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The ULTIMATE Grassroots Activity

Firearms Training

The ULTIMATE Grassroots Activity!

By: Leroy Pyle

You have seen that look in the eye of the novice shooter upon completion of their first range session. That sense of awareness, and an accomplishment of great consequence, the mastering of a tool that a lifetime of media propaganda has depicted as the root of all evil.

They did it. They held it, fired it, reloaded it, and fired it again. And not once did it develop legs or a mind of its own to run about and cause even the slightest of chaos or mayhem. Nor did they have even the slightest inclination to commit a violent act, as some would insist. Instead, there is the realization that the handling of a firearm is a learned skill like so many others of a lifetime. And they recognize that any inanimate object, whether car, gun, or knife can be safely controlled.

Compare that to the hours of RKBA debate with a co-worker or acquaintance that leads nowhere except to frustration and the occasional loss of a possible friend. The difference is in the hands-on experience. Your reasoning and arguments may not be enough to overcome a lifetime of bad information by the media and negative images in television and the movies. But the actual experience of controlling that firearm during a shooting session can encourage an entirely new outlook on guns and the shooting sports. And of utmost importance, in this day of media control, it may gain us a convert or even an ally.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, hands-on experience is worth a million.

It is for this reason that I recommend to all Second Amendment Activists that they promote firearms training. Do it yourself or act as a referral service to those who are certified to instruct. If you have participated in any form of training and understand the experience -- sharing the truth -- you already recognize the value. An individual effort by any proficient marksman is common, or a team effort by a few individuals or a club may be appropriate. It can be a service provided for profit, or on a break-even basis. Traditionally, clubs provided training by a team of members that shared the duties and charged only enough to recover any cost of materials. The reward is commonly referred to as the "warm fuzzies", a feeling that one gets from sharing knowledge and skills with an appreciative audience.

In recent years, however, there is a growing number of organizations and individuals who specialize in training personal protection techniques and the variety of popular shooting sports. The demand for training can provide a worthwhile income if done in a businesslike manner. This, as a result of the increased awareness of crime and the necessities of personal protection, and the interest in some of the more exciting gun sports. The variety of action pistol events and shotgun sporting clays lead the way.

I was fortunate to have been trained with firearms as part of my law enforcement career. As a young cop, I joined the pistol team for recreation and the camaraderie afforded by the travel and competition. The skills and expertise developed by associating with competitors and fellow firearms enthusiasts eventually led me to an instructor's position in my department and at the police academy. Like most cops, I always had a part-time job. Usually directing traffic in the dust and heat, or working security somewhere in the middle of the night, the basic skills learned in my occupation.

It was a step up in pay and esteem to work at the academy, and certainly better working conditions! My timing was pretty good, too, since at about the same time in California, at least, there was a rapid growth in security personnel. My skills became marketable in that industry and I soon left the academy training to open my own security school. Crime became a prominent issue about then, with more departments offering to provide security checks of businesses and homes, with advice on locks and alarms, rape prevention training for women, and a program for kids that cautioned them against the perverts of the world. With that much emphasis on personal safety, I was in the perfect position to offer personal protection firearms training to that percentage of people who, after securing themselves in their home and educating their women and children, wanted just a little bit more security :-).

I've often encouraged more in law enforcement to take up firearms training. They have the skills and tools, and it sure beats directing traffic and working security!

The primary benefit of firearms training is the opportunity to use facts and a hands-on opportunity to overcome the many lies and media-myths that have imbedded themselves in our modern culture. The adage, "Knowledge is Power", certainly applies to the world of firearms and The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

A pitfall to avoid, in the enthusiasm to share your knowledge, is the argument that training should be mandated for every gun owner. It has been my observation that many "experts" in firearms training come to believe in training so strongly that they actually begin to support a mandate, or laws that require training. This usually happens as a result of a personal arrogance that has no place in the arena of individual rights!

As a trainer, too, you may gain the attention of the media and they will pose the question of whether or not training should be required. This can become a difficult question after you, in all your enthusiasm during an interview, have been affirming the advantages of such training.

I have found that a simple and honest answer pointing out that responsible adults in a free society are perfectly capable of responsible gun ownership and training should be voluntary. If they pursue the matter, I challenge them to tell me what purpose mandatory training could possibly serve. Turn it around and make the interviewer come up with a justification. Crime and accidents are the usual response. The latter easily disposed of when you are prepared with the instructor’s adage that, “Accidents are a result of ignorance and inattention.” Something that is difficult to legislate. It is more common for them to express a need for training based on a criminal act or some reference to crime or the criminal. Again, you can turn it around by asking how training might affect the criminal. My response depends on the crime that prompted the interview, but usually includes something like, "So, do you think we need mandatory training to make that robber or rapist a better marksman? Is that what you think we should have mandatory training for, to improve the shooting skills of our criminals?"

As you might imagine, that catches them by surprise. Is there ANY reasonable argument for mandating firearms training as a crime deterrent? Their stumbling and mumbling is edited out of the newscast. But their follow-up question, in an attempt to somehow further their supposedly unbiased function of gathering the news, invariably points to the safety factor. They will insist that training is necessary and "if it saves just one life...".

That is the time you point out that at least one of their colleagues has correctly researched the facts and hand a copy of your favorite statistics. I once used the following from the Washington Post, dated Jan. 25, 1994, Health page 5, under "Vital Statistics":

" Accidental Deaths Drop in 1992”

In 1992, 83,000 Americans died in accidents, continuing a downward trend over the past two decades. The total reflects a 5 percent decline in deaths from auto crashes, falls, poisonings and other unintentional injuries, according to the National Safety Council, an international public service group based near Chicago.

In 1991, accidents claimed 87,300 lives, compared to the peak in 1969 when 116,385 fatal accidents occurred.

The decline in auto deaths resulted from the combination of increased use of safety belts, more vehicles equipped with airbags and greater vigilance regarding drunken driving.

It was the lowest number of accidental fatalities since 1922, when 76,300 people died. Since 1922, the nation’s population has more than doubled.

CATEGORY 1991 1992
Auto Crashes 43,500 40,300
Falls 12,200 12,400
Poisonings 6,000 5,900
Drowning 4,600 4,300
Fires 4,100 4,000
Choking 3,200 2,700
Firearms 1,500 1,400
All other causes 12,200 12,000
TOTAL 87,300 83,000

And offer another challenge. If they truly believe in saving "just one life...", ask them when they are going to do something about those damn "All Other Causes"! Because THAT is where the problem is. Those "All Other Causes" are the problem, not guns.

You can actually enjoy the debate with the media and make a better impression if you are prepared by education. And that is the real advantage of becoming an instructor and getting active in the world of training and gun sports. You become more informed and enlightened and able to take the battle to them, rather than just remaining a sitting duck on the receiving end.

If you would like more information on becoming an instructor or getting your club involved, please feel free to call or write.

There is a program available for you or your organization.

Leroy Pyle

lpyle@PaulRevere.org


Leroy Pyle is a career police officer,
NRA Training Counselor & Instructor, and Internet Activist WebMaster, www.2ampd.net & www.PaulRevere.org

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