what exactly do you think you are doing?

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A theme that keeps popping up in discussion with my like minded friends revolves around the issue of firearms training and it’s sometimes over-emphasized place in (some) peoples lives.

While “overtraining” in weapon skills is obviously NOT a problem in comparison to all of the people who are undertrained, and constant practice IS important; it’s also important to realize that there are MANY other skills that are as or even more important than being able to doubletap a target while on the move.

The author of Vuurwapen Blog has recently posted an interesting piece about this, he says:

However, pistol and carbine training courses – and shotgun courses, and precision rifle courses etc. – are all essentially based on, or grew from the concept of, providing law enforcement and military personnel with a greater ability to use their issued weapons. What we see now in the firearms community are essentially the same courses marketed to civilian shooters, perhaps with some limitations or restrictions. This is all well and good, but there is a major disconnect between the skills of a civilian shooter who has attended many carbine and pistol training courses and the skills of a Marine infantryman who has never attended training outside that which is provided by the military.

It is almost a foregone conclusion that the civilian shooter would be more proficient with the rifle/carbine and the pistol, at least within 50 to 100 yards. However, the Marine possesses skills that would make him much more valuable to an infantry unit, and, I daresay, more valuable in a firefight. Unfortunately, the skills that make him so valuable are not cool enough to draw dozens of paying clients.

Some – certainly not all – civilian training centers draw students by telling them how after only a few days of training, they will become as good a shooter as “a SWAT cop or a Navy SEAL.” Yes, Front Sight, I’m looking at you. Even when this is not stated outright, it is implied – most often not by the instructors, but by the students. For some people who have never been in the military, and are seeking a little excitement, putting on all the gear and getting on line to practice shooting drills is a really fun way to spend a weekend. I certainly don’t wish to put down what they have chosen to do too much, for as I said above, anyone who wants to own an AR-15 should know how to use it. However, while there is a massive jump in skills and proficiency after the first few training courses, the 5th, 10th, or 15th course is of relatively little value.


He’s saying exactly what I always say in reply to the “many cops are crappy shooters” cannard that pops up in many shooting related discussions. Yes, some (perhaps even too many) are, but do you know what skill they should spend even more time working on? Driving. And after that? Unarmed defensive tactics.

Sure you may be a better shot than a Marine , but can you land nav to an ambush site and lay an ambush? Can you call in artillery? Do you know combat first aid and tactical radio communications? Nobody is saying that shooting isn’t of vital importance, but once you have that skill checked off and you have a maintainance plan to preserve what you have learned, don’t stay in a rut.

For the “civilian” who wants to be prepared? Is there really any more skill improvement that they need past the 3rd or 4th training course? Not that there is anything wrong with participating in classes simply because it’s fun and its “your money”, but in terms of useful skills how about getting some first aid training instead of dropping 2-5K on another trip to Front Sight? Or maybe take up running or some sort of fitness training. THAT will pay off far more in the long run of your life than another weekend burning through a case of .223.

PS- The same goes for YOU, my martial arts class taking “warriors” out there. One or Two classes a week at the local dojo does not a “warrior” make. How many $200-$300 seminars do you REALLY need to take?

If you are doing it as a hobby or simply because you enjoy it (so go @!$% yourself Tgace) that 100% A-OK with me. But make your decisions in full awareness.

9 thoughts on “what exactly do you think you are doing?”

  1. A few people definitely take it too far with the amount of training they seek out, I can see value in that 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.

    There are many different instructors teaching their own nuances. By training with multiple instructors you get an opportunity to absorb new material. State of the art is always changing in tactical training, so getting fresh ideas and incorporating them into your own training can definitely be valuable.

    Classes can also be a great way to test your skills. For example I have done southnarc’s ECQC twice now, and fully intend on going for a third time this year. Every year it provides me a chance to measure my progress and see how my skills are progressing.

    Again some people do take it too far, and should consider rounding out their education before covering the same material for the umpteenth time.

    1. I agree with the different nuances comments, but in terms of ‘state of the art’ for the civilian firearms/self defense minded and/or ‘recreational/hobby’ enthusiast, is it really cost effective or is it fad/fun?

      I’m not blasting the idea of staying current and aware of trends and changes, but if you are an individual/private gun owner/student of the craft, is ‘newer’ stuff/technology really ‘better?” Or, would someone be better served saving the cost of another gun ranch and investing it into the other skill sets mentioned (first aid, driving… ) and/or even investing it into a gym membership or more rounds through the calendar year for consistent shooting instead?

      1. One point I failed to make about my comment about “state of the art” was that as a civilian/individual and not a police department or Branch of Service, is it realistic to constantly be chasing the latest and greatest given the cost and the constant changes to training because of it? For me, fundamentals make the most sense. Spend time/money/effort on solid fundamentals, consistent training, and filling your ‘toolbox’ with a spectrum of skills… you can’t fix every situation with a hammer, but you should have one in your toolbox.

    2. Personally, I think that if skill testing is something you are looking for that entering some competitions would be a better idea.

      Just to restate..I’m not saying there is anything wrong with hobby training. Im more focused on people who are Walter Mittying themselves into something they really are not.

      1. I’m with you on this Tom. IF you know you are indulging a past time that is satisfying and you KNOW that you are focusing on only one slice of the ‘Personal Protection’ pie because you are just having fun… fine, go for it, march on with a smile on your face…

        BUT, if you are going to argue that because you may (or may not) be able to do ONE thing better (under range conditions, dry, well rested, unencumbered by 65 pounds of gear, uninjured…) than a soldier/Sailor/Marine/Coast Guard/Law Enforcement that you are “Superior” to them or they “Suck” because of that… well, then why not enlist/swear an oath and take a spot on that wall to save the rest of us from the Huns?

  2. Tgace,
    I can tell you upfront that my primary weapon, the system which i will train on so that I can operate it and troubleshoot it at the black belt level at night, under all whether conditions is…my radio. If I can make comms with whomever it is that is flying CAP above me, vector them in and have them disburse ordnance, then I’m good to go.
    Managing multiple nets/systems is waaaay more challenging than manipulation or employment of my personal weapons. And, not only is talking to the “eye in the sky” critical for appropriate air support, but it also is a critical C2 enabler: they can see what’s going on around you to a much greater degree of certainty and resolution than you can.
    I think that the mistake civilians make is that they think that personal weapons proficiency is the end-state of soldierly badassedness. Instead, it’s an entry level requirement (even though that proficiency may not be equal to what you can get at Gunsight or Mid-South or any of the other–outstanding–private sector training schools.
    Instead, the hallmark of badassedness is to be a functionally sound and reliable part of the system, in all weather and under any austere conditions (lack of sleep, chow, medical attention, etc.). Victor Davis Hanson had a great point in Carnage and Culturewhen he stated that in the Western world, soldiers more often receive medals for doing their job heroically, for “holding the line” rather than performing individualistic heroic feats of valor.


    1. Amen brother.

      When it comes to weapon training (civilian especially) I think that people would be better served PRACTICING the basics than pursuing yet another 1-2K dollar carbine/handgun course.

      There is the argument made that “well there is this instructor who teaches something NEW”. He uses the slide release on his reloads instead of running the slide. Or he teaches force on force using airsoft. etc

      What makes you think that you NEED the latest tactical trend? Does that new way of reloading REALLY make you THAT much more effective of a defensive shooter? You need to spend a grand on learning to use the slide release? Force on force is great, but one class a year is more about stroking your “I’m a trained killer” ego than it is about really learning anything. Remember that these trainers/organizations are BUSINESSES. It’s in their interest to make you think that you NEED their latest techniques. Theres nothing wrong with that and theres nothing wrong with learning all that you can learn..it’s your money after all. But in the long run I don’t think there is much that you are really going to take away from your 5th, 6th, 7th course that is worth the money. The money would have been better spent in practicing what you were taught in class 1 through 4. Get solid instruction and PRACTICE!

      I’ll say it again. There is nothing wrong with spending your money on whatever you want to spend it on. If you enjoy shooting schools by all means go to them. Just be clear about WHY you are doing something.

      If you have dreams of being like a SEAL/DELTA/”WARRIOR”….you are only playing fantasy games if all you do is buy fancy gear and take shooting courses.

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