Last weekend, I traveled to Florida to take the NRA Instructor Basics of Personal Protection Outside The Home Course (PPOTH). I was asked by several people why I would want this particular “Basic” Certification in light of my background and training experience. It’s simple,
I like training new shooters.
My colleague Grant Cunningham made a pertinent blog post about this shortly after I took the PPOTH Student Basic and Advanced Student Course. Experienced instructors often shy away from training the newest students. There has been a massive increase in people licensed to carry firearms over the past few years. In addition, several States have adopted Constitutional or Permitless Carry. That market base probably needs experienced trainers and coaches.
And I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel. It’s unfortunate that the NRA Training Department’s best marketing statement for its Personal Protection training is contained in the PPOTH Instructor manual. “The NRA Basic Personal Protection Series is based on the building-block approach, moving from the simple to the complex.” The most effective training courses I have taken over the past two decades have used a step by step approach to skill building.
The Training Department sees the progression of the courses for new gun owners interested in learning how to defend themselves and their loved ones as follows.
- NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Course, the first course, develops the basic skills of handling, shooting, and cleaning the firearm, as well as a thorough grounding in firearm safety.
- NRA Basics of Personal Protection In The Home Course, the second course, teaches:
- the defensive or flash sight picture,
- firing single shots and/or aimed pairs from various shooting positions
- shooting using a center-of-mass hold,
- effectively using cover and concealment,
- employing point-shooting and multiple target engagement techniques.
- techniques for improving awareness and promoting mental preparation,
- methods of enhancing home safety without a firearm, and
- legal aspects of the use of deadly force in self-defense.
- NRA Basics of Personal Protection Outside The Home, the third course in the series, covers:
- Introduction to Concealed Carry Safety and The Defensive Mindset,
- Introduction to Self Defense and Concealed Carry,
- Legal Aspects of Concealed Cary and Self-Defense,
- Carry Modes and Handgun Concealment,
- Presenting the Handgun from Concealment, and
- Presentation, Position and Movement.
- Another offering in the series is the NRA Defensive Pistol Course. This is a shorter course than PPOTH. It teaches:
- How to apply the NRA Rules for Safe Gun Handling when carrying a concealed firearm,
- basic principles of concealment,
- drawing from a hip holster
- levels of mental awareness,
- developing the proper mindset when using a pistol for personal protection,
- flash sight picture
- clearing common stoppages,
- shooting a qualification course,
- use of pocket pistols,
In addition to the Courses themselves, the Training Department provides additional Skill Development Exercises for NRA Instructors to use with students after PPITH and PPOTH.
And the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program has even more exercises that interested shooters can use to increase their skills and earn awards from the NRA.
Looking at all the topics covered, that’s a really comprehensive training program. Those who are interested in a defensive firearm as more than a talisman to ward off evil can really get a lot out of such a “Basic” program.
There are a number of aspects of the NRA’s series that I really like. First of all, the classes are between 4 to 9 hours long. Because they’re constructed in modules, even the 9 hour classes don’t have to be conducted in a single day. Most people’s lives are quite busy and asking new shooters to take an entire weekend or even week of training is both difficult and sometimes counter-productive.
The NRA’s program is really the only one in the industry that is built around the student’s capabilities and time constraints rather than a trainer’s weekend convenience. Mea culpa; I’ve done both the traveling trainer and hosting trainer routines, so I’m as guilty of it as any of my colleagues. It’s something I want to try a different approach to.
There’s a place for both newer trainers and experienced trainers in the NRA’s Personal Protection Series. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how I can implement that.
The man went inside and confronted another man he found in his shower, deputies said. The homeowner left after the two exchanged words.
‘He returned home, retrieved a firearm, came back over to the residence and fired multiple rounds into the shower … killing the intruder,’ said Mason County Sheriff’s Lt. Travis Adams.
The homeowner called 911 and told dispatchers that he had just shot and killed an intruder, Adams said.
It’s not clear how long [the intruder] had been inside the home, but detectives don’t believe the homeowner gave him any warnings before he fired his gun, they said.
Deputies later arrested the homeowner for second-degree murder. They believe he had ample time to call for help when he went back home.
The odds are that the shooter will spend a significant portion of the rest of his life in prison. This is a Negative Outcome. It’s a clear example of how foolish the “I’ll shoot anyone I find in my house” ideology is.
I’ll shoot anyone I find in my house.
When I posted the link to the story on my Facebook page, one person replied that he SHOULD have been allowed to kill the intruder. My response was: “No, adjusting our response to the context of the situation is what keeps us from being savages.” Usually, it makes me cringe when news stories refer to someone being ‘gunned down’ but in this case, I think it would be appropriate. What the shooter did was a savage act of unnecessary lethal violence. It wasn’t motivated by fear for his safety or the safety of his loved ones; rather, it was a senseless expression of emotional outrage. We shoot people only when we have to not because we want to.
Another person commented that it was his property and the intruder had committed the offense of breaking and entering. The question was why wasn’t this a Castle Doctrine case. The Castle Doctrine is not an absolute defense. Reasonableness of your response will almost always be applied as a test of the response’s legality. Gunning someone down while they’re taking a shower isn’t likely to be viewed as ‘reasonable.’ As Massad Ayoob put it in the linked article:
Yes, your home is that castle. However, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to install an execution chamber.
The number of people who own firearms or other deadly weapons and yet haven’t the slightest clue about the legal ramifications of their use is astounding. Know the Rules needs to be a standard of our conduct just as much as the physical ability to use the weapon. What you might think the rules are or should be is irrelevant. The actual rules are all that are important.
It used to be that reliable information about the legalities of personal protection was hard to come by. Not anymore. There are numerous readily available sources of information about the law. Without leaving the comfort of your home, several good sources are available.
- What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law (free download)
- Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense
- The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen
- Law Of Self Defense online course
For the lack of reading and understanding a book, the Washington shooter will pay dearly. His legal fees for the trial will most likely cost him everything he owns and he’ll still probably go to prison.
I recently attended the Law Of Self Defense Level I and II classes. They were an excellent legal education resource, tailored specifically to the State I live in, Georgia. The law does not necessarily make sense nor does it have anything to do with what you think it should be. The cost of such training is minor compared to the cost of a trial or even just being arrested on a charge that is later dropped. The optional simulator exercise at the end of the day was also a sobering demonstration of how poorly unpracticed people tend to shoot under stress. LOSD classes are available all over the country and are specifically tailored to the laws of the State they are given in.
A benefit of membership in the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network is the training DVDs provided with membership. Once again, you can learn a great deal about the appropriate and inappropriate uses of forces without having to leave your living room.
Don’t guess, don’t listen to the foolishness you read on Internet Forums, and don’t make decisions based on what you think the rules SHOULD be. Invest at least a little of your resources and find out what the rules really are. It’s true that most situations are fairly cut and dried and work out legally for the defender. The issue is that when things go bad, they tend to go really badly. The rest of your life can easily be at stake. Very few of us would look forward to spending decades in the can (prison) without a Man Lock by McGard.
Also, if you’ve taken a State CCW class, the one hour briefing when your eyes glazed over doesn’t count as any kind of meaningful legal education. Don’t confuse that with education that actually teaches you how to apply the law to your personal situation.
Fair disclaimer: I was a guest of LOSD for the classes and didn’t have to pay for them. However, no promotional consideration for my recommendation was offered nor accepted by me.
Endnote: The intruder in Washington was probably a confused drunk. That’s not going to go over well for the shooter, either.
Someone who purchased Indoor Range Practice Sessions noticed a discrepancy in Session 11 (shooting with a flashlight).
I’ve updated the downloadable eBook for future purchases, but I want existing customers to have the update also. Accordingly, I created a downloadable file with Session 11 only.
As most of my readers know, using a flashlight to avoid tragedies is one of my hot buttons. It’s important enough information that I am going to make the updated Session 11 only available as a free download to all my blog followers, as well as previous purchasers.
The link to the updated Session 11 is here: Session 11 – Shooting with a flashlight
Through an oblique reference, I recently found a link to The Woman’s Gun Pamphlet. The link is to a scanned PDF version of the Pamphlet, which can be downloaded and read or printed.
It’s a very interesting publication that was written and published by a colloquium of radical feminists in 1975. The intent was to provide information about both guns themselves and about personal protection attitudes to women of that era who knew nothing about guns or personal protection. As such, I consider it an historically significant document. There’s quite a bit of political rhetoric in it but also a goodly amount of information. Even dryfire is touched on. Some morsels of dry wit are quite entertaining.
Especially interesting to me is that it was written from the perspective of self-taught women of the time with some input from men and by doing primary and secondary research. What they considered important, how the information was structured, and how it was presented is insightful. There are a number of items in it that made me realize there are areas of my subject matter knowledge I take for granted.
Given this week’s confrontation between the Federal government and a quasi Posse Comitatus group in Oregon, I also found the political views and fears presented in a 1975 publication to be notable. When I graduated high school in 1972, I doubted I would be able to own a handgun, much less carry one in the majority of States, even slightly into the future at that time. The recent shenanigans regarding Weapons Carry reciprocity in Virginia by its anti-gun Governor and his lackey Attorney General echo items in the Pamphlet. The attitudes and tactics of hoplophobes and political control freaks have changed little in the past 50 years. A common one is ‘take something away, then give it back in exchange for something else.’ The saying ‘One step forward, two steps back’ comes to mind. Gun controllists play the long game, just like Mao Zedong, and never view their playbook as a zero sum game.
The Pamphlet took me a little over an hour to read cover to cover, so it’s not heavy reading. Anyone who teaches, either formally or informally, women or Gun Culture 2.0 will find it worthwhile reading.
Several Negative Outcomes were brought to my attention this week. One was yet another incident of someone shooting their spouse, thinking it was a burglar. She died as a result of one shot to the chest.
The husband told police it was an accident. He told officers he woke up around 4:15 Saturday morning and heard noises in his house … He told investigators he grabbed his gun and when he saw a light on and someone standing in the distance, he took a shot. He said the person he ended up hitting once in the chest was his wife.
This sad situation bolsters my contention that when we pick up a pistol at home, we have to pick up a flashlight at the same time. That’s why I made flashlight shooting an integral part of The Tactical Professor’s Pistol Practice Program. To get some repetitions in and reinforce the habit for myself, I went to the range this week and shot the entire NRA Defensive Pistol I marksmanship program using a flashlight.
As a curiosity, I also used a timer instead of going by the PAR times in the program. The pistol I used was a Beretta Jaguar in .22 Long Rifle. Many in the industry poo-poo the .22 as a defensive tool but .22s have worked for me. An aspect of .22s I like in the practice context is that shooting several hundred rounds in one session isn’t punishing, either physically or financially. I shot it at my gun club but the way Defensive Pistol I is structured, it can be shot at just about any indoor range. That’s an aspect of the program I really like.
What I did was to have my pistol, my flashlight, and the timer on a stool in front of me. The target was downrange at the specified seven yards.
When the timer went off, I would pick up my pistol and flashlight simultaneously, assume the cheek position, and then shoot the specified string of fire. For the phases requiring loading the pistol on the clock, I picked up the pistol and magazine, loaded it, and then picked up the flashlight. After each string, I recorded my times. The NRA provides a scoresheet but it is set up for Pass/fail scoring, so I made my own scoring matrix.
I checked the target after each string to make sure that I had the required 100 percent hits. At the end of each phase; Pro-Marksman, Marksman, etc., I marked the target with blue dots to cover my hits.
For most of the program, I used the cheek technique.
The Expert phase requires shooting around both sides of the cover. When shooting around the left side, I continued to use the cheek technique. When shooting around the right side, I used the Harries technique.
The Distinguished Expert phase doesn’t specify shooting around both sides of the cover. However, it does requires eight runs instead of four, so I shot four around the right side and four around the left side.
I was able to maintain the 100 percent standard and got a good idea of my times to accomplish each Phase.
A friend posted a comment on his Facebook page about police response policies and times today. His post related to the hypocrisy of politicians who are protected by armed guards around the clock but desire to have the populace disarmed and at the mercy of the criminal element.
In the wake of the Umpqua Community College and Northern Arizona University shootings, there have been renewed calls by Mr. Obama for increased gun control, along with other politicians. The implication of these calls is that law enforcement authorities are always available to protect the citizenry at a moment’s notice. If the government will not allow the citizenry to protect itself, as is now the case in Lesser Britain, then that responsibility must fall to the organized government. A frequently validated saying in the Army is
If no one in particular is responsible for something, then no one is responsible for it at all.
There are several problems with making the government responsible for our safety in the United States, two in particular.
First, the Supreme Court ruled in 1989 and again in 2005 that the government does not have the duty to protect us as individuals. Government in general, and the police in particular, only have the duty to preserve a general sense of order in the US. Only society at large is owed a duty of protection.
Second, there are practical considerations. The following was how I responded to my friend’s post:
I have a recording of an actual 911 call by a woman whose home is broken into while she is on the phone with 911. It is not fiction and was used as an exemplar in 911 dispatcher training.
The dispatcher is shocked into silence by the events, which allows hearing the gruesome sounds and screams as the woman is murdered. It is 2 minutes and 51 seconds long from the time she calls when he is outside until the murderer calmly hangs up the phone after the woman is dead. She is screaming “Who are you?” and has no idea of her attacker’s identity. To my knowledge, the murderer has never been identified, much less caught and brought to justice.
The recording is so horrible and shocking that I am very judicious about whom I play it for. I have listened to it many times and it still turns my stomach every time I hear it.
It’s not the only such macabre recording like that in my collection. They range in length from 1 minute 1 second to 3 minutes 3 seconds.
Every scumbag politician, including police chiefs who serve as mouthpieces for their political masters, should be required to play it at the conclusion of their spiels about how they will protect us and a five to eleven minute response time is plenty. It would be the end of that [you know what].
My friend Mark Luell, the author of Growing Up Guns suggested I provide a ‘Friday Fundamentals’ post weekly. We got the idea from my colleague Cecil Burch who wrote a blog post about Fundamentals. It’s a great idea to stay in touch with the basics.
The first installment is Session 01 of my Pistol Practice Program – Establishing Your Baseline. As in any journey, you have to know where you’re starting from before you can get to where you want to go.
The objective of this drill is to determine what distance you can make 100 percent hits on the vital area of a silhouette target. My feeling is that we need to work on achieving 100 percent accuracy because errant rounds in our homes or neighborhoods could be a major problem. Since I also think the first shot is the most important, I structured the session with a lot of first shots but also included multi-shot strings. A lot of people ‘walk their rounds’ into the target even with handguns. This is a huge problem and liability.
We don’t count hits on the head in this drill because they are actually misses if you are aiming at the body. The head is more than a foot away from the center of the body, if you hit the head when you’re aiming at the body, it’s just a lucky shot and doesn’t count in terms of performance measurement.
Any silhouette target; B-27, B-21, Q, IDPA, IPSC, etc.
Masking tape (preferred) or magic marker to mark the target.
Pistol, 50 rounds of ammunition
Eye and ear protection
This drill consists of five (5) Sequences of 10 shots each. The Sequences are untimed.
Place target at three (3) yards
Start loaded with five (5) rounds only.
The starting position is Low Ready. This means the pistol is aimed at the floor below the target. For double action pistols, you will decock after each Step.
Sequence 1 (10 rounds)
1) Start with handgun held in both hands, aimed at the floor below the target. Spare magazine loaded with 5 rounds or speedloader with 5 rounds or 5 loose rounds on the bench.
2) Bring the pistol up on target and fire 1 shot at the center of target. Followthrough for one second, then return to low ready. Decock, if appropriate.
3) Bring the pistol up on target and fire 2 shots at the center of target. Followthrough for one second, then return to low ready. Decock.
4) Bring the pistol up on target and fire 3 shots at the center of target. After two shots, the pistol will be out of ammunition. Reload it and fire the third shot. Followthrough for one second, then return to low ready. Decock.
5) Bring the pistol up on target and fire 4 shots at the center of target. After the shots, the pistol will be out of ammunition. Hopefully, the slide has locked back if it’s an autoloader.
6) Place your pistol down on the bench.
7) Bring your target back and mark all the hits, preferably with tape but a marker will do.
8) Write on the target how many hits you made in the body scoring area. I prefer to not count the outer scoring area as I mentioned in Why I hate the -3 zone. Use this format, (3) X/10, X being the number of hits. For this drill, do not count any hits in the head, they are actually misses.
Sequence 2 (10 rounds)
1) Send the target out to 5 yards.
2) Repeat Sequence 1 but with the target at 5 yards instead of 3 yards.
3) When you write on the target how many hits you made in the scoring area, it will be (5) X/10. The number in parenthesis is the distance in yards.
Sequence 3 (10 rounds)
1) Send the target out to 7 yards.
2) Repeat Sequence 1 with the target at 7 yards.
3) Write on the target how many hits you made at 7 yards. (7) X/10
Sequence 4 (10 rounds)
1) Send the target out to 10 yards.
2) Repeat Sequence 1 with the target at 10 yards.
3) Write on the target how many hits you made at 10 yards. (10) X/10
Sequence 5 (10 rounds)
4) Send the target out to 15 yards.
5) Repeat Sequence 1 with the target at 15 yards.
6) Write on the target how many hits you made at 15 yards. (15) X/10
When you finish the drill, record your score for each yardage. Make this a part of your practice record. Shooting this exercise will give you a good idea of what your current proficiency level is. That’s an important starting point.
I follow the stories in The Armed Citizen column of the NRA Journals each month. For copyright reasons, the stories have to be re-written. With the more interesting ones, I try to track down the original story to see if there is more detail. A story in the August 2015 issue involves a downrange incident and piqued my interest to find out more about it. The results were interesting. The Armed Citizen entry is as follows:
Breaking up before the big dance carried a price for several people. Two Wisconsin teens had a lovers’ spat before the prom, after the girl’s parents had spent $500 on a dress. The girl’s parents asked the boy to partially reimburse them since he backed out of the date. The Madison boy stewed about the request and became enraged. He returned to his girlfriend’s house in the wee hours of the morning and tried to break in. The girl’s father caught the boy and called him to task, prompting the boy to draw a knife and stab the man seven times. While the two males were grappling, the girl’s mother came out and fired a handgun into the air. The gunfire distracted the youth, and the man wrestled the teen to the ground. The boyfriend faces multiple charges, including attempted homicide. The girl’s father was airlifted to a hospital to have his wounds treated. (Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wis., 5/8/15)
One of the first links I found was to the original Wisconsin State Journal article. It did indeed provide more details, such as how the boy attempted to make entry into the house and the fact that he first of all nailed the father with a shovel. Several other links I found, for instance CBS News, referenced the Associated Press edition of the original article. Somehow, the fact that a handgun had been involved in stopping the incident was left out of the AP edition I found at CBS. At first I thought CBS had edited it but I decided to check. I found other outlets carrying the exact same words from AP, so it was the Associated Press that omitted the handgun detail, not CBS. I’m sure that was unintentional due to brevity requirements or somesuch. Yeah, yeah, brevity requirements, that’s the ticket.
There are several things I find worthy of consideration regarding the event itself. First, incidents where there is a family member or other innocent person in between an Armed Citizen and a criminal attacker are what I call downrange incidents. These are much more common than people like to think. The reason is simple. We’re around our families and friends at lot, typically at least half of each day. But the amount of forethought and practice gunowners tend to give this fact tends to be minimal. Part of that represents the way the indoor range practice environment is set up. It doesn’t lend itself well to practicing for downrange incidents. Unless someone is very confident of their skills, downrange incidents are probably going to be resolved at very close range as Meghan Brown did after a man broke into her home and began fighting with her fiance.
The two rolled around, breaking the dining room table and chairs. Planthaber [the fiance] said it lasted about two minutes. Hill [the invader] had a good 80 pounds on him and was winning.
While they were fighting, Brown got her gun from the bottom drawer of her nightstand.
She trained the weapon [a pink .38-caliber revolver] on the man, but was unable to shoot because Planthaber was too close. [I am willing to bet money she positioned herself as close to them as she possibly could.] She followed his movements.
‘I had my gun drawn, focused in on him; as he moved, my gun moved,’ she said. ‘I waited for my shot, and when I saw an opening, I fired.’
Unfortunately, I don’t have a really good answer about how you practice for this, especially in the indoor range environment. If your range will allow you to place a hostage type target at 1 yard, you could practice single shots starting from a ready position off the target. Many ranges will not permit this though, so ask first. You may have to explain what your objectives are and perhaps allow the staff to supervise you.
At the very least, some mental preparation and mental rehearsal is in order. DO NOT dryfire practice this with a real gun and real people, even if you think the gun is unloaded. That’s a recipe for a Negative Outcome.
If you have access to an outdoor range, here’s a practice drill you could do. If your situation permits it, you could also try this with Airsoft in your backyard.
Another aspect worth considering is the possibility that the male of the household will end up in a physical struggle with a criminal attacker and a female member of the household will end up doing the shooting. Both of the above incidents are examples of that dynamic. I have dozens more in my database. Knowledge of how to operate a firearm and having the will to use it will probably work out better than having a stab a man to death with a butcher knife. Note also that wasp spray didn’t have any effect in this incident.
At some point, ‘the husband was having trouble controlling the suspect and called out to his wife,’ [the Sheriff’s Office spokesperson] said. That’s when the woman ran to the kitchen and retrieved a [butcher] knife, fatally stabbing [the attacking criminal].
For those couples who are serious about personal protection, thinking about it ahead of time may pay off. This is an article I wrote about Protecting Your Family: Training for Mutual Defense.
Soulis had planned to shoot through the back window if Palmer drew a weapon, but for reasons he still doesn’t fully understand, he moved forward and to his right, stopping alongside the passenger door, not more than two feet from the window. Instantly, he realized he’d made a grievous blunder.
Officer Down: The Peter Soulis Incident One of Brian McKenna’s excellent analyses.
Unconsciously closing with an adversary is something I have seen many times in Force on Force. The response was so uniform and so prevalent that it is one of the few things I feel sanguine in saying the probability of people doing it borders on 100%. We need to train ourselves rigorously to hold position or to retreat unless there is a valid purpose for closing. Closing with an enemy needs to always be a conscious decision, never an unconscious one.
When I was an infantryman, the stated mission of the Infantry was to “Close with and destroy the enemy by means of fire and maneuver.” Infantry units consist of numerous men, who are capable of mutually supporting each other with automatic weapons fire and explosive munitions. Private Citizens rarely have those resources available and law enforcement officers generally don’t. Our desired outcome and tactics have to be different.
It’s very common to see in news reports where Armed Citizens have pursued criminals after the criminal has broken off from the crime. Pursuit is fraught with hazards, both legal and tactical. Dependent on the laws of the particular State, pursuing a robber or attacker could result in losing the ‘mantle of innocence.’ This could result in charges being brought against the original victim. It also could put you in a position leading to becoming the victim of a mistaken identity shooting by a responding police officer. Keep in mind that although you know the victim/aggressor roles of the parties involved, the police have to sort that out upon arrival and it’s not always easy.
One of my students was involved in a shooting during the course of an invasion of his home. Despite the fact that he is an excellent marksman, he closed with the invader and the final shot was fired at contact distance. Closing with the enemy causes the defender to give up distance, which favors the marksman, and barriers/cover, which favor whomever is behind them, at least temporarily.
At home or in your place of business, decide ahead of time where your Limits of Advance are located. This is probably no further than your front door, perhaps even further in. The stairwell in your home or the counter in your store may be as far as it is advisable to go.
Palmer flinched as two more rounds hit center mass, and then started backpedaling toward the Toyota. He was still holding his gun, but never raised it to fire.
After reaching the car, Palmer dove over the trunk and dropped out of sight. Soulis paused, and then cautiously started forward again.
Outside the home, pick a spot, preferably something tangible. Then stick to your decision unless a good reason to change it arises. Keep in mind that all cover is temporary until it is defeated by fire and/or maneuver. If there is imminent danger of the cover being defeated, then move. That’s a conscious decision.
You don’t have to make a terrain diagram but making your decisions ahead of time helps you pick better decisions in the moment.
Isn’t it just common sense to ensure you know what you’re shooting at?
That question was posted on my Claude Werner, Researcher and Analyst page.
It’s an important question that we need to put in perspective.
Not intending to be pejorative but there is no such thing as ‘common sense.’ What we refer to as ‘common sense’ is actually learned behavior based on our past experience.
For instance, as adults, we consider it ‘common sense’ to not stick our hand in a fire. When we were three years old, we didn’t know it would hurt and probably found it out the hard way.
Similarly, we as gun people would consider it ‘common sense’ to not look down the bore of a firearm. If you gave a pistol to an Australian Aborigine, one of the first things they would do is look down the bore because in their worldview, knowing what’s in a hole is really important. Even Al Gore did it when he was searching for the Internet in Viet Nam. That was before he realized he had to invent it.
Ninety-nine percent of what most people know about firearms usage they learned from TV and the movies. In those media, there is never any ambiguity about the shoot/no shoot decision. As a result, when people get placed in a real set of circumstances, they do indeed default to their ‘training,’ which is the media programming. So they tend to make mistakes and shoot, even if it’s not appropriate. I once bemoaned to a colleague that my Threat Management classes didn’t sell. His response was “Nobody buys a gun with the idea that they’re not going to use it.” His comment put it in perspective for me.