I've taken a CPL Class, so that's good enough. Right? ... Wrong!
Warning, this post may make some people uncomfortable. That's a good thing.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news. It's NOT good enough. Having a mentality of "good enough" is dangerous when it comes to firearms and self-protection. You are worth more than "good enough", and your loved ones are worth more than "good enough".
If you look at the work of Dr. Alexis Artwohl you'll see that the human brain behaves VERY differently when our body releases catecholamines. Catecholamines are the chemical cocktail our body releases under extreme stress. They are known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters (epinephrine, adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine, etc.) act as the chemical messengers that drive our brain and body under extreme stress. They rouse our body to action, giving us strength, speed, and clarity. They help our heart to beat faster, raise our blood pressure, increase our oxygen intake, and tighten large muscle groups. They are the catalyst for physical changes that temporarily increase our speed, strength, reaction time, stamina, and heighten our focus. These are all great things, right?
Along with these benefits, there are downfalls. Our higher brain checks out. We shift into overdrive and our amygdala takes over. Our amygdala acts as a playbook, such as the one football players use. It reacts in micro-seconds. The problem is, if these plays are not programmed into our amygdala...the whole team can break down and performance goes out the window. The team is unable to think as a collective.
If the team cannot think as a collective, communication ceases. Confusion and chaos set in, and the game is usually lost. Individuals on the team freeze and are unable to think fast enough or effectively interact with one another. The same thing happens in a fight for your life or the life of your loved ones. Quite literally, we do not have the time nor the ability to gather information, process it, evaluate possible actions, make decisions, and act on them. Without training, IT JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN.
Have you ever pictured yourself thinking through a self-defense scenario? Have you pictured yourself processing information and making solid, fast decisions?
Good! But here's the reality. You used your prefrontal cortex to do that.
Under extreme stress, the thalamus bypasses the prefrontal cortex and goes STRAIGHT to the amygdala. If you haven't put the information you need to use into the amygdala, it won't be there to access. In reality, you will freeze or rely on incomplete information. You'll be playing with half the deck of cards and relying on chance. THAT is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
On a good note, it's relatively easy to put plays into that playbook. This is where solid training comes in. And no, I don't mean you have to run around in the sleet and shoot like Rambo. Although, as a female with many spinal injuries and (at one point) confidence issues, I actually found that I began to enjoy it. The sense of accomplishment it leaves you with is better than any chocolate on a depressing day. I found that training can be exceedingly enjoyable and realized it is an essential part of surviving a violent situation.
If training is so important and enjoyable, why is it that so many people carry their firearm but still fail to make further training a priority?
A deadly false sense of confidence.
I'll admit, in the beginning of my self-protection journey, I didn't see it's value. I thought I'd be able to just think my way through any situation, and that was good enough. But through my own education and training, I have learned that it's quite the opposite. "Good enough" is a false sense of confidence and can cost you your life, or the life of those you love.
If you're out with your children and life chooses you, imagine failing. Imagine freezing and now you're incapacitated or dead. What happens to those children in the moments that follow? What happens when you, the protector, are removed from their team and helpless to fight for them? Scary thought, isn't it.
What happens if someone attempts to abduct you and you don't know how to react fast enough. Now they've got you and you've likely been disarmed. They are in control of you. Be real and think about what could happen next.
Kidnapping, torture, rape, murder?
It's uncomfortable to think about and face, but we need to stop kidding ourselves. When we picture scenarios, we need to start thinking about our failure points. We need to take a good look in the mirror and address them. Our loved ones are worth it, and WE are worth it.
Solid training helps us build those plays that we may need, and makes them accessible under stress. It stores them for future use. It gives us more to work with and a better chance at surviving a dangerous or violent encounter. After all, surviving an encounter is exactly why we carry a firearm, is it not? So, pick a training class that will help you in the most likely situations. Then build from there. You don't have to push your body beyond its limits. Although I will tell you from experience, our limits are far greater than we realize.
"Good enough" is not good enough! Find a good instructor. Commit the time and money. Then, don't back out. Remember that YOU are worth this time. No one will be there to save you but you. It's unlikely someone else will step in to help if you go down. Likely, they'll be too busy running away or catching it all on video.
Please, I urge you all. Make that commitment to yourself. Stop relying on "good enough". You are worth so much more than "good enough". Your family and loved ones are worth so much more than "good enough". Practical Shooting by Ron Avery will give you a really good, in-depth understanding of just how dangerous it is to not recognize the life-threatening hazards of "Good enough". And I urge you all to pick up a copy and read it. It's currently on my nightstand and I consider it part of my extended training.
In closing, I challenge you. Register for a class. RIGHT NOW! Follow through on it. Is ammunition availability a problem? Become a member of the USCCA! There is an enormous amount of online training available that requires no ammunition. There's also free training for members that can be done RIGHT AT HOME, without ever firing a live round! Click the banner below to see what a USCCA membership has to offer.
Whatever it is you choose to do...CHOOSE YOU! You're worth it! Take that step forward. If you feel up to it, share that step with me. I'd love to see what you are doing. It makes my day when I know another human being is one step closer to freeing themselves from violence. I love to see that people have chosen to see the value they hold and have made this commitment to themselves.
Until next time,
Stay Alert, Stay Safe
* Ron Avery on "Good Enough"
*Dr. Alexis Artwohl - Deadly Force Encounters
Christie Bass is a wife and mother of 3 children. She is a USCCA Firearms instructor and Training Counselor dedicated to empowering all human beings and helping them to realize just how valuable they truly are. She is adamant that we take all steps necessary to teach individuals how to keep themselves free from violence and believes human life holds the highest value.