago, I would have panicked and been crazed until I got to her. 18 months ago if there was a bomb threat at my kids school, I would have called my husband hysterical and made him come home. The focus of the day would have been on calming me down instead of dealing with the situation at hand. Of course on Tuesday I was concerned for my daughter and the others at the school because even though it was not likely for there to be a bomb, there was always the first time for each tragic event that has taken place. Before the first school shooting there hadn’t been a school shooting, so just because the odds were against, I still was uneasy. Even the perceived notion that my child could be in danger was stressful for me. I love her and I take caring for her very seriously, but I was able to focus and perform the entire time the situation was on going. That was hugely important for me, my husband and our children. If nothing happened then I avoid expending energy getting crazed plus my husband could focus on his job instead of a hysterical wife and I was teaching my kids how to handle a “crisis”. Plus if it did turn out to be a problem, I had a clear head to deal with it. I did not have that level of peace before I started training. I have gained not only the skills I need to defend my life with and without a gun, but also a confidence and calm that has helped me lead a much more fulfilled life. That did not happen in one or even two training sessions. It took me pushing myself beyond what I thought I could and confronting situations I didn’t think I could handle and showing up time after time when I struggled to over come a certain mental block.
I truly think I need the training. All of it and more. All you have to do is ask the people I train with and they will tell you I am a serious student. I pay attention. I am there to learn a skill and to master it. My biggest problem is that I always feel like I am catching up and that I am going to need the one skill I don’t have yet. I try to cram as much into my training sessions as possible without compromising quality. I believe with all of my heart and soul 100% that everything I have done is something I need and even though I have stuffed an awful lot into a short amount of time, I still think I should be a much better shooter than I am and I know that a handful of combatives/ knife sessions is far from enough. Not only do I believe I am not over doing it, most days I think I am not doing enough. However, the greatest skill I have gained has been the change in my mind. The more I train the less I worry about what I don’t know. It is a paradox. The more I train the more I know I need to train, but the less I worry about not knowing every single skill out there. I have much to learn, but through my training I have learned to transform my mind and my thinking. I now know that regardless I will prevail. But, to be on the safe side I like to keep adding to my tool bag.
This story from Active Response Training is a fine example of training beyond carrying your gun. If you don’t take the time to think and train for other situations you just might find yourself standing outside a post office with a few knife holes in your body. One can still survive an encounter like this, but if there is a way to avoid it or come out with say no stab wounds, then I am all for that.
Now, if you will excuse me I am off on a run and then some dry fire practice and I will probably watch a video on combatives. Might try to knock the snot out of a pillow or two while I am at too.