To the Gunsite family,
As I’m sure you all know, the State of Israel is currently being bombarded with rockets launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. On an almost hourly basis, sirens sound in various locations throughout the country alerting residents of an impending strike so that they can quickly get to the nearest shelter or take cover behind sturdy objects if shelters are out of reach. As you can imagine, this type of environment can have severe effects on one’s psychological well-being, leading to feelings of vulnerability, anxiety, and panic. This is especially true for those of us in the country who have not grown up with these types of threats: people for whom terms like “rockets,” “shrapnel,” and “red alarm” have been far removed from our daily vocabulary; people for whom praying that the Iron Dome missile-protection system functions properly while running to a bomb shelter or fortified stairwell never seemed like something we would personally have to do. As an American student currently living in Israel the events of the past week have been stressful, startling, and scary, but the situation has not overwhelmed me and I credit my training at Gunsite with giving me the tools to cope effectively.
When I came to Israel I was aware that something like this could potentially happen, but I must admit I never thought I would personally experience it. That being said, news coverage this past month hinted that an escalation was possible and I shifted from yellow to orange, intellectually understanding that the situation was likely to become more dangerous. When rockets began hitting the south with greater frequency that orange got darker, and when they began targeting central Israel (where I live) it became the darkest shade of orange possible.
At 21.00 on July 8th I was sitting in a busy café with three of my friends and my bulldog enjoying a late dinner when I had my first experience with the Code Red Siren. Upon hearing its eerie and distinctive wail I immediately transitioned to red: I jumped up and said “let’s go,” picked up my 45-pound dog because her arthritis might slow us down and place ourselves and anyone behind us in additional danger, and headed through the kitchen and down the stairs into the cellar bomb shelter. While in the shelter I took my dog to the corner and told her to sit, made small talk with my friends, and listened carefully for any strange noises from outside. After the required 5 minutes of waiting, we emerged from the shelter and continued our meal. As we were re-capping our experience I noticed that one of my friends had tears in her eyes and another was shaking, both visibly upset by what we had just gone through while I sat completely calm next to them.
It’s not that I was not equally as scared as they were, it’s that I have been taught to manage stressful situations from an intellectual rather than emotional position. The 250 Pistol, 260 Shotgun, and Team Tactics for Two courses I have taken at Gunsite provided me with an arsenal of tools to deal with dangerous situations so that, when faced with a threat, I don’t waste precious time contemplating the best course of action and instead respond instinctively. Even more important than the tactical solutions to potential threats, the experiences and instruction I received at Gunsite gave me confidence in my ability to determine my own fate, an integral tool for responding effectively, and for this I want to say simply, “thank you.” Thank you for your commitment to gun safety and proper firearm handling; thank you for stressing the importance of situational awareness and preparedness; and, most importantly, thank you for providing the peace of mind that results from knowing that you have the tools to protect yourself and your loved ones.
From a recent multiple Gunsite Graduate