Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Commentary – Breaking Points . . .


Breaking Point  :  the point at which a person gives way under stress

                            :  the point at which a situation becomes critical

                            :  the point at which something loses force or validity

Much of the training in and around the defensive firearms community is looking for, pushing up to and then crossing a “breaking point”. It is at this point true learning occurs – the point at which what you are doing no longer works and you have to change/shift/modify what you are doing to move to the “next level”. Breaking points should be sought after, experienced, explored and – finally learned from.

Are you pushing your range work to the breaking point? (Please – safety first, OK) Can you “get the hit” and still pick up speed with your presentation? Can you quickly transition from a purely defensive method of targeting – say over the slide or “metal on meat” to a precision shot quickly and smoothly? Can you quickly and smoothly clear malfunctions, handle emergency reloads, see and move to cover? If you are not flirting with your individual breaking point . . . you are not growing as a defensive shooter.

How about you physically? Do parts of your range work wind you? Do you leave the range physically tired? How about your drills in the use of cover and concealment? Are you searching the limits of your physical breaking point as well? You can find a lot of information about yourself at that point. When you tell someone you intend to fight until you prevail . . . can you? If you never bump those limits, never push your physical boundaries . . . you’ll never find those things you need to strengthen and improve.

There are mechanical breaking points as well which will define whether the gun you carry is still fit to protect your life. Broken firing pins, strikers, ejectors, sights, triggers, safeties, barrels . . . all have some point where they will simply break. Searching for these flaws is part of your cleaning routine, but they are also just part of life. Guns are mechanical in nature . . . and they all reach a breaking point at one time or another . . . are you ready for that? Have you integrated a catastrophic failure in any of your training sessions? Have you even given it any thought? Murphy is a demanding instructor.

While reading this, have you noticed a general agreement . . . an acceptance that . . . “yep, I get it, things break . . . I need to keep an eye out for that!”  There is one other thing I would like everyone to keep an eye on . . . that can reach a “breaking point” . . . each other. Humans break . . . we all need to watch out for each other.

We see this in or vet community. Prior to “my day” things like shell shock was use to describe a vet so overwhelmed by his/her life events in combat that parts of their soul began to shutdown, withdraw. Vietnam brought the first diagnosis of PTSD – another description of a person simply overwhelmed by the enormity of their experience. For most there is an ongoing struggle of acceptance – war changes you – period. For others, over whelmed beyond their ability to cope – they simply “end” it . . . estimates as high as 22 per day . . . think about that.

As a nation 40,000 people end their lives every year. For those between the ages of 14 – 24 suicide is the second leading cause of death. The later fact is something our extended family learned this past week. The nephew of my son-in-law took his life. A young man I’d known for nearly 20 of his 23 three years. There were no real outward signs. He had plans, direction. Yet . . . he had a breaking point.

A friend and local editor penned an opinion piece that clearly states something he had obviously forgotten . . . the world is poorer without you.

My bottom line is this . . . everything has a breaking point . . . drills, our defensive firearms, our physical bodies . . . and our family and friends . . .

We need to make taking care of each other a priority . . . part of our purpose for living . . . so we can intervene, catch a friend or family member before they have passed their individual breaking point . . .

. . . because we all have’em . . .


  1. Well said Bill, and sorry for your loss. It ALWAYS hurts when there is a personal connection. And the inevitable question, what could I have done differently???