In a profession that should be conservative by nature, we see a lot of flash, bling, and “pie in the sky” when examining the personal defense field. A healthy dose of self-respect is sometimes alloyed with ego, but the real deal in training means the trainer must train for likely scenarios. Personal defense isn’t a tactical operation by any means. It is small scale and most important only to the ones involved.
I have trained many individuals. Most were civilians, but a number were police, and a few were military. Some wanted the paper and the permit; a few genuinely wanted to be proficient. Many showed up for class without enough ammunition, an improper holster, and without a spare magazine. Some had the gear; they left it at home. Quite a few showed up with the cheapest handgun they could find, and there were problems with these choices.
On the other end of the scale, some showed up with tactical gear including tactical vests, a thigh holster and a chest full of magazines. A few showed up with practical gear well suited to concealed carry. None of those showing up with the tactical vests, knee pads and long slide Glock pistols were police or military. There is a big difference between public safety, which I was originally trained in, and private safety, which should concern each of us the most. We may use good tactics, but the term “tactical” is sometimes confusing when applied to personal defense.
Most of the concerns in personal defense are mental. If your everyday gear is a tactical vest and eight magazines, then your agency is most likely providing good training. There is little I can add to that. If it is all a game, then get involved in IPSC and shoot against some of the best marksmen in the world.
Personal defense is another discipline. Many shooters attend tactical courses, even carbine courses, and may do well, but they do not really understand the application of skill. It is good to be all you can be but another to understand which skills are applicable to your likely scenario. If you are serious about personal defense, you will learn and practice the applicable skills.
An observation I have made often among shooters is that many simply cannot recognize quality gear. They come to glass with junk ammo and cheap plastic holsters. I have had to move shooters from the line because their floppy fabric holster demanded two hands to return the handgun to the holster! The handgun should be a quality piece, not necessarily expensive. The Glock 19 or the CZ P01 are good examples of very reliable but affordable handguns. They are not too small or too large. They are just right.
The holster should be rigid and supported by a quality gun belt. Carry ammunition isn’t difficult. Hornady Critical Defense is affordable and reliable and offers good wound ballistics. You need a couple of speed loaders for the revolver and at least three magazines for the handgun. You probably won’t need a reload but best to err on the side of caution and carry a spare gunload. High round count battles occur when the police are chasing armed felons. If the threat retreats, don’t chase him or the situation becomes mutual combat.
The National Rifle Association has stated many times that the presence of a firearm deters crime more often than it needed to be fired. Many battles are over before they begin, when the attacker realizes you are armed. The first thought is to get the handgun into action, but it is also important to move off the X and get out of the line of fire.
Felons motivated by profit don’t wish to be shot. Other threats are psychopaths bent on causing human pain and suffering or even death. They may be formidable both physically and mentally, and they may have been shot or stabbed before. All attackers may not be shaky junkies, and you must be prepared to deal with the threat. If no shots are fired, you are ahead of the game. The real goal is to escape unharmed without being shot, stabbed, or assaulted. That is winning the fight. Presenting the firearm quickly (from concealed carry), and getting a fast and accurate hit is what counts. The most important shot is the first one.
In a home defense situation, you may have a shotgun at the ready for quickly access. You may have a handgun or a rifle. The goal is much the same with a shift in focus to convincing the intruder to leave and break off any conflict. If there are children or other family in the house, we have different concerns and will engage room clearing or a search. You must quickly ensure the family’s safety. This means moving carefully, taking cover, and making certain you have identified the threat.
There are worse things than getting shot, and shooting the wrong person is one of these. This is simply common sense. Have illumination handy.
Real Deal Training
The final consideration comes when the situation demands you fire. While a double tap is acceptable, a volley of fire or hosing down the target isn’t. Only accurate fire is effective. You fire to the center of mass of the exposed target. You fire to stop. What the adversary is doing must be so terrible it must not matter morally, or legally, if they die as a result of being shot. However, we never shoot to kill. We shoot to stop.
You are preparing a strong defense against attack. There is nothing wrong with going on the initiative and clearing the house and being proactive in training, but never lose sight of the ultimate goal. That is to survive without firing a shot. And if you do fire, that you survive within the law.
Concentrate on marksmanship. This doesn’t mean getting a group centered on target but getting a hit quickly and following with other hits. A group of 50 shots with the occasional shot outside the scoring rings isn’t ideal. The important shots are those that that you are firing now and hit the target. Fire accurately. If the shot doesn’t take effect, fire again.
Practice moving. Drawing the handgun and moving may conflict but the balance may be found in practice. Draw as you move off target. Train hard and practice relentlessly. Be aware that you may need your handgun to protect yourself and your family. Be certain that you are willing to use the handgun. The use of the firearm must be justified morally and legally. This is a very narrow range of circumstances.
What drills or movements do you incorporate in your training to prepare for real world encounter? Share your answers in the comment section.
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