Beginning Training Series: Getting Started With Weapons

Today I will be discussing training with weapons as part of my series on beginning training.

The defining factor for most self-defense situations is that they are unequal initiative, disproportionate armament type events. You are likely to be surprised by your attackers and/or they will be more heavily armed than you. You can mitigate the initiative problem by learning to be more aware and avoiding dangerous situations. We can also mitigate the problem of being outgunned by studying the use of various weapon systems and adding them to the kit we carry with us every day.

There are four main categories of weapons you might consider for self-defense: firearms, edged weapons, blunt weapons, and non-lethal weapons.

Before you read on, remember that it is your own responsibility to know the local laws and regulations pertaining to any weapon you might want to carry.

Firearms

If you want to maximize your ability to defend yourself across all situations, you should strongly consider adding firearms to your training regimen. Firearms are tools that extend your reach and allow you to solve problems in ways your empty hands or other weapons just don’t allow. They are the eternal equalizer that can shrink physical gaps between you and your adversaries.

Training with firearms is not something that should be taken lightly. While they can be very powerful tools, they can also be very dangerous. In the hands of an untrained individual, firearms often have disastrous consequences for oneself or loved ones. I would recommend seeking out instruction if you are a beginner, rather than diving in blind. Find an instructor at a local club or range, or an experienced friend who can show you the ropes. Learn the basic safety rules and how to handle a firearm safely.

I would strongly recommend learning with a .22 first. This allows you to learn safety and proper operation with minimal recoil so you develop good habits. Personally I spent about a year shooting nothing but a .22 pistol before moving up in caliber. I attribute most of my trigger control and marksmanship ability to not jumping the gun (no pun intended) on stepping up to the next caliber. Habits are harder to break than they are to make, so start yourself off by creating good habits that you won’t need to break later.

Once you have complete control of the basics, you can move on to learning how to properly draw the firearm and employ it in defensive situations. You owe it to yourself to seek out a good instructor, whether local or not, to help you master these skills.

Keep in mind that the only responsible way to carry a firearm is to make the time to properly train yourself in its use. Put in the time at the range, but don’t forget that dry fire is an excellent way to improve your skills for a small fraction of the cost. Also remember that you should always be prepared (both mentally and physically) to use any weapon you choose to carry.

Edged Weapons

Edged weapons are a category that includes primarily various types of knives. Edged weapons can often be easier to legally carry in some localities, and are usually far easier to conceal. Training with knives is often overlooked. Many of us carry knives and haven’t sought out much instruction in their use. I am guilty of this myself, having limited training with them. You should try to find some instruction, or at a minimum find a good book or DVD on the matter.

Blunt Weapons

Another category of defensive weapons is blunt weapons or impact weapons. These include everything from batons and expandable batons to kubotans, black jacks, etc. You must not take for granted that you can posses or carry these weapons, so make sure you are familiar with your local law.

As with knives and guns, you should make sure you make an effort to learn the proper use of these weapons if you intend to carry one. Most common are things like kubotans or defensive styluses which can easily be carried on a key chain. It should be easy to find an instructor who will teach the effective use of such a weapon – you should seek one out and attend a seminar or class if you carry one.

Non-lethal

This catch all category includes a variety of self-defense weapons that are intended to be non-lethal options. Tasers, stun guns, and pepper spray are all marketed as great self-defense weapons with minimal risk of killing your attacker. They are often marketed as not requiring much if any training, but if you rely on them you should still find instruction. No tool is a perfect solution, you should train with anything you intend to use to protect your life. Again you need to worry about local laws because, surprisingly enough, these non-lethal options can be illegal in many places. I grew up in Massachusetts, and pepper spray requires a license to carry in that state!

Also note that something like pepper spray can be a great tool to add to your repertoire even if you carry other weapons. It is always a good idea to have options, and a non-lethal option might allow you to avoid immediately escalating to guns or knives in some situations.

These are all various options you have when considering adding weapons to your defensive repertoire. If you are just starting your foray into self-defense, or if you are ready to take it to the next level, you should seek out instruction in various weapons systems. Even for those of us with substantial martial arts training, empty hands are not perfect weapons. Augment yourself with weapons and proper training, and you increase your likelihood of survival.

What weapons have you trained with, and how do you include them in your daily carry? Let us know by posting a comment!

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