Firearms: A Range of Combat
A few weeks ago, we hosted a concealed carry certification at our gym taught by my friend Reggie Morton, a state certified instructor. The CCW course (or CHP as I learned it’s called in Nebraska) was very similar to the hunter’s safety course I took as a youth. Growing up in Pennsylvania the hunter’s safety course was almost a rite of passage for a 12-year-old. The CCW class was a day’s worth of do’s and don’ts with some hands-on training at the range. The basics to ensure you are a competent gun owner and potential carrier.
One of the most influential instructors in my life is Sifu Marc McFann. He is a huge advocate of training in all ranges of combat. In fact, the logo he developed for his system is centered around the number 7 to acknowledge all the ranges of combat: Projectile, hand held weapons, kicking range, punching range, trapping, standing grappling and ground grappling.
For quite a long time I was not a regular practitioner of firearms. I grew up hunting with rifles and shotguns. In the military I annually qualified to use a handgun, the trusty M-9 (Berretta 9mm). The majority of my martial arts training focused on hand-to-hand combat (muay thai, jun fan gung fu, silat, and grappling) along with a heavy dose of weaponry in the form of stick and knife (Filipino Kali). Firearms, especially handguns, were just something I shied away from.
I’ve taught countless self-defense clinics and when the question came to firearms my response was always the same: a gun is absolutely an option to defend yourself, however simply having a gun is not enough. Gun use, like anything else, is a skill set that must be learned, developed and practiced in order to become an effective and efficient tool. For a gun to be a viable option, one must train consistently and under various conditions/scenarios. It is a perishable skill as well. Shooting a paper target a handful of times to get your CHP is simply naïve to think is sufficient to then defend yourself.
Recently, I gained an larger interest in the area. I am not entirely sure why. A myriad of reasons I’d say; perhaps having more than enough friends who maintain small arsenals for starters. Having a family of my own and wanting (God forbid needing) an ability to decisively end a situation should they become threatened also became appealing. The martial artist in me logically said it’s an unexplored range of combat that I needed to investigate. Plus, sometimes we all need something new to help fight boredom.
When I decided to go down the firearms path, I told myself I was going to treat it like any other martial art and learn and train with a purpose. I began with the question of what made the most sense from the perspective of defending a home. I started where most people start…GOOGLE…which led to YouTube. Inquiring from friends who are “gun guys” too.
In the 7-8 months since starting this new journey I have purchased 4 guns and put several thousand rounds down range. OK, maybe I’m a little obsessive when I decide to do something. My appreciation for this type of weaponry and range of combat has grown tremendously…and I’ve only barely scratched the surface. It is unquestionably a skill set whose mastery requires no less time and energy than any other martial art. The question on whether to carry or not is completely up to you as an individual with full respect to our constitutional right to do so and a person’s desire to protect the family. I do strongly believe any advocacy to carry should be done with a caveat for training consistently to get and remain proficient in handling and accurate in targeting/shooting with the weapon.
I don’t know to what extend my personal collection will grow…I do have my eye on a few “toys.” I do know I will continue to train, learning and understanding the domain, and rest a little easier knowing I’ve taken a step toward rounding out my larger martial arts ability through all ranges of combat.
Everyday Is Training Day – Reap What You Sow