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The Performance Elephant

The Performance Elephant

Above: These guns were all purchased for carry and training. Some still in use, others placed back in the safe.

Have you ever thought about how you would eat an elephant? The simple answer is, one bite at a time. Undoubtedly a huge task with an almost seemingly too simple answer. This saying comes to mind more often than you think as my life is filled with what appear to be elephant-sized tasks.

The monumental task of performance comes to mind every time we teach a pistol class. The students say, “It’s like drinking from a firehose.” Prior to hearing that I had always thought of it as eating an elephant.

These men and women have an elephant-sized task ahead of them before they even come to class. Choosing and purchasing a gun, finding ammunition, and finding the proper holster and magazine pouch. Of course they had to choose training to provide the confidence and skills to keep a gun in their home on their person or participate in competitions. All of these cost time, money and sweat equity. If poor choices are made it can be a waste of all three.

Bins filled with holsters that just didn’t work out. They make great loaners to help others make future choices on gear.

Portions of your journey can be shortcut by finding a good trainer or knowledgeable friend who has experience with a variety of guns and equipment. There’s little chance they’ll be minimally opinionated, but they will steer you clear of certain mistakes.

Aside from the fact that pistols have sights and a trigger, they are all different in their own way. Differences between semi-automatics and revolvers are obvious to most, and choosing one over the other should be based on your own ability and desire to train with it. Not solely on a recommendation.

So many choices to make when choosing a handgun. Double action, single action or double and single action? Exposed hammer, no hammer or striker fired? And what does striker fired mean actually? There’re always questions about lasers, their applications and costs. Choices abound, and I haven’t even touched on holsters and ammunition. Eating an elephant? Drinking from the firehose?

Go to gun shows or stores to look, so you can relax and learn with no intention of buying a gun. Look guns over to determine your preferences. Feel them, point them (in a safe direction) and dry fire them. If you can’t dry fire them … change dealers. If you can go to a range and rent guns, do it. You learn a lot when you shoot them. Especially if you do it with someone who has some ability and experience. Whatever you do, don’t just buy something that looks cool. Its feel and function, then looks. That’s the order.

Those who are starting out and some who’ve been around awhile get overwhelmed when they look at what it takes to become a skilled gun handler and shooter. The training aspect is equally daunting and police, civilian and military students all stand in awe of the task.

Knowledgeable qualified trainers are out there. Listen to what they say and be wary of those who uses words like, “always and never” excessively. Ask lots of questions and if you can’t get answers to your “why” questions, move on.

CCW certification is training but in most states is composed of a lion’s share of time in the classroom and a small block of live fire. When it comes to CCW permit certification find an instructor with a good reputation. The live fire portion is simply a minimum display of proficiency and for most, their first exposure to handgun shooting. These instructors hold a certification to “certify” you, it does not mean that you are being “trained.”

Slings, belts, holsters and assorted accessories. Sometimes you just have to buy it and try it to find out if it meets your needs.

Be cautious of gaining knowledge through the internet, there are many wannabes out there who love to give incorrect or unproven advice about gear or training techniques. We call it the “error net” for a reason.

Take little bites. Plan to chomp some gristle and get a few hairs in your mouth. It’s all going to be good experience. Even the mistakes. Join a club and seek out the better shooters. Ask them for advice about guns, gear and what has helped them be successful.

You’ll end up with guns you don’t care for and holsters you hate. You’ll even end up taking classes that may have seemed like a waste of time. However, even there you get to take something away … what not to do.

Try to buy the right gear and vet your trainers. Enjoy the meal. Before long you’ll be on the way to gunslinger status.

Readers may want to check out Chris Cerino's previous articles in SSUSA on ammo costtraining yourself, the difference between training and practiceconfidence and complacency, how details can make the difference, and calling the shot.

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