First Time Guns Owners: Welcome to the Fold

Paul G. Markel © 2012

Firearms Training
Shooters participate in the Ballistic Problem Solving training course and practice thinking with a gun in hand.
Student of the Gun
Student of the Gun

LUVERNE, AL –-( Whatever the individual reasons might be, and I won’t waste time speculating, the number of first time gun owners in the United States has skyrocketed over the last four years.

For someone who has been a student of the gun since he was 11 years old, I think that fact is a good thing.

The numbers of countries in this world where the average citizen can take their hard-earned money, walk into a shop and walk out with a firearm in hand are pretty slim and getting slimmer.

The relative minority of nations where citizens can own firearms, and actually store them in their homes, dwindles every year.

Most nations that “allow” citizen gun ownership have through decree and legislation turned firearms and shooting into a rich man’s game. The cost of permits and licenses, often with annual reinstatement fees, insurance fees that border on extortion, and the cost of state-approved storage and security measures effectively keep firearms out of the hands of the average working person. In the vast majority of these countries, only those with wealth can afford to own, shoot, and hunt with firearms.

When you consider the socialist leanings of most industrialized nations and their purported love of the “worker” it’s a bit of a cruel irony that the working man who is so revered has been effectively disarmed. Of course, that’s really no surprise to a thinking person. The only thing a socialist nation can distribute evenly amongst the masses is “misery“.

Congratulations – What Took You So Long!
And so to you, the first time gun owner, I say congratulations. You are now one of considerably few inhabitants of planet Earth who can still exercise the civic freedom to possess arms. Thousands upon thousands of American citizens who came before you sacrificed their homes, families and their very lives to purchase that freedom for you.

I would now pose the question to you. What are you going to do with that shiny new gun? To what purpose do you assign your recent ownership? Did you buy a gun just to prove to yourself that you still could? Are you planning to harvest game to stock your freezer? Are you planning to keep the gun at home or on your person as a means of protection?

Personal Protection
Whether the firearm in question is a handgun, shotgun, or rifle, owning a gun for personal protection requires that you take a step beyond mere ownership. Buying a gun for personal protection and sticking it on a shelf is like buying a first aid kit and doing the same.

If you ever had to the use that first aid kit to save someone’s life would you have the skill or just the gear?

Owning a gun is the first step. If you are ever called upon to use it during a deadly force encounter you will be much better served if you already have the skill, versus making it up on the spot. Effective use of a firearm may save your life or the lives of your family. Misuse or ineffective use of a firearm may lead to a lifetime of regret or the loss of your life altogether.

The previous paragraph isn’t melodrama, its reality. Firearms in the hands of trained good guys stop bad guys from committing their evil acts. Firearms in the hands of amateurs and the inept are a disaster waiting to happen. As a citizen you have the choice. You can and indeed should secure training and subsequently competence or you can roll the dice and be satisfied with maybe. Your first step should be to visit the NRA Instructors website where you can find NRA Certified Fierarms Instructors in your area.

NRA Instructors
NRA Instructors – Teaching Knowledge, Skills and Attitude

State-Mandated Training
Whether good, bad, or indifferent, the simple fact is that most “state-mandated” firearms training for a concealed carry license, pistol permit, etc. focus more on what you cannot do and what actions are illegal or unlawful.

One gentleman commented after taking a CWP class, “I sat there for hours listening to the guy tell me what I couldn’t do and all the ways I could break the law by carrying my gun. By the time I walked out I didn’t even want to carry for fear I’d end up in jail.”

Sadly, that kind of commentary and reaction is far too prevalent. Many courses spend so much time on “Thou Shalt Not” that they don’t have time for “Thou Shall”. Yes, it is true that new permit holders need to understand their limits and liabilities, but we need to take some time to consider just what to do in the event that a gun is actually needed.

Thinking with a Gun in Hand
Marksmanship fundamentals are essential for success. You must learn to operate the machine safely and efficiently. If you accept the fact that at some point you might be forced to use your gun to stop a deadly threat you absolutely must be able to “think” with a gun in hand.

There are far more things in the real world that should not be shot as opposed to things that should be shot. Bullets travel too quickly to call them back. You are responsible for every round that leaves the barrel of your gun. There are no time-outs or do-overs in the real world.

When the time comes to seek out training, you should participate in training that requires you to actually think and make correct decision while you have a gun in your hand.

Speed” and “Action” shooting programs can be a lot of fun. However, launching bullets lightning fast into the wrong object (an innocent person) can land you in jail and lead to a life of regret.

Speed is relative. First learn to smooth and efficient. If the skill is there, your body will know what to do and how fast to go. Effective personal defense training will include “Shoot/Don’t Shoot” scenarios. Targets of various shapes, sizes, and perhaps colors are used to force the shooter to make the correct decision. You must be able to discriminate between what should be shot and what should not.

Firearms Training
Firearms Training: First learn to smooth and efficient. If the skill is there, your body will know what to do and how fast to go.

The Educated Consumer
Take the time and do some research. Find out if the training school teaches marksmanship, sport shooting, and/or decision making. Will their course teach you to think with a gun in your hand or do they simply create shooting robots trained to spray bullets at high rates of speed at anything and everything in sight.

Owning a firearm simply makes you a gun owner.

Many decades ago, Jeff Cooper, the recognized father of modern pistolcraft stated, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you any more armed than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”

This article first appeared in the AmmoLand Shooting Sports News Monthly NewsLetter, Follow this link to sign up, so you don’t miss the Next Issue.   Paul Markel ~ AmmoLand Shooting Sports News © 2012

Paul Markel c 2012

Follow Paul Markel at Student of the .

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

Excellent advice! As an NRA certified instructor, I have to say that the NRA course material needs some serious upgrading to fulfill these requirements. At this point, it’s all about sport shooting. Even the new “Personal Protection outside the home” course has very, very little content to promote this kind of training.

And, since most people do not take anything beyond the “basic pistol” class anyway, more of that mental preparation needs to be taught there. I use supplemental material to accomplish that, and urge all other instructors to do the same.