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Old April 2, 2012, 10:03 PM   #1
Prof Young
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Join Date: August 21, 2007
Posts: 1,276
Learning more about handling guns for home defense.


So short of Boy Scouts and YMCA training, all my gun knowledge is self taught. Yea, I need to find some training programs and spend some money on getting real instruction. In the mean time I'm reading. The latest is The Modern Day Gun Slinger. I'm mostly interested in opinions from those who are pros, and who have read the book, but I'd like to hear from one and all with an opinion.

Live well, be safe
Prof Young
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Old April 2, 2012, 11:18 PM   #2
Join Date: March 13, 2012
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Posts: 15
I've read "Modern Day Gunslinger" and enjoyed it but didn't feel like I took much away from it that I hadn't heard before in other books on the subject. That said, I'm a fan of Massad Ayoob's books and I had read his 2011 "Combat Shooting" before MDG. His "Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry" is also excellent if you plan to pursue the daily carry of a firearm.

If you want to get heavy in to no-holds-barred tactics books, you can check out Gabriel Suarez. He has several books that fit that bill - "Tactical Pistol" and the "Tactical Advantage" overlap but are both helpful.

If you want to look at psychological, legal and emotional aspects of personal defense, I highly recommend "Facing Violence" by Rory Miller an "On Killing" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Best of luck!
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Old April 3, 2012, 06:34 AM   #3
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Over the last half century I have "handled" firearms on almost a daily basis. I really can't connect with those who are buying, handling, shooting firearms for the first time. During that period,I've been shot at (&hit) and done the same to others. Since I don't consider my past to qualify me as an "expert" like some highly advertised individuals do, I don't conduct classes or write books.
I spent a couple of hours last weekend dicussing the buying and carrying of a self defense handgun with a similar aged man. I let him fire a few shots with my choice of pistol and answered questions he had about our state laws and reasons for my choices. He commented that he was constantly surprised that I would be talking about some factor of concealed carry and suddenly, the pistol was in my hand. Like it just appeared-no orchestrated movement-just there.
My most valuable advice(in my estimation anyway) was to become comfortable with your weapon. It's not a snake that's trying to bite you. Learn how it feels. Establish an assurance that you control everything the weapon does. Carry it constantly until you don't notice it's presence. Know absolutely when it's safe and when it's clear.
The worst possible thing is to buy a gun and put it on a shelf somewhere, hoping you know how to use it if needed.
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Old April 3, 2012, 07:39 AM   #4
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Thanks, Mobuck. Some of the best, to-the-point advice I've heard for someone new to this way of life.
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Old April 3, 2012, 10:35 AM   #5
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
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Books are interesting, but this is not really the sort of thing you really learn well from books. I don't think there's any good substitute for hands-on training.

I'm a big proponent of good professional training. Among other things, there is really no good substitute for a qualified instructor watching what you are doing and coaching you based on what he sees. Remember that practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Practice also makes permanent. If you keep practicing doing something wrong, you will become an expert at doing it wrong. So some good training shows you what to practice and how to practice it. It thus helps you avoid bad habits which later on can be an awful hassle to try to correct. (And a good way to regularly practice some of he basic skills is IDPA and/or USPSA competition.)

If there's an NRA certified instructor in your area offering NRA Personal Protection Inside the Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home classes, taking both classes would be a great way to start. They will give you a good grounding in practical marksmanship and gun handling, and they will be a good foundation if you decide you want to go even further. They also go into legal issues around the use of force and both mindset and tactics.

Competently keeping or carrying a gun for self defense involves more than just marksmanship.

[1] You will want to know and understand the legal issues -- when the use of lethal force would be legally justified, when it would not be, and how to tell the difference. You will want to understand how to handle the legal aftermath of a violent encounter and how to articulate why, in a particular situation, you decided to take whatever action you did.

[2] You will want to know about levels of alertness and mental preparedness to take action. You will want to understand how to assess situations and make difficult decisions quickly under stress. You will want to know about the various stress induced physiological and psychological effects that you might face during and after a violent encounter.

[3] You will want to develop good practical proficiency with your gun. That includes practical marksmanship, i. e., being able to deploy your gun and get good hits quickly at various distances. It also includes skills such as moving and shooting, use of cover and concealment, reloading quickly, clearing malfunctions, and moving safely with a loaded gun.

The NRA Personal Protection classes only scratch the surface, but they at least touch on these subjects and get you started on the right track. From there, you can go as far as you'd like.

Personally, I take classes on a regular basis (most recently, just shy of a year ago, the Intermediate Handgun class at Gunsite in Arizona). I practice regularly, both dry fire and live fire drills. I practice presenting my gun from the holster and engaging targets at various distances. I practice from about 5 yards out to 25 yards. Practice close in tends to involve drawing and quick shot strings. And although most defensive encounters are close range events, I practice at longer distances as well. Shooting at longer distances helps develop and maintain basic marksmanship skills, especially trigger control.

Is all this really necessary? That will be up to you to decide for yourself. It will depend on your personal view of what you need to be able to do to believe yourself to be competent. But --
  • If we wind up in a violent confrontation, we can't know ahead of time what will happen and how it will happen. And thus we can't know ahead of time what we will need to be able to do to solve our problem.

  • If we find ourselves in a violent confrontation, we will respond with whatever skills we have available at the time. If all you know how to do is stand there and shoot, that will probably be what you'll do. It might be good enough, or it might not be.

  • The more we can do, and the better we can do it, the more likely we'll be to be able to respond appropriately and effectively. The more we can do, and the better we can do it, the luckier we'll be.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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Old April 3, 2012, 10:50 AM   #6
Glenn E. Meyer
Join Date: November 17, 2000
Posts: 18,722
SWAT had a recent article relevant to Frank's point on how self-training may not be enough and how professional training is worthwhile.
NRA, TSRA, IDPA, NTI, Polite Soc. - Aux Armes, Citoyens
Being an Academic Shooter
Being an Active Shooter
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