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Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Si vis pacem, para bellum is a Latin axiom translated as, “If you want peace, prepare for war”. It is usually interpreted as meaning peace through strength, for example, a strong society being less likely to be attacked by enemies.

I do enjoy delving into philosophical discussions and this one is particularly interesting to me. I had an ‘Ah Ha’ moment yesterday during a class I was teaching and thought it was worth expanding on it a bit.

The group I was teaching was composed of an interesting mix of ordinary individuals. While the class was not specifically focused on the use of firearms, several students were licensed to carry concealed, others had shot before but were considering buying a gun and one or two others had never shot before. All fully participated in the class and were engaged asking questions and relating personal experiences pertinent to the discussion.

I have found over the years, that many folks who purchase a gun for personal protection do not seek out or receive any significant training. Subsequently, when they eventually do come to a class, they are generally ’lost in the sauce’ even when trying to do the simplest of skills. It appears they are woefully unprepared to handle a real situation and have become inured to the ‘square range mentality’. I say this, not in judgement, but in observation and curiosity.

Many say, “I can’t practice drawing because they don’t let anyone do that at the range I go to.” What about dry-fire? “I don’t have the time.” It is the same excuses time after time - too hot/cold, too wet/dry, too windy, too dusty, ammo is too expensive, ad nauseum. Whatever!! (Did I just say that?) The point here is, if you’re going to carry a tool that you may have to depend upon to save your life or the lives of your loved ones, don’t you think a little training and proper practice would be necessary? Most of us studied for our driver’s test. Most of us crammed for exams in school. Those of us who played sports usually practiced daily. Yet those who feel the need to protect themselves with a firearm, do not spend anything near a reasonable amount of time preparing for their possible war.

This all relates to mindset. Many instructors focus on the mindset as it relates to the fight itself – being able to switch from victim to victor quickly and having the wherewithal to offer violence on anyone wishing to do you harm. This type of mindset is necessary in battle and should be cultivated. The mindset I am referring to, however, is that which you must have prior to even purchasing your firearm. This includes awareness, and not merely the Awareness Color Code often discussed in classes. It is comprised of a number of levels individuals must consider.

First, the decision to go armed must be made along with all the attending issues. Is there anyone in the house that should not have access? Obtaining a permit; concealed carry or not; equipment choices, storage and maintenance are all considerations.

Second, it must be understood that merely having a gun does not mean you are prepared. It may mean you are equipped, much like a carpenter and his hammer or a mechanic with his wrench. There is work that must be done to use these tools correctly.

Next, finding some training that will enable you to use your new tool effectively and safely is vital. There are many instructors and programs available, as a quick internet search will show. When choosing your course, asking questions of the instructor prior to attending, is a good idea. This will help ensure you are getting what you want and need.

If you are new to the concealed carry family, a course that is competition focused or geared toward law enforcement or military groups, is probably not the class you want to initially attend. Even if you may have shot before, it is probably best to check your ego and attend a basic level class and review your fundamentals before going to the ‘high speed, low drag’ classes. A final consideration is getting use of force training that supports even more skills training.

Chinese General Sun Tzu is revered in East Asian culture as a legendary historical and military figure and is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, an influential work of military strategy. His work has found practical use to this day and is often cited and referred to by generals, theorists, business leaders and even politicians and sports figures. His works focus much more on alternatives to battle, conflict management and strategic planning, rather than the actual fighting, and he is a fascinating and worthwhile study.

In conclusion: The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” – Sun Tzu



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