Whether you are thinking about purchasing a handgun as part of your self-defense plan or you just did, you should consider the Triangle of Success as a road map for your journey. The Triangle of Success is a strategy for developing your skills with a firearm as part of your self-defense plan. There are three sides to the Triangle of Success. The first side is the selection of the firearm, the second side is training, and the third side is ammunition. The philosophy of the triangle of success is based on the financial allocation of your Firearm Self-Defense Budget.

Three Points to Success

The goal is to spend twice as much on training with your firearm and twice as much on ammunition as you do on the cost of the firearm. This cost allocation may seem excessive. However, this is where you need to think about if you must use your firearm in self-defense. The experience of using your firearm in self-defense will be one of the most stressful times in your life. Your heart will be racing, you may experience tunnel vision, and your manual dexterity will decrease because your body is going into survival mode. These physiological experiences will make properly using a firearm very difficult. A good analogy is to imagine if you are placed in the Indianapolis 500 without any race car training. Your heart would be racing, your stress level would be high, and your body would go into survival mode. The truth is that you would probably be in a better position to survive the Indianapolis 500 because at least you have consistent daily driving experiences to draw on. Regarding using a, unless you are in law enforcement or the military, you have very little to draw from your daily life.  To get yourself through an attack that is so severe that you feel you must use a gun, you will need high-quality training. Therefore, if you spend $500 on a firearm, you should spend $1000 on training and $1000 on ammunition. Having the skills to survive an attack is the most important side of the triangle of success. 


Training cost= 2 x Firearm Cost                                                                                                     Ammunition = 2 x Firearm Cost

The Triangle of Success.

                                                                                         Firearm Cost


Select a Firearm

The first step in your firearms journey will be to select a firearm for a specific role in your Self Defense plan. If you would like to carry a firearm as part of your Self-defense plan, you may select a smaller framed firearm that is easier to conceal. If you want a firearm as part of your Home Defense plan, you can select a larger frame firearm that is easier to control. The overall goal is to select a high-quality firearm that fits your hand well, is easy to control, and the cost allows you to spend twice as much on training and twice as much on ammunition. The selection of your firearm as part of your Self-Defense plan is a discussion unto itself and will be further discussed in a future blog.  Training

The second step is training. You should research firearms trainers then find if they are certified and by which national organization. In addition, you should call them to discuss their training philosophy, what classes they provide, and most importantly, your training goals. The trainer may have good ideas about areas you may not have thought about and the laws in your state. It is suggested that you attend a basic pistol class to create a baseline for your firearm knowledge. These classes are usually 8 hours and cover various topics such as safety, safely storing a firearm, how to load and unload and how to shoot. This general class should be supplemented by a CCW and Home defense class that covers situational awareness, color codes of awareness, and how to set up a home defense plan. These CCW and Home defense classes are usually 8 hours long as well. 

From this baseline, you can schedule individual classes with a trainer and focus on your individual goals. Developing the skill set to help you survive an attack will not happen in one, one-hour class. Developing the skill set to survive an attack will require several one-on-one sessions and consistent homework on your part. A good trainer will have you purchase a blue gun, a plastic gun in the shape of your handgun. So, if you are going to carry concealed, you can practice drawing a firearm at home without using a real gun. In addition, they may have you dry fire at home. Dry Fire is the practice of triple-checking your firearm to ensure you unloaded it and then making sure there is no ammunition in the room. Once the gun is clear, and there is no ammo in the room, you can squeeze the trigger while pointing the firearm in a safe direction. Dry fire is an inexpensive way to develop the muscle memory needed to shoot well. This drill will increase your accuracy. Your trainer will assist you with other drills to help you develop the skillset you need to use your firearm effectively.


The third side of the triangle of success is ammunition. In the beginning, the most important purchase you can make is practice ammunition. Dry fire training is good; however, nothing beats shooting live ammo. As I write this blog in the fall of 2021, ammunition is just starting to become available again at somewhat reasonable prices. The standard box of 50 9MM Target loads is $20 to $25 a box. Suppose you can find it at this price and purchase $800 worth of practice ammunition. At $20 a box of 50 rounds, you should have 2000 rounds of practice ammo. The last $200 should be used to purchase high-quality Self Defense Ammunition. Self-defense ammunition will come in boxes of 20 or 25 rounds and cost $25 to 30 dollars a box. At $25 a box, you should be able to purchase eight boxes of self-defense ammo. 

You may be thinking, why do I need eight boxes of self-defense ammo? The reason for this is to make sure the ammo will feed correctly in your pistol. You should shoot at least four boxes of your chosen self-defense ammunition through your handgun to ensure it will function properly.  When you are selecting ammunition for self-defense, make sure you are buying factory-loaded ammunition from a reputable manufacturer. A large percentage of ammunition is manufactured by the following six companies: Federal, Winchester, CCI, Speer, Hornady, and Remington. These companies would be a good place to start your ammo selection.  Never use reloaded ammunition for self-defense because the prosecutor will accuse you of being RAMBO in court because you had to hand-make your self-defense loads instead of buying off-the-shelf loads. In addition, be careful about the name of your ammunition. If it has an evil-sounding name like RIP, Terminator, etc., the prosecutor will likely hold this against you in court.  

With ammunition being expensive these days, every time you go to the range, you should focus on one shooting area. Whether developing accuracy by slowing firing rounds or concentrating on firing two shots in rapid succession with accuracy, having a purpose for each trip to the range will dramatically increase your skill level. There are several drills an instructor will have you practice as you start your firearms journey. Most instructors will have the target relatively close and encourage you at first. Do not let the success you have in your first session create a false sense of security. You will need to learn how to control the firearm under stress with limited time and still have the accuracy to end the confrontation without hurting innocent bystanders. This skill level will take time to develop. 

Firearm Training

In conclusion, use the Triangle of Success to guide you as you start your self-defense journey.  Remember, the goal of the Triangle of Success is to spend twice as much on training with your firearm and twice as much on ammunition as you do on the cost of the firearm. This formula should help you create the foundation for the skill set necessary to use your firearm in a self-defense situation. 

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