Monday, September 17, 2018

On Firearms & Tactics Training

Someone on a gun forum to which I belong quoted an interview attributed to the book Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall by Stuart N. Lake. There was a good deal of purported advice on, and knowledge of, coming out the winner in a gunfight contained in that interview. The book has been alleged to be largely fictionalized account of Earp’s life. Whether or not the supposed interview was actually verbatim, or in fact given at all, or whether or not Earp’s insights on gun-fighting were reality or fictionalized fancy for that book may never be known with certainty. I don’t know why the person who posted that interview in the firearms forum posted it there, maybe just to stir up discussion or possibly because it seemed either like good advice or fanciful imaginings but I do know that being well trained & practiced in being proficient with a firearm, shooting & tactics and having the right mindset can do a lot to get you through a violent armed encounter as the winner.

In all of the law enforcement training I have ever received relative to firearms and shooting them in tactical situations, I do not recall an instructor ever once quoting a gunfighter from the old west about anything except maybe when telling a tall tale or joking. Most instructors also tried to avoid fancified tactics and use of grandiose catch phrases as well as legendary stories to teach their trade. While things like that piece that was attributed to Wyatt Earp may be true or not, if it was not documented and confirmed and practical to our lessons - it was not used. Advice that was given was mostly directly to the point with no balderdash or frilly fanciness added. The training was contemporary and very few advices of legendary gunfighters of the old or modern worlds were brought into what we learned. There were a few modern gunfighters whose techniques we learned about such as those of Bill Jordan but mostly we learned from instructors who knew their tactical stuff as taught by other instructors who had been taught by instructors before them. They had all learned and adapted after being taught the lessons – both the successes and the mistakes - of the experiences of those involved in real life shootings and other violent encounters. One such was the FBI versus Miami bank robbers deal (I mention it only because of it being so well known). So much excellent LE firearms training has gone on for decades as such and will go on likewise ad infinitum.

In almost every case, of instruction I received or gave (I was also an instructor), both the students and the instructors had little to no practical prior experience in actual armed encounters with armed violent conflicts (other than in the military) and most of what was taught was second hand information that in essence had been gifted to us by those who had the actual experience and lived to tell about it.

 Of course, there were also the lessons we were taught first hand by folks, such as Jim Cirillo (and a handful of others), with actual & fairly frequent first hand practical experience with armed encounters; although, that was much rarer than the former type of training we received. Still though, I think the training I received over the years was for the most part excellent and it certainly helped me prepare for the unarmed and armed violent encounters I experienced in my career and which, thankfully, were relatively few and mostly handled successfully with diplomacy and or minimal force. It also helped me prepare others for likewise when I was doing the instructing. One thing I learned throughout all the years of firearms & tactical training I received was from instructors who had some actual experience with armed encounters. It was probably the best advice I was ever given regarding winding up in a gunfight and was in essence this:
'Most times the best advice an individual armed with a firearm can follow is to be ready-able-willing to use it and have the mindset to come out the winner but yet to avoid getting into a gunfight as best you possibly can do so when you have the opportunity to do so without shirking your responsibilities. That avoidance thing does not always pan out though and sometimes you find yourself in the middle of an unavoidable armed encounter, maybe because you are duty bound or by way of defending self or loved ones or because of ethics and morality demanding you to defend an unknown to you innocent third party from an attacker. If you wind up there you had best hope you followed that other advice about being ready-able-willing to use your firearm and that you have the mindset to come out the winner when doing so.' It may not always mean you come out of it the winner but it is what will give you a great advantage to help you get there.

If you are seeking training in firearms use for self-defense or other similar reasons, seek training along those lines and avoid the fanciful stuff of legend that is nothing more than legend itself.
All the best,
Glenn B