The Gunfighter Brain

June 13, 2018 By JT Timmons - GTI Range Master and Legion Director

What is the difference between a high level competition shooter who can accurately and quickly shoot small groups at steel and paper targets on a range and a high level gun toter who carries a gun for duty or self-defense? Both need to be able to hit what they aim at with their firearm on command. Both need to be able to manipulate their firearm swiftly and competently. Both certainly need to be able to handle their firearm safely under all circumstances and they both need to do all of the above under stress. So what is the difference? It's "mental". Many of the necessary physical skills are very similar, but the purpose, application, and consequences of those skills are very different. Raw shooting skill is just the beginning for a gunfighter. Here are a few of the other requirements of a modern day gunfighter.

  • A gunfighter is realistic about the potential for violence to occur to or around them. Like it or not, we live in a hostile era of American history. Violence happens on U.S. soil daily; in EVERY state; in EVERY city and EVERY demographic. We typically think about Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Memphis, L.A. and a few others when we think about dangerous places to be. Unfortunately, small town USA is rapidly becoming just as dangerous. Gunfighters have their eyes open and see the possibility of having to use a gun to protect themselves. If you go into a public place, there is the potential that someone will try to harm you or your family. The reality is that there are more and more predators around that are randomly opportunistic. They scan for a potential victim, find one that they feel they can defeat, formulate a plan to capitalize on the observed weakness and then they swiftly carry out violence on them when the victim least expects it. It happens every day. Just watch the news. It CAN happen to you. That is why gunfighters keep themselves armed.

  • A gunfighter must be mature, ethical and moral. Target shooters may certainly possess these same qualities also, and most of them that I know certainly do, but the act of target shooting doesn't require it. Gunfighting, from the perspective of a law enforcement officer or a concealed weapons permit holder, absolutely requires the highest standard of maturity, ethics, and morality. Although Hollywood would like for us to believe otherwise, there is nothing hip, chic, or sophisticated about gunfighting and causing the death of another human being. It is the ugliest, most grotesque necessity that a person can possibly be involved in. Mature, ethical, and moral people that are not in a law enforcement role or military role will never purposefully put themselves in a position to create the opportunity to cause death to another person. We only carry guns because we understand that bad guys carry weapons and we want to be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones from them. Bad people force good people to do things that we don't want to do, but we will when we have to. A modern day gunfighter must be mature, ethical, and moral above all. Otherwise, you are just part of the problem.

  • A gunfighter is a student. There are many necessary layers of a gunfighter's knowledge. He must be knowledgeable about firearms and marksmanship. He must understand ammunition ballistics. He must be familiar with human anatomy. He must have a basic understanding of criminal psychology. He must also understand the psychology of his own conscious and subconscious mind. Last but not least, a gun toter must have a FIRM understanding of the laws of using deadly force. When a person decides that they are going to carry a gun with the possibility of using it in a gunfight, they are committing to more than just purchasing and wearing a firearm. They are committing to becoming a student of all of the elements of gunfighting. You must be a good student. Your freedom, your safety and your loved one's safety all depend on it.

  • A gunfighter must be competent and confident with his firearm. Although a target shooter may be competent and confident in a sterile, sporting environment that is surrounded by 8 foot berms, a gunfighter has taken the skill that he developed as a target shooter and developed the same confidence and competence in the chaotic, unsterile environment of the street. He has given his skill with firearms a real job. It is necessary for a gunfighter to have the shooting and gun manipulation skills of a high level target or sport shooter because it is the primary physical tool of his craft. If you are going to carry a gun on U.S. soil with the intent of using it to shoot another person to save your own life or the life of another, you are accountable for the damage of every single bullet that comes out of your weapon. In order to be accountable for the resting place of every round that you fire, you must have the accuracy and gun manipulation skills of a highly skilled target shooter. You cannot just guess, hope or pray that your projectile will hit your intended target. If your bullet misses the intended target and hits a bystander, you may find yourself in prison and having to live with the remorse that you took the life of an innocent person. Your "target shooter" skillset is one of the most important tools in your toolbox. When you deploy that gunfighter tool, you must be competent and confident… not hopeful and wishful. It is okay to be hopeful and wishful in a sporting environment but there is no room for that in the real world where one mistake can mean the difference between the life and death of the wrong person.

To sum it up, a modern day gunfighter must have the following qualities: They must be realistic about the possibility of violence. They must be mature, moral, and ethical in exercising their right to self-defense and the defense of others. They must be a continual student of the craft and they must be competent and confident with their firearm. Carrying a gun should not be a status symbol or a social status. It is a responsibility that is often taken too lightly. There are many people in the U.S. that would like to see our God given and constitutionally protected right to self-defense taken away from us. If you are going to be a gun toter, do it right so that we do not give the liberals any ammunition to use against us. Your life and the lives of others could depend on it.

See you on the range. JT