A recent video from Clint Smith, owner and founder of Thunder Ranch struck a chord with me. Much of my early training came from Clint and his staff at the Texas facility. This was long before the myriad of YouTube and social media experts existed, so you actually needed credentials to teach, and some real world experience on the ground and not the couch. While I did not always agree with his techniques, you could not realistically argue their effectiveness. That was the point, and the one that stuck with me. It’s the proper application of fundamentals under real world conditions that will save your life. From the most hard core to the once every few years types, it seems like most hunters I talk to these days say they care about self defense, or defending their families. If that’s you, read on…
Keep it Simple
Training to defend your life is about what works, not what is cool. This may be most critical from a student’s perspective. Fights are rarely expected, generally time constrained, and where guns are involved, incredibly violent. There is no time for complicated or thought intensive techniques worked out mostly in someone’s mind, on his computer, or while crunching Cheetos on the couch. It’s not that some of the tacticool stuff is not valuable, it can be, it’s just not necessary in most instances and worthless for most. That stuff can be fun, but fun does not always mean useful and it can be downright lethal.
My last blog, (Stop! Not Everyone is a Commando) hit home with a ton of people. In an industry enamored with looking and acting like your favorite comic book hero, it’s critical to understand that most people who use a weapon in self-defense will do so with a simple rifle, pistol, or shotgun void of useless equipment. It will be over quickly and is more likely to occur at your home then at the mall. You are just as likely to be in your underwear as your camo. You will use what is near or on you with preparation measured in seconds or minutes.
That means you need simple techniques that are proven and practiced using the equipment you have or need for the fight, not the range. It’s the very reason training facilities like the Gunsite Academy, Thunder Ranch, and the Sig Training Academy have been around for so long, 50 years in the case of Gunsite. Proven trainers like Ken Hakathorn, Clint Smith, Kyle Lamb, and the legacy of Pat Rogers continue. The very fact they do not change training with the wind, or adopt tactics from video games and the most popular training guru has insured their longevity. It is EXACTLY what makes them relevant, and why they continue when hundreds of others have disappeared.
Shooting is “Fundamental”!
Fundamentals are not just “the” thing; they are EVERYTHING! We have heard it repeatedly over the years for a reason. Advanced techniques are nothing more than fundamentals applied in a myriad of conditions. It’s another reason the major academies and proven instructors continue and the tactitrainers fade and disappear. Learning and practicing the fundamentals will save your life. It may not get you likes, views, or have you go viral but it’s what you will use in a fight.
Nor are fundamentals about equipment, not in a fight. You need good equipment, simple, effective and proven. Just because it is the latest offering on the net, or being sold by your favorite guru does not mean it’s useful in a fight. How it works for a real commando, or swat guy may also be meaningless.
For most people, the home owner defending his family, the business owner protecting themselves or others, or the individual on the street, gunfights are NOT team events. The VAST majority of people will not have lasers, phasers, rangefinders, or other equipment on their gear.
It will be a pistol for self-protection, or a shotgun or rifle in the home. Most will have a light, probably not attached to their pistol. Learning to use those is what is critical, and your fundamentals will be the key. While there are about a billion variations they boil down to Support (stance, grip, or mechanical support), Sight picture and alignment, and Trigger Manipulation. Master those with YOUR weapons in every conceivable practical environment and you too can be an EXPERT!!
It’s Not about the instructor!
When seeking out training look for instructors that are teachers, not evangelists. Preaching is for the pulpit, and teaching is about the students’ progress, not the teacher. It is precisely why I am on staff at Gunsite; they remain one of the most student focused academies in the world. Both Sig Sauer and Thunder Ranch to the same thing.
Instructors should not be there to sell themselves, but to pass on the ability for students to think for themselves using the techniques and tactics you teach – proven and simple techniques a student can apply. Teachers pass on knowledge for application; they don’t propagate dogma, denigrate other instructors or preach. Leave the showmen and hucksters to the Internet. Not that you cannot enjoy some of it, just don’t ever have your life depend on it. This concept is not new, it’s one I have been practicing as a teacher for 40 years as a martial arts instructor.
Spend your money Wisely!
Last week at SHOT Show, the single largest gathering of firearms sellers and manufacturers in America, there were be thousands of “new and improved” items. Everything that attaches to firearms, can be worn while you are using one, or loaded into it was be represented. On one hand, it is fantastic to see as innovation is the life’s blood of progress. On the other, it may be the single largest gathering of the most useless items you can attach to your gun or otherwise use. It is a sea of hyperbole awash with marketing magic sure to save the planet earth, or fill its landfills. As it filters through to your dealers and or hits the magic Internet air waves always remember, when it comes to fighting it’s all about the fundamentals. It may pay to save some of that money you are thinking of spending on the next gadget for more ammunition, range time and quality with the gun you will use – fundamentals are truly Fundamental!