20121117-212741.jpgI awoke this morning not too long after dawn, to a gray sky and a hammering rain. I packed my range bag, made a mug of coffee, and picked up a friend. Together, we drove for more than an hour to the range we shoot at.

When we arrived, it was still wet and gray and cold. The wind whispered through the trees and licked at the corners of our targets, past the places where the staples held the paper. We trekked downrange through a gloppy, sticky, rock-laden mud to erect those targets. My friend unbagged firearms while I loaded magazines.

We stayed out there and shot for nearly two hours. My friend plinked with his revolvers, while I worked methodically through the skills I’d identified that I wanted to drill during the session. I shivered just a bit beneath my jacket, despite my usual tolerance for cold weather. I had to stop shooting several times, to wipe the film of fog and mist from my glasses so I could see my target.

In truth, I could have found a dozen reasons not to venture out into the damp cold. I could have easily rationalized canceling our range date, staying home in bed with a good book and a mug of coffee. I could have taken one look at the soggy, muddy mess downrange and decided to pack it in early and go home. I could have given in, given up, and skipped a training day. I could have declared the range trip canceled for lack of good weather.

But you know what I’ve learned? We can always find an excuse not to do things that are unpleasant, that challenge us, that feel like work. We can always find a way to rationalize not putting in the effort it takes to reach our goals. We can always find a way to say something is too hard, too uncomfortable, too expensive. We can always find a resource we lack – time, money, ammo, good weather, the approval and support of others – that stands in the way of us achieving the things we want to achieve.

Excuses are easy. And when we strip off the excuses, what lies beneath them is this simple truth: If something is important enough to us, we can nearly always find a way to do it. If it’s not, we can always find an excuse not to do it. But far too often, when you buy the excuse you get a bonus pack of regret included free with it.

Don’t have the money to attend a training class? There are ways around that. How about bartering with someone who needs something – maybe a skill or service that you can provide – and would be willing to pay for your class instead? What about working with your favorite instructor to help organize a class in your area? The folks who volunteer to do this legwork can often attend the class for free.

What about taking the money you’d budgeted for that whizzy new tacti-cool pistol that you’d like to add to your arsenal or the trigger work on your carry gun, and re-allocating that to training? Do you really need to add expensive aftermarket parts to your gun that will make only a marginal difference performance-wise, or would more training produce a better return on investment? Unless your name is Rob Leatham or Julie Golob (and maybe even then) I bet you’ll get more mileage from the training.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of my readers haven’t maxed out the capability of their stock pistols, much less that you need hundreds of dollars of add-ons and extra gunsmithing.

Don’t feel like getting out of bed in the cold and damp to go to the range and practice your skills? My harsh inner critical voice would say “stop whining and go practice.” My more moderate, reasonable self says, “how much do you value your life and the lives of your loved ones?” Training the tools and skills you need to keep them and you safe is surely worth a little discomfort, a little inconvenience. If you are ever, god forbid, in a situation where you need those skills, do you think you’ll really feel good about the realization that you could have been prepared if you hadn’t valued comfort over survival?

I realize this is a bit harsh, but reality is sometimes that way. So often people talk about not having the time and resources to accomplish the goals we set ourselves to. But there’s almost always a way to find the resources, if you want to badly enough. As for the issue of time? Well, the universe gives each of us the same 86,400 seconds each day. How we spend them is up to us.

We can decide to make the results we want happen, or we can decide to make excuses for why they didn’t happen. This is a choice each of us gets to make, and we get to make it over and over. If the goal in question is about our survival and our safety and our ability to safeguard our loved ones, we must choose wisely.

What choices did you make today about how to spend your time and resources? Will you, looking through the lens of hindsight, think you chose wisely?


  1. Good post!! The folks that understand that learning this skill set is necessary to truly defend themselves, their family or their friends understand exactly what you are saying! Those that find excuses to be fair-weather shooters . . . . not so much.

    • Thanks for your comment, Bill! I’m amazed at how many times I hear people say things like, “I want a gun to protect myself, but…” At the end of the day, we either want it badly enough to make it happen, or we make excuses instead, I think.

  2. Excellent post! It’s easy for any of us to become tired, lazy, complacent, etc. We all do it at some point or another. It’s always good to refocus, determine what is most important, and DO it! This stuff is fun, but ultimately we’re training to save lives and potentially end lives too (although as civilians, the latter is not intentional but merely a bi-product). Serious stuff to be taken serious. Keep up the great work Tammy, and keep rockin’! πŸ™‚

    • I agree that personal safety and self-defense are literally do-or-die subjects. It’s a difficult reality to face, but I think an important piece of the self-defense mindset is getting very clear in our minds about the stakes.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment, Travis! I’m glad you’re finding what I have to say useful.

  3. Just be aware that gun training is not the only challenge or need for self defense. One can become obsessed with one facet of their preparations and neglect others.

    My group meets every weekend, each participant coming when they have the opportunity. We trained outdoors in a cold wind last weekend. This week we all went to a gun show – the first for some of the ladies. They got to handle many different guns there, since I only have a few.

    We have already planned to meet at the range next weekend, as usual, but if it is snowing and cold, we’ll go to the indoor range. And when the snow gets too deep (the road to the range is not plowed), we meet at our houses to practice dry fire and other tactics.

    The actual shooting is only a part of what we need to do to prepare.

    • This is very true, and a good reminder. In addition to gun handling skills, we also need to practice with knives, flashlights, chemical sprays and other weapons we might use, as well as practicing our situational awareness and verbal de-escalation skills. If we study hand-to-hand combat skills, those need regular practice too.

      The gun is just one facet of our self-defense arsenal, and the other bits need practice and training too.


  1. […] With A Gun talks about excuses, specifically the excuses people use when they skip practice. Now, I certainly believe that a core […]

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