The Cornered Cat

You picked out a weapon — good! Now go train.
Go learn how to use it to hit where you aim.
Learn when you can shoot and when you must not.
Learn how to clear jams and make a fast shot.

But do not believe that your skill at arms
Means that you never again could face harm.
The world is still ugly, and your thousand yard stare
Might be unseen by the chump over there.
Don’t fuss and don’t quibble and don’t worry about it.
Do carry your handgun. Don’t leave home without it.

And when the conflict comes down, as conflicts must do,
To a clash of the wills between the bad guy and you,
Your will must be stronger than the evil you face.
The mere fact of the gun will not take its place.

Far more decisive than the caliber’s name
Or the shape of the gun or the size of its frame
Is the skill you develop to hit where you aim.
(Misses with guns big and small are the same!)

The gun that you carry strapped firm to your side
Might hold some of your hope and all of your pride,
But it isn’t your weapon. The fire in your eyes
And the wiliest schemes your mind can devise
Are far more important than the brand of your gun,
And far more important than how fast you can run.

What carries the day when the battle is nigh,
Is the Will that refuses simply to give up and die —
The Will that commands your eye not to blink,
And forces paralyzed mind to nonetheless think —
The Will that requires your aim still be true
No matter what damage may terrify you.
So I’ll say it again, though I sound like a fool:
Your Will is the weapon. Your gun is a tool.

Your gun may save the day. Then again, it may not.
But if a brand name and caliber are all that you’ve got
The game’s already over and your life may be done —
For you still are not armed. You’re just holding a gun.