A 12 Step Program: Self Defense with A Firearm

This copyrighted material is reprinted with permission of the author as an pre-publication excerpt from the book "Triple G, Greg's Gun Guide" by Greg Poole.

Prerequisites: You are a United States Citizen without a Felony or Domestic Violence conviction.

Step 1) Believe You Have the Right Answer the following question YES or NO. Do you have a right to defend yourself from attack by responding with an appropriate level of force up to and including deadly force? If you answer NO, then your journey is already over.

If you answer YES, then you need to believe in that right. By "need," do you mean a trifling need? Fleeting? As in, say, a passing fancy? No, a resolute and unyielding need.

The belief in this right is your foundation upon which you will build the knowledge, skills and attitude to prepare to defend yourself, your loved ones, and any other innocent person in your home.

Now evaluate your belief, why do you believe it? Who grants you the right? Is it granted from God? Does a government bestow it like a privilege?

Is your belief founded upon a power that is greater than what any man, or group of men has constructed on this Earth. If you believe your right of self-defense comes from a divine source, then you will be able to defend yourself from the intellectual attack that comes from the forces in society that oppose the idea that self-defense is a right. Your first obstacle along a path to becoming self-sufficient in self-defense will come from the society you live in.

Human opinion on any subject is likely to expound a spectrum of ideas or beliefs. The opinions or beliefs about a right to self-defense coalesces around two opposing positions. The first position is that a human being has the right to self-defense and is allowed to prevail by any means necessary to stop an attack. The second position is that the governing body provides the means to thwart criminals and that individuals do not have the right to respond with appropriat force, including deadly force, against physical attack.

The cost in material for Step 1 is $0.

Step 2) Build a Budget Protecting yourself isn't cheap, or inexpensive. You need to start considering the financial impact before you get deep into the process and find you're overspending or making purchases that are not suitable for the goal. Remember the goal: become proficient in self-defense with a firearm in your home. There are initial costs and there are going to be recurring costs.

The initial costs will include the cost of training, storage, and equipment. You may also choose to include some cost for insurance. The guidelines I'm suggesting are based on my experience and reflect 2018 prices.

As a starting point I'll estimate a dollar cost for each step. What is not considered is the value of your time, only the outlay in dollars that you will exchange with a merchant or instructor. The process will consume a fair amount of time and will require an ongoing, recurring devotion of your time to maintain proficiency. As you read through the steps you'll get pricing information.

The cost in material for Step 2 is $5 for writing instruments and a pad of paper.

Step 3) Attend a basic pistol shooting course Here is where your commitment to the process begins and confusion about courses begins. The NRA is one source for a Basic Shooting Course. The NRA has developed a standardized course, taught by instructors that are certified by the NRA. There are two options for completing the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Course. The first is a one day (minimum 8 hours) Instructor led course. The other option is to take a blended course entailing an online and an instructor led portion. The online portion must be completed before taking the Instructor led portion. Both types of courses are facilitated by NRA Certified Instructors who set their own fees for the courses.

NRA instructors in your area can be found through the NRAInstructors web site (www.nrainstrustors.org).

Instructors may also offer their own courses that are not affiliated with the NRA. For your first course you should be looking for a course that covers the basics. A concealed carry or Personal Protection In the Home course is not the place to start. Look for courses that are designed for new shooters. A first course should provide the foundation that later courses will build on. Toward that end, a first course should cover ammunition, the three major types of handguns, the parts of each of those, safety, grip, stance, sight alignment, the steps in taking a shot. In addition to the classroom material, a beginning course should also provide students the opportunity to shoot the three types of handguns.

There are also NRA courses designed for rifles and shotguns and a basic course may incorporate some information on long guns as well. What's important is taking the time to train.

The cost for Step 3, a basic shooting course will vary. Anticipate a range from $75 to $150 per person.

Step 4) Range Time with an Instructor The purpose is to gain experience and knowledge. The Basic class provides the fundamentals, but it is not enough to make you a proficient shooter or give you enough information to make a purchase decision. Also the types of firearms used in the class were probably limited to .22LR caliber. While the .22LR is a perfect caliber to start training with, you shouldn't make a purchase decision before getting actual shooting experience with more powerful centerfire cartridges. The size of the gun is also a consideration because your ability to shoot a particular cartridge will vary based on the gun you are shooting it from.

Find an Instructor that can supply the types of guns you are considering in the calibers you are considering. For Home Defense this means full size revolvers or semi-automatics in common .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP calibers. There is a big difference in the felt recoil between a .22LR and one of these center fire cartridges. You need to find your tolerance for recoil because the recommendations for choosing a firearm caliber for self-defense is to use the most powerful cartridge you can shoot effectively. The combination of the power of the cartridge and the mass of the gun combine for felt recoil. The length of the barrel and the sight radius are a factor in accuracy. You may find you can control a steel frame 1911 pattern .45 ACP gun better than a polymer frame firing a .40 S&W cartridge.

You should try to make arrangement where you supply the ammo pay for the range fees, and agree on an hourly fee for the Instructors time and use of his/her firearms. The range fee may cost you from $15 to $20 for each lane. for someone who is not a member of a range. You are not expecting the Instructor to shoot so you are only looking for one lane. However that will limit each persons trigger time if you are going as a couple. Talk this over with the Instructor. It may be more beneficial the first time to use one lane so more observation can be done by the non-shooter. The Instructor would be able to concentrate on the one shooter rather than dividing his attention across two lanes. Some ranges will charge for the extra person (the Instructor) and may limit the number of people in one lane. You want to ask these questions before you show up.

I suggest that if you took the Basic class as a couple you continue your education together and do this range session together. The Instructors hourly rate may range from $15 to $50 depending upon their credentials. At this stage you are not looking for advanced degrees, just someone who teaches gun safety and has the firearms you want to shoot. Decide on the number of guns you will shoot in the session and how much he/she will charge to use them or if that will be included in the hourly fee. Remember someone has to clean them after you shoot them so expect to pay for that service and that part of what you are reimbursing the Instructor for. When you are checking ranges, be sure to ask if they will allow you to bring an instructor with you and if there will be any additional fees. Another approach would be to rent the firearms from the range. They typically charge $10 to rent a gun but you may be required to purchase the ammo from them to use in their guns. If you go this route without an instructor, shop around for the combination price of the range fee, rental fee and ammunition. Also consider a short term membership and several visits as a way to accomplish this step. Purchasing one box each of the 5 different calibers mentioned earlier will probably cost at least $120 if you purchase target grade full metal jacket Federal, Remington, or Winchester. At this point in your training I recommend avoiding the cheaper imported ammunition. In my experience they are more problematic than the USA products and you don't want questionable ammo in the mix early in your learning.

Targets for this session can be 9 inch paper plates and you can start your shooting for the Winchester/NRA Pistol Qualification Program. This would give your range session structure shooting 5 rounds on each target until you fulfill the first level and then shoot 10 rounds per target. You should complete the Provisional Marksman and Marksman qualification before moving on to the next step. If you do this as a couple you would each shoot 250 rounds. Also why you may want to break this into two or three sessions. Shooting 100 rounds when you are not used to doing so can lead to some physical discomfort. Blistered trigger fingers and fatigued arms and shoulders. If you are already leaning toward either a revolver or a semi-automatic then you could cut down on the number of guns you experience which would lower the cost. Shooting a total of 100 to 150 rounds in two or three different guns would be a good range session. I recommend you repeat this step until you have had a chance to fire all of the cartridges mentioned earlier. If you find yourself recoil averse then there is also the .380 ACP, .32 ACP .25 ACP and the .22 WMR. These are not usually considered self-defense rounds (the .380 ACP is usually considered the minimum) but any gun is better than no gun. Shot placement becomes more critcal for stopping threats with smaller, less powerful cartridges.

Rifles and shotguns are also also common inside the home defensive weapons. Shotguns usually more than rifles because of the versitility of the platform. Rifle ammunition tends to be so powerful that overpenetration occurs and is more of a risk of bullets exiting the home. Even in a self-defense situation you are responsible for every round that leaves your gun and the damage it does inside or outside your home. If you are leaning towards a shotgun or rifle for self-defense seek out instructors who work with clients for that purpose.

The cost for Step 4 will vary upon the number of sessions and Instructors in your geographic area. Anticipate an expenditure of $75 to $150 per person per hour but that should includes the range fees, ammo, gun rental, and Instructor fees.

Step 5) Personal Protection Inside the Home Class

Step 6) Range Time NRA/Winchester Qualification to Sharpshooter

Step 7) Purchase Safe & Firearm for Inside the Home Defense

Step 8) Personal Protection Outside the Home Class

Step 9) Range Time NRA/Winchester Qualification to Expert

Step 10) Apply for CCW Permit/Purchase Firearm for Outside the Home Defense

Step 11) And Now For Something Completely Different

Step 12) Range Time NRA/Winchester Distinguished Expert

Join NRA