“Man, I had such a blast at that super-duper Carbine II class with ex-Tier One super-ninja! Blew through like 2,000 rounds!” Heard these comments before? Have YOU made these comments?
It’s okay. I’m not going to mock you; I’ve been there myself (well, I’ve never blown through 2,000 rounds in one, but still). Firearms classes can be really fun, and carbine classes among the most fun, depending on where your own proclivities lie. I have taken carbine classes and learned what to do, what not to do, and blown through my fair share of ammo. But it was at some point a year or so ago that I started to set what, for me, were “more realistic” self-defense training goals.
A Question of Resources
I am not on a police tactical team. I do not have a carbine in my cruiser. In fact, I don’t even have a cruiser! If you use, carry, or are equipped with a carbine for your work, then additional training on the carbine is definitely a good thing. If you are a private citizen with limited resources, like me, then taking multiple carbine or long-range sniper classes each year may not be the best use of your time and money. Some of us have more disposable income than others, but we all have only so many weekends a year available to us for training. If you have a family or work some weekends, then those weekends available for your training start dwindling fast.
What Do You Use for What?
Chances are, and statistics show, that if you need to defend yourself, it will probably be outside your home. If you are “joe citizen”, then your carbine is probably in a safe at home or some other secure location. So what will you use to defend yourself? After your best self-defense weapon (your mind), then we enter the realm of unarmed combatives, knives, and handguns. So it stands to reason that these are the areas in which your training should be focused.
For those who live in areas where home invasions are more common, you might regard your carbine or shotgun as your primary home-defense weapon. Therefore, it is probably worth taking the occasional course on these weapons systems in order to maintain proficiency. However, keep in mind what will happen if your door is suddenly kicked in by 3 thugs looking to take what is yours. Unless you keep your long-gun slung on your back or across your chest as you go through your daily activities, your handgun on your belt may suddenly become your “primary home defense gun”.
Setting Up The Training Program
If you bought a handgun and took your locality’s required CCW course, got yourself a nylon holster from WalMart, and declared yourself good to go, then please do us all a favor and leave the gun at home. You are probably more of a danger to yourself and others than the criminal element out there.
As I continue my own training journey, I feel I can say that it is important to take at least one basic, “fundamentals of pistol marksmanship” class. If you find the instruction wanting or just feel the need for a differing viewpoint, take a second or third such class with other instructors. Just remember to PRACTICE what they teach you when you are home (dryfire) and at the range (dry and live). He who goes to a class to check off “the box”, but then fails to practice what was taught, is doomed to failure.
Once you feel that you have the fundamentals pretty well-mastered, then a specific “concealed-carry” class is a great idea. Here you will have the branching of options. There are those classes on how to conceal and utilize your handgun from concealment. There are others that deal more with the legal aspects of the use of deadly force in your area (this latter type of instruction is probably what you will have to take when you obtain a concealed-carry permit). I would recommend both.
My Personal Journey/Filling Holes In My Game
I think it was in an article by Kyle Defoor where I first saw it said that we tend to train doing the things we like and do well. How true! Who wants to drop $500 (plus ammo, hotel, food, etc.) on a class that only makes you realize how much you suck at something? We are humans and want to feel good about ourselves. But, we SHOULD be training in our areas of relative need rather than our relative strengths.
Accordingly, when I made it my mission last year to take as many firearms classes as time would allow, (surprised myself by taking seven!), most (six) were handgun-centric. I took a mix of fundamentals classes, force-on-force, concealed-carry, and even tactics-based classes in order to try to shore up my game in this area. This year, I don’t have as many free weekends, so I am taking classes that are more tactics-based, but I am also trying to address deficiencies in the area of unarmed and knife combative skills. Both of the tactics classes I will be taking are “combo” classes (carbine and pistol), so I’ll continue to work on some carbine skills that I largely ignored last year. But I believe that pistol skills are more perishable, so as long as I am taking classes, at least one “pure” handgun class will always be in the mix.
That’s really it. Sit down and be honest with yourself. If it helps, put pen to paper and make a list of your self-defense strengths and needs. Do you have any unarmed combatives skills? Do you need someone to teach you the best techniques for drawing from concealed-carry? Are you so out of shape that you have no hope of fending off an assailant? Try to let your needs drive your training future and have fun knowing that you are bettering yourself.