Magical gunfight skills

“You’re just some gamer who thinks that when the time comes, you’ll magically rise to the occasion if you need to defend yourself.”


I’ve had that accusation leveled at me on a number of occasions by people whose interest in the shooting sports focuses primarily on self-defense or military/police training. Which is fine, because at least part of it is true: I am a gamer. I shoot guns not because I’m training for a defensive scenario, but because I enjoy the sport of shooting. So the accusation that I’m a gamer is absolutely true, because I play gun games. They’re quite a bit of fun.

Of course, I also carry a gun for self-defense. Additionally, I wear a seat-belt, keep my tires full of air, and have taken at least one defensive driving course. I don’t put air in my tires because I think I’m going to have a blowout, and I don’t wear a seat-belt because I think I’m going to have a crash.

But to the latter part of the sentence, I also don’t think I’m going to magically rise to the occasion if I ever need to use my gun as a civilian…because I don’t really think about it. That’s what that accusation really says to me – not that I’m a bad person, but that the person making the accusation spends a lot more time than I do thinking about “what if I get in a gunfight?” I guess I don’t really worry about it, because the odds of me actually needing my gun in a self-defense situation are pretty low. I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but it’s not such a high probability that I’m going to spend a considerable amount of time thinking, or even preparing for it.

That’s not to say that I think people should be underprepared. Only you can decide for yourself what the appropriate level of preparedness is. For me, I train with my guns so that I can shoot them better on demand. I stay alert, I don’t go stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things, and for the most part I just don’t worry about it. Life’s too short to worry about whether or not I’m ready for a gunfight today, so instead I’ll go for a run, drink a beer, and watch some Top Gear. In the meantime, I’ll keep training to learn to shoot better, and let other people worry about fighting.


  1. As one who likes games, and has given some thought cycles to personal defense, I just can’t understand the whole argument about shooting games being incompatible with defense. Is a racecar driver going to suddenly now know what to do because they’ve always turned left on the racetrack, and an impending accident approaching them on a freeway requires a maneuver to the right to avoid it? Is the high demand for ex-Air Force pilots by airlines problematic because maneuvering a passenger jet is so much different than the jets they flew in in the service?

    I think everyone (who actually thinks about it rationally) understands that racing and driving, flying a military aircraft and a passenger aircraft, and shooting a competition or shooting it out on a two way range are different, and behaviors will be different. But in each of these, I’d also bet that some skills will transfer quite nicely, from the reaction time in a car, understanding limits of an aircraft, or drawing/reloading/clearing malfunctions in a shootout.

  2. <>
    How about being able to shoot. I may not know tactics but I can shoot fast and accurate. My guess is that counts for something. A lot like the race car driver being able to feel the car better than the normal driver.
    We played some airsoft force on force at the house and it’s funny how slow the tactical guys were at getting rounds on target. We were playing in short sleeve shirts with eye pro only. I know it’s not life or death but it hurts bad when you get hit. Normally I could react and deliver rounds on target in less than half the time of the guys that think tactics are what it’s all about. Yes we need tactics but you need to be able to shoot too. I have 1 welt, I delivered dozens.

  3. Hey, if you can use your coffee cup tactically when the need arises, I’m pretty sure you’d do okay with your carry gun as well. Especially since you carry a proper caliber now, as JMB intended.

  4. You’re not even a USPSA Master as far as “gaming skills” go and yet you’re of a “Meh’ MINDSET as to self defense.

    I pity your attorney.

    1. If that’s what you got out of reading this post, I pity you, because going through life without basic reading comprehension skills would be pretty awful.

      1. It’s not just this post but and underlying theme that anyone that’s not squarely in the shooting sports camp is a “Tactical Timmy” or if they own an AR with more than one rail on it they’re some kind of Rambo operator wannabe and are worthy of derision and snide little put-downs. That might be were some of the ill will is coming from. You think? In all fairness, once that tit-for-tat thing gets started it becomes harder to tell which came first, the chicken or the egg?

        I’ve heard the term “Gun School Junkies” and I’ve seen people show up at a steel plate match decked out in 5.11 gear from head to toe but for the most part, I see the value of (some) gun schools and formal training, especially in the judicious use of lethal force. If someone wants to learn street or home defense tactics via shoot-no-shoot scenarios or how to deploy and run a carbine or shotgun, I recognize that has value and will stand them in good stead be it in defense of themselves and their families or in the courtroom. And to be fair, more and more self defense instructors are emphasizing competitive shooting as another tool in the bag. So I also see the value in that.

        I can understand your logic that the odds that you will ever have to draw your weapon let alone fire it in self defense are in your favor. But those individuals who have invested themselves in formal training and practice share the same odds with the difference being that should they ever face prosecution for defending themselves with lethal force, their counsel can present a case to the jury that has more substance than “my client excels at gun games”. That doesn’t make them a “Tactical Timmy or Tina” or Delta Force Operator. Just responsibly armed. And I see the value in that.

        I live in both worlds and I don’t see them as incompatible or mutually exclusive.

        1. That’s fair. There are plenty of bros who believe that tactical training and competition can coexist peacefully, in fact I’m one of them. I’m just tired of all the “WARRIOR MINDSET 24/7/365 BRAH” that you seem to be seeing a lot of these days.

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