I’ve been teaching firearms safety and defensive shooting for some time and have taught students of all skill levels. Not surprisingly, they all had one thing in common after attending a class, they LEARNED something. People who are interested in defending themselves and their families, train, and those people typically stand a much better chance of being successful in defending themselves as a result.
The question becomes, what is your excuse for not training? As a professional firearms instructor, I hear them all. People are great at making excuses as to why they don’t train with that brand new pistol or carbine, and not so great at what counts, actually using it.
I could discuss all of the excuses I hear for not training but that would turn into a book, not a blog post. So, I will concentrate on what I’ve found as the single most common and quite possibly the most dangerous excuse I hear.
“I already know how to shoot”.
When I speak about this particular excuse I often refer to the Dunning–Kruger effect as a point of discussion.
The Dunning–Kruger effect proposes that for a given skill, incompetent people will: [source]
- tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
- fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
- fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
- fail to recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.
You may ‘know how to shoot’ because you were in the military, go to the range once a month, or were taught by your father to hunt, all valid points, however, I challenge you to look at your skill and how it would apply to a defensive or threat encounter either in your home or on the streets.
Back to the Dunning-Kruger effect, people have egos; people often overestimate their skill or ability and fail to be realistic with themselves and their level of ability. Competence is gained through training, not ego; one must be able to identify areas of improvement and train in that area until the skill is mastered, and THEN TRAIN MORE. I always say there are no experts, once you claim to be an expert, you cease learning.
When a person makes the decision to carry a firearm for personal protection, that decision brings a great responsibility. You must train and become MORE than just proficient with the firearm. Simply strapping a gun to your hip doesn’t magically enable you to be capable of using it legally, effectively or even safely just because ‘you know how to shoot’.
We learn to drive a car, we practice that often, but can you race a car? Likely not. That skill comes with training, ability and experience. A person stepping into a race car with nothing more than a driver’s license would likely end up with a wrecked car. The same thing applies to firearms, you can shoot, but can you present a firearm from a holster and take 2 shots within 1.5 seconds at a threat that is moving toward you with the intent of TAKING your life, all while having to make a split second decision as to whether or not you are legally correct in using that tool? That also comes with training.
I challenge you all to look at yourself honestly, evaluate your skill and train areas you feel weak in. KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW, and improve.
I train daily, I still take shooting classes, and I train until I can’t get it wrong, and then I train it more, because when that day comes, I am confident I will win, not because I think I’m good, it’s because I am honest with myself and train. I train with a parked ego, keep my ears open and mouth shut.
Continue to overestimate yourself and your ability; you may not be on the side that walks away. Take a course, as with ALL of our students at Kenaz Tactical Group, you will learn something. What is your life worth?
D-K Effect source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
Robert Butler is the Owner and Chief Firearms Instructor for Kenaz Tactical Group and an NRA Certified Instructor in 6 disciplines. Robert also works in the Firearms industry as the Director of Product Development for Tactical Black Firearms and is a former auxiliary peace officer with the Colorado Mounted Rangers. Further, Robert is an 18 year veteran of the US Army and Army National Guard holding the MOS 12B and 13R.