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There are a lot of people who own handguns and/or rifles today.  And a very high number of them cannot shoot or handle them.  A person who owns a handgun or long gun should know what the hell they have there…

In the professional world, there are gunslingers and gunfighters.  Gunslingers – in general terms – know how to functionally and effectively handle, shoot, and maintain their weapon of choice and when to use it in extreme cases.  Gunfighters can do all of that – and have had the fortune to have been in a gunfight and are still walking around.  It is pretty simple….

There are many, many schools of thought regarding stance, hand position, caliber and make of weapon.  There is still a hot debate about automatics and “wheel guns” and the relevance of “instinctive shooting” versus aimed firing.  It is good reading for entertainment and the person who spends some time reading and then actually researching it with practical application will improve.  There are several really great shooting courses out there and a score of practical DVDs to look at.   A good instructor will stress proper gun handling safety and give some solid cues and tips for use and sustainment.

Gunfights are high intensity and – in most cases – bring out the best in those well-schooled and proficient and the worst in those who are not.  Big rushes of adrenaline, fear, confusion, and the “ready – FIRE…. then think about aiming” conundrum often lead to spectacular misses and an incredible waste of ammunition.  Combat veterans and law enforcement personnel involved in gunfights often remember the feeling of flowing through it at one second and then being completely “off kilter” the next.  Experience is a great teacher if you survive.

For those pursuing the professional path looking for a point of reference with handguns, the following course is offered for beginners that can be conducted at your local firing range, by yourself and with 50 rounds.  It is as follows:

  • Load your first magazine with five rounds.  Place a silhouette target 5-7 yards away.  With solid sight alignment and sight picture (front and rear sight aligned and the clear tip of the front sight centered in the fuzzy area of the torso) stance of choice and breathing,  take five slow and well-aimed shots to the torso.  Remove the magazine and put the weapon down.  Check your target and make mental and/or physical adjustments.  (5 rounds)
  • For the next 40 rounds, you will load 4 rounds in each of two magazines.  With the target set between 5-15 yards (your preference), you will fire two AIMED PAIRS (aim…bang….aim…bang) in the torso; remove the magazine, reload, and then shoot the second magazine the same way.  After both mags are empty, pull the target in, check where the rounds are, reload and repeat. (40 rounds)
  • The last 5 rounds will be loaded in one magazine.  Bring the target to 5-7 yards, then use good technique and shoot five well-aimed rounds into the head (bang…bang…bang…bang…bang).  (5 rounds)

You should have 45 rounds in his body and five in his head.  When you can do this, you will be on your way to being able to hit something if you ever have to…. and aware of your deficiencies enough to practice more.  If you did this once a week you would increase your proficiency immensely.

After shooting this type of course of fire for a while, many want to speed up.  They believe – after seeing some things on television or perhaps even in person – that increased speed and firepower is the next step.  Bill Jordan – one of the great gunfighters of any age – offered a nice counter to the first one:  “Speed is fine – but accuracy is FINAL.”  The second is able addressed by legendary US Marine Raider and Medal of Honor Merritt A. Edson: “Firepower is not the number of rounds shot… it is the number of bodies that fall.  My idea of good firepower is ten rounds fired and ten dead Japanese…” (then-Colonel Edson was speaking of mortal combat in World War II Pacific Theater).  Both anecdotes are worth considering.

If you have handguns or rifles, become a gunslinger.  If you have to become a gunfighter, become a good one.  Live to tell in both cases and protect yourself and those you care for in the often dynamic world we live in.

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