Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gardening with a Gun: are you ready to defend your castle if needed?

I was having a conversation with one of my students a few weeks ago concerning mindset, and she mentioned that since she had begun training with me she had a new confidence about being able to defend herself. She had tried to relate this boost in confidence to a friend of hers, only to be surprised when she was meant with a very passive attitude from her friend. During a conversation about emergency preparedness, the friend had told her “Well if someone wants what I have, I’ll just give it to them.” My student left her friend a little stunned when she asked “Well what if they want to rape your daughter or kill your husband? What if they want more than you are willing to give?”

This passive outlook on self-defense is something we may all encounter from people at our jobs, our recreational outlets, even in our churches and sadly enough, even amongst out friends. Since I have become an instructor I have found that not all gun owners are ready to defend themselves – for some it is just a hobby. And as any of you who have trained with me know, simply owning or carrying a gun DOES NOT make you a sheepdog. In emergency situations it is your mindset that will save or doom you, but you can prepare before an emergency to help your mind and body react the way you need them to, and sometimes that may mean you need to be prepared to take a life in order to defend yours and your family’s. I once had a conversation with a fellow shopper in a gun store who told me "I won't need to bake bread, I'll just take bread."

To give you a better example of what I'm driving at here, I’d like to share an article with you from a woman who is a really squared away citizen. Her name is Marjory Wildcraft, and her DVD is a great investment for learning more about self-sustainment on your own land.

(The following article is reprinted with permission from author Marjory Wildcraft of Backyard Food Production.)

Well guns aren’t really that useful for digging or anything like that. But do you need a gun if you are becoming self-reliant? Let me tell you a true story that happened to me which had me re-think the whole concept of security.

Back when we were first starting to sell the DVD Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm I had a very shocking experience. When I say shocking, I mean I was really dumbfounded, and almost couldn’t speak for a long time.

I was at a local shop talking with the owner about carrying the DVD in his store. He was congenial enough, but looked me right in the eye and told me “I will never need to grow food”. I told him that you never knew what was coming and being able to grow food could be a crucial skill. He flatly told me he would never have to grow food. I asked him why, and he said “because I have this”, and from under the counter he pulled out a big black semi-automatic gun.

I stared at the gun not understanding, and I asked him ‘What do you mean?”

“Well, if anything happens” he said, “it is like this; with this gun I can get all the food I need from people like you who grow it”.

Several customers who had been listening in on the conversation agreed with the shop owner. They were ordinary looking people and I would have never guessed they would have this kind of thinking.

Now I live in Texas, which has a proud tradition of gun ownership. Buying, selling, and swapping guns is easy and legal – in fact, it is a major pastime for many Texans. And while Texas may be on the more extreme end of the spectrum, that kind of mentality exists in some form everywhere.

So I began a project of researching guns and self-defense. Within the history of recent periods it is well documented that crime and violence go up as economic conditions go down. And there certainly are scenarios where law and order break down. Having some level of defense is an important skill.

Here is a short summary of the major points and useful resources I have discovered about self-defense. One of the first things I found is gun owners are strongly opinion-ed and they rarely agree. Most of them were very friendly and offered lots of help in my process of trying to find what weapons I might need and how to use them. But be aware there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

Getting some basic training is essential. Of all the videos I’ve seen, I found the series produced by The Outdoor Channel titled “The Best Defense” to have the most useful and specific information for a novice gun owner.

Of the many trainings that are available there are some that are free or low cost. We attended an excellent training done over a weekend where they teach rifle marksmanship and an entertaining dose of revolutionary war history. The training is sponsored by a group called Appleseed. As of 2010, the course was free to women and children, and only $75 for men. They welcomed beginners and a majority of the rifles were inexpensive .22 caliber. To find an Appleseed event near you click here.

As a woman, I found that I felt comfortable with the .22LR caliber as a first handgun and rifle. Lower startup cost, relative quiet, and low recoil helped my skittish nerves and fear of these powerful new tools. As I gained more experience and got comfortable with gun safety and operation, I moved up to a 9mm handgun. Over half of all hand guns sold in the US are 9mm and with that much popularity the caliber is likely to be available as long as ammunition is available.

Another very common and versatile gun is the shotgun. By far, 12 gauge is the most widely available size. If you are only going to have one gun, I have to agree with the experts’ recommendation of the 12 gauge shotgun with a shorter barrel as an all around weapon. The first time I shot a 12 gauge it was loaded with heavy buckshot and I almost fell over from the noise and recoil and I was afraid of them for a long time. Later, a friend introduced me to low recoil rounds, and after some testing, I realized that even simple bird shot loads (which are fairly light) would be highly effective in home – or garden – defense scenarios. My 11 year old son can also handle the 12 gauge with lighter loads.

Hopefully, you and I (or my son!) will never get to the point of needing a weapon to defend our gardens and livestock. But it sure is something to think about – and prepare for. Actually, I have been finding it a lot of fun to go shooting.

(Visit Marjory’s website and sign up for her newsletter at Backyard Food Production.)

As Marjory pointed out, firearms training is essential for everyone (both novice and experienced) and the Appleseed events are a great place to start. There is sure to be one near you, so visit their website and check it out. You do need to be aware that they are more of an organized shooting event than a training course, so it’s best to seek elsewhere for personalized instruction and formal training events - such as Independence Training.

Will we ever get to the point where society will break down and we’ll need to defend our homes, our supplies, and even our lives from marauders and thugs? I don’t know – I certainly hope not. But do not fool yourself into thinking that there are not genuinely bad people out there who will take what you have and have no qualms about harming you or you family in the process. And with crime on the rise and the economy continuing in a downward spiral, knowing how to take care of yourself is becoming more important than ever. Growing your own food is certainly a way to take care of yourself, but if you decide to do it, you may consider gardening with a gun.

Stay Aware, Stay Safe, and Train Hard.

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