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What does it take to become a Gunfighter?

By: Vince Barns

A question that a serious student of the combative pistol has probably asked him/herself countless times. As Dave explained, it is a combination of proper mindset and tactics, training and gear selection, and the ability to use the firearm in an environment that seems to be nothing short of "all hell breaking loose." I describe all of this as a journey in becoming a student of the combative pistol, so we can then in turn prepare ourselves to become a gunfighter. Without all the criteria successfully met, (well-ahead of time I may add) one cannot expect to prevail in a lethal force encounter. It is not something we can dig deep down inside our souls to find and hope it’s there when we need it. Our actions and responses have to be NOW! They have to be well rehearsed and at our disposal at all times.

Any serious student of combative pistol craft will tell you it requires a lot of hard work and preparation. As the SAS motto goes..."Train hard, fight easy." To become better at anything in life you must practice to get better. Early in my law enforcement career, I was told by a veteran officer, "Learn your craft." So I did, especially when it came to the use of my duty weapon, which would be called upon to prevail in a lethal force encounter. As Sean Connery said to Kevin Costner in The Untouchables, The first rule of law enforcement is to go home at the end of your shift. Whether you’re a police officer, military personnel, or legally armed citizen, your priority should be to go home at the end of the day. Ask yourself a very simple question: Am I confident with my present ability to WIN an armed encounter? Be honest with yourself. It is your life!

As you will find out in preparation tips, there are a lot of requirements that are needed for you to be prepared. Just because we have a CCW permit or successfully passed the police academy does not mean we are prepared to fight for our lives. Just because I own a set of drums doesn't make me a musician any more than owning a firearm makes me a gunfighter.

Being a firearms instructor for most of my law enforcement career, I have discovered that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. I find myself training officers in spite of themselves. One must understand that being a student of the combative pistol is an education that is never quite finished. It is a quest that we embark upon never quite reaching the pinnacle. My grandfather had a saying..."Good, better, best never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best." If you look at it from a school level, most people never finish kindergarten when it comes to firearms training. Yet so many of these people carry a firearm to defend their lives! Get better continue your education striving to finish school, onto college, and strive for that PHD in Gunfighter 101!!