Most of what a defensive shooter does when selecting a defensive weapon, choosing equipment, doing course work and training on the range is in preparation for something virtually none of us want . . . . having to respond to a violent personal attack.
I want to chat a bit about a very small portion of this process that can have a major impact on your ability to survive the post-attack world of our court system, the documentation of your course work and training.
I separate “course work” and “training” into two separate categories. When I say “course work” what I mean are those formal training courses you take. These may be courses like the NRA courses, courses taught by places like Thunder Range, Gunsite or TDI. Classroom work like my recently completed MAG-20 course. Or “run and gun” courses like the “Point, Shoot Progression” course I took from Suarez a few years back. Most are focused on a specific skill set or a specific set of knowledge that you view as useful to your individual training goals.
Add to that specific DVD course work from companies like PDN and Magpul – to name just a few – and your ability to broaden your skill set grows. Then add in host of books written by virtually every reputable trainer in the training industry – and it broadens even more.
This body of “course work” that you take or view or read can be one of your defensive lines in court in the event you are involved in a shooting and are charged with any number of gun crimes available to an ambitious county attorney, or by a civil attorney looking to add to the thickness of his wallet.
For you, the defensive shooter – this body of work provides evidence of your intention to take your defense seriously, to learn the proper use of a firearm, to learn how to shoot it correctly, to develop a skill set that will allow you to carry safely and to properly respond to an attack. It shows your intent to be a good citizen. Your diligence in training may well be the difference between going home with your family or spending the next 20 years with a bunk mate called “bunny”.
Document this information. Keep every certificate, keep every note, keep every target, make a list of every book you own regarding firearms training, make a list of every DVD on your shelf regarding the use of a firearm, list all your subscriptions, all your professional memberships like the NRA, list all the training websites like PDN that you may belong to. This entire body of work can be used to show in a court of law that you take your use of a firearm and your personal defense, the defense of your family and friends seriously and that you put in the work to make sure you are the best you can be.
Massad Ayoob, in the MAG-20 course I took suggested you then take these certificates and lists, place them in a large mailer and then send them to yourself via certified mail. Once received, do not open them, store them in a safe place against the day that they may be needed to be opened in a court of law as proof of your seriousness in learning your defensive firearm skills. Pretty darn good advice. If you have not done this – take a few hours over the coming weekend, gather the material and do it. It might just save your butt someday.
When I say the word “training” – this is the “grunt work”. This is the time on the range working on everything from stance-grip-sight alignment-sight picture to “getting off the x”.
If you take a walk through the blog, especially under the “Range Trips” heading to the right, you can get a feel for what a range trip means to me.
Have a plan. Why are you going? To just put holes in paper? Or are you going to work on your presentation of your defensive weapon? I would urge you to consider that virtually anyone can send rounds down range to make holes in paper. However, a serious defensive shooter will work with purpose. I believe that this dedication to training with your defensive skillset will stand you in good stead if you are ever in a witness stand defending your actions.
I believe your range trips should be designed to reinforce those skills you have been introduced to in your various course work. I encourage you to keep it simple – the draw, movement, getting quick and accurate hits on your threat, working malfunctions to keep your gun running. These skills will keep you alive – spend time with them. And document these trips. I’ve grown very fond of the use of my smartphone to photograph my target after each specific drill. I will date the target and make notes on the drill on the target with a large marker, then I photograph the target. And then tape it for the next set of drills. For you, on the stand – it can provide visual evidence of your effort as well as your proficiency. And, clicking a photo with your phone is quick and simple.
Don’t ignore the use of dry fire, LaserLyte rounds and SIRT pistols. I make time in my office (yes, I know – I’m very fortunate in that area) to send about 100 “rounds” down range every day. You can certainly do something similar in your garage, family room or basement. Again, make notes in a “range book” on what you worked on.
All of these efforts - this entire “pattern of behavior” - can be used for much more than simply developing your defensive skills as a shooter. They can show a jury of your peers that you took your responsibility seriously. While we can all smile and nod knowingly at the phrase “I’d rather be tried by 12 than carried by six!” – make damn sure that those 12 people who hold your future in their hands know that you took your individual choice to carry a defensive weapon seriously, that you worked with it on an ongoing basis and that you sought out the best course work available to you.
Or you and “bunny” may well become very close friends . . .