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“I’ve Been Shooting My Whole Life. I Don’t Need Training.”

By: Chris Hill

Most people can easily get behind the idea of getting training for something they are unfamiliar with. That said, throughout my time in the gun industry as a gun counter guy and an instructor, I have had to deal with objections to training. Financial and time constraints, as well as a lack of desire to be truly competent, are the most common reasons. Quite frankly, while I find the lack of seriousness disheartening, I can respect that people just don’t care as much as I do. My absolute favorite objection to training, though, is the title of this article; “I’ve been shooting my whole life. I don’t need training.” There are variations to this like, “I’m ex-military” or “My relatives are all cops; they’ll teach me.” These objections all come from the same place: “I’m already proficient, I have nothing to learn.”

Is Firearms Training Necessary?

I don’t think objections to training will disappear due to the nature of defending one’s life with a gun. Unlike other sports or disciplines, shooting doesn’t provide an easily accessible method for showing you that you suck. I can walk into my yard and if I suck at throwing a football then when I try to throw one and the football doesn’t really go far – or where I want – then my lack of skills will be obvious. My arm might hurt, the person I’m playing catch with will tell me I suck and boom, I know I’m bad at throwing a football. If I play casually with others and I perform poorly then I will know. I might not care because I do plenty of things recreationally that I’m bad at, but I’d never stake my life on my ability to kick a soccer ball or play certain video games, especially against professionals. That’s what self-defense is. You are often pitted against someone who has more familiarity with violence. Would you fight someone with no rules, who intends to kill you and has done it 5 times before, and you’ve not only never done it but haven’t prepared for it at all? Of course not. You’re not an arrogant fool.

Self-Defense Misconceptions

Oftentimes I would attempt to lure people onto the range by offering free product if they could draw a concealed handgun and place 3 shots in the chest box of a silhouette target or upper half of the A-zone on a USPSA target at 10 yards. 90% wouldn’t even step onto the range once given the parameters. The reasons why the test wasn’t valid would begin to flow: “I would already have my gun out,” “That’s too small of a target,” “That’s too far away,” or “Self-defense shootings happen up close”. At that point I’d pass them off to another team member and move on. As soon as you believe you’re at the pinnacle of fighting ability then it’s gonna take a major event to jar you into a desire for true competence.

Another silly thing about life-or-death fights: If you win and you were untrained then you – and more importantly others who weren’t there – may glean that training is unnecessary given the fact that you prevailed in your encounter. If you lose, the only people who will attribute your demise to a lack of knowledge and skills are those with knowledge and skills, which – oddly enough – you probably won’t be exposed to regularly unless you are taking self-defense and shooting-oriented classes. This is a form of survivorship bias and it perpetuates the notion that it is easy to prevail with little training because the tools can be used at a high level with only basic knowledge of operation. For every granny with a shotgun in the closet who scared the bad guys away with the old Biden blast, there’s at least one who died trying to load it or take the safety off.

Firearms Training is Worth It

Get quality gear, get quality training, and use the training to test that gear. You’ll never know it all and can always learn more. Take shooting classes like what I offer at Thunderbolt Defense, combat classes like Shivworks ECQC, and other force-on-force offerings like Weaponized Geometry from Kinetic Consulting or CRAS from Sage Dynamics. Approach shooting with the mindset that you can get better and learn more. Remember that somewhere there is a bad guy who knows something you don’t and a good guy providing training can help you beat him.

About The Author

My name is Christopher Hill and I’m the owner of Thunderbolt Defense. I started my shooting career when I joined the United States Marine Corps in 2008 where I deployed twice, to Afghanistan in 2009 and to Jordan in 2011 to train the Jordanian army. During my time in the Marines I paid especially close attention to the shooting and small unit tactics parts of my job. After my enlistment I became a civilian instructor and worked at one of the largest commercial ranges in the southeast United States. I eventually became the director of training, lead sales person and armorer. I have trained well over ten thousand students of various levels in various disciplines from beginners all the way to professional users with high operational tempo and skill level but the focus has always been the armed citizen and local LE officer. My primary focus is defensive and performance shooting so my students can excel in any environment where a handgun, rifle, or shotgun is needed.

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