The First Steps are the Biggest & Hardest – What you discover in your first firearms classes

You signed up for your first firearms class.  That is awesome and you will certainly learn a lot.  It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the new ideas. Your first class probably covers firearms safety – and much more. Here is a review of what you’ll learn, and what you might need to unlearn.

Safety – You thought safety was for beginners. Firearms safety is a lifelong skill for both beginners and professionals. Professionals have to be both swift and safe all the time.

Preparation – You thought a gun might keep you safe. Like a life-jacket keeps a sailor from drowning, your gun is only a tool. Your skills keep you safe.

Equipment – Your gun seemed to fit your hand perfectly when you held it in the gun store. Your all-day class will show you every place where your gun rubs your hand the wrong way. That happens to all of us.

Physical habits – You thought that the first thing you’d learn in a defensive handgun course would be to shoot quickly. It turns out that most of your attention is focused on getting the gun out of your holster safely.  Speed comes later with practice.

Dangerous Places – Your super-ninja self-defense instructor still parks his or her car under a streetlight. They want you to do that too.

Avoidance – Having to use your gun means you failed to avoid the problem in the first place. Being aware of your surroundings takes as much practice as learning to draw your gun.

Simple steps – Your instructor would rather you carry a flashlight before you carry a spare magazine for your gun.

Home safety – Motion activated lights are better than door locks. Door locks are better than alarms. Alarms are better than being an armed homeowner surprised by an intruder. Home safety is built from many small actions.

How to win a gunfight – You win every fight you avoid. Your instructor would rather you run fast than shoot fast.

First responders – A serious instructor wants you to keep your friends and family safe. You’re more likely to use your first aid training than a gun. Why not have both?

A gunfight is a costly solution – Your gun can save your life – and it can drag you into trouble. You have to learn the moral and legal issues of self-defense, as well as the tactical.

You’ll have homework – You are sure to leave the class with more to think about.  Your imagination today will save your life tomorrow.

Skills take time – The class instructors makes every demonstration look easy.  It isn’t.  Everything you do with a gun is foreign and difficult at first.  Only practice makes your new skills feel familiar.

Give yourself credit – Your first class means you know more about firearms than most people. Now you are a resource for your friends and family. Thank you, and well done.

Self-defense is both a physical skill and a mental exercise. Your first class is usually the hardest. It sets you on a lifetime of both practice and study. You can go as far as you want.

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