By Steve Adcock, TheShootingChannel.com
Dan Meadows has been intimately involved in self-defense and firearms for most of his life, and I recently had the opportunity to pick his brain to find out what drives his involvement in this lifestyle and what newer shooters can gain from his insight into this fun, safe and practical way of life.
Dan began hunting and shooting weapons back in 1966 as a young man, eager to learn and have fun. Just a year after beginning martial arts training, Dan was preparing himself to become a master of self-preservation and defensive strategies to keep him safe from dangers and having fun while doing it. Dan began teaching civilian firearms training in the middle 70s and taught law enforcement training classes since the early 1980s. Now, Dan is a certified NRA firearms instructor and Senior Grandmaster Rank in martial arts. Dan knows what it takes to protect him, and others, from virtually any threat.
What got you into instructing? Why drives you to do it?
I do this because I love shooting and hunting. I love to teach people and meet those who share a similar interest in this sport. I enjoy traveling and spending time on the range instilling techniques that can be used to save someone’s life one day. Nobody wants to find themselves in a situation that requires deadly force. But if it happens, I want people to be prepared to defend themselves and escape with their lives and freedom.
What are the most common mistakes that newer shooters commit?
Keeping one’s finger on the trigger is the most common mistake among newer shooters. Until you’re ready to fire the weapon, your finger should always remain clear of the trigger and outside of the trigger guard. I teach my students to keep their trigger fingers along the firearm’s slide (the long, top piece of a gun) until they are ready to fire.
Another mistake is being unaware of the direction of the gun’s muzzle (where the gun is pointed). My students are taught to never, under any circumstances, point the gun in any direction other than where they intend to shoot at that moment.
What do newer shooters need to remember when practicing at the range?
Hydration – All too many times we get shooters out on the range and on the line, (with emptied or live firearms) who failed to hydrate enough for the range session, and they sometimes pass out from heat exhaustion. Stay hydrated!
What advice do you have for those who are looking for home-based self-defense weapons? Do you recommend a shotgun?
Take into account; the size of the home owner/person, their marksmanship skills or training for a particular firearm, location or jurisdiction and firearm allowances, other family members in the house and their respective locations.
A shotgun, either 12 or 20 gauge, is the most recommended due to the fact that there is less aiming and fewer marksmanship skills needed to effectively engage an attacker in a home defense situation. Using Buck Shot or personal protection loads are recommended. Take a class on Home Defense Shotguns.
Ammunition is so expensive these days, and they are hard to find in my local stores. What do you recommend people do to minimize costs while training?
Look beyond your immediate city if ammunition is scarce. Search around online and in neighboring cities for ammunition availability. Pre-order if you have to, and do what many others do – stock up on what you can get. Use .22 caliber firearms and ammunition for a cheaper way to train on the range.
Semi-automatic weapons seem complicated. Are revolvers just as effective as semi-autos in a defensive situation?
What might be effective for some may not be effective for others. So I ask people to define what they think “effective” means to them in respect to the need for a firearm. For any handgun, semi-auto or revolver, you should seek the assistance of a qualified and certified firearm instructor to teach you how to use it effectively and with due diligence to safety for yourself and your family. Go to a firearms range, following proper instruction, and then shoot both types of firearms to determine what is more effective for you. Keep in mind caliber size and ammunition availability to increase your effectiveness and preparedness in self-defense situations.
Will people need a license to keep a gun at their home? What about in their car?
You will find that state (and city) laws will differ from place to place in respect to needing a concealed carry or gun permit license. Know your state and local laws. Many times you don’t need a concealed carry license or permit to keep a firearm in your home. However, some states like New York require gun owners to obtain a permit even before purchasing a firearm.
Reciprocal agreements exist between some states (where states accept licenses from other states), so you should know them as well. Additionally, states typically enforce restrictions on transporting firearms in your car and may restrict or limit where it is legal to stop and stay over in that state with that firearm in your vehicle. Once again, it is best to research the laws before you travel.
My wife is scared of guns? What can I do to make her more comfortable around them?
Shooting weapons in a safe and controlled atmosphere goes a long way to improving the comfort level of newer shooters. Have her attend a women’s-only or co-ed firearms class. In addition, have her purchase or shoot a smaller caliber firearm until she finds a gun that she is comfortable with and provides appropriate protection. Start small. I prescribe lots of practice and range time often.
Editor’s note: Dan is what I call a ‘Dark Alley’ guy. If you ever have to walk a dark alley he is the guy you want with you. Check out TheShootingChannel.com where he writes.