Begin an Internet conversation on how to protect your family, and the topic will soon become lost in an argument about guns, and, inevitably, someone will most likely comment on how a loaded gun is all they need to keep their family safe. It is irrefutable that in the hands of a skilled and trained person firearms are an effective tool – one tool in what should be a diverse inventory of skills/knowledge to keep loved ones safe and alive. Case in point: I have yet to read an article on how to properly use a .357 magnum to extract a fish bone from a choking child’s throat. My point: family protection covers a wide spectrum of knowledge, aside from firearms, that we all need to know. And to that end, allow me to introduce Paul Markel.
Paul Markel is a former Marine and police officer who now works fulltime as a small arms and tactics instructor. He has trained thousands of troops in preparation of their combat deployment. He also hosts the Student of the Gun web site and produces films about safety preparedness. Markel is a firm proponent of firearms and their proper use and role in self-defense, as well as advocating everyday people need to be familiar with the techniques and readily available equipment that can keep our families alive in emergencies.
Markel recommends every vehicle and home contain at least a medical kit consisting of a ready-made tourniquet, gauze, duct tape (for sealing wounds), a plastic airway (an NPA - nasopharyngeal airway), and, that the owners know how to use the items. His web site includes tips and tools for breaking windows to reach people trapped in vehicles. CPR and the Heimlich maneuver are also lifesaving techniques we should become practiced in if we truly want to be prepared to protect our families in any situation.
That all said, Markel is a “Student of the Gun.” Besides his TV and radio programs promoting
Q) Disagreement is in unavoidable when firearms are discussed. This interview alone will instantly inflame some readers before they even know what it’s about. Education is of primary importance to you. So, if it’s even possible, how can both sides of the issue become educated on the other side’s position?
A) Education and experience are the goal. When it comes to education it must be on-going and continuous. Many folks who argue tactics and gear took a one-day class fifteen years ago and they are the local ‘expert’. Which surgeon do you want operating on you, the one whose last training was in 1982 or the surgeon who is current with all modern techniques?
Q) You come under fire from a few gun enthusiasts for your beliefs. Why do you think some consider you controversial?
A) Men tie their ownership and use of firearms directly to their egos. Any person who questions their choices or suggests something new or different is de facto attacking their ego. The knee-jerk reaction is often to lash out in an effort to protect a fragile self-image.
Q) What inspired you to become as knowledgeable as possible about firearms and safety?
A) I’ve always been a ‘gun guy’. When I was 11 years old my grandfather showed me how to use a Daisy BB gun and the die was cast. As a teenager I consumed every word I could from various gun magazines. When I was a US Marine I qualified ‘Expert’ with the rifle and pistol and my unit sent me to USMC Marksmanship Coaches School. That’s when I knew I loved to coach and instruct others.
Q) Though you teach, as a student of your own mantra “the learning never stops,” you also continue to learn. Where do you go to continue your education?
A) I’ve traveled literally from New England to California attending firearms training courses. I’ve attend Military, Law Enforcement, and Privately run academies. Most recently I completed an Instructor Development Course at a local college.
Q) The Internet is rife with gun “experts” who can’t seem to agree on a variety of subjects. How can the average person sort out what’s accurate and what’s not?
A) That is a difficult task. The first step is to take a live-training course. Get some experience under your belt. The more experience you have, the better able you will be to weed out the B.S.
Q) Any parting comments for readers, regardless of their position on firearms?
A) Reading stimulates thought, and thinking people are in desperately short supply in this day and age. Books and DVD are great ways to access information, but they aren’t training. Training is something you do under the watchful eye of an instructor. You are a beginner once, you should be a student for life.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net