But despite efforts and intentions, you’re about to be in a bad situation. Now what?
All problems, not just computers, require proper software and proper hardware. In this case, the software is your training, preparation, and forethought in preserving, protecting, and if need be defending yourself. The fundamental truth, and this isn’t just some Jedi/Zen Master gobbledygook, is that YOU are the weapon. What you grab up is just a tool.
Tools are the hardware. This side of a galaxy far, far away, hence no laser blasters, there are two types of relevant tool technology: projectile throwers, and impact devices. That’s it.
Examples of projectile throwers: rifle, shotgun, pistol, air/pellet/BB gun, sling, slingshot, bow and arrow, spear, arm/hand.
Examples of impact weapons: Spear, sword, knife, club, pointy stick, rock, fist, elbow, claws, teeth, etc.
Of the two, projectile throwers are preferable, because while they tend to require more skill and precision, they can stop (usually by killing or severely impeding function of) hostile animals before they can get close enough to you to use their tools on you with the same goal in mind. So your first choice is a projectile weapon with the best effectiveness at the greatest distance you can utilize. Artillery is nice, but without trucks, a fire direction center, a supply and logistics chain, and someone to observe where your rounds land, not really something you can wield. So your current winner starts at something like a Barrett .50 BMG M82A1, and works down to a .22LR plinking rifle like a Ruger 10/22. Everything in that range is a series of trade-offs in weight, range, capacity, and lethality. But whatever mix you choose, there’s no pistol you’ll choose that will touch even a humble 10/22.
I hear the murmuring. “Bull***t!”. Tell you what: I’ll take a brick of .22LR ammunition, a 10/22 rifle with only one 10-round magazine, and a fixed 4x scope. You pick your favorite handgun, set up any way you like, and 500 rounds. (Unless you picked a .22LR semi-auto pistol, in which case you’re skipping ahead.) We’ll put two cantaloupes on stakes, and pace back 200 yards. On “Go!” we each start shooting 100 rounds. Whichever one of us is done with all rounds first, we both stop, and count hits, noting quantity, accuracy, and mass delivered. After you lose the first time, we’ll replace me with a 9-year old girl, and repeat the test. After you lose that, we’ll do it again with a one-armed guy with coke-bottle glasses going against you. Once you’re 0 for 3, we’ll move on. If you’re really hard-headed, we can try a few 50-yard wind sprints just before firing. Thus endeth the lesson on why shoulder-held weapons will almost always trump handheld.The odds are that in looking at the range of shoulder weapons you might select, judging cost, weight, accuracy, capacity, effectiveness, etc., you’ll very likely re-invent the wheel and settle on something looking fairly similar or identical to an AR/AK/FN sort of rifle. Perhaps not, and frankly, I don’t give a whatever, because we’re not talking about me, we’re talking about you. And fundamentally, it doesn’t matter. But YOU aren’t different enough from 500 million of your fellows sufficiently to outthink the combined armies of 98% of the planet. Not gonna happen.
The next step takes us back to software upgrades. PRACTICE with the thing. For reference, when my Primary Marksmanship Instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Montessa*, all 5’6” and 120 pounds of him dripping wet, relented to trust me with live rounds for the first time, it was only after I’d dry-fired the weapon several thousand times at tiny simulated targets painted on 55-gal. barrels, in 4 different firing positions, along with taking the weapon apart, cleaning it, and putting it back together several hundred times, plus a full week’s detailed instruction about the weapon, the ammunition, and bucketloads of absolutely basic marksmanship techniques. And that was to be the lowliest apprentice on the shooter totem pole. So you aren’t going to master your weapon in just a single weekend class by any gun ninja on the planet.
You're going to have to practice daytime, dusk, and nighttime, all seasons, and multiple positions, then throw in moving targets, and moving yourself, in order to reach decent proficiency.The prep I received paid off in my case, because I paid attention, scored 92% and qualified Expert. Much later, and long after I’d qualified as an expert multiple times because I still followed the basic techniques, they started throwing moving targets and shooting while moving and kicking down doors to the curriculum. Nowadays that’s part of the basic package, and they throw in lasers and optical sights, rather than doing it all with iron sights. (Hint: That requires more training and proficiency, not less, because gadgets break, plus now you have to teach adjusting both or multiple sight packages, not just simple iron adjustable sights. The payoff is headshots at 400 yards for raw recruits. Nota bene.)
You can ignore this. You can also get rapidly dead when tested on a two-way shooting range. Or not, your choice.For starters, the takeaway is simple: get the best rifle (for what you think you’ll need to do) you can, support it with the best accessories you can justify from an honest utility factor, and not CDI (“Chicks Dig It”) or King of the Mall Ninjas perspective, and then commence to train the hell out of yourself. Then train and practice some more. Both serious training and lack of it pay dividends. Lack of training dividends are the ones you don’t want to receive, other than from someone else’s lack of prep.
Next time: What to do when shoulder weapons suck.
*( PMIs are the only people the Marines let wear the campaign cover other than Drill Instructors – though a number of PMIs have also been DIs - and with good reason. The only person that can and should inspire the requisite awe other than your DI is a guy like this little hard-as-titanium-woodpecker-lips guy, who opened the ball by picking a random recruit’s rifle, firing two “sighter” shots, throwing on his iron sight dope, and then dumping 10 rounds standing offhand in rapid fire from 500 yards, and grouping them all in the head of the target while we all watched. The target was retrieved and laid in front of us. Then he began his first class lecture to us.)