My older sister, Wendy, is a concert pianist who's been playing since quite young, so I grew up to the sounds of a jangling piano. At times, I hated that sound but then my ear began to hear the growing skill through a lot of struggles. Eventually the noise became that of captivating beauty, a joy to settle in and listen to serenading in the background while relaxing with a good book. Nowadays, whenever beautiful music is played live, much like a natural hot spring, it is a must to sit nearby and soak it in.
Later, in college, I heard a professor define music as “organized noise”. That seemed simplistic and rough, especially when compared to the beauty of the skilled music I'd grown accustomed to, but it stuck. That definition comes to mind at random times, usually in odd connections to other things, and today my mind compared it to training.
You see, I've been down quite a bit recently, having a bad flu bug for almost two weeks, then moving almost immediately into a surgical procedure. The down and following recovery times forced me to cancel classes and it put a damper on my own training. The slip of personal skills without the daily dry fire and occasional range practice is palatable and it'll be good to get back to training and teaching this next weekend.
So, here's the thought. Organized noise does not just happen. No stroke of luck or sheer happenstance creates soul-stirring music, no matter how long one has owned a musical instrument. Such beauty takes thought, effort, work, frustration, failure, curiosity, trying again and again, deep struggle, and commitment.
Wendy did not become a renown Atlanta-area pianist and teacher without tears and anger, great highs and harsh lows; she worked her heart out, suffered, and yet she grew, eventually becoming an expert in her craft.
See, she learned to organize sound…expertly…through logical, sequential practice until it just flowed, appearing effortless and mesmerizing.
There's a lesson to be learned from music. To become good at this high-risk, high liability endeavor we engage in, carrying a defensive firearm with the possibility of legally having to use it someday takes committed practice to organize our draw stroke, draw to first shot, maintaining acceptable to precise accuracy on needed follow up shots, and more.
Skilled gun use does not come via osmosis after internalizing John Wayne or Wick while Cheeto crunching from the recliner. It instead takes effort, thought, work, investment, frustration, failure, curiosity, trying again and again, deep struggle, learned guidance beyond oneself, and disciplined commitment.
I suspect less than 1% of gun owners engage in practice or training. It is unfortunate and sad. The vast majority seem to feel mere gun ownership will miraculously enable them to perform dazzling feats of heroics and shooting if the gun is suddenly needed. TV gun heroes are never seen practicing, and they constantly amaze with casual, offhand shots that rarely miss, leading to many whom unthinkingly presume the same will happen for them in the hour of need.
We gun owners have a responsibility to organize our noise, no different in essence than the efforts needed by the casual to professional musicians who grow skills to their needed levels. We have to be practitioners who practice and who seek out expert coaching.
We should not only be the ones who willingly and purposefully practice on our own, and attend guided, professional training on the regular, but we also need to be firearm missionaries who enthusiastically encourage the many gun keepers we all know into practice and training so they too can become thoughtful users and shooters.
Let us organize our noise.
Founder, Defenders USA