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Train Yourself


Training is great, and great training is even better. But the best training you can get is the training you go to. To participate in the five-day 350 Gunsite Intermediate class at Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona, you’ll need 1,200 rounds of ball and 100 rounds of frangible ammo. Oh yeah, and $1,975. But before you can take the 350, you need the 250 Gunsite Experience for $1,750. The courses are almost certainly wonderful, taught by well-trained experts in shooting and self-defense. You even come out the other side at Marksman status.

But how often are you going to fly to Phoenix and rent a car to drive north to Paulden? By the end, your grand total will be somewhere around $4,000. My guess is that you are not going to spend that kind of money to go. Though the training is almost certainly well worth the investment in your response-ability, your family’s safety and your personal “carry confidence.”

Personal Responsibility

So, until the kids graduate from college or the new roof or new truck or whatever is paid for and we can attend a Paulden course, we will have to be responsible for our own training. A good start is the articles in the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. Or how about their Live Training Broadcasts? If we carry a gun, we absolutely must get training and then keep training. We simply cannot expect to react appropriately from raw instinct. Even military veterans need training as civilians because being a civilian and being in uniform are fundamentally different.

As a civilian, a moment of casual disregard can kill. Remember this example: A homeowner walks to the door one night when the bell rings. It’s probably the pizza guy, but he isn’t sure, so he keeps his gun in hand. Two seconds after opening the door, he’s lying on the floor gasping and dying. A law enforcement officer had knocked (wrong address) and when he saw the gun he reacted instantly.

A State of Mind

Training is not necessarily a formal class or even attendance at some high-powered, well-regarded facility. Training is a state of mind that, according to veteran Hernando County Florida Sheriff’s Deputies James Dean and Jason Deso, we carry with us. In restaurants we check for exits; at church, we know how to secure the doors; at home, we know precisely where our defensive weaponry and phone are placed and what position to take if there’s a neighborhood disturbance.

Two uniformed Hernando County Florida deputies standing in a classroom next to an American flag and a black CCTV monitor

Veteran Hernando County Deputies Jason Deso (left) and James Dean volunteer to teach “Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events.” In this writer’s opinion, they are everyday heroes. (Photo by Rick Sapp)

Deputies Dean and Deso recently taught “Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events” at the Brooksville, Florida, Sheriff’s Office. Their mantra, based on studies and videos produced by Texas State University, was “Avoid – Deny – Defend.” Their free three-hour presentation drew 30 people from the community, including me and my wife. The material was eye-opening and excellent even for some lout (me) who thought he knew everything.

I certainly recommend this course, even for ex-military or those who have been to Gunsite or other training institutions. If you even occasionally put your hand on a gun, you must think about the possibilities — including the possibility that in a stressful moment you may not react the way you think you will.

Dean and Deso ended their presentation by emphasizing that “the only rule in a fight for your life is to win.” I couldn’t agree more.

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