Posts Tagged ‘handgun’


I’ve seen shooters at all levels that struggle to some degree with “flinching,” or what we commonly call anticipation. This is evident when you look at a target of a student and see the rounds striking the lower left area because just a split second before they fire, they “flinch” and the final aiming point and muzzle dips and turns resulting in a low hit or miss. (Opposite for left handed shooters)

New and less experience shooters, or those who do not practice regularly struggle with anticipation. The primary causes of anticipation are: Fear or uncertainty, improper grip, and lack of practice or training. The good news about “flinching” is that it is curable with a little bit of work.

Fear or uncertainty is usually the first thing we need to address. Everyone has an aversion to pain and new shooters and those who are inexperienced or do not shoot frequently enough are afraid of being hurt by the handgun when it discharges, cycles, or both. There is also quite a bit of anxiety or uncertainty that also needs to be overcome. To be a good shooter you have to tolerate a bit of discomfort, but that can be minimized and managed by a little bit of practice and confidence.

I tell all of my students that the “scary” noise and the mechanical actions happens faster than they are able to perceive it, and none of it happens until micro-seconds AFTER the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun on its way to the target. So getting the perfect shot in the right place happens before any of the things we are uncertain or afraid of, actually take place. So getting the round to hit what you are aiming at is a simple application of the fundamentals… and then the “scary stuff” happens.

I know this information is not comforting to the timid shooter, so let’s analyze the second part of this problem. More gun than you can handle! You need look no further than Youtube for endless videos of idiot boyfriends handing their girls or guy friends extremely large caliber hand cannons, offering no training or advice and then laughing hysterically when they get hurt. These videos breed stereotypes and fear among potential new shooters. Hollywood doesn’t help either when they wrongfully depict a handgun discharging and sending the shooter flying backwards. If you are a timid, new or inexperienced shooter, start with a small caliber handgun and build confidence before picking up something larger. A defensive caliber does not have to start with a point four (.4-) to be effective. (Uh oh… I just said calibers less than .40 are good for defense… Brace yourself for the hate mail)

I have handguns available to rent for my courses and they are usually .22LR or 9mm. I also use steel frame handguns that are a little heavier to help mitigate some of the recoil. Starting off with something manageable helps assuage some of the fear or uncertainty. When they are expecting a civil war cannon bang and all they get is a sharp pop, shooters realize that handling a firearm is not that difficult after all. It only takes a couple hundred rounds for confidence to soar and after seeing how well you can shoot a small gun, most shooters are eager to step up to something bigger. So if you are learning to shoot start small.

The second part of the flinch equation is an improper grip. I teach and strongly advocate the 100% or thumbs forward grip. Shooters of all sizes, strength and skill levels have had great success using this grip. Using your Google-fu you can find dozens of articles on this style of grip and its numerous advantages. This two handed grip style will give you the maximum skin to surface contact on the handgun as well as the best position to manage the cycling of the slide during recoil. If you page through the Home Defense Gun (.net) site you can find an excellent video that demonstrates this grip. If you are improperly holding the handgun, the recoil you are absorbing will be felt to a much greater degree than necessary, which will cause pain or extreme discomfort and cause you to “flinch” unconsciously.

The best way to fight the flinch is to seek out quality training and practice on your own. I recommend a lot of dry fire practice if you have a problem with anticipation or flinching. Dry firing means that you develop strong neural pathways (muscle memory) without any of the “scary” stuff happening. By focusing carefully on the fundamentals of proper trigger press, sight alignment and follow through without having to worry about the noise or mechanical action will allow you to grow comfortable and confident. When you do finally hit the range you can apply the skills you acquired during dry fire practice. With a solid foundation to build on, the right grip, and a manageable caliber handgun you will be well on your way to ending the “flinch” or anticipating.

To end the fight against the flinch once and for all you will need practice. Here is a drill I recommend to anyone struggling with anticipation or “flinching.” Take a handful of empty casings and as you load your magazine or cylinder, randomly place an empty casings into the magazine interspersed with live rounds. (Or have someone else load your magazines randomly). As you shoot on the range, you will not know when your gun will go bang or click and if you have a problem anticipating the recoil or flinching, you will catch yourself doing so as the hammer falls on the empty case. When you pull the trigger and there is no bang, no mechanical reaction and you still flinch and drop the front sight down and left in anticipation… you’ll feel really silly. After a few bouts of this behavior your concentration level will increase, and since you do not know when the gun will really fire, you’ll fight the flinch, stay on target and start making good hits. Try this out and post your results, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Once you master the smaller caliber and the fear and uncertainty fades, challenge yourself and pick up the next larger caliber available. Confidence comes quickly with a little practice and training. Once you grow accustomed to the motion, mechanical action and the noise, you’ll start to relish the discomfort you feel and after a while, you’ll enjoy it… from there you’ll be well on your way to being a top notch shooter.

Train hard, stay safe.

Scott S

Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool! For more information please visit our website at: or find us on Facebook. For more firearms, safety and personal protection articles, videos and sound advice visit my friends at or search for Home Defense Gun on Facebook.


I think a lot of people who carry a concealed weapon are under the false pre-tense that if they actually have to draw their handgun, it will be a certain shooting situation. Firearms are used for personal defense hundreds of times a day in the US alone and out of those situations less than 1% actually end in an exchange of gun fire or fatality. Chances are highly likely that the introduction of a handgun into a tense situation can bring a resolution. It does not always, and that is why we train to shoot and practice weapon retention and martial arts.

In the cases when your bad guy realizes he is out matched and that today is not a good day to die, you will need to give verbal commands that are simple, clear and will not come back to haunt you in a courtroom if you say them. Using verbal commands may still result in you pulling the trigger, but challenging your suspect at least creates witnesses out of those around you, and you gave the bad guy a chance to surrender.

Not every situation will provide you with enough time to give a verbal warning, so, as you read this run through the various scenarios and apply the warning as you see fit based on your training and experience. Also in a worst case scenario when shots are fired, you should also train yourself to give verbal warning and instructions to the downed bad guy.

I train my students to use a short phrase that is easy to remember, general and minimizes liability. I want to keep it simple so under stress so we are focused on the problem in front of us, and not trying to string words together. The verbal challenge should begin with a sharp attention getting statement, like, “Stop!” If you are in law enforcement this would be replaced with the words, “Police,” or “Sheriff’s Office.” As a civilian, I do not advise you identifying yourself as a member of law enforcement.

Once you have a sharp and loud attention statement, follow up with a command, “Drop the weapon!” Notice I use the word weapon instead of gun or knife. Weapon is generic, simple to say and remember. It covers a large variety of objects that could be used as a weapon. A crossbow or screwdriver are equally as deadly as a firearm but under stress, you dont want to divide your focus by trying to identify the object and search your higher brain for the matching word. You want to get your point across quickly and the word weapon sums up everything in a concise manner.

Finally I include what I call the plea, or my witness statement. “Don’t make me shoot you!” While it may sound odd to plead with your suspect, what you are actually doing is creating witnesses of the people around you. If you shoot someone, there will be a police investigation and possibly a trial. When that occurs, I want the people around me, the nearby neighbors, etc. to tell the investigators that it sounded like I really didn’t want to shoot. While your state of mind is irrelevant under the 4th Amendment test of Reasonableness, (Graham v Connor) we want to create a situation that works towards our advantage.

If a shooting does occur, the words, “Don’t make me,” give the strong impression that you as a shooter had no other choice and the bad guy forced you to pull the trigger due to his overt actions. The suspect could have surrendered and you gave him an opportunity to do so during your verbal challenge, but he declined to comply, forcing you to fire.

When we are talking about home defense I recommend a verbal warning as you defend your home, especially at night. While you should have a good flashlight or weapon mounted light (I recommend both) issuing a verbal challenge to someone in your home gives a family member the opportunity to respond or identify themselves and avoid a tragedy. Imagine this situation,” Stop! Drop the weapon! Don’t make me shoot you!” and hearing the words, “Dad, it’s me! Don’t shoot.” Anytime there is uncertainty a verbal warning might be in order.

Not every situation will give you time to provide an audible warning, and a challenge should only be used when the opportunity arises. Just like giving the recommended warning above, the mere fact you did so also bodes well under court scrutiny. By issuing a verbal challenge, you tried to minimize the risk to the suspect. Anything that helps you on scene and during your court defense is certainly worth considering.

Even if you begin to give the warning and have to shoot, complete your statements and repeat them. For example, “Stop, drop the weapon -BANG, BANG- Don’t make me -BANG- shoot you.” Then repeat the statement even if the suspect goes down. In most circumstances pistol calibers do not kill outright unless you target the electrical system of the body (brain or spine) and your bad guy could still be alive on the ground after being shot. Continue repeating the warning to also let everyone know that even on the ground he can still be a threat, and if you have to make follow up shots, you are again justifying your actions on scene and later in court. Just because a suspect is down, does not mean the threat is over and you can still be hurt or killed by someone who is on the ground and injured.

Whether you borrow my challenge or come up with one of your own, make sure it is clear, simple to say and understand and train it!

Be safe, Godspeed!

Scott S

One Weapon Any Tool

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Basic Pistol Course – Sunday, April 12th


Carrying a handgun in a daily basis is one of the surest ways to guarantee your personal safety. A concealed firearm gives you a tremendous advantage in surprise and as a force multiplier when confronted with a threat of death or great bodily injury. Having a firearm gives you options and puts you on equal footing or gives you an advantage against an armed attacker/opponent.

One disadvantage to concealed carry is having to downsize the amount of ammo available to you or when carrying a small or more compact firearm, the number of rounds are now limited. When in a training environment or on duty, carrying around 3 full magazines (or more) is quite common. Even though I carry 37 rounds of handgun ammunition with me, it was still a limited amount when you look at some of the sustained gunfights some law enforcement officers have been engaged in. While I hope to avoid a gun battle which requires me to reload, or reload more than one time, the possibility exists so we carry at least a pair of magazines. Some of my staff who work in one of our most dangerous inner city areas are now carrying 5 full magazines or a combo of the standard 3 mags with a backup gun.

While off duty or in civilian life, carrying 3 to 5 magazines is just impractical, uncomfortable and probably difficult to conceal. The question becomes, how much extra ammo (magazines) should I carry and why? Like choosing a gun to carry this is a personal choice and does not come with a blanket answer, though I will give you my recommendations. First of all it starts with the gun you carry… allow me to explain.

The first gun I carried concealed was a Glock 17. A single standard capacity magazine holds 17+1 rounds of 9mm ammo. When this was my daily carry gun, I rarely felt it necessary to take an additional 17 round magazine with me. Overtime as I transitioned to the smaller Sig P938, which has an optional 7+1 round magazine, I always carried a spare magazine to bring my total up to 14 rounds… and I was always nervous that maybe I should be carrying two additional magazines for the little thing.

Now that I have standardized on carrying my duty weapon at work and away from it, I have found that the 12+1 capacity is a good balance. Should I have to engage a threat I will have a sufficient supply of ammo already in the handgun, however, I do carry an additional magazine (sometimes two) at all times, but not for the primary reason you might think.

Okay, so the primary reason to carry a spare magazine is to have more rounds available, there is an additional reason you should consider carrying a spare. Reliability! When working with quality semi-auto handguns, the primary reasons they fail to function or fire is typically caused by the magazine. More than any other reason, almost every failure I’ve experience has been to a faulty mag, with the poor quality of design being secondary followed by a broken or worn extractor and lastly by a worn out recoil spring.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need your firearm to save your life or the life of another, it has to work. If you have a faulty magazine that does not seat properly, or have sufficient spring tension to feed the handgun, you will be using a single shot firearm with an immediate action drill between shots. If there is a function problem right away, consider dumping the faulty magazine and inserting a different one. When proverbial excrement hits the oscillating device, you need a gun that functions and having a spare magazine with you, might be the difference between longevity and terminal lead poisoning.

There is one more primary thing to consider when contemplating how many rounds you need to carry. Ability! Probably more important than Reliability, your Ability to make hits with the rounds you have will stop the threat faster.

Wyatt Earp who carried a single action revolver (and won gun fights with it) said it best, “Fast is fine, but accurate is final.” Despite the old west movies we see on TV, cowboys and gunslingers weren’t throwing volumes of fire across town. Having only 6 rounds in a single action revolver back in a day where ammo was unreliable or reloading meant packing powder and balls into individual cylinders, one’s Ability to get good accurate shots on target first was more desirable than more capacity.

When I teach my Defensive Handgun courses I spend a lot of time emphasizing the holes on the target that fall outside the lines. I do this for two reasons: The first is the liability side of the training. You are going to be accountable for each and every round that leaves the barrel of your handgun. Each round that strays from the target is going to hit something, and I ask my students write me a check for $10 million dollars for each “miss.” While this seems silly, it is a teachable moment that allows me to explain to them that they were shooting faster than they were capable, and as a result, are going to incur at the minimum some financial loss… and if the stray round hits someone unintended, the financial loss will pale in comparison.

It is very important to emphasize that a fast draw speed and rapid shots are important skills to develop, but not at the expense of accuracy. I’d rather be the slower gunfighter that strikes my opponent and begins delivering debilitating injury first than be quick on the trigger and wind up as a bullet trap.

As a trainer I will push my students and simulate stress to the best of my ability because I need to know and my students need to know where their failure point is. They need to know that three rapid shots are good hits but a fourth shot is more than they can manage and results in a miss. This is a performance threshold that must be established.

Do you know what your performance threshold is? If you do not, you need to seek out a competent handgun trainer in your area and find the limits of your ability. If you know your performance threshold, how are you training to overcome it and raise the bar higher? Is it time for you to also seek some training? While you are training, you may also discover the capabilities and limits of the handgun you have chosen to carry and find out if the round count and spare magazines you have chosen are sufficient for your perceived needs.

Whatever you decide, spend some time contemplating the questions I have posed. I applaud you for taking personal protection seriously and I firmly believe more armed citizens make society safer. Carrying a handgun is not a decision that is to be taken lightly and equipment selection and set up should be well thought out.

With 2015 just around the corner analyze your Ability and plan to take at least one course in the new year to maintain and increase your proficiency.

Merry Christmas, I hope you have a safe holiday season.

Scott S – One Weapon Any Tool


If you carry a (semi-auto) handgun on a daily basis, you need to remember that it is a finely tuned machine that requires a certain amount of maintenance and care to function. We want to make sure we take proper care of our machine because the moment we need it… it has to work! Since we have busy lives and some of you (admit it) do not give your handgun a thorough cleaning each time you shoot it, make time in your daily routine for a quick operational check. A quick two minute assessment could save your life.

First, start with a safe and empty weapon. Perform a mechanical, visual and physical check of your handgun to make sure it is unloaded. Grab a cleaning cloth and a couple of Q-tips as well. Once you have a safe and empty weapon, close the slide and visually inspect the exterior of the gun. If you carry concealed wipe the dust bunnies and fuzzy stuff off, especially around the hammer, safety and any recessed portions. Overtime, dust binds with lubricant and can cause a malfunction or stoppage.

Now, lock the slide open and check the rails. There should be a light film of lubricant visible. If your gun is bone dry, you should stop at this point, break it down and properly add lubricant to the recommended areas. If you are unsure where lubricant goes and how much, consult your owner’s manual.

Next look at the recoils spring and barrel to make sure they are seated properly and the guide rod is intact. Now that some manufacturers are using plastic for guide rods, you need to pay attention. Plastic cannot withstand the same punishment as steel. Look down the barrel and also make sure it is free from obstructions. You don’t want any debris or dust bunnies in the barrel either. Give a quick check of the feed ramp and extractor to make sure both parts are intact. Finally look down into the magazine well and make sure that area is also clean and free from obstructions. Now you can begin a function check.

A function check is a quick easy way to assess the features of your handgun to see if they are working. Depending on the model of handgun you have, not all of these will apply, but follow along and tailor the function check to fit the needs of your particular semi auto handgun.

Close the slide and de-cock or engage any safety features associated with your handgun. Once the safety is engaged, pull the trigger and make sure the gun does not dry fire with the safety mechanisms engaged.

Starting from your carry position- striker fired, hammer down or cocked and locked, check the trigger pull and listen for the audible striker functioning. For guns with a hammer, watch the hammer fall and on both types, keep the trigger buried to the rear after the first press. Now, keeping the trigger buried, cycle the slide which should reset the striker or cock the hammer into single action. Now, slowly let out on the trigger and listen for the reset. If you have a handgun with a hammer, now press the trigger a second time to test the single action trigger pull.

Now that you have a ready and functioning handgun, holster it and grab a magazine. Just like the handgun, give it a visual inspection and make sure it is also clean and free from dust bunnies and debris. Make sure it does not have an excess of lubricant on the magazine. I have seen a few well intentioned handgun owners over lubricate their firearm causing the excess oil to get onto the magazine and gum it up. Now we can check the feed spring. I always like to pop a couple of rounds off the top of the magazine to make sure they slide easily past the feed lips and the spring tension is sufficient enough to push the next round into place instantaneously. Now, replace the couple of rounds you pushed out and make sure the feed lips retain the rounds properly.

Now, insert the magazine well into the firearm and give it a tap and tug to make sure it is seated properly. If the magazine comes out without depressing the release, you need to have your handgun serviced.

Draw your handgun (point it in a safe direction) and charge it. Engage any safety features and safely re-holster the handgun with your finger outside the trigger guard. Now press the magazine release and check to make sure it also functions properly. You should be able to pull the magazine clear of the handgun without it reengaging, catching or feeling any unnecessary friction. Now, reseat the second round that was in the magazine (now the top round) and top off the magazine with an additional round so it is at full capacity. Re-insert it and again listen for the audible click to tell you the magazine is seated firmly. Give it a tug and you are ready to go!    

If you carry a spare magazine (which I highly recommend), perform the same check and place it in your magazine carrier. Lastly, if you carry a holster with any type of retention device, make sure it is working properly as well.

While the narrative is long, this quick pre-flight check takes seconds and will give you comfort knowing your tool is ready when you need it.

Till next time, be safe and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is a tool!

For more information about One Weapon Any Tool or for firearms training in Northern California visit our web site at: or find us on Facebook!

If you are on Facebook and want more information on personal or home protection, visit my friend at Home Defense Gun! An excellent source for firearms, personal protection and related information.


Stay safe

Scott S





Frangible Ammo for Home Defense

The blue collar test…


While out at the range last weekend I decided to test the much lauded theory that frangible ammo was a safer more viable option for home defense. The theory is basically: The frangible bullet would dissipate once it struck a solid surface, preventing over penetration, and saving the life of a loved one due to a stray shot. We all know that ball ammo has a reputation for punching through hard objects and continuing far beyond. I wanted to compare it to ammo that was designed to hit an object and then fragment like the rounds made by Dynamic Research Technology. The DRT rounds are designed to strike your target and then create a devastating wound cavity due to the rapid dissipation of the metal powder.

While others have conducted similar tests and a few of them are far more scientific in nature, I decided I wanted to view the results for myself. The other factor making my test unique is that I went to the Big 5 and got off the shelf ammo like a lot of Americans do. I tested what you can buy off the shelf, not some fancy factory ammo test in a controlled setting.

My test calibers were chosen based on the most common calibers the majority of gun owners have/use. I chose 9mm, .40 S&W, .223 and 5.56.

For 9mm I used Speer Lawman 115 grain vs. Dynamic Research Tech in 85 grain

For the .40S&W I shot Freedom Munitions 180 grain vs. Dynamic Research Tech 105 grain

For the AR15 I had some extra Winchester 5.56 55 grain vs. Dynamic Research Tech in 55 grain

The targets were a pair of 2X4s nailed in place with about a 6 inch gap between them, and a piece of standalone drywall board.

I shot the drywall first and placed a standard target behind it to see if the rounds would fragment once hitting the wallboard and cover the target in dust or if they would penetrate the board and target with no discernable effect. For this test I was not surprised to find out that both the ball ammo and the frangible ammo easy penetrated the wall board and target leaving a perfectly sized hole of matching caliber in both. I was fairly certain that the wall board might not be enough to cause the frangible ammo to begin to fragment… thus the 2X4s.


I started with the 9mm. To my surprise both the ball and the frangible 9mm made it through both 2X4s completely unscathed. The frangible round maintained its structural integrity through the first block of wood, covered the gap with ease and still punched all the way through the second block of wood without any “fragments” appearing in between. If there was any fragmenting, it happened once the bullet struck the berm, which was not recovered. So much for my theory with the 9mm.

Next up was the .40 S&W. Starting with the ball ammo, I fired into the first block and it hit the second piece of wood causing it to split. The round made it clean through both blocks and the inertia or transferred energy carried into the second block rending it down the grain. Not bad for factory reloaded ammo. To continue the test I applied some masking tape to hold the second 2X4 in place and continued.

The .40 frangible also smacked right through the first block and right though the second as well. Results of this basic test are the same as the 9mm. So far, I’m not seeing the rounds strike a hard surface and start to fragment or dissipate as expected. Both calibers of handgun rounds would easily pass through common home construction materials and still be able to cause significant injury to whomever is on the other side.

Both 2x4s

Based on my handgun results I was fairly certain the rifle rounds would prove similar. As you can see from the pics I snapped, the .223 frangible ammo passed clean through both 2X4 blocks as well with no signs of deformation or fragmentation. Again, a certain injury of whatever is beyond the interior home materials.

For the final comparison I dropped a couple of 5.56 rounds in and made two shots. The first shot cleared the first 2X4 and due to the angle of the shot, it went over the second 2X4 and did not leave a mark on the second board. The follow up shot was the one that showed some results out of the six I fired. After a clean entrance and exit hole in the first 2X4 the 5.56 round started to destabilize and tumble in flight. The bullet landed alongside the hole made by the .40 caliber ball round but tore a vertical hole into the second block which I can only assume is the round tumbling into and through the second block.

This bodes well in my opinion for home defense due to the fact that after contact with a hard surface, the 5.56 becomes unstable and will tumble causing a loss of inertia which could prevent a traumatic injury. The problem is that the change of trajectory is unpredictable.

Thanks for reading through my simple blue collar test. In the future I’d like to find different types of frangible ammo and see if my results will vary. For now I know that frangible ammo does not dissipate as easily as I anticipated. Do not take my word for it, go test it for yourself.


Till next time, be safe and God Bless.

Scott S – One Weapon Any Tool

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hard work ahead



As a teacher / trainer I cannot emphasize enough the differences between these two common words. When you go to the range, hang your target and fire a hundred rounds through the paper into the berm, it is easy to get into the mindset that you are “training.” I would disagree with that assessment of your time by calling it “practice,” and here is why.

When I’m looking to learn something new, or improve on a skill, I seek out an instructor who can teach me that skill, hone a skill I have, or push me to my failure point so I know where to work from. Training requires a knowledgeable, subject matter expert who can break down a complex task into a series of steps a student can comprehend and work on. During training, the instructor monitors progress, corrects the errors students make, fine tune your performance, offer criticisms, encouragements and then push you to excel beyond your comfort zone. Training is an evolution where the learner comes out better and more knowledgeable and capable of performing a skillset. Good training is a struggle for the student and should challenge you. You cannot learn inside your comfort zone and there is no amount time you can spend on your own that will truly push you towards excellence.

When your training is over, you take the new knowledge or skillset and “practice” it on your own. Practice reinforces the training. Practice will take those newly formed neural connections and start insulating them until the little invisible thread becomes a super highway, a solid pathway you built up in your subconscious through repetitive, meaningful, challenging work.

While I have drawn a bit of a distinction between training and practice, they really are symbiotic. In order to practice you have to have good training as a foundation to work from. Without training and guidance, you can practice a lot and get really good at the wrong thing or make a superhighway sized neural connection of bad habits. The old saying, “Perfect practice makes perfect,” is very true.

When you do take time to practice, make your sessions short and meaningful. A mere 20 minutes of good slow, methodical practice the right way is far better than 60 minutes of sloppy techniques and imprecise movements. During practice sessions focus on technique and speed will come. Remember, smooth is fast. Practice until the last piece of training you had is smooth and then start looking for the next opportunity to train so you’ll have more good techniques to continue to practice.

Take a moment now and analyze the last few practice sessions you’ve had and evaluate yourself honestly. Is it time for you to seek some training to make sure you are practicing the right things, the right way? If you haven’t been to a training course recently… maybe it is time to take one.


Until next time, stay safe, practice hard and seek training.

Scott S – One Weapon, Any Tool You can also find us on Facebook!


As a firearms instructor it is always frustrating when you schedule a class, reserve range time, gather resources, and then have to cancel. While this is financially detrimental as an instructor, it makes me ponder a bit about why more people do not take classes or think firearms training is necessary or important. While listening to the HandgunWorld Podcast recently, Bob Mayne and Jon Hodoway discussed a few reason why people don’t train and why these “reasons,” are more like “excuses.”  

 First excuse is: I can’t find any ammunition…

During the 2013 ammo crisis this was probably the only legitimate excuse out there. Now that the ammo economy has recovered and we are able to find all the common calibers again, not being able to find ammo means you are not trying very hard. Even .22LR has been seen on the shelves! With the resurgence of production and the decrease in the tendency to hoard ammo, all the common calibers are readily available at near the same cost as before. Sure, you are going to pay $2 a box more than you did in 2012, but times have changed and the overall price increase is not so overly prohibitive that you should avoid using that ammo to build skills.

Now, when talking about ammo, also look at what you already have in stock at home. Every gun owner I know keeps a couple hundred rounds on the shelf, “just in case.” If those boxes of “just in case,” ammo have been sitting there for years now, and if it has been years since you last went to the range or went to a class, then shame on you! Buy some new ammo for the “just in case” pile and take that old ammo with you to a local trainer and practice your fundamentals.

Also when looking at your ammo supply, ask yourself how much did you shoot last year? If you fired 100 rounds at the range last year, and you have 500 rounds in your, “just in case” pile, that means you have a 5 year supply of ammo on hand. Take your 5 year supply and shoot a box or two every month and replace it as you go. It does you no good to have a stockpile of ammo if you can’t remember how to load, unload, shoot accurately, and handle a firearm safely.

When buying ammo I always encourage people to buy 2 boxes… 1 to keep and 1 to train with. Make ammo buying a habit, just like going to the store for milk. When you pick up some toothpaste and razors at Walmart, get a box of ammo too. Buy ammo on the odd months and go shooting on the even ones. Over time you’ll have a nice stockpile built up, you’ll have a rotating stock you can practice with, and when you want to take a class with a high round count or when money is tight, you’ll have a supply to continue to train with. Start a habit and stick to it.

 Second excuse: It cost too much…

Jon Hodoway asked this question: If I gave you the class for free, would you come? You would be surprised at the number of people that would say no to a free training class. Firearms training is not a priority to this person. They are under the delusion that simply owning a firearm is enough to protect themselves, and their loved ones. They believe their gun is a magical wand they will wave about and make all the bad things in life go away and it requires no practice… mere possession is enough. They believe their money is better spent on acquiring more tools rather than train with the one they already have.

You don’t stay home from Disneyland because it is too expensive, you save, work overtime, scrimp and buy your tickets. Just like training, you save, plan and budget so you can attend at least one training class a year. I recommend at least one course per year in each weapons platform you wish to be proficient in, taking a course a year will be well worth your time and hard earned money.

When you spend money on something it becomes valuable to you. If it costs you something, you will have a tendency to take the training seriously and practice what you are taught so your short term investment will have long term value.

I’ve also had someone tell me the training course cost too much, yet showed me several (very) expensive firearms in their collection. While I support the collection of fine weapons, merely owning them, or having the most tricked out pistol with a Pyramid Trigger and an RMR won’t make you a gunfighter. When I asked how often my friend went to the range with his tricked Glock he stuttered for a moment… Again, it is not a magic wand you can wave around when bad things are happening. It is a tool you need to be proficient with. Instead of buying the latest and most tricked out custom 1911, maybe you should master your stock Glock first.  

So is it really the cost of the class, or how you spend your money?

 Excuse #3: I don’t have time…

This excuse is my favorite one because it really is the dumbest of the group. I know everyone has a busy schedule these days, but time, like money is a priority. You have to allocate it the same way.

Tell me, honestly, how much time did you spend watching TV last week? How much time did you spend on the internet or on social media? Could you have taken a couple of those hours and gone to the range? You can make time to go to the gym 6 days a week, but would it serve you better to spend 5 days on your physique and 1 day on your fundamentals of survival?

You have time, make time, and please stop using this excuse.

 Excuse #4: They can’t teach me anything…

Finding a quality instructor is important. I addressed this in my previous article Why Train, How Often and With Who ( ) What I want to point out in this excuse is that no one wants to admit they may be deficient in a skill. We all laud our strengths, and hide or diminish our weaknesses, it is human nature to do so. A true Warrior though, will take the time to analyze their skillset and seek out the training to be proficient.

Every good trainer has something to offer. It could be a new skill, a new way of explaining a skill you didn’t comprehend before, or a new drill. Sometimes just a refresher of the basics is all you need to re-spark your interest. This excuse boils down to a five letter word: Pride.

Pride will stop you from admitting you need training. Some people are embarrassed to admit they are not as good as they boast. When thinking about your skills are you a mall ninja or trained in personal protection. Are you playing Call of Duty or are you prepared when Duty Calls You?  

It is okay to be embarrassed while learning. Humility is the hallmark of a gunfighter.

 Excuse #4 is closely tied to #5: I grew up shooting a gun…

Jon Hodoway killed this excuse when he asked:

  • Then why aren’t you better at it?

I grew up shooting as well, but it wasn’t until a couple hundred hours under the tutelage of a master level instructor that I felt confident enough to defend myself with a firearm in almost every situation. I embarrassed myself often. I thought I was good at a skill only to have to eat a big slice of humble pie, knuckle down, bust out the basics and train a skill over again until I couldn’t get it wrong.

When I fall to the lowest level of my training, I want to be fast, unpredictable, and deadly!

Now, stop making excuses, book a course and start training like your life depends on it!


Special thanks to Bob and Jon for the inspiration for this article. If you enjoy Podcasts, I recommend the HandgunWorld Podcast. Bob is an instructor for Suarez International and Jon Hodoway teaches for Nighthawk Custom Training.

You can find me at: or on Facebook at One Weapon, Any Tool.

Stay safe, Godspeed!

Scott S