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Absolutes Are Absolutely Wrong!

For many people, guns are like a religion. To question someone’s choice of firearm is often viewed with the same offense as impugning a person’s faith. We enter a world of absolutes. As in, the M1911A1 is absolutely the finest handgun ever designed. To speak otherwise is heresy.

Similarly, we find that type of thinking carrying over into the use of firearms and firearms training. Humans tend to tightly embrace that to which they were first exposed. Whichever way they were taught first to handle a firearm becomes their absolute. Any suggestion that comes along afterward is suspect or just plain wrong.

It is human nature to cling to the psychological comfort of our first exposure, regardless of what the subject matter might be. There is also a positive trait that humans should embrace; the ability to learn.

Just because “we have always done it that way” does not mean it is the most correct or efficient way. The way we have always done it may have been sound and logical when first introduced, but decades later is not so.

Performing a task mindlessly just because “that is always the way it has been” is a prime symptom of intellectual laziness and institutionalized apathy. Deciding that a technique or task is absolutely the only way is the fast track to being absolutely wrong.

There are indeed some absolutes; “Thumb Clip, Pull Pin, Throw Grenade” is the absolutely correct procedure for employing a fragmentation grenade. Any alteration in the sequence of those three steps is an invitation to disaster. Also, “Remove Magazine, Rack the Slide” are two steps that absolutely must be performed in that order to properly unload a pistol.

That being said, far too often firearms instructors institute absolutes in their programs that are truly more personal opinion or preference than they are necessary absolutes. Muzzle up or muzzle down is one of the most common “absolutes” we encounter. And, if you wish to be honest with yourself, whether you are an absolute muzzle down or and absolute muzzle up person, you are absolutely wrong.

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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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