Dealing With The Panic

Familiarity with a firearm breeds competency rather than contempt, says Sheriff Jim.

posted on August 12, 2023
Sheriff Jim Wilson

In one of the rare interviews that he gave, Texas Ranger Frank Hamer said, “The one superlative thing you want to achieve is to hit your mark… Really, it is very simple. Just keep cool and take time to aim straight, and that’s all there is to it.”

In line with that, to paraphrase, Col. Jeff Cooper said that, when dealing with a violent attack is unavoidable, we should purge our minds of everything except target acquisition... front sight... press.

For us mere mortals, the real enemy is a combination of panic plus lack of ability. And, while both are serious problems, they can be overcome. We should never be surprised that something like a criminal attack is happening to us. We deal with these things by honing our skills. Continually working to improve our skills builds self-confidence and properly placed self-confidence has won many a fight.

Just about everyone has seen those targets that some folks post on social media. You know the ones, shot at 5 or 7 yards, and the pattern looks like it was shot with a shotgun instead of a handgun. Not to hurt anyone’s feelings, but a really good place to start is the basic handgun marksmanship class from the NRA. You know, just be able to stand on your hind legs and hit a target dead center, not once in a while, but most of the time. The ability to draw quickly and shoot fast has to be built upon a foundation such as this.

In my case, I began roaming the local creek with my Red Ryder BB gun and later my Winchester .22 rifle. Targets of opportunity were everywhere, and I hustled whatever paying jobs I could find to keep stocked up on ammo. In high school I joined the ROTC, not because I was enamored with the military, but because they had a smallbore rifle range in the basement and taught marksmanship. My first police job was with a department that encouraged marksmanship among the officers, and you can bet that I learned a lot there. Even today, I try to take at least one defensive shooting class per year. That commitment to continuing education definitely increased my self-confidence and helped me to deal with some serious issues over the years.

Nothing builds self-confidence like getting a good gun, buying lots of ammunition, and shooting on a regular basis. Take a basic marksmanship class if you’ve never had one or if it’s been a while since the last one. Learn to point a handgun and hit a target dead center at various ranges, not just up close. Once you can do that on a regular basis, you are ready to learn to fight with the handgun and avoid the panic that might defeat you.


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