The author at Gunsite Academy's  Defense Against Street Crimes class earlier this year.
The author at Gunsite Academy’s Defense Against Street Crimes class earlier this year.

I’ve discovered that middle age is when all the stuff you did when you were younger starts catching up with you. My shooting-side shoulder is the most recent part of my body to communicate its displeasure with the way I’ve treated it over the years, which led me to getting an MRI yesterday morning.

While there, the conversation with the MRI technician turned towards firearms, and more specifically, her Glock 26 and her brand new concealed carry permit.

She wasn’t very happy with her gun—she preferred the slightly less robust recoil on her husband’s larger G19—and didn’t feel comfortable carrying her gun yet. The only training she’d had was a brief one-on-one session with her husband’s friend, who is a part-time instructor of some sort. She wanted training that would be relevant to her needs and current skill set.  I congratulated her for recognizing that she needed more training, and we had a conversation about where she might be able to start her journey. We’re very blessed to have a lot of local training talent in the Raleigh-to-Fayetteville corridor, and so I sent her to a very reputable firm to talk to them and figure out her best course of action.

Unfortunately, a lot of people think that obtaining a handgun (and where required by law, a permit) is all they need to be protected. To borrow from Jeff Cooper, that’s like buying a piano and claiming that you’re a musician. To be a musician or a competent defensive handgun shooter requires lessons from good teachers and lots of practice.

I’ve had about 220 formal training hours in defensive weaponcraft in the past two years, with about 160 hours of that in handguns, and the rest being divided between carbines, shotguns, and non-ballistic weapons.  I now know enough to know that I’m an intermediate level shooter and tactician. I have slightly better than average teachability, and tend to be a good judge of when to “switch it on” during force-on-force training. I’ve trained enough to get an idea of what my limitations are, but I have a long way to go before I’d consider myself “good.” Heck, I may never get to my standard of “good.” But I try to get better every class, and incorporate more of what I learn into my every day carry (EDC) and training as a result.

The more I train, and the more time I spend among serious students and instructors, the more I realize that there is no “enough” to training. There is no fixed destination where any of us will “arrive,” and suddenly know all there is to know.

There are simply milestones along the journey.