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The Handgun – An Essential Tool for Self-Defense

We live in uncertain times and we all know that we can’t be dependent on the police or government to adequately protect us.  It’s best to stick to the method of self-defense that our ancestors used – Do It Yourself.  The absolutely most practical and useful tool for self-defense is the handgun.

The key advantage of the handgun is that it’s practical.  There are much better weapons for defending yourself.  A rifle or shotgun will always offer more protection than a handgun.  The reason why handguns are so practical is that it’s not always feasible to reach for a rifle.  When you need it quickly, or there’s a surprise attack, a handgun in easy reach will get the job done.  It’s also handy because it’s concealable.

Folks who have never fired a gun before will be surprised at the kick even a tiny pistol can have.  In the movies, people pick up pistols and start shooting without taking aim, like it’s a water pistol.  Those of us with a little experience know that it takes quite a bit of skill to shoot a handgun effectively.  Even those of us with years of rifle hunting experience can find it a bit tricky to hit a target with a pistol.

Training is essential.  The best training is to take a course with a certified instructor, but for various reasons (including cost), this is not always a great option.  If you’ve got the money, this is the way to go; if you’re on a budget, there are other options.

One great course that’s very reasonable is the NRA’s Education and Training Division.  This is a training course that is required in order to get a handgun permit.  Even if you’re not going to get the permit, this is a great course for the basics of shooting and safety.  Even if you’ve got some experience shooting, this course is an excellent refresher in basic technique.

A wonderful way to learn about handguns with little cost involved is to go shooting with friends.  If you’ve got a friend with a little more experience than you, an afternoon at the shooting range can be a training course all by itself.  It can be especially educational if you’ve got a friend who has law enforcement or military experience.  Just remember that just because somebody loves guns, it doesn’t necessarily mean they know anything about shooting.  There are some nuts out there.

Books and DVDs are also great for learning about handguns, but in order to get the most out of them, you should have some basic training first.  After you’ve taken a course and spent some time target-shooting, these materials will do you some good.  Two highly recommended books on handguns are Tactical Pistol Shooting: Your Guide to Tactics & Techniques that Work by Erik Lawrence and Mike Pannone and Jim Grover’s Defensive Shooting Series.

The handgun is the easiest and most practical tool for defending you and your family.  Before it will do you any good, you’ve got to know how to use it.  If you don’t have the funds to train with a certified instructor, do it yourself and learn the essentials of shooting technique and safety.

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  1. Hello from hickabilly hollow folks and good article Mike. Having been a firearms owner since I was a kid, got to agree that a handgun can be a fine tool. Being a Life NRA member, I heartily reccomend them to everybody for several reasons. Join up. Training with a firearm has many benefits and adds to ones ability to survive. Practice and some instruction are invaluable, but don’t forget to study hard on the safety aspect of use and ownership. Lots of good thoughts out there about type and caliber of a personal gun, but really, get something you like and are comfortable with. Our family likes 30-06, 7.62X39 rifles, 12ga. and .410 shotguns, .40 and 38 caliber handguns. Get some, go out and burn the Dupont and enjoy !

  2. I’ve owned guns since I graduated from the Daisy BB gun as a child. Guns are many things… My primary interest was “they are fun to shoot”. But as society ( and I) have changed, so have my reasons for owning various guns. Now for me, they are an important right for maintaining a government by, of and for the people. They are a tool for hunting, for sport and for self-defense. Buying a gun for the propose of self-defense, is a VERY serious endeavor. There are many things you must learn and understand to be a responsible gun owner. I’m not trying to discourage anyone, but the physical, emotional, and financial well being for you, and for those, who are trusting you to know what you are doing with their lives and property, is in you hands. You literally have to take on this decision with a deadly seriousness. Like anything else that demands high responsibility, there are also great rewards. Be safe… and have fun !

  3. The guy in the picture has his left hand down range, ready to lose a thumb at best, half a hand at worst. And exactly where is his right hand? 🙂

    Kidding aside, training is everything. And not just static target shooting. Get to where you can hit the target at 3 feet, back up another foot and repeat until you can draw and put them all in the black. Repeat & repeat.

    Next, I’m just speaking from experience…so please don’t be offended.

    When the cops find a former rapist face down in an alley with two to the heart, they always look for a woman. Why? Because a woman is willing to learn how to shoot. That is, she does not already ‘know it all’ and can take direction and thus learn the skills necessary to make such a shot. Many (most?) men and boys have already learned everything there is to know. So when they enter a Driver’s Ed or shooting class all they can do is show off their poor skills. Testosterone apparently has the same affect on the male brain as alcohol: it makes men blind to their faults while enhancing their assessment of their skills.

    So…sign up for the basic pistol class. But please: shut up about all the heads you’ve mounted and focus on unlearning your poor shooting habits and retraining your head, eye and hand. Get it right then do it 1000 times. Muscle memory. Think through scenarios and “what if’s”, the practice them at a range, out in the desert, forest, etc. Get your concealed carry if you desire. Learn to reload. These are practical skills.

    Then, when you’re ready, come out to Thunder Ranch and let them bring it all together.

  4. Hi, I know that it’s essential for every American to stand up for their rights and it’s every Americans right to be able to bear arms and protect their families…but what if it’s UNLAWFUL??? I lived in Wisconsin for five years and had absolutely no trouble owning a pistol (especially since I needed it for my job) and I also had the necessary (and essential) training for it. Now that I live in Upstate NY, the requirements are far too rediculous to even achieve a PERMIT to OWN a handgun! If you don’t mind being ON the grid and in the gov’ts records for owning a handgun (kiss ’em goodbye if they are suddenly outlawed or Martial Law kicks in), then it would cost quite a bit just for the permit. Rifles and shotguns have to be registered in NY but in any case, no matter what laws are passed, the bad guys will ALWAYS have the guns! So now I ask, what should we do about it? Would it be wrong to achieve these guns off the streets? Is it not more important to protect ones family than obeying un-constitutional laws? Is it worth the risk of going to jail for illegally owning an unregistered gun or pistol? Is it worth going to jail rather than protecting yourself or your family? Would you rather be dead than harm your attackers? These aren’t necessarily retouricle questions. They’re things that I have really struggled with. For the record I DO NOT own ANY unlawful weapons or guns…but in times like these, they may be considered seriously. Thank you for your time.

  5. I’ve shot pistols since I was a kid, but it wasn’t till I joined a local IDPA league that I realized how different it is to shoot well in a combat-styled setting, compared to traditional shooting at paper targets.

    In our league some of the targets are moving, some reactive, some are just stationary, BUT it’s amazing how your brain drains out the muzzle of your pistol when that buzzer goes-off and you start running the current “scenario”.

    I highly recommend that folks who are serious about TRAINING with their firearms should join an IDPA styled club, or start their own. LEARN how to set-up and shoot scenario-based situations. It helps you discover things about yourself & your skills which you would never learn shooting from a bench. Even simple things like the safety practices we all learn early-on must be re-learned at this practical level.

    And… it’s FUN!

  6. LOL you know whats intersting …..before I joined the army i was a good hunter ..then i joined the infantry,went to basic and discovered….that shooting a 300 short mag and an m16 was alot different…I wasnt good with assault rifles at first, but i just trained more with em now i usaully shoot 39-40 or 40-40 at the range.Now im just all around good with any weapons system :P…..kidding aside though its not as bad as some people claim….a little practice some common since and anyone will be just fine.After that is keeping the basics in mind polishing your skills up …..and being ready for the day you have to double tap and stab some bastard.

    PS…guy in the picture…………hope he is not a real instructor.

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