Logging My Decade Wandering Around American Gun Culture (2011-Present) (Updated May 2023)

I have been wandering around American gun culture for almost over a decade now, from the first time I shot a gun back in January 2011 to the N-th time I have gone shooting just this morning earlier this month.

An occupational hazard (such as it is) of scholarship is the more you know about a subject, the more you realize you don’t know. So, despite my extensive research on Gun Culture 2.0, I have a hard time convincing myself that I know enough to speak as an expert. This has prevented me from making as much progress on my book project as I would have hoped. But in the past two few years I have been finding my voice and making progress.

Trying to bring some closure to the research phase of my project and build some momentum to get writing, in 2020 I went back over the past 9 years and created a spreadsheet with all of the major fieldwork sites and events I have participated in or observed.

Since then, I have been updating the spreadsheet regularly, which can access here in this Google Sheet.

I know this list is incomplete (there are some North Carolina CCW courses I attended that I cannot find my notes for) and I will update it as possible. That said, my recorded time “in the field” totals 726.5 799.5 805.5 hours. About two-thirds of this is pure observation (504.5 526 hours) and roughly one-third is participation (222 273.5 279.5 hours). In 21 of the 71 29 of the 84 30 of 85 events logged I engaged in live fire. (I have discussed the pros and cons of participation vs. observation previously, here and here.)

Grappling in Extreme Close Quarters Combat course with Craig Douglas, March 2019. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

This list does not include hundreds of hours of television programs, DVDs, and streaming videos I have watched, podcasts I have listened to or participated in, mundane visits to gun ranges and stores, class field trips to the gun store/range, and so on.

It does convey the breadth of what I have examined so far, and gives me some confidence that I can translate these observations into some knowledge for the masses.

Although I’ve more than exceeded my budget for this research, there are just a few more people/classes/topics I would like to explore that I think are really important to understand where gun culture is and is going:

There are many big name trainers — some of whom I know personally — who have been on my “bucket list” but financially they are probably not in the cards at this point.

To be sure, if anyone looks at my spreadsheet and sees something obviously missing, please let me know!


  1. I would suggest that your year focus first on a medical class. Then continue to take 1st Aid, STOP THE BLEED, CPR, as time and classes permit. You might ask/find permission to observe on shift in the ER Trauma area. Observing a real emergency, or a day long series of various accidents, noting the clinical approach used, may help your focus if you ever help during an auto accident or firearm injury. Your WFU credentials should offer you carte blanche with medical trauma specialists.

    2nd might be a knife class, since a knife may be carried many more places, in USA and out of country, and courses with different styles and instructors will allow you to synthesize your own approach to edged weapon defensive deployment. At years end, your knife will have been used many times to cut, whereas a pistol like auto and life insurance has value just for “being there.”

    3rd is pepper spray, carried on campus, not viewed with alarm, and explained away as being defense against aggressive dogs and rabid wild animals. The cheapest defense if used correctly and one that many women, who hesitate to train with knife/gun, carry a knife/gun, but would happily carry not be reluctant to use pepper spray on another human.



  2. Have you thought much about observing and/or participating in various types of competition? I think it would add a lot of depth to the experience which you bring to your writings.


  3. Wow- VERY impressive research and record keeping, Mr. Yamane! I couldn’t agree more about the medical class. I went to my first GSSF tournament out here in Southern California a couple of years ago and spoke to an RO about this little IFAK he wore on his waist. He had strongly encouraged me to take a tactical first aid course not just for any accidents on the range, but because I could also potentially lend aid if there was ever a serious car accident, etc. The CRPA actually offered a class which I gladly took and couldn’t have been more impressed. In my opinion, the first aid component is just as important to self defense as the firearms component as both largely increase your sense of self reliance.

    The only other classes I would humbly recommend investigating are 3 gun and a low light shooting course. The 3 gun is arguably more fun and seems to have a different type of shooter than other events I’ve attended, while the low light/ night shooting class is an excellent addition to round out your shooting skills repertoire.

    Thanks as always for all of your hard work!


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