Beyond the Basics: Why Continued Firearms Training is Important

One of my favorite classes to teach is Basic Pistol, or what I call Freshman Gun 101. I assume students in that class know nothing or next to nothing about guns, which is why they are in an introductory firearms class. That’s usually the case, although occasionally, I get a more advanced student who is ready to move up already. But most of the students are novices.

It’s fun to watch students go from zero to some higher level in our five hours together, two of which are spent shooting on the range. At the end of each class, I emphasize that gun ownership is a long journey, and they are just getting started. They have a ways to go. The journey never really ends because the best shooters are constantly training and getting better.

Why do I put so much emphasis on this? Isn’t it good enough to buy a gun, take a class, purchase a decent IWB holster or OWB holster, and be on your way? Hardly. That mentality will likely get someone killed. Let’s look at why it’s important to go beyond the basics and train to a much higher level.

In a world where uncertainty looms and threats to personal safety can arise unexpectedly, the responsibility of firearm ownership extends far beyond mere possession. For serious gun owners, the commitment encompasses a dedication to continuous training and skill refinement. This treatise delves into the critical importance of advanced firearm training for serious gun owners, exploring how elevated proficiency can make a decisive difference in real-world shooting scenarios.

Outdoor training is better than indoor training, but whichever you have access to, keep training!

Foundations of Basic Training

Basic firearm training is the cornerstone of responsible gun ownership. It imparts essential knowledge of firearm safety, marksmanship fundamentals, and legal considerations. Through introductory courses, individuals acquire the fundamental skills to safely and effectively handle a firearm.

However, the limitations of basic training become evident when confronted with complex and high-stress situations. Merely understanding the mechanics of firearm operation and executing rudimentary marksmanship techniques may not suffice when faced with a dynamic threat environment. To truly prepare for the unpredictable nature of real-world shootings, serious gun owners must embrace the pursuit of advanced training.

The Case for Advanced Training

Advanced firearm training transcends the confines of basic proficiency, equipping individuals with a comprehensive toolkit of skills and strategies to navigate challenging scenarios. Here are compelling reasons why serious gun owners should prioritize advanced training:

Enhanced Situational Awareness

Advanced training cultivates heightened situational awareness, enabling gun owners to assess threats rapidly and make informed decisions under pressure. By honing observation skills and understanding threat indicators, individuals can proactively mitigate potential dangers before escalation.

Precision and Speed

Mastery of advanced shooting techniques facilitates precise shot placement with minimal time-to-target. Through the deliberate practice of dynamic shooting drills, gun owners can develop muscle memory and refine their ability to engage multiple targets swiftly and accurately, a crucial advantage in fluid combat situations.

Static ranges have their place, but the real training starts when you move beyond the bench and into a dynamic setting.

Tactical Maneuvering

Advanced training integrates tactical movement techniques, such as shooting on the move, utilizing cover and concealment effectively, quick and accurate reloads, and executing rapid transitions between firearms. These skills empower gun owners to maintain a tactical advantage, outmaneuver adversaries, and adapt to evolving threats in real time.

Stress Inoculation

Advanced training exposes individuals to simulated high-stress scenarios, replicating the physiological and psychological responses elicited during actual confrontations. By subjecting themselves to controlled stressors in training environments, gun owners can inoculate themselves against panic-induced errors and cultivate the resilience needed to perform optimally under duress.

Legal and Ethical Preparedness

Beyond marksmanship prowess, advanced training delves into the legal and ethical complexities of the use of force. Gun owners must understand applicable laws, escalation of force principles, and the ethical considerations inherent in self-defense scenarios. With this knowledge, individuals can make sound judgment calls and responsibly navigate legal ramifications.

Real-World Applications

The dividends of advanced firearm training manifest most prominently in real-world shooting incidents, where split-second decisions and precise execution can mean the difference between life and death.

Force-on-force training is one of the best ways to apply pressure through scenarios where nobody dies.

Real-world shootouts aren’t neat and tidy, and you won’t encounter static targets who just stand there. Unlike at the range, in the real world, the bad guy can shoot back, and he gets a vote on who wins (lives) and loses (dies). 

Consider the following scenarios illustrating the practical relevance of advanced skills:

Active Shooter Response

In an active shooter scenario, where chaos reigns and innocent lives hang in the balance, advanced-trained gun owners possess the capability to neutralize threats swiftly and decisively. Their proficiency in rapid target engagement, tactical movement, and coordination with law enforcement enhances the likelihood of expediently minimizing casualties and resolving the situation.

Home Defense

During a home invasion, advanced-trained gun owners can leverage their expertise in close-quarters combat and defensive tactics to secure their household effectively. By employing proper room-clearing techniques, maintaining situational awareness, and communicating with family members under duress, they can safeguard their loved ones while mitigating the risk of collateral harm.

Are you prepared for the dynamic nature of a real-world shootout, where everything is moving, and the bad guy gets a vote on who wins? (Photo courtesy of Kenzie Fitzpatrick)

Personal Protection

In encounters with violent criminals or assailants, advanced-trained gun owners exhibit the composure and skill necessary to de-escalate volatile situations when possible and respond with appropriate force if needed. Their proficiency in shoot/no-shoot decision-making, precision marksmanship, and tactical positioning empowers them to protect themselves and others while minimizing bystander risk.

Parting Shots

There’s an old joke about a tourist walking along a New York City street when he sees a gentleman wearing a tuxedo and carrying a violin case under his arm headed toward him. The tourist stops the man and says, “Excuse me, sir, but how do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The tuxedo-clan violinist looks him square in the eyes and responds flatly, “Practice. Lots and lots of practice.”

Why are we all such good drivers? Because we do it every day. Think about how many thousands of miles you’ve driven. Now, think about how many bullets you’ve put down range. Thousands? Hundreds? Fifty? Not enough? The more you train, the better you get. The less you train, the faster your few skills will deteriorate until they are gone. Pray that’s not at the moment you need your gun to defend yourself or someone around you. Instead, equip yourself to succeed by taking advanced firearms classes.

David Workman is an avid gun guy, a contributing writer to several major gun publications, and the author of Absolute Authority. A logophile since way back, Workman is a quickdraw punslinger and NRA RSO and Certified Pistol Instructor. He helps train new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as practicable. "Real-world shootouts don't happen at a box range."

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