Book Review: Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make (Werner, 2019)

Claude Werner, a.k.a. the Tactical Professor, has a distinguished background as an analyst in the military (Special Operations), as a market research director for real estate and major accounting firms, and as a firearms trainer at the elite Rogers Shooting School.

Several years ago he began to study what he called “negative outcomes” involving armed citizens. What mistakes do they make? What are the contributing factors? It’s a topic that really hasn’t been written about or discussed within the gun culture or training community to the depth that Claude explored it.

He defines three factors that lead to bad decisions and negative outcomes:

  1. Don’t Know the Rules
  2. Inadequate Skills
  3. Don’t understand the situation

There’s really no excuse for not knowing the rules, in a time where information is immediately accessible online. Perhaps a better description for this factor is “didn’t think it important enough to learn the rules”. Rules could be gun safety rules, applicable laws, or the basic rules of self-defense tactics and interaction with law enforcement when armed.

The importance of dry fire practice in building skill, particularly related to safe gun handling and rapid, effective presentation of the gun from concealment, has been understood for decades, and is widely emphasized in modern training programs. Live fire time, or access to a range, isn’t required to develop most of the skills associated with pistol shooting and gunhandling. So perhaps another description for this factor is “didn’t think it was important enough to learn how to develop skills and develop them”.

Claude has produced several books on how to practice, available from his webstore.

“Not understanding the situation” is the most difficult factor. Unlike the other two, learning how to assess situations often requires life experience, and most armed citizens living normal lives don’t get a lot of life experience in high stress deadly force situations. Watching videos and online analyses of incidents can help, as can participating in force on force scenarios, but it’s fair to say that this particular factor requires more effort to improve than the other two.

Claude breaks down the types of mistakes into three categories:

  1. Legal mistakes
  2. Imprudent mistakes
  3. Mechanical mistakes

Claude’s list of legal mistakes include unjustifiable shootings, warning shots, unnecessary intervention, and more. His definition of imprudent mistakes mainly focuses on gun access problems (lost, stolen, child access). Mechanical mistakes are related to gun handling and marksmanship.

From that he defines a list of Negative Outcomes, that include being injured or killed, arrested, tried, imprisoned, and several others.

The book itself goes into detail about each type of mistake and negative outcome.

I strongly recommend this book to all firearms trainers, particularly those teaching state carry permit classes. Carry permit students, most of whom are unmotivated to train beyond mandatory state minimums, are the ones that need to understand the information Claude presents, to understand why training and regular practice is important.

The book, like all of Claude’s work, is available from the Tactical Professor website by clicking the “Tactical Professor books” button.