The other day I was talking about the need for a defensive shooter to get professional training. One fellow spoke up and said that, since so few citizens are actually involved in gunfights, getting training was really not all that important. I find that to be a rather simplistic response. I replied, “I’ve never had a house fire, so why should I have a plan for dealing with one? And I rarely have a flat tire, so why should I carry a spare tire?”
A lot of Americans own guns and enjoy the shooting sports, and that’s a good thing. But plinking at the gun range and engaging in a gunfight are two entirely different things. You can’t imagine the stress involved when you realize that, within the next few seconds, you may be in mortal peril. The percentage of citizen-involved gunfights may be low, but that is indeed little comfort when you happen to be the exception to the rule. And, once the criminal attack begins, what you could have done or should have done really doesn’t matter very much.
I live in a small town in the middle of big ranch country, with the Rio Grande river just a bit south of me. We really have a very small rate of violent crime around here, but there is always the chance of running across some drug smugglers. The real problem is that, when we are confronted with violence it make take law enforcement quite a while to get to us. Thirty minutes to an hour, or more, is not unreasonable. I remind my friends that the gunfight at the OK Corral took place in about 30 seconds. That helps to put things into perspective.
Those who guide hunters for dangerous game have a philosophy of planning for when everything goes wrong instead of when everything goes right. On a cape buffalo hunt in Mozambique I was fortunate to be able to put my bull down with one shot. However, that very afternoon, my partner’s shot on his bull was just a little off and we spent seven or eight more shots getting things resolved. But, we had planned for that contingency, knew that it might happen and knew what to do about it.
Yes, you may never have to fire your handgun in defense of your life or family, but the possibility always exists. In fact, some of you who read this may have to do that very thing before today is over. It is my hope that you will have taken advantage of the good training that is out there to help you meet the challenge and survive the crisis.