You don't need training

Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.  – Miyamoto Musashi

I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the past week since the training brouhaha thinking about several things: the importance of training, the definition of training, and the necessity of training.  There have been quite a few pixels expending on this topic lately, and I have to agree with the sentiment that aside from basic safety, no private citizen needs a training course.  But as my smarter, wittier southern friend is fond of saying “what’s need got to do with it“?  There is an obvious parallel between a gun owner telling someone that they don’t “need” a training class and an anti-gun advocate telling me that I don’t need 17 round magazines for my Ruger SR9c, or a “hunting only” gun owner asking an AR15 fan why they “need” a semiautomatic rifle for hunting.  It creates an unnecessary divide within our ranks, and I tend to be disappointed when I see gun owners running the concept of professional training down, as it does a great disservice to the many quality professional instructors that make their living in this business.

My other objection to an anti-training mindset is that at times it expresses itself in an attitude of anti-competence where people espousing the anti-training mindset actually look down on people who pursue training and furthering their skill for “wasting their time” or whatever reason.  Pursuing a skill simply for the sake of that pursuit is in my opinion an awesome investment of your time.  Whether you want to be the world’s greatest cup-stacker or a USPSA GrandMaster, a personal quest for excellence for excellence’s sake is something to be admired and not scoffed at.  The human desire to be awesome at stuff is one of the things that makes us great – without that desire you wouldn’t have great works of art, classical music, or guys shooting El Prez in 3.02 seconds.  All of those are good things, and in the shooting sports the desire for training to improve your skills really should be lauded and encouraged.

True, you don’t need training.  But it’s not going to hurt you, either.  Tam is taking a class from Todd Green of Pistol-Training.Com, which is focusing on building the fundamentals of shooting together to make the individual a faster and more accurate shooter.  I likely won’t ever need to draw my gun in less than 1.5 seconds from concealment to double tap multiple attackers then perform a reload while moving, but you know what?  If I’m ever in a situation again where I need to draw my gun, I’ll be very glad to have honed and refined that skill in training and competition.  Which leads me to another reason why professional training is beneficial – even if your best friends are truly accomplished shooters, there’s one thing they’re not likely to do when you’re hanging out busting cans off the berm and that’s put you under pressure.  Watch the videos from Magpul Dynamics – having Travis Haley or Chris Costa barking in your ear while you’re trying to reload your M&P and hit a piece of steel before it goes away is going to make all the flaws in your technique come screaming to the surface in a great big hurry.  Even in a less tactical class, you’ll feel the pressure to perform well in public and impress your fellow students, there may be competition elements introduced in the class, or other methods used to artificially induce pressure.

The gun is an incredibly simple and intuitive tool to use for self-defense.  Because most people get “monkey-point-good” as a method of aiming a firearm at extreme close ranges, many defensive shootings are successfully performed by people with little or no training whatsoever, and I believe that’s a good thing.  It allows the 80 year old grandma access to a tool that she can use to equalize the force disparity between her and a 200 lb mugger – unlike previous force implements such as contact weapons it has a much simpler learning curve.  So no, you don’t need training.  I don’t need to be able to shoot the FAST in 4.74 seconds, but I want to, and want is enough.

If you’re getting in to the shooting sports and are thinking about looking for a good training school, do you research and find out who in your area does what you want and has a good reputation for teaching good classes.  Don’t be discouraged if you run in to people that put training down, or tell you that you don’t need training – don’t let the haters get you down.  Each improvement in your skills is in the words of Musashi “victory over yourself of yesterday”; and should you ever need those skills under pressure you will be an excellent position to achieve “victory over lesser men”.


  1. And then we also have the people whom their only training consists of watching a few Hollywood produced gunfights and decided to buy a gun and think they are well trained and good to go.Hollywood has a habit of never showing any one loading or re-loading a firearm , so they might want to get a tad more training.
    ( They are out there and we all know it. Scary Eh ? )

  2. As a budoka and a shooter, I just wanted to mention another thing to think on in a similar vein about pursuit of excellence. Excellence for excellence sake and the “human desire to be awesome at stuff” can be dangerous. The destruction of ego is pervasive to many warrior groups. Musashi also said, “Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.” as well as “Be detached from desire your whole life long.” Destruction of ego is the extreme, of course, with confidence not cockiness being more recognizable to most. How much confidence to have is an interesting subject to think on and one that I encounter personal difficulty in controlling when a gun is in my hands.

    My unarmed instructor grew up on the rough side of Columbus, GA. (AKA nearly all of Columbus, GA). He said the only fights he ever lost were the fights he knew he would win.


  3. “If I’m ever in a situation again where I need to draw my gun, ”

    If I’m ever in a situation again where I need to draw my gun AGAIN,

    There. I fixed it for you.

    1. Not only was the original statement grammatically correct you managed to butcher it by adding again to the end without removing it from earlier in the sentence…

  4. While never letting your ego get the best of you is important in any situation, you should never let fear of your ego keep you from striving for excellence.
    I agree with Caleb on this one, while a limited amount of training is all that’s necessary and I would never push anyone who wasn’t interested to be more than safe (as I discussed in an earlier comment: I consider untrained and unsafe shooters an infringement on my rights and therefore unacceptable, I do consider it an okay thing to only want the minimum amount of training necessary to safely handle and care for your firearm), I also am very displeased with the “anti-excellence” culture that seems to have developed. Not wanting to strive to, as it was so wonderfully worded, be awesome for the sake of being awesome, is a personal choice, but there is no reason to condemn those of us who enjoy shooting as a sport and would work to improve our skills because we find pleasure in the pursuit. The argument ceases to be about the importance of training and becomes a condemnation of ambition at that point, and condemning ambition is like hanging a giant sign around your neck saying “I am content in my mediocrity”.

    1. I failed to explain adequately in the opening of my comment that the comment was only tangential to the subject of the article. The comment is wholly unconcerned with inadequate training, and is only a comment on training motivations.

      I’m really not condemning ambition. Please don’t misunderstand. I care for other humans who have taken up the responsibility to defend themselves and their families as I have. I am only asking for self-examination of ones motivations out of caring for members of this community. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with self examination.

      Additionally, I’m don’t mean to say anyone should be content with mediocrity. I train hard with the singular and express goal of protecting my family. This results in 4 to 10 hours of unarmedarmed training a week, an average of 500 rounds of live ammunition a month, one worn out Sig Sauer, and a lot of scuffed up snap caps. I only say this to illustrate that I am unconcerned with excellence for excellence sake but clearly strive for far more than mediocrity. The reality is that I find myself wishing more often than not that such skills were unnecessary.

      1. Just to clarify, I was addressing your post and the original argument separately. I understand what it is you’re saying about ego – it’s those who are against training I frankly fail to understand.

        Pride comes before the fall.

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