Defensive Handgun Training, by B.E.

Before taking a defensive handgun training course recently, I posted on Facebook that we were taking our trailer to to an RV Park for the weekend. My wife would be with the kids and grandkids during the daytime while I attended an NRA Intermediate Training course. That all worked out great!

“Gun Fighting” Training; No One Wants To Be In a Gun Fight

For me, it was three days of focused “gun fighting” training. Don’t take that wrong. No one at that class, including the instructors and me for sure, ever want to be involved in a gun fight.

Thoughts When I Carry

I always carry several thoughts with me when I carry:

  1. There is an attorney’s name attached to every bullet that comes out the end of my barrel,
  2. I’d better be ready to be bankrupted and spend the rest of my life in prison for what I do, and
  3. I may have to live with a killing the rest of my life. But it if comes to me and can’t be avoided, I need to be prepared, prepared to either die or live, in some cases. When a gun is needed, nothing else will do.

An Excellent Course, You Can’t Get Self Teaching

I’ll start by saying I’ve never participated in a training course at this level. It was an excellent course. Their instructors were super good. We received lots of legal and safety training, and each of us put t least 1000 rounds on targets in a variety of timed skill drills. This kind of training, you simply can’t get by self teaching at most gun ranges, where you can’t draw from the holster, shoot, and move, et cetera. Nor can you get it with most classroom training. Safety and proficient shooting in real life situations were at the forefront of our objectives.

Simulated Situational Drills

The simulated situational drills were so realistic. You had to react, then talk about what you did, why you did it, et cetera. Not every simulation required that a student engage with a gun. In several situations, avoidance and/or deescalation were possible, and the students took those routes.

My Simulation

My simulation had a moment where I could have possibly retreated, maybe. But I believed that at least one other person was certainly going to die and I could be next. I reacted and eliminated the threat.

Thought About It

I’ve actually thought about it since, because I know I’d be living with a killing in my head for the rest of my life. However, if I didn’t act and could have, I’d be living with that for the rest of my life as well, assuming I didn’t die. Now, that I could not abide. As to my course of action during the simulation, one of my instructors said something like “former Marine, right?” That summed it up pretty well, I think. It has to do with my mindset.

I Passed Course; Not Everyone Did

I passed the course with a decent score. Not everyone did pass the course. There were no participation awards, other than a t-shirt.

Angry At Myself, Humiliated

Personally, I left angry at myself. I supposed it was more a feeling of being humiliated, actually. It felt like I was an embarrassment to myself. I am not nearly as good a shooter as I thought I was going into the training. I was terrible, actually. I….will….rectify…..that!!!! Can’t tell you how pi***ed I am at myself right now. I know that in a real life situation, with my skill level where it is, I’d have to be at a seriously close distance to be sure of a favorable outcome. Okay, if my grand kids or family were at risk, there’s no question that I would do that. I’d get to a close distance. It’s a big deal. If there were anyone else, I wouldn’t. No, there is just too much risk to others and myself.

Thank You

I want to thank Mike Hughes and Britt Lentz from Next Level Training for encouraging me to do this and also for supporting and coaching me as the weekend went on. These young guys are both highly skilled, experienced shooters, but more than that, they are two of the best humans I know. I have tons of respect for both of them. Their patience was, well, I’m just thankful.

Reactions Were Stunning

I’ll mention that the instructors put both of them in a very tricky situation together where their young children were at risk. They were confronted at very close range with guns pointed at their faces and had to wait and hope for an opportunity to react. While the opportunity was built into the scenario, it only lasted a split second. Their reactions were stunning– fast and accurate. It was simply amazing to all of us that they pulled if off. Kudos to them both.

Will Take Course Again; Will Crush It!

So, if this course comes back to our area next year, I will take it again, and I will be ready. I will crush that course. I repeat, I will crush that course!

Final Thoughts

Well, my final thoughts are that the NRA takes a bad rap. The NRA teaches safety first, legal ramifications, and proficiency. They priority with avoidance first, deescalate second, and then engage if you must. Not one NRA member has been involved in a mass shooting, but more than one NRA member has stopped a mass shooting. The media would have you believe something far different than that. No person or organization is perfect, but on balance, they have my strong support.

Take Intermediate NRA Course or Advanced Training

If you carry, take this intermediate NRA course or other advanced training from reputable trainers. You won’t regret it.


  1. Years and years ago I attended a force on force close range class with a friend. He had previous training, he carried every day, etc. Come scenario time I noticed he was EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE pointing an AIRSOFT pistol at me. “Calm down man, breathe, it’s o.k., you got to get used to this” I told him.

    One drill started with the bad guy about 6-7 feet from you drawn down already on you. Bad situation no doubt. I noticed after a while that I was getting out too cleanly too many times, while he was getting clipped pretty regularly when we switched. What was going on, I’m not that good and the scenario is tough. As we started the next one I stayed in place but flinched like I was beginning to move. I watched him clearly raise the muzzle from aiming at my chest to aiming over my shoulder, close his eyes and fire. WTheck over?

    This guy had a few classes under his belt, but I assume they were heavy on the “legalities” (i.e, why you don’t really want to shoot), and in a H2H section of that class, wherein he seemed especially out of sorts, admitted that he had never been in a physical fight. “Not even a fight in High school?” I asked, completely floored that someone COULD get through 12+ years of publix skewl without getting in a fist fight. No, never.

    I’m convinced these two major factors were the reason for the hesitation and we worked through them a bit at the class.

    Reason I post this is that we are really inundated with the stuff like-

    “every bullet has a lawyer attached” and similar drivel that saps our will to fight. SO many preppers don’t train (truly train regularly) and have not seen any violence other than a “yo momma’s fat” push fight in elementary skewl. The average criminal has a better understanding of violence, and that gives him an edge. Meanwhile the non training “prepper” who takes 1 state required CCW course that teaches him to never really shoot carries thinks the gun is a “magic wand” that will get him out of trouble. If George Zimmerman knew some BASIC H2H he could have disengaged.

    A serious student of violence will not stop at one state mandated “don’t really shoot” CCW class. They will seek out quality trainers and make it a regular thing to train and improve their SKILL AT ARMS. They will seek to get in better PHYSICAL CONDITION so when the fight comes they will not suffer as much. They will train in real world H2H regularly- not the “take ya dough” McDojo. They will study the knife, they will learn how to fight on the ground, in crowds, etc. Folks, this stuff is fun to learn and as a real survivalist, we should seek to learn all these skills. It’s not about checking off a box that you trained once at some state mandated BS class.

    1. @robert
      I would agree with the “legalities”. I heard so many during my mandatory CCW training. “don’t shoot your own loads/reloads”, “you will get sued”, blah, blah, blah. My son is a Krav Maga instructor and he is having trouble finding a place to teach classes because people run scared of the name. He can teach a “self defense” class with no problem though. Go figure.

  2. I find any kind of competition with guns beneficial. Many folks just carry their gun around in a holster for ever and never shoot it. Competition demands you shoot! I try and shoot in competition at least once a month. Used to shoot three weekends a month, brutal schedule but very good experience. I’m shooting bullseye and high power at the moment.

      1. For what it’s worth, I posted it only to certain friends on Facebook using the settings.i had one “friend” who signed up for a 3 day defensive handgun course as a result. I know one guy who carries who has never shot the gun. I hope he got something out of it. If you’re going to carry, for all our sakes and safety…… Train.

  3. I had an eye-opener at a 4 day defensive hand gun class. I did really well during the range drills, and felt happy about my progress. Then on the last day we were led through a simulation of real life encounters. We had to enter the building correctly and go from room to room deciding which of the targets to shoot, or not. Some of the targets had hostages, others had thugs holding a cell phone, one had a lady with a bag of groceries, one had a clean cut guy pointing a gun at you. The adrenaline surge was awful, and it showed me that being able to hit a bullseye at 25 yards on the range is COMPLETELY different from quickly assessing a threat and deciding on course of action, then actually taking aim (or not) and hitting the target properly. Huge difference.

  4. I just to add and obviously support training. Not everyone that embraces and exercises our 2ndAD rights do so with responsibility. With greater power comes greater responsibility. The state I hail from is very supportive of our rights to bear arms, however, their training requirements for a CCW is horrible. More training should be required, IMHO, however I do see that ‘training’ can be viewed as a impediment when enjoying your 2nd AD right. The training is not only how to shoot but also the environmental and situational awareness training that most are blindly unaware of. From body language to what the bad person’s eyes are telling you. To learn firing in self defense is like taking photo, focus and depth of field(whats behind my target). Humble ourselves, be honest to self and take the courses available from the ground up. The basics course will help reinforce and prepare us for the advanced courses. Train like its game day, this way you know exactly who the attorney is.

  5. And none of these courses address the obvious. Many real life in indents start at arms length meaning you are in a gun fight, knife fight, fist fight etc. real life effective hand to hand and knife skills go hand in hand w hand gun skills. But gun people characteristically shy away from hand to hand training. I’m a 20 yr firearms instructor, 29 yr Leo 44 yr martial artist

  6. I cannot agree more about practice and training.I have had my ccw for 35 years,i would go to the range once and a while shoot 2-3 mags at paper targets at between 7 and 15 yards at a regular pace look at the targets say not good but not bad and go home.
    My son got me to start going with him to his club and shoot a in a friendly competition that was timed 10 – 12 targets and had to do tactical reloads.Well i stunk the place up all i could think was don’t do anything stupid but i had jams my thumb was bleeding and had 4 misses before i ran out of ammo.I have gone with my son about 6 more times and was getting better each week but was still coming in last every weekbut week before last i felt like i knew what i was doing came in 21st out of 30 shooters.I did not touch my weapon at all the next week and this week it felt like i was holding a brick in my hand i couldn’t hit anything,i came in last.I can’t imagine having to pull my weapon in a life or death situation.I am looking for some where local to get so training and will keep practicing and i will get better

  7. ‘one of my instructors said something like “former Marine, right?”’
    There’s no such thing as a “former Marine”. Once a Marine, always a Marine.
    Semper Fi.

  8. B.E., thank you for the article, it was interesting. As I read it, it seemed you posted on Facebook as a diversion explaining why you wouldn’t be home. I’ve only attended one concealed shooting course but it was nothing like the one you described. They did set up scenarios but the targets were stationary with live fire. They said I did good for the first time but truthfully I wasn’t even worried about my score, I just wanted to be safe and make sure I didn’t do anything foolish. One guy was eliminated almost immediately for failing to properly clear his weapon. It was supposed to be empty but went bang when he pulled the trigger.

  9. Find an IDPA league and get shooting under the clock, in moderate scenario based targets. Movement, reloads, hostages, called shots, etc. Makes you have to think, move and act all at the same time, under the stress of a clock and folks watching. I found it a great benefit.

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