Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is cool. Thai boxing is cool. Burmese boxing is a bit cooler. But American gunfighting takes the top spot when it comes to modern martial arts. And yes, gunfighting is a martial art.

The American Martial Art

I didn’t quite understand this myself until, as a young Green Beret, I got to see how a teammate of mine approached training. This teammate had spent a good deal of time on a direct action team, one of the units we all wanted to go to. For him flat range time wasn’t something mundane or routine, it was more akin to training like a professional sports athlete. Each little detail was rehearsed and analyzed to shave seconds, then milliseconds, off of times. Round placement was paramount. Each part of his kit was organized efficiently for the task at hand. Seeing him train changed the way I approached training forever.

It didn’t stop at the individual level either. Rehearsing movements as a team until they became second nature was key. I came to know what my teammates’ silhouettes looked like in the dark, their gait as they moved through the forest or urban structures, even the particular way they ran their weapons. Training day in and day out on urban structures you’d finally start to click after some ups and downs. It was perishable though, something that would start to fade the minute you stopped training it.

Many individuals and organizations suffer from a ‘train to the minimum standard’ mentality. Instead of approaching gunfighting like the martial art it is, they meet the minimum qualification standard and re-holster until it’s time to qualify again. It’s easy to do in a large organization. The metrics that are tracked and that promotions are based on only need to be done annually. You put enough holes through that paper target in the right places and you’re good for another year.

Yet for the Martial Artist a minimum qualification standard is never enough. There is always a next level to get to. There is always a next level of proficiency to achieve, and once you reach a high enough level you get to start innovating and discovering new ways to do things.


American gunfighting has it’s own lineage. We hail from the greats that came before us like Thomas Duston, Francis Marion, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Wild Bill, Jonathan Davis, Wyatt Earp, and even Teddy Roosevelt. Pioneers, frontiersmen, lawmen, settlers, and even the puritans all had to be proficient gunfighters to settle America. And that’s before we get to the exploits of American servicemen in the 20th and 21st centuries abroad. Much like the East Asian martial arts trace their lineage back through instructors over the years, we too can trace our lineage. Anyone that’s spent time in a military, and especially a SOF unit, knows their American martial lineage from Roger’s Rangers to Francis Marion, the US Scouts, the OSS, and up to the present day.

Thomas Duston, an early American settler and Puritan, defending his family against Indian Raiders in 1697 in what is today Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Today is an amazing time to pursue American gunfighting as a martial art. On the one hand you have decades of experience in combat from the GWOT, a conflict the length of which our country has never seen before, producing incredibly proficient gunfighters. The Infrantrymen, Rangers, Green Berets, SEALs, Marines and other combat arms soldiers returning from foreign theaters of war have brought back with them an incredible wealth of knowledge. Not to mention the knowledge and skill that the many civilian instructors and competition shooters bring to the table.

Daniel Boone was an American pioneer, frontiersman, and folk hero who fought in the French and Indian War, and the American revolution. An ambush in The Last of The Mohicans is based on his real life exploits. He ambushed an Indian group to retrieve his daughter and two other women who had been taken captive during the American Revolution.

On the other hand you have a sort of enforced lawlessness that has permeated parts of our society, large cities in particular. The hate lobbed at police coupled with prosecutors declining to prosecute many types of crimes has lead to a proliferation of lawlessness. Unfortunately, this has led to a decline in the security situation in our country. This is not unusual by American historical standards. In fact, quite the opposite, lawless towns and frontiers were the norm for a large portion of American history.

Davy Crockett was a frontiersman and soldier from Tennessee. His exploits defending the Alamo during the Texas Revolution solidified him as an American folk hero.

Historical Parallels

The Old West is the period of American history that tracks most closely with our our time and situation. Many of the famous and infamous gunfighters of that era were veterans of the Mexican-American War or the Civil War, and found themselves attracted to the adventure and opportunity of the American West. At that time, the West was a true frontier with all the opportunities and hazards that come along with that. The frontier was often far removed from law enforcement, and thus your security became very much your own responsibility. The choices were to either hire competent gunfighters to maintain your security at a cost, or to provide it yourself.

Wild Bill Hickok famously shot and killed Davis Tutt from a staggering 75 yards with a single shot to the heart. This quick draw between a former Union Pistoleer and a former Confederate Pistoleer in the streets of Springfield, Missouri in 1865 formed the basis for countless showdowns in Western novels and movies.

We Americans have a proud and storied martial tradition; from the French and Indian wars all the way up to GWOT and beyond. In the wake of the return of so many veterans from the GWOT, and as they continue to exit the military, there is an explosion in the interest in this martial tradition. Whether passed on from father to son, friend to friend, or instructor to student, many Americans are once again discovering their love for the American martial art. For many of us it won’t ever move beyond being a hobby or sport, but for some defensive use will become a reality. And with history and God’s word as our guide we know that future armed conflict, at home or abroad, is an inevitability.

Everyday Americans

Yet what we’re seeing increasingly now is not the veteran or even the police officer saving the day. Rather, the everyday American trained in firearms usage is increasingly finding him or herself as the immediate responder to threats. In Sutherland Springs, Texas, firearms instructor Stephen Willeford used his rifle to confront an active shooter who was attacking the First Baptist Church near his home. His actions caused the shooter to abandon his attack and flee.

Stephen Willedford stopped a Church shooting in 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas by engaging the shooter with his rifle.

In Indiana Elisjsha Dicken engaged an active shooter at the Greenwood Park Mall. Elisjsha had no military or law enforcement training as it was his grandfather who taught him how to shoot. Still, he managed to effectively engage an active shooter who was armed with a rifle. Elisjsha had only his everyday carry pistol and was at a staggering 40 yards.

Elisjsha Dicken stopped a mall shooter in 2022 in Indiana putting 8 out of 10 rounds on target from 40 yards with his concealed pistol. His Grandfather had taught him how to shoot.

In the face of this proliferation of threats and loss of security, everyday Americans are reacquainting themselves with the American martial art. More and more everyday Americans are bearing the burden of carrying a firearm and shouldering the responsibility of their own security, and at times even the security of those around them.

You need not be a veteran or law enforcement officer. Your security is ultimately your responsibility, as the Supreme Court has ruled the police have no obligation to provide security for you. Go and find your local firearms instructor, veteran, friend, father, or grandfather and ask them to start teaching you American Gunfighting. Rediscover the American martial art that those Americans who came before you developed.


Check out the Intrepid Tactics Pistol 1 Course here where we push the limit of your pistol shooting up to 100 yards.