There is so much changing within our industry and literally almost overnight. One of the biggest changes is how training is perceived and tied directly to its importance.
Defining The Outcome
I will be the first one to tell you training is essential to being a competent firearm owner. Before we get too far down this rabbit hole it is important we define a few terms. Starting with competent. Competent is defined as having the necessary knowledge, skills and ability to do something successfully. Essential is defined as absolutely necessary or extremely important. Lastly, training is defined as teaching a particular skill or behavior. With these as our anchors it makes it easier to talk about the state of the industry. With so many new gun owners it is difficult to expect them to see the importance behind my opening statement. I see this difficulty being divided into three main reasons; not knowing they need training, not believing they need training and ignoring the fact they need training. Which ever reason it all amounts to the same outcome, less competent firearm owners. The real question is so what, is that really all that bad.
The Direct Proportion
Truthfully it is not. There are thousands of people who will go their entire lives without any formal instruction on safe firearms usage and they will be just fine. They may not be the best prepared, but they have made their choice based off one or more of the reasons listed. One of the biggest obstacles we are facing within this industry is expressing the value behind safe training. It may seem obvious to many of us, but we are quickly becoming the minority. I’ve talked about the investment of time, talent and treasure towards developing a skill, any skill and firearms training is no different. There is a level of competency associated with time invested in said skill. It is a direct proportion relationship meaning, the more time invested the more competency achieved.
Many are still not convinced investing time in a skill is needed. The vast majority of new gun owners I speak with have no interested in attaining a high level of competency. They are hard pressed to value a modicum of competency. This situation exists for lots of reasons, but time is one of the biggest reasons. What if we could convince the masses they could achieve a minimum level of competency with a minimal invest in time. People are usually turned off to the idea of training if it appears a complex, burdensome or time consuming task. What if we defined the lowest level of competency (101) and the time investment amounted to one to six hours of formalized training.
Three to four hours makes it more palatable to the new firearm owner. It would achieve what we all want with minimum investment. I define basic 101 skills as an understanding of fundamentals and initial practical application. These skills would be learning firearm safety rules, basic firearm operations and basic marksmanship. That is it. Could we ask them to learn more? Of course, but would they be willing is the question. If this represented the minimum to satisfy the requirements to be a competent firearm owner then everyone should be happy. There will always be people who don’t believe they need training, then some who don’t believe they need a lot of training, then some who once exposed to competent (there’s that word again) training develop an interest in pursuing further training.
As we move into this next chapter in our country’s history we need training on these essential skills to obtain a minimum level of competency. In a sense, all we can do is be supportive and available to offer help when asked.