The Guardian Broadcast
"Providing Concealed Carry & Armed Self-Defense Wisdom."
A podcast by Patrick Kilchermann, founder of the Concealed Carry University.
"Becoming One with the Gun"
In this provocative broadcast, Pat suggests that all Guardians should become one with their guns. What on earth does he mean by this? Why does he suggest that it's a mistake to fail to do this at least once per year?
Listen using the audio player above OR read the text transcript of this podcast below.
Note: 100% accuracy on text transcription is not guaranteed.
This week, I want to touch on another challenge, and that is: a request that you try, if you never have before, to “become one with your gun.” It’s a wonderful sensation in and of itself; it will bond you with your handgun (and/or rifle); it will massively boost your confidence in your equipment; it’ll highlight the weak points in your skill level or equipment; and I believe it gets you to a place where your skill level is increased at a faster rate than the way that most people practice with their handguns – which I’ll touch on more in just a moment. So, what do I mean by “becoming one with your gun?” Or, becoming one with anything, for that matter?
Let me pull this concept outside of handguns for a moment, so you can see what I mean.
The first time I remember experiencing what I’m referring to here was on the summer Kayaking trips that I would take as a kid with the family of a friend of mine. Now, my father and I would go canoeing quite often, but never for leisure: Being on the muddy Maple River in mid-Michigan for us was always focused on either spearing fish, shooting fish with bows and arrows, deer hunting, or just plain old fishing. (And I apologize if any of that sounds barbaric). On those trips with my father, if we ever were to fall in the river, it would have been a costly disaster that, given the clothing and boots we wore and the weapons we carried, probably would have been dangerous – lifejackets being as rare as seatbelts, where I came from.
But when I’d go kayaking with this family, things were totally different. Rather than camouflage, we’d be wearing bright colored clothing. Rather than sitting in an aluminum canoe that my dad and I spray painted camo by hand, we would ride bright colored kayaks. And the only goal of these kayak trips would be to have fun, so whereas immersion with a compound bow and arrow would have been a big bummer, or whereas banging a spear noisily on the side of the canoe would result in a harsh “Hey! We’re trying to be stealthy! You’re going to scare all the carp away!” - These kayak trips were meant to be wet, loud, enjoyable adventures.
Only they never started out that way – not for me, and not for any of us.
You see, when we first arrived at the river and unloaded the kayaks, we’d gingerly step into the little boats keeping our feet dry, and we’d detest even the smallest drips that would come off our paddles and leave dark spots on our clothes. We’d look over the sides of the kayaks down at the slimy rocks under water, and pray we never had to touch those things with our feet. We’d see the crawfish dart to hide under rocks when our paddles would near them, and we’d shudder. Disgusting! The world beneath the surface of the water was NOT a world that we’d want to be a part of.
But the strangest thing would happen…
By about halfway through the 12-hour trip, something big had changed! We would find ourselves spending more than half the time IN the water! We were always soaked, and we didn’t care! We’d welcome it at that point. We would splash each other, we would tip our kayaks over while laughing, or we’d just swim and float while pushing our kayaks along. And the same slimy underwater rocks that disgusted us before, we’d walk over without a second thought. We either didn’t think about or didn’t mind the crawfish anymore.
What happened? We “became one with the river.”
Now, maybe that’s a corny way to say that we “just got used to” the idea of being wet, or that we conquered our fear of what lies below the surface – but it’s a bit different than that. Because the difference was, when we’d arrive at the river for the next trip on the following year, the river was once again totally foreign to us. The water was again cold and nerve-wracking, and the rocks were again disgusting. And, the adjustment period of getting into that groove, or ‘becoming one with the river,’ if you will, was the same as the year before. It took about half a day of gradual immersion.
Now let me tell you: the hours of these trips following the point at which I’d become one with the river were some of the most fun and memorable experiences of my summers as a kid. It was really when the fun began…. and where the adventure, and therefore the growing, began. Whereas, the hours before becoming one with the river were not nearly as fun or memorable; in fact they were somewhat uncomfortable, as falling in at that point would have been dreaded and avoiding getting wet was all I could think about.
AND SO, THE POINT IS: if we would have just taken 2 or 3-hour long kayak trips, we wouldn’t have had NEARLY as much fun, because we never would have become one with the river. Because it would have been possible to avoid getting wet for the whole trip, we almost certainly would have done so. Becoming one with the river took time; raw time. A short trip just wouldn’t have allowed for that to happen, and the trips therefore would have been more of an uncomfortable chore than a lifelong memory.
And here’s the key for today’s message: As shooters, we can become one with our guns in the exact same way that I, and millions of others, have become one with a river on an extended kayaking trip. And when we become one with our guns, that’s when the real experience and adventure and growth and intuitive learning begins. Until then, in fact, most shooters tend to keep their guns at arms’ length, if you will, and practice sessions remain these sterilized, clean-handed experiences where “gun comes out of case, gun is set down facing target, gun is loaded, gun is fired, gun is put away.”
That’s not good, because that’s stagnation. That’s like a husband and wife sleeping in separate bedrooms. It might be workable, but it’s not ideal. It makes the bond of marriage less likely rather than more likely. I’m not just trying to be crude or edgy here, people, and I’m not trying to give anti-gunners a case for how weird we are; I’m making an important point, and for doing my job as an educator well I make no apology. The point I’m making is: By definition, we Guardians must truly know our handguns or rifles. And to do that, we must become one with them every now and then.
Okay, now, let’s detail this for practical action: First, how do you become one with your weapon; Second, what happens as a result; and Third, how often should we do this?
HOW TO BECOME ONE WITH YOUR WEAPON:
It takes time, and it takes ammunition. As for time, I’d budget at least a 6-hour day at the range. As for ammunition, I’d budget 1,000 rounds. A case of ammo. Right now, that can mean as little as $200, which is a fantastic bargain. Maybe $200 sounds like a lot to invest in one days’ shooting, but we don’t have to do it very often, and as you’ll hear in a moment, the benefit of firing 1,000 rounds in a single day as opposed to spreading it throughout the year makes these becoming-one-with sessions a great idea.
As for the location of venue for this range day, you CAN accomplish this indoor in a shooting stall, but the experience will be nowhere near as fun, it will cost a lot more, and the benefits derived will be far fewer.
Ideally, you’d do some homework and legwork, and find a place outside to shoot. Ahh, the elusive outdoor shooting area…. So hard to find. Especially given that 80% of Americans, and therefore presumably my listenership and readership, live in urban or suburban settings. But I almost guarantee you that every one of us lives within a 3-hour drive to some place where the perfect outdoor shooting experience can be had. Some place where you can shoot outside in the sunshine, and someplace where shooting lanes don’t exist. A place where you can move around, and run around, rather than the sterile experience of shooting with planted feet in a straight line monotonously. A place where you can draw and move and fire to slide lock, to reload on the move, and to continue firing again. It’s possible for almost everyone, and only excuses stand in our way.
For me, I like to be alone, or with my associate and comrade, my Director of Operations. The second in command here at the Concealed Carry University, Caleb Skaggs. For others, you might not want to be alone. Or, you might want to combine the need for an all-day becoming-one-with experience into a formal training event, and that’s perfectly fine. Just find an all-day or 2-day training course, and take your case of ammo with you.
At first, it’s going to feel goofy. You’re going to feel like you’re “playing guns.” It’s going to be hard for you to loosen up, and it will take a couple or few hours before you do. And loosening up - that is, becoming one with your gun – won’t happen suddenly; it’s a realization you make after a certain amount of time goes by. On your 4th hour for example, or after firing 600 rounds, you’ll suddenly realize: ahhh, I’m there. This gun feels like my 11th finger. I point, I think, and holes appear in the target. The recoil is as natural as an inhale, the smell and feel of the powder is as much a part of me as my sweat is, and the sound is as unobtrusive as the sound of the breeze.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BECOME ONE WITH YOUR WEAPON?
First, the bond. Your handgun will transform from something that should be treated like a fragile egg that could kill you at any moment to an extension of your hand which you have complete control of and knowledge of its current state and position at every moment. It’s grip, its warmth, every bump and indent and scratch are as familiar to you as the scars you received in childhood, or the joint pain you developed throughout life. It becomes a part of you, and you of it.
Second, the confidence in the mechanism itself. When we don’t use and abuse our weapons, we can only intellectually trust in their reliability based on what we’ve heard. But the subconscious part of our brains are too smart for that, and so we never truly develop that trust. But about the 20th time that you jam a dirty, sandy magazine into your GLOCK or XD or whatever Tier 1 pistol you carry, (hint hint), and as you ram that slide home and it fires every single time you press the trigger, you start to understand just how incredible these tools are. And eventually, you actually begin to trust your weapon in a deeply personal way.
Third, conversely, you’ll quickly find the bottlenecks in your own skill, and the mechanical abilities of your Tier 2 or Tier 3 pistol, if there are any. One example is that just yesterday Caleb and I took our M4s to an outdoor range, and went through a couple thousand rounds of ammo, working through various drills and scenarios. Not only did we become one with these rifles, but somewhere around 1,000 rounds, I learned some valuable lessons, given that the rifle I was using was a fairly new build for me. My forward mounted flashlight fell off, because the screws were not Loctited in. I burned my pinkie, because my half-finger assault gloves were not enough for the handrail I was using. And, my autolocking charging handle proved to be unable to handle the abuse, and I have a more robust one on the way. You may learn similar lessons, if you do not carry a Tier 1 gun. Your Taurus may get so hot that it hurts to hang onto. Your Keltec might experience a jam every few magazines, or increasingly so as it gets dirtier and dirtier. Your j-frame revolver might begin eating a hole in your hand, where the handle terminates in your palm. And you might decide a 6-shot single stack isn’t enough to engage multiple targets effectively.
And the final benefit to be derived from becoming one with your gun is that you get better faster when you condense your practice to one long session, opposed to spreading the same amount of practice out over a long session. Now, there is a diminishing return to this; for example, at some point you’re going to be too tired to learn or experience much. But long before that happens, you’ll enter a new type of handgun practice that you may have never experienced before. That’s because, when your gun remains the mysterious variable in your activity – such as when shooting 200 rounds during a 30-minute indoor shooting session – most of your focus and attention remains on the gun itself. What levers to push, how the trigger feels, where the trigger breaks, how hard you have to insert a magazine to seat it, how to align the sights, and on and on and on.
But after you become one with your gun, your mind becomes bored – in a sense – of your gun. What I mean by that is, you’d never spent 8 hours watching your right hand, and studying how your fingers react to your mental impulse to form a grip or form a peace sign. You just wouldn’t. By age 2, operating your hand is purely automatic, and it just happens. And while it’s truly incredible to watch someone else type at 140 words per minute, if you can do this, it’s just boring. And in the same way that the typist doesn’t type for fun, but rather to communicate world-shattering ideas to other humans, once you become one with your gun you will no longer bother practicing your handgun itself, as most people are, but you’ll be practicing DOING THINGS with your handgun. The shooting will be automatic; the challenge will be making holes appear in multiple targets in a very short amount of time. THIS is the fertile soil in which excellence and effectiveness can germinate.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BECOME ONE WITH YOUR GUN?
This is going to depend on your skill level. If you’re already a competent, accomplished shooter who’s mastered the function of his weapon, then I think it should happen at least once per year, sort of like my kayaking trips with the river. If you’ve never become-one-with, then I think you should try to do it once per month for a few months.
The real answer, though, is that you will know. You’ll know if you have that confidence and competence and familiarity with your handgun or not, and if you have it, you’ll know when it begins wearing away because it’s been too long. And when you make this realization, that’s when we who desire to be effective Guardians must jump into action, force the discipline, and schedule a long range day where we can, once again, become one with our weapons.