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Old June 27, 2012, 11:18 PM   #1
HeadHunter
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Talisman or tool?

Quote:
It's true that a handgun doesn't look like your Fairy Godmother's Magic Wand or a rabbit's foot. The answer to the question "Which one of these doesn't belong?" is fairly obvious. Despite that, most gunowners don't spend the amount of time training and practicing with their handguns that we of the 'cognoscenti' would like them to.

Still, every year hundreds of thousands of people, who have had no training whatsoever and who seldom practice, successfully defend themselves with firearms, often small ones, from villains intending them harm. Accordingly the statement: "But you need to actually train with said gun and practice often if you expect to save your life with it one day" isn't necessarily true. In fact, there's not much real evidence to back up that kind of statement at all.
The rest of my article is on Tactical Wire.
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Old June 27, 2012, 11:56 PM   #2
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Your article was so doggone literate I had trouble reading it.

Still, I think I get your point. Anybody with any kind of 'equalizer' that's willing to use it is a gazillion times less appealing as a victim to your average thug.

You might also mention that most self defense cases happen at very close range which I think supports your point a lot.

(Also you might want to check on what I said about the close range. I THINK most are at close range but I've got no data to back that claim up.)
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Old June 28, 2012, 04:36 AM   #3
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Nice article, and true in many respects. I've never thought about how long the training-industry has been around, but I suspect you're right, about 30 years. One reason for that, I expect, is that the greatest generation is dying off. Your dad, my dad, the kindly grandpa down the block, was likely a WWII vet and walked across Europe with Bradley, or had island-hopped the pacific with Halsey. Those guys didn't need training, they were bad to the bone. How I miss them.

However, your title is a strawman, although an interesting one. The warriors I know all carry a talisman, something that they go no where without. It's a way of grounding yourself, a common item. "If all else fails, I have this thing that will help me." It might be a penknife, it might be kubotan, in my case it's a Smith model 38. Never leave home without it. Is my 38 the talisman? Good question.
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Old June 28, 2012, 07:13 AM   #4
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With all respect to everyone's father who was part of the greatest generation, including my own (who was drafted at age 28), the men of my generation got drafted and went just the same. My son went, too. They all had training. They weren't bad to the bone. They were the good guys.

But to the point in question, I agree completely, at least to the extract posted here. Much too often one gets the impression from other contributors on the fine forum, that firearms are so dangerous and complicated that they cannot safely be owned without professional training. Sounds like a good reason to license gun ownership, doesn't it? With training and the amount of practice proudly reported by some folks here, their shooting should be nothing less than perfect.
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Old June 28, 2012, 08:24 AM   #5
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That article makes sense to me.
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Old June 28, 2012, 08:28 AM   #6
Bartholomew Roberts
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I think the problem with your argument is that the majority of people who own firearms are untrained (no formal training with firearms) or poorly trained (basic military or police training). So in a large majority of conflicts, you have untrained, inexperienced people against other untrained, inexperienced people, and not surprisingly, untrained, inexperienced people often prevail because they are usually the parties on both sides of a conflict and one of them has to win.

It seems to me the relevant question is do better trained people prevail more often than untrained people?
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Old June 28, 2012, 03:03 PM   #7
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It begs the question: how much is enough?
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Old June 28, 2012, 08:31 PM   #8
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bartholomew Roberts
It seems to me the relevant question is do better trained people prevail more often than untrained people?
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueTrain
It begs the question: how much is enough?
The question "How much training is enough?" can never be answered.

You can never know in advance what your problem will be, so yo can never know in advance what you're going to need to be able to do to solve it. But in general, the more you can do and the better you can do it, the more likely you'll be satisfied with the outcome. The better prepared you are, the luckier you will be.

There's no reason that training (or learning in general) has to stop. If you choose to not train or to discontinue training, that only means that you've decided you have enough. That's your call, and events will decide for you whether or not that was a good call. If you run into a problem beyond your capacity, then maybe it wasn't such a good call after all (or maybe you'd still consider it a fair trade-off).

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadHunter
Quote:
...Still, every year hundreds of thousands of people, who have had no training whatsoever and who seldom practice, successfully defend themselves with firearms, often small ones, from villains intending them harm. Accordingly the statement: "But you need to actually train with said gun and practice often if you expect to save your life with it one day" isn't necessarily true....
The rest of my article is on Tactical Wire.
But of course that sort of begs the question: What does it mean?

It makes a decent case that the RKBA is a valuable right and that access to firearms is worthwhile. But some will see the discussion as supporting the proposition that there's no good reason to seek out training, and I don't think the analysis supports that conclusion.

Let's look at some of the issues:
  • You say:
    Quote:
    ...every year hundreds of thousands of people, who have had no training whatsoever and who seldom practice, successfully defend themselves with firearms...
    But exactly what evidence supports that assertion?

    We have a number of studies based on survey data (including the Kleck study) suggesting very large numbers of successful defensive gun uses (DGUs). And while the surveys, IIRC, don't capture data on the training of responders, the raw numbers are sufficiently large that at least a very healthy portion of those claiming a successful DGU probably had little training. Serious training has only been available to private citizens for a relatively short time (with Gunsite opening in the mid-1970s), and I can't imaging that the total aggregate output of Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, The Chapman Academy, LFI/MAG, Gabe Suarez, Louis Awerbuck and all the other schools and instructors would come close to the number of DGUs reported in the various studies.

    But in looking at some of the criticism of those studies, there does appear to be a question of whether all those incidents reported as successful DGUs were properly characterized by the persons responding to the surveys.

    So this must be regarded as something of a soft number. Not insignificant, to be sure, but still soft.

  • There are a number of sources for compilations of media accounts of successful DGUs. The "Armed Citizen" column in the NRA magazines is one. Another good source is this website. But those accounts seldom, if ever, include much information about the defender's level of training or experience.

  • There seems to be very little data on defensive failures. But the lack of data doesn't mean that there aren't any. It only means that there not getting reported or not getting reported in ways that cause them to be identified as defensive failures. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb reminds us in his books Fooled by Randomness, the Hidden Role of Chance (Random House, 2004) and The Black Swan, the Impact of the Highly Improbable (Random House, 2007), "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

  • In any case, a successful DGU by someone with minimal training only means that he was able solve his particular problems with the skills he had available at the time. If the problem had been different, things might not have worked out so well. In an emergency, we will respond with whatever skills and knowledge we have available. If they are up to the task, we'll prevail. If not, we probably won't.

  • While we may have little data on defensive failures by private citizens, we do know that sometime LEOs fail to successfully defend themselves. And LEOs do have some training.

    It's true that LEOs face different sorts of tactical problems compared with private citizens, and LEO training varies. Yet here is a group of trained persons who fail at times. Would less training have produced better results?
So yes, private citizens can, and do, make effective defensive use of guns even when they lack training; and that is a good reason why it's appropriate for firearms to be available to private citizens. But training is a good idea which we should continue to encourage.
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Old June 28, 2012, 09:57 PM   #9
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BTW, training with Headhunter is a good idea. Esp. if you want to carry a snubbie.

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Old June 28, 2012, 10:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
BTW, training with Headhunter is a good idea. Esp. if you want to carry a snubbie.
So it looks like I need to try to work a trip to Georgia with my 640 into my future.
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Old June 29, 2012, 10:32 AM   #11
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Claude does travel, not to speak for him, maybe you could organize a class.

I really enjoyed his snubby class and wrote it up for Pax.

I think he brings up a telling point. We talk about deterrence with no shots fired and then stopping power in terms of totally disabling the opponent on a physical basis if we do shoot the person.

The intermediate event of the crime stopping (not the person being disabled) when a round hits the BG isn't really discussed. As Claude mentioned, it's hard to find instances of a criminal who took rounds and continued the usual property crime. We do have the Miami Shootout and other extremes but a burgular who gets shot and continues to take the silverware is hard to find.
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Old June 29, 2012, 10:44 AM   #12
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I think training is very important, but to me the bulk of the training industry seems to have moved in some sort of quasi-paramilitary route rather than focusing on a curriculum more suited to actual CCW usage. Just my worthless two cents however.
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Old June 29, 2012, 10:57 AM   #13
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You know, when I read things that include expressions like "hundreds of thousands," it immediately makes the entire thing suspect. While I realize it may be either a simple exaggeration for effect or an outright falsehood, either way it tends to destroy the value of anything in the entire work. If it were really, say, 200,000 in a year, that amounts to about a dozen incidents per day every day all year long in every state, not including Alaska and Hawaii, both exceptionally peaceful states.

I wonder about training, however, as the expression is used here (as I understand it). It implies turning yourself into a professional or at least, a semi-professional. It goes without saying that you absolutely need a working knowledge and complete familiarity with your weapon, just the way you are with your car. Practice is the thing, I believe. Likewise, to also be fast, you need to be well practiced, or as the saying goes, "in good training," and in good condition. It is hard to keep yourself in absolute tip top shape, especially when you reach you later years.

I don't know if the so-called training industry has moved into a quasi-military mode or not, although private security and prisons are both growth industries. For others I suspect it may have more of the characteristics of an advanced and expensive hobby, rather like car racing. The racers just go around in circles, too.
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Old June 29, 2012, 10:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
...I think he brings up a telling point. We talk about deterrence with no shots fired and then stopping power in terms of totally disabling the opponent on a physical basis if we do shoot the person.

The intermediate event of the crime stopping (not the person being disabled) when a round hits the BG isn't really discussed. As Claude mentioned, it's hard to find instances of a criminal who took rounds and continued the usual property crime. We do have the Miami Shootout and other extremes but a burgular who gets shot and continues to take the silverware is hard to find....
Part of the difficulty is the inherent unpredictability of the future.

There's an excellent chance that any problem will be pretty routine (in fact, there's an excellent chance there won't be a problem).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent Bob
...but to me the bulk of the training industry seems to have moved in some sort of quasi-paramilitary route rather than focusing on a curriculum more suited to actual CCW usage...
I haven't seen that, but then again, I haven't been everywhere. My experience is that the better training focuses on basic skills.
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Old June 29, 2012, 11:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Posted by Glenn E. Meyer: As Claude mentioned, it's hard to find instances of a criminal who took rounds and continued the usual property crime.
I agree with that--but I do not think it prudent for me to prepare for the "usual property crime" without a significant margin of safety.

I'm not concerned vey concerned about property crimes. I'm more concerned about crimes of violence.

I live very close to a major Interstate Highway that is one of the most heavily trafficked drug arteries in the country. It also provides transportation into and out of a major city that has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country and that is minutes away. Our county is number one in the state for meth lab busts, and the state has the dubious honor of being number one in the nation. None of the contiguous counties rate much lower. There was one lab incident every fifteen minutes in the five contiguous counties last year.

The real problem is the crimes committed by those people and by the urban criminal element.

Armed robberies and carjackings are increasingly common in area parking lots that are near the highways. One not infrequently observes predators who are very obviously looking for victims in those lots during the day. I have seen several stops on the highways involving large drug busts (indicated by scanner chatter calling for reinforcements). I have driven by fires that followed lab explosions. I have seen officers come to a campground to haul the meth guys and gals and their kids away.

Police and parol officer friends and acquaintances tell me that meth users are usually very violent and desperate and that they do not experience fear of being hurt and often cannot feel pain--that it is necessary to shoot until they drop.

Those folks may not perpetrate "usual" property crimes, depending upon how one wants to characterize the taking of propane and anhydrous ammonia, but they are a major concern.

I do carry a snubby much of the time, though I occasionally question the wisdom of my decision, and focussed training would be a good idea for me.

Quote:
Posted by Frank Ettin: There's an excellent chance that any problem will be pretty routine (in fact, there's an excellent chance there won't be a problem).
Very true. But prudent risk management cannot be based on those assumptions.
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Old June 29, 2012, 11:58 AM   #16
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You have to pick your trainer. The folks I trained with were very civilian oriented. However, I have seen locally some folks offering courses that seem very firearms usage oriented in a more aggressive stance - if that makes sense. Not intensive skills work but they have combat training - fine - and want to pass on that to their students. That would be fun to do IF the student is well versed in the civilian aspects of force usage.

As far as the crime continuation point, I think it is interesting in the black and white arguments about some calibers. Folks seem to not recommend a lesser caliber at all as they would be useless as they can't guarantee a physical stop (like any handgun can). They aren't useless as a lesser round hit, while not 'stopping' the person, may cause the crime to stop.

Thus, I prefer having my Buckmark as compared to waving a poker or rolling pin as in a Lifetime Network stalker movie. However, I'm not in that situation as I do have (I think) bigger options -
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Old June 29, 2012, 12:04 PM   #17
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With some exceptions, advanced training with weapons is no different from basic training with weapons. The only difference is that in the so-called advanced training, you take it seriously. Or so I've heard.

The exceptions would be things like sight adjustments for a rifle and things like that. With targets in handgun self-defense range, it is a much simpler proposition.

There are even levels of training beyond advanced, although that enters the realm of police and military training. It was common at one time, in some armies, for troops to receive some form of basic training (that's common in all armies of course), then some kind of advanced and generally more specialized training. For infantry soldiers, it would include training on a broader selection of weapons. In basic you usually only get training on the rifle. Then, once you got to your permanent unit (permanent being relative), you sometimes received even more training, not counting the training you receive as part of that particular unit (unit training). Most armies have these. It might be some specialized training for assignment to some new kind of unit, such as the "mounted infantry" found in the British army around 1900, or the "designated marksman" training of more recent years in the US Army. The Germans organized what they called battle schools and I believe something similiar was organized by the US Army in WWII. Sniper training is another example.

Curiously, often as not, such high level, advanced training is generally discontinued in peacetime or at least reduced to peacetime levels. Some skills are apparently even difficult to sustain without wartime pressures.
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Old June 29, 2012, 01:06 PM   #18
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Talisman or tool? Guns are both things at once.

If as Kleck indicates the majority of those hundreds of thousands of yearly DGUs is simply displaying the gun then that counts as a talismanic use.

If your thesis correct then wouldn't it follow that most of our training should be focused on how best to display a handgun in a forceful manner?

Most training does focus on scenarios that end with, "and then you pull the trigger". Perhaps a good part of our training should involve ways in which pulling the trigger is avoided. Conflict avoidance and nonviolent resolution, situational awareness might be more valuable than multiple attacker scenarios.
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Old June 29, 2012, 01:12 PM   #19
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Buzz - it depends on the trainers and course. I've taken quite a lot that emphasized avoidance, resolution, etc.

In fact, going to the gun early - would bring you criticism in the after action analysis.

Quite a few folks offer well thought out curricula to cover such. Folks do like to just do shoot'em ups and talk equipment. That's why we need a blend of skills and more depth in total scenario resolutions as compared to just a double tap.
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Old June 29, 2012, 02:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueTrain
...There are even levels of training beyond advanced,...
But let's start at the beginning. It helps if folks at least can handle their guns safely and reliably hit the target. The reality is that a lot of folks can't even do that.

I see many people at the ranges I frequent who are poking hole all over a large silhouette target -- at seven yards, slow fire, no stress. Their gun handling is atrocious as well. And these are often people who go to the range regularly. But they haven't learned even the fundamentals well enough to be able to practice properly to improve. They become experts at missing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzcook
...If your thesis correct then wouldn't it follow that most of our training should be focused on how best to display a handgun in a forceful manner?...
There is something to being able to look like you mean business, as they say. Massad Ayoob says that the criminal isn't afraid of the gun; he's afraid of the person who looks prepared to use, and capable of using, the gun.

But being able to use the gun also helps if just displaying it turns out not to be enough. And you do need to be able to figure out if/when that has happened.
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Old June 30, 2012, 09:35 AM   #21
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Quote:
There is something to being able to look like you mean business, as they say. Massad Ayoob says that the criminal isn't afraid of the gun; he's afraid of the person who looks prepared to use, and capable of using, the gun.
Absolutely! It is called making yourself a hard target. The criminal must decide if you are something he wants to take on in the first place. Most criminals are opportunists, you are a victim because you already failed.
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