Why don’t you have a backup?

In our modern world, we seem to accept that things break.

Things break because anything mechanical sooner or later does (parts wear and age). Maybe it’s because things are more cheaply manufactured and they just don’t make them like they used to. Maybe sometimes the unexpected comes up, like a nail in the tire. Regardless of why, we accept things will break. Sometimes we’ll have a spare on hand, like another tire in the trunk; we change the tire, and get back on the road. Sometimes we don’t, and we have to go get a replacement before we can keep going. Often not having a backup on hand isn’t a big deal because it’s not critical – if my lawn mower breaks, I don’t need a second because it’s just not that critical. I can wait on the repair, or I can borrow from a neighbor. That tends to be how we look at things is by how important recovering from failure is. Recovering from failing to mow my lawn? Not that big a deal. Recovering from a flat tire? Bigger deal (and harder to go get a spare when you’re 50 miles from nowhere and your means of travel has a flat).

Consider computers. How important is it to have a back-up of your vital data? It was really neat when Apple came out with Time Machine because that was “back-up for the rest of us”. Back-ups used to be a very convoluted thing, and while Time Machine isn’t a complete back-up solution, it suffices for most needs and gets most people back up and running when that important file is deleted or their computer fails. And boy, aren’t we happy for it when that paper we’ve worked on all night can be salvaged? Or we don’t wind up looking stupid because we lost the PowerPoint files for tomorrow’s presentation? Back-ups save our butts.

So yeah, we seem to understand the importance of a backup.

With that in mind, Greg Ellifritz asks “Do you carry a backup gun?”  I’d rather ask the question: “Why aren’t you carrying a backup gun?”.

Guns are mechanical. They can and will fail. If you’ve shot guns enough, I’m sure you’ve seen a failure in some regard. Most of the time it was no big deal, because you were doing something non-critical. If you’re just practicing at the range, it wasn’t critical. If you missed that deer, it really sucks but isn’t necessarily critical.

But if your life was on the line when the failure occurred? That’s very critical. And what does Murphy’s Law state?

And it’s not like you can put the attack on hold while you go fetch another gun. If you need it, you need it right here, right now.

Here’s a few points to consider.

First, simple failure. Your primary gun could just fail for whatever reason. It doesn’t matter the reason, and “now” is not the time to care or figure out why. You may have reaction to “tap, rack, resume”, and that’s good, but what if that doesn’t solve it? The clock is ticking, what to do?

If you do want to get into specifics of failures, consider that a failure like a double-feed? Sure you can fix that in the field, but even in the best hands it takes a LONG time to accomplish. It’s a lot faster to drop the gun and draw a backup.

If your primary is a revolver, yes, revolvers can fail. When a revolver does fail, most failures are going to require a gunsmith to correct thus you will not recover from the failure in the field. So what’s the solution? Back up. If nothing else, consider how slow it takes to reload a revolver; it’s faster to draw a second gun.

People get shot in the hand. You see it all the time in Force-on-Force training. Why does this happen? Numerous reasons. First, when shooting, a good shooting platform puts the gun in front of your chest, and where do you think they are aiming? your chest. So if your hands are in the way, your hands will get hit. Second, often times when there’s a threat people focus on the threat. So if the threat is a gun, people focus on the gun, chances are they may shoot at the gun, which is held by hands. So if you get shot in the hand, the bullet is unlikely to be stopped by your hands, thus the gun will also receive the bullet. That may well render the gun inoperable, cause you to drop the gun, etc..  Now what do you do?

What if you’ve got a friend that needs a gun? Now you can give them one.

Consider as well how a second can make up for shortcomings. If you carry on your strong-side hip, it’s probably difficult for you to draw while remaining seated. What if you had a BUG on your ankle? Perhaps easier to draw. It may not be that your primary is inoperable, just inaccessible.

I know some would consider it “more paranoid” or “crazy” to carry a second gun. Are we paranoid for having a spare tire? Are we paranoid for running Time Machine? Label it however you wish, but the reasons are the same: we accept failure can occur, and we have a plan to contend with it.

(aside: for those in the Central Texas area that wish to learn more about and train with the concept of a BUG, KR Training will be offering it’s DPS-BUG class again this summer, July 20, 2013).

2 thoughts on “Why don’t you have a backup?

  1. Murphy’s Laws

    If anything can go wrong, it will.
    If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the first one to go wrong.
    If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
    If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
    Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
    If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
    Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
    Mother nature is a bitch.

    O’Toole’s Commentary on Murphy’s Laws
    Murphy was an optimist.

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