Becoming A Gentleman Warrior

Knowing how to shoot is one thing. Knowing how to stay out of trouble is even better, which is an essential part of being a man at arms.

posted on August 5, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

Man-at-arms is a term that goes back to the knights of the crusade era. I suppose the best definition is “gentleman warrior.” And, while the term may have fallen by the wayside, the gentleman warrior has always been the backbone of our American history and continues to be so to this day.  Colonel Rex Applegate and Bill Jordan, two men about whom I have written about recently, were certainly Men-at-arms, as were Walter Walsh and Jeff Cooper. And, while I didn’t know Skeeter Skelton or Elmer Keith, I am satisfied that they qualified, too. Add Alvin York, Audie Murphy and Capt. Frank Hamer to that list and you are beginning to get an idea of the modern Man-at-arms.

A modern Man-at-arms is one who is skilled with any number of firearms. He may not continually win at the various shooting games, but you can expect him to come in closer to the top than the bottom. His guns may not be fancy, but they are good quality and well cared for. He knows that developing skill is more important than obtaining the latest gimmick. Some have seen personal combat and others understand that it can be a reality of life and are prepared to confront it when necessary. As a fighting man, he can not only shoot but knows when to shoot.

But, another very important characteristic of a Man-at-arms is that he is a gentleman. He was taught manners and holds them to be important. He values freedom more than fashion and honesty over cleverness. He clings to the values that made this country great and his handshake is better than any contract that has ever been put on paper.

We are fortunate that many folks in the shooting sports and personal defense industries are Men-at-arms even if they don’t know it. And, of course, I’ll add quite a number of women to that list, too. Look around you, think about your friends and associates, and you’ll realize that you know quite a few who qualify for the title. I’m not sure that any of us have the right to call ourselves a Man-at-arms, but it is certainly the goal that we should strive for.  It’s not just about shooting’s about dignity and honor...and service.

Man-at-arms, the gentleman warrior, a good and descriptive term that we need to use more often.


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