I Bought a Gun to Defend Myself. Now What?

As one may imagine we never have a dull moment here at the range. Yet, just when I believe I have seen it all, something new walks through the front door.

I have had the opportunity to shoot everything from the Blunderbuss of the 18th century, to 1873 lever action Winchesters (one of the first repeating rifles) to Barrett’s .50 BMG long range rifle (has an effective range of over a mile), to some of the most modern fully automatic assault rifles one can think of.

guns_275x208I find the evolution of weapons over time to be absolutely fascinating, but some things will never change. Regardless of the technology implemented these weapons will never be more than tools. A hammer is to a carpenter as a firearm is to a gunfighter.

If you give a young boy a hammer and a bucket of nails he is more likely to hurt himself then build a solid structure. Give an untrained adult a weapon in a combat situation and he/she is, like the child, more likely to get hurt then emerge successful.

Some may make the argument that with our military’s latest “smart bombs” and such that some weapons can operate themselves, but I assure you that behind every “smart bomb” is a smarter technician, just as behind every weapon that has ever been deployed in combat successfully, from the days of the sword to modern weaponry, has always stood an operator that was properly trained for the job.

I bought myself a gun…Now, what?

So, you bought a gun. Now what? Is it enough just to practice shooting at a paper target once a month or so? What skill sets does one need to acquire to be able to defend themselves and their family?

To answer these questions we must first understand how a gunfight works: Time, distance, rounds fired etc. Take a moment and visualize an event during which you may need this weapon. We have all done this, likely before we ever even purchased the gun. Are you thinking of an attack by a rapist in a dark parking lot, a bank robbery, or a carjacking? Perhaps, you are envisioning a nice lunch at a Luby’s Café in Killeen Texas when a 1987 Ford Ranger drives through the front window, a distraught man with a gun jumps out and opens fire killing 23 people and wounding 20+ others. (This event, known as the Luby’s Massacre, occurred in 1991 and sparked the movement for the Texas Concealed Handgun License. Suzanna Hupp was there that day and lost both of her parents; here is her explanation of the second amendment:

Suzanna Gratia Hupp explains meaning of 2nd Amendment!

No matter what situation you imagined the chance of foreseeing the actual event (which hopefully never happens) is very slim, but we can lean on statistics. Statistics say the average civilian gunfight will take place at a distance shorter than 9 feet, exchange 8-10 shots per person, and last 3-5 seconds.

If you think about these they all make perfect sense:

    • Distance: a rape occurs at contact distance (they can touch you), an armed robber doesn’t attack from beyond 9 feet, and even in your home it is unlikely that you will ever have a clear, safe shot beyond 15 feet.


    • Round Count: Why 8-10 rounds? There are two primary types of pistols carried in the civilian world. One of which is the 5 shot, small framed revolver, and the other is the modern semiautomatic pistol which often hold 12 to 15 rounds. Average it out and you will discover that the reason for the 8-10 round statistic is because you are going to fire every round your weapon has the capacity to hold.


  • Time: With the average person being capable of firing at a rate or 2-3 round per second it takes 3-5 seconds for them to empty their gun.

For me, this is really all quite mind boggling. I pray that I am never faced with this situation, but I carry a gun because I think, like many of you, that in today’s society there is a real possibility that I may need it. And in those 3-5 seconds my life or the life of a loved one may depend on my ability to manipulate a tool.

What skill sets do I need?

  • Proficiency in drawing from concealment
    • From a holster, center console, etc.
  • Subconscious manipulation of safety features
    • If I can’t disengage the safety my weapon is nothing more than a brick. This is one argument for the “Glock Style” safety found on many modern handguns.
  • Speed
    • Not how fast I can press the trigger, but how quickly I can return the weapon back to my threat for the next shot.
  • Accuracy
    • One slow good shot is always better than ten fast misses.
  • Moving and shooting
    • No one stand still in a gunfight, our subconscious will tell us to move to a point of cover.
  • Use of cover to your advantage
    • How can I hide the majority of my body and still actively engage the threat?
  • Clearing malfunctions
    • Unfortunately this is a real possibility and we must be prepared to fix it.

The above is just a short list of the potential necessary skills, but unfortunately most of them are taken for granted by the average Concealed Handgun Licensee.

So, my suggestion is to get training! None of us even those of us born and raised in the great state of Texas were born with a gun in our hands. The manipulation of firearms is simply not natural. In the words of Donovan Lamar, Head Firearms Instructor here at Hot Wells Shooting Range, “there is nothing natural about an explosion coming out of the palm of your hand.”


There are two types of firearm manipulation; conscious and subconscious. Think for a second about signing your name with a pen. As a young child learning to write you operated on a conscious level putting thought into the etching of each letter, but regardless of how much thought you invested the result was sloppy and inconsistent. Today, you write on a subconscious level; making your mark with more consistency and in a fraction of the time, never having to think for a second about how to manipulate the pen or spell your name. You must learn to operate you pistol with the proficiency of your pen. Two things will lead to this conclusion: Proper training to start, and regular practice to maintain the perishable skill set.

Defense Oriented Firearm Training

Here at Hot Wells we offer a variety of defense oriented firearm training. Our head instructor, Donovan Lamar, approaches each student without an ego typical to many of the “Rambo-Like” instructors you will find in the industry. One series of courses I would highly recommend is his Tactical Series; comprised of three, 2 hour courses this series will improve all of the skill sets I named above.

Phase I is all about building a solid foundation, and by the end of your first 2 hours Donovan will take his business card and attach it on edge to a target where you will split it in half! Phase II introduces mobility, speed, multiple targets, and drawing from a holster. By the end of Phase II you will drawing from a holster, and engaging multiple threats while on the move. Then there is my personal favorite, Phase III. This is a scenario based course where participants will be introduced to using cover and concealment, distinguishing targets, clearing malfunctions, and shooting with the added pressure of a timer, all the while incorporating skills from the previous two phases.

Please understand that these courses are not a boot camp, and Donovan is no drill instructor. I have never seen someone too old or too slow to participate, and I assure you, there will be no running, push-ups, or summersaults while operating your weapon. This series is merely an opportunity to learn, practice, and master real world skill sets that could possibly safe your life.

So, you have a gun now get training, practice regularly, and be prepared mentally and physically to use it in the event that you have no other choice. Also keep in mind it doesn’t matter how well trained you are if you aren’t aware of what going on around you. Just look at James Butler Hickok, but that’s a topic for another day.

See you on the range,

Josh Vacek

General Manager

Hot Wells Shooting Range

I can’t find any ammo for my gun!!

obama_guns_275x208January 15th 2014 marked the one year anniversary of the terrible massacre that struck our nation as a whole and in particular the Sandy Hook Elementary School. To say that this is a tragic event is an extreme understatement. The lives of twenty innocent children and 6 adults were claimed in a senseless act of violence.

I cannot even begin to imagine the pain these families must be experiencing; it is one thing to deal with the death of a loved one, but another to deal with that of a child, and as this is a very sensitive subject, I would like to make it known that my deepest condolences go out to the families affected by the Sandy Hook shooting.

I pray nightly that as a nation we can come together and find a solution that will help put an end to this epidemic of violence, but I fear that currently we are on a path to epic failure. Turn on any source of mainstream media and you will quickly find the liberal agenda they are pushing. “END GUN VIOLENCE, BAN FIREARMS!” This may seem like a reasonable suggestion, but there is absolutely no way it will work!

Banning firearms

Let’s just pretend that our government spat on our Second Amendment Right and implemented a ban of all firearms. A ban that would require you as a gun owner to turn in every firearm you own. Would criminals turn in their weapons? Absolutely not! All the ban would do is keep honest law abiding citizens honest, and not do a thing to reduce the violence brought on by criminal minds.

Society is the problem

The reality is that the violence we are witnessing in society is not a descendent of firearm ownership, but an outcry of the evil we are surrounded with on a day to day basis. How long has firearms ownership been a part of this country? How long have firearms been thought of as a problem in this country? The two numbers do not correlate. Whether we choose to admit it or not, it was not all that long ago that in small town American firearms could be found in the gun racks of pickup truck in the student parking lots of schools all over this country, and especially in the great state of Texas, and to top it off those truck doors were left unlocked! How many school shootings did you hear about in those days? This is because firearms are not the problem, society is the problem. As long as we have a lack of responsible parenting, an abundance of cruelty displayed to children in entities such as video games, and a media that credits celebrities for their poor life choices we are guaranteed to have an issue with violence. Our government placing a ban on firearms will be just as effective as a doctor prescribing pain medication to a cancer patient and sending them on their way. Yes it may numb the pain, but will do nothing to attack the root of a fatal problem.

Lack of ammunition

Over the last month, in anticipation of upcoming law changes, we have seen some strange things in the firearms industry. For instance, only days after the tragedy we sold every semiautomatic rifle we had, and today the biggest challenge we are facing is a lack of ammunition to provide for our customers. It seems that every other customer walking through our door has a story about the store after store they checked only to find their shelves were empty. It has become a bit of a sarcastic joke around the office asking what calibers of ammunition we are expecting for delivery today, the unfortunate reality is we aren’t getting any in. Only a month ago I could call up one of our distributers, tell them what I needed, and expect delivery in three to five days. Now, not a chance. I feel like a hungry man in a soup line, I’ll take what I can get and be happy to get it. How long will this last? I haven’t the slightest idea.

So the next question is what should you, a law abiding gun owner, be doing during this time? Should you be buying assault rifles or stocking up on ammunition? Many in my industry will tell you yes and yes, and although I will not disagree there are more important chores to be done.

Join the NRA

First off put your money where your mouth is and JOIN THE NRA! Regardless of whether or not you agree with everything they do, they are your front line of defense in Washington D.C. and they need all the help they can get! The NRA currently has somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.3 million members, that is less than 5.5% of the 80 million gun owners in the United States. Numbers like these will not win the battle on Capital Hill. During these trying times we cannot afford to be silent in our beliefs. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Our constitutional rights are at stake and if we do not stand together, if we do not unite in our beliefs, we will lose those rights.

As a final note to those who misconstrue the Second Amendment; here are a few words from its sponsors:

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

— Thomas Jefferson

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

— Thomas Jefferson

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

Richard Henry Lee

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them.”

— George Mason

“The best we can help for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”

Alexander Hamilton

Oh, and what do you think about this?


Hope to see you out at the range soon,

Josh Vacek

General Manager

Hot Wells Shooting Range