Zen and the gunfighter


Gun carriers, whether armed professionals or competitors, all argue about what is best. Which stance, which caliber, physical fitness, 1911 or Glock, carbine or shotgun...we can argue for years and never agree. Some opinions are so strongly held that, especially after the amber-colored liquid flows, there have been fistfights over what is “best.” All of this is irrelevant if we are not physically and mentally prepared.

For centuries, being a warrior was a way of life. Generations of men trained, fought, and died because that was what men did. “Progress” made society believe that the warrior mindset was outmoded, obsolete, and unnecessary in modern society. The age of the gunfighter was past, and developing and encouraging the warrior mindset was not needed—it was, in fact, wrong.

The single-most important factor in winning fights was not only ignored, but discouraged: mindset. Fighting, whether armed or unarmed, has two parts- mechanical and mental. The mechanical part, technique, tactics, and running the gun, are relatively easy to learn. It’s the mental part that is difficult. A simple example of the mental is shooting silhouette targets, which conditions us to shoot at humans.

Years ago, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper developed a color-coded system to describe mental awareness. His “Mental Conditioning for Combat” lecture, with its white- through red-colored pyramid, became a staple in defensive firearms training. Recent authors have added black, a state of frozen panic, to the top of the pyramid.

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