As a child and teenager, my mother would always say this to me. With all of life’s excitement, it was so easy to get distracted. Everything was new, and I was eager to take it all in. To keep me grounded, I suppose, she would use this one phrase to recenter my thoughts and actions.
Statistics tell us that in 2020 alone, over 17 million firearms have been purchased, and the majority of these have been obtained by brand new shooters. As a firearms instructor, I spend quite a bit of time with a small subset of these new enthusiasts. And I spend quite a bit of time telling my students the same thing my mother told me… Don’t forget your priorities.
The majority of new shooters, particularly those who are women, cite self-defense and preparation as their main reasons for obtaining firearms. Of course, there’s an element of sport that comes along with it, but by far, self-defense is the reason many decide to become first-time gun owners.
I have observed, despite this fact, many new shooters spending money and time due to distraction rather than the fulfillment of that purpose. Quickly, the focus turns to fun and a mild form of “hoarding”.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with having a little fun! However, without proper training, practice, focus, and application, even thousands of rounds downrange can result in very little skill fit for a self-defense situation. Here are a few tips to help you avoid this common mishap.
When purchasing a firearm for personal or home defense, don’t take the cheap route. Purchase a quality firearm that you can shoot and handle well, right out of the box. Buy for purpose. As I tell my students, "shop from the inside out." This will save money later. Pretty and cheap are NEVER good enough reasons to buy a defensive handgun.
Remember that adding expensive equipment doesn’t make you better at shooting. All the bells and whistles may fail when you least expect it. Depend on your training and practice, rather than gimmicks.
75% of your practice should be completed with your everyday carry (EDC) and/or home defense firearms if your focus is truly on personal defense. It’s tempting to spend your time shooting the “fun” stuff. But that’s not what may save your life or someone else’s.
If your firearm is too difficult to shoot, reconsider. If you are not able to independently manage all mechanical aspects (loading, unloading, racking the slide, holstering, etc.) and accurately shoot your carry gun on a consistent basis, you aren’t carrying the right tool.
Remember, there will always be something you can shoot better. There will also be something that’s more fun. That’s why your decision on what to carry is so important. It should balance comfort, accuracy, and concealability. You must then practice to develop consistency.
Here are few tips…
Practice, as often as possible, with your EDC firearm, tools, and gear, including the holster.
We all know ammunition is expensive these days. So, commit to completing the Dot Torture drill at least once per month with your EDC and home defense firearms. The drill requires just fifty rounds of ammunition and presents a number of skills that must remain sharp for application in defensive situations.
Training should never cease. Shooting is a perishable skill. As a general rule, students should take at least one live-fire course every six months to keep their skills intact.
Consider participating in an IDPA match. The International Defensive Pistol Association stages competitions meant to mimic real-life defensive scenarios. It’s a great way to sharpen those firearm handling skills.