If you have to use your gun in self-defense, you will find yourself in a lengthy legal process. How will you demonstrate that you acted appropriately? How will you prove that your decision was based on knowledge, rather than panic or over-reaction? Could you articulately convince a judge or jury of your peers that your actions were justifiable?
Your Shooting Journal serves as a chronological log your journey of learning as you develop new skillsets and knowledge. If you have to use your firearm in self-defense, your legal defense will balance on information that you have learned through firearms training classes, practice sessions, and drills.
The legal process is lengthy and you will have to demonstrate that you acted appropriately, based on knowledge rather than panic or over-reaction. This may include your understanding of how long it takes you to draw your pistol, do a reload, or clear a malfunction. You may have to explain how quickly someone moving towards you could attack you, or your ability to get an effective hit on an attacker at different distances, or even your understanding of the law and Use of Force. You need to articulately convince a judge or jury of your peers that your actions were justifiable.
Your Journal could help court officials understand your mindset leading to your decision to shoot in self-defense and ultimately prove that your actions were reasonable and justifiable.
When you take a professional firearms course, you typically receive a Course Completion Certificate after each class. Class certificates are a great way to track your skill levels and personal improvement. The certificate proves that you attended the course on a specific date and documents that you passed, if the course had a graduation test. This documentation could also be used as part of your legal defense if you have been charged in criminal court or sued in civil court.
You could go a step further and take a photo of your Journal notes from your classes, practice sessions, and drills. Save them so that they are time-stamped in a dedicated training folder in “the cloud” that you can access even if your phone or computer is seized as evidence. The most court-proof way to document your training is to make a hard copy of all your training materials, and put it all in a sealed envelope that you mail to yourself via certified mail and keep sealed. This creates a postmarked, date-stamped item that proves what you knew and what your skill level was prior to the incident.
You may already be documenting your training and practice in a legally useful way without realizing it: social media posts (photos, videos, and posts), Conference, GNOs, and competitive matches. Magazine subscriptions, online forums, and blogs you follow also influence your training. If you read something that makes an impression on you, print it or make a copy and include it in your Journal along with notes and documents from your practice sessions, match experiences, and professional training courses.
Your Shooting Journal
If you have not downloaded your AG & AG Shooting Journal, start today to track your knowledge and skills. The information and worksheets will help to keep you organized. The drills give you simple ways to improve your shooting skills and document your improvement. Karl Rehn advises to use your phone to document the drills: photos of the targets, with the times and scores saved either by taking a photo of handwritten notes, sending yourself an email, or using a note taking app.