Defensive firearms training should go well past range time to realistic situations that prepare you for actual lethal force encounters.
How immersive training sharpens you for the real thing:
- Until you train to respond to a deadly force encounter you won’t truly know how to respond.
- While range work is important, scenarios training injects realism and the adrenaline factor.
- Mistakes will be made in this sort of training, but in an environment where they can be corrected.
- This sort of training is wise, ensuring you are fully prepared and confident with your self-defense skills.
In an article on active shooter response training that ran in Gun Digest the Magazine some time back, author Bob Whaley, a Gunsite-certified instructor and law enforcement veteran of more than 28 years, wrote with regard to training: “You don’t know what you don’t know until someone points it out.”
I remember at the time thinking that it was an elegantly simple way of pointing out something that, in truth, was quite profound. Until you have trained in how to respond to a deadly force encounter, you truly will not know how to respond.
I received a great reminder of this when Walther invited a group of us writers and editors out to Utah to debut its new PPQ SC and send us through a training course the staff at Deliberate Dynamics had prepared. Among the two most striking exercises trainers had us do were a live-fire house clearing scenario and a night shoot in which we used flashlights in our support hand paired with a handgun in our dominant hand.
The live-fire house-clearing scenario was designed to mimic what an armed citizen might face in a potential home defense event. Even in a controlled environment, which the shoot house was, the stress of decision-making in a dynamic setting, as opposed to training on paper or steel at a range, amped up the adrenaline factor. And even when trying to keep in mind the training you’d just received, mistakes were almost always inevitable. At the end of the scenario, one of the instructors would point out simple mistakes — not covering this corner or that or lingering within a field of fire too long — but mistakes that in a real event could prove deadly.
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Similarly, the nighttime shoot proved to me that if you’ve never trained in low- or no-light shooting with a flashlight, you’re almost certainly not going to be ready if you’re forced to do it in the real world — especially during a high-stress event such as a defensive shooting.
The short version of this is that anyone who intends to carry concealed or defend their home with a firearm really, really should invest in the training to help them properly do so. The simple truth is that if you don’t have the knowledge and skills, as well as the mindset, to best defend yourself, it’s likely you won’t be fully prepared if and when that moment arrives.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.