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Studying is a Necessary Part of Self-Defense

15 Jan

booksMention studying to most gun owners and images of target shot groupings or the latest issue of Guns and Ammo spring to mind.

However for the serious concealed carry practitioner, intent on honing their skills, studying is more than visiting the shooting range and leisure reading.

Developing a proficiency in situational awareness and conflict avoidance, as well as learning to recognize alternative options in potentially dangerous situations, all require a certain amount of diligence.

In his article “Are You Studying Enough”, author Kevin Michalowski reiterates the importance of devoting time to the academic side of self-defense and preservation at USConcealedCarry.com:

“If things go as far as a fight, well, that’s a problem.  It is of course a problem you need to solve and a situation in which you need to prevail, but I would still call participation in a gunfight something of a failure.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Michalowski recommends several books that are beneficial for people who carry concealed.  The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker is high on his list.  This book concentrates on helping the reader understand personal limitations, fears, and likely reactions in order to overcome, or at least recognize said fears when a dangerous situation presents itself.

Another book on Michalowski’s recommended reading list is In the Gravest Extreme by Masaad Ayoob.  This book is a guide to legal and ethical issues that may arise from gun ownership.  For the concealed carry community, these issues are particularly relevant.

Going to the shooting range to practice is a great idea, but it becomes less productive if you don’t know which body parts and organs you should fire at in order to neutralize a threat.  Michalowski recommends purchasing an inexpensive wall chart showing the human anatomy.

By taking a few minutes now and then to study the chart, you will soon get a feel for where to aim.  In an actual firefight, the goal is to bring the subject down as quickly as possible, not to aim for a good grouping.

A little more time spent studying will result in improved confidence and preparation not only on the range, but on the street as well.

Who Killed Tamir Rice?

29 Dec

If you’re not familiar with the story about Tamir Rice, there’s enough information buzzing on the Internet to start a fire right about now. With the holiday season coming up, this unfortunateshiny toy gun situation of a 12-year-old child being killed by a policeman may even get a bit more complicated.

Due to the holiday season, there will be a lot of people giving gifts.

One thing that you know for sure is that some of these gifts will be given to children and teenagers.

Some of these gifts might be handgun replicas, very similar to the toy handgun that Tamir Rice was playing with.

Rice’s toy was replicated to look identical to a real .45. Lately, toy handgun models have been specifically marking these fake weapons to let law enforcement officers know that the replica is a toy.

These markers were created to communicate in a very strong visual way so that no one would be confused and react to a perceived threat.

The markers are there for protection purposes in order to avoid another Tamir Rice incident. By placing a loud orange color on the tip of the muzzle, the toy manufacturers are doing their part to communicate that their products aren’t real guns. However in Rice’s case, the orange part of the toy had been removed, making it harder for police to see the difference.

Author Rick Sapp goes in depth about the dangers of replica guns manufactured to look real and why they could be dangerous in his article “Who Killed Tamir Rice?” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“The audio of that call is available online. ‘There is a guy with a pistol,’ the caller says. ‘It’s probably fake, but he’s pointing it at everybody.’” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

If you do buy a toy handgun for a family member or friend this holiday season, you should be sure to take out time and explain to the children the importance of these additional features and why they shouldn’t be removed.

You should also stress that the toy is something that kids shouldn’t go around pointing at everyone. Teach them to treat the toy as if it were not a toy, and you’re providing a great lesson, maybe one that will lead them to be responsibly armed Americans later on down the line.

Have a face-to-face conversation so that you can be absolutely sure that the child or teenager completely understands what you’re saying. Of course, if you can’t be there in person, it might be smart for you to consult the child’s parents first to see if the gift is really a wise idea in the first place. Many parents don’t want their children to have guns, toy or not.

The important issue is that of using the tragedy of Rice’s situation to make sure that no more children die. Police should never have to encounter a child with what they believe to be a handgun so that they’re forced to respond. Make sure that all safety features remain intact and that kids understand that you should NEVER point a weapon, even a toy, at an officer of the law.

Self-Defense: What to Do When You Have Few Options

23 Oct

Part of your training in carrying a firearm for self-defense should include the possibility that you’ll be caught by surprise and faced with an opponent who already has their gun drawn and pointed at you. This all happens before you have the chance to draw yours. man aiming gun

Realistically, this is a situation with a small chance of success and very few ways to do anything to improve your odds.

Unfortunately, there is a chance it could happen and you should make an effort to understand the dynamics at play.

You should practice different responses so you have some skills at your disposal and don’t go down without a fight.

Generally speaking, if you are in a situation where a gun is drawn on you, then you might have failed regarding situational awareness.

It is possible to be surprised even when you are situationally aware, but it’s much more it’s far more difficult for a person who’s been paying attention to be unpleasantly surprised.

The issue with trying to access your firearm when one is already pointed at you leaves you with few options. The ticking of the clock is not on your side here. In the few seconds it takes you to draw, aim, and fire your weapon, the other person can already fire several rounds into you.

Author Gabe Suarez tested this very situation out with a “bad” guy aiming an airsoft pistol at an armed “good” guy who had to draw and fire while having a gun aimed at them. He describes the results of the experiment in his article “Outdrawing the Drawn Pistol” on USConcealedcarry.com

“Every good guy got shot. A few managed to get shot peripherally, rather than in the center of the body, but nonetheless, they got shot. If they stood still to draw, they got shot immediately. The best results were achieved by moving off-line and sharply to the adversary’s outside line (the 1:00 o’clock or 11:00 o’clock) while drawing.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Gabe also mentioned that trying to run away often results in the fleeing person being shot in the back. Unfortunately, if you are facing a drawn weapon, your options are severely limited. Escaping this type of situation unharmed will often come down to how you respond and what the attacker is looking for, not to mention a little luck.

For example, if all the attacker is looking to do is rob you, then your best option by far is to slowly and carefully remove your wallet or purse and throw it between the two of you. Hopefully this will be what they want and allow you to escape the scene unharmed. A few dollars and a driver’s license aren’t worth anyone’s life or health.

However, if you’re certain that this person intends to kill you, and then you may decide to take the 3 to 1 odds that Gabe Suarez mentions in his article and go down shooting.

No two situations are alike and the result can come down to your ability to rapidly assess matters and make the best decision for the specific events facing you.

Shooting Stances for Those with Physical Limitations

2 Oct

Like many other physical disciplines, there is a commonly accepted way to stand and perform. For basic shooting stances, the most commonly used examples are the Isosceles or Weaver positions to aim and fire.

men aiming guns

These so-called standardized movements are taught to almost everyone initially.

The trouble many shooters run into with these common stances is that the instructor may be teaching with the assumption that the shooter is fully-functional physically and has few or no joint or muscle problems.

Few people have perfect bodies without any physical issues and as a result, some people become frustrated with trying to learn the basic positions exactly as they are taught. Some shooters are bent over or have a limited range of motion. Others have arthritis or weak grip strength or something else wrong with them.

Naturally, if you aren’t able to draw, aim, and fire your handgun using the basic techniques comfortably, then it’s time to find a method that works for you.

As author Bruce N. Eimer, PH.D. says in his article “What’s Your Stance?” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“The basic goal of any stance is to put your handgun up into the position where it does the most good. Your stance functions to align your point of aim, your front sight, your rear sight, your dominant eye, and to get all four points into a straight line.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

Receiving professional instruction or learning from videos and magazines are great ways to start, but then it’s up to you to figure out a way to use your weapon as effectively as possible with the body you currently have.

You have to begin somewhere, so there is no harm in starting to learn standardized shooting stances. Yet, if it becomes apparent that these shooting positions aren’t working, the next step is to try variations on what you’re doing until you find something that works for you.

Do the best you can with what you have and focus on continuing to improve. The more familiar you become with yourself and your gun, the easier it will become to see better ways to work around any issues you may have.

And as always, the basics like having good balance, a solid stance, and good control over the gun are paramount concerns. Otherwise, you run a much higher risk of losing some control.

What to Do When Using Your Firearm Isn’t an Option

10 Sep

In the real world, remaining vigilant 24/7 and never being surprised or caught off guard is impossible. None of us has eyes in the back of our heads and like it or not, many situations that call for you to employ deadly force probably will start off as a surprise.

self defense practice

Of course, it’s always important to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. It does help you anticipate many problems that would otherwise sneak up on you.

What is important to keep in mind is that many self-defense situations can escalate from your eating an ice cream cone to having to defend your life in a matter of seconds.

In a life-threatening standoff, there is a good chance guns will be pointed at you and there may be more than one shooter. Getting your own gun out, if someone is already pointing theirs at you, will probably get you shot no matter how fast your draw is. This probability is of course, compounded if there is more than one firearm pointed in your direction.

At the end of the day, you’re primarily concerned with not getting shot. This is why you carry in the first place — so you can shoot before someone shoots you. 

When weapons are already leveled in your direction, your focus becomes the best way to avoid getting shot. Sometimes, this means getting away from the scene or jumping behind a solid object. Movement is also useful as author Gabe Suarez illustrates in his article “Some Notes from Force-on-Force” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“Most guys get shot when they stop. They initiate movement and avoid the first few shots, but then they stop to take a precise shot. At that point, they get hit. Keep moving until he’s down, you have escaped, or you are behind cover. Movement is life; stationary shooting (in the open) is death.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)

When it comes to movement and agility, your physical conditioning is also a key factor. Being in good shape means you can run, jump, and get away from danger faster than if you’re overweight and in poor health.

Also as you age, your senses can gradually dull. This can happen so slowly that you aren’t even aware that your vision and hearing aren’t what they were in your twenties. 

Make regular hearing and vision checks a priority. If you need vision correction, wear it. The same goes for hearing aids. Having your senses sharpened up means that you can detect threats earlier and respond effectively.

How to Accurately Hit Your Target without Using the Sights

21 Aug

In most self-defense situations, your target will be close enough that traditional aiming by using the sights won’t be necessary. For the most part, the threat will be there right in front of you, no more than a few yards away.
hands aiming pistol
Generally speaking, this is the case because an attacker wants you or something you have.

To get what they want, they must approach you within speaking and grabbing distance and as a result, they are close enough. 

They have said or done things that let you know they are a true threat as opposed to someone making threatening gestures from across the street.

There are very few times that shooting an attacker at a distance such as across a street is appropriate. You carry to defend yourself and most threats must be up close and personal to warrant deadly force.

In fact, if someone is shooting at you from across the street, your best action at that point would be to get behind something solid and avoid firing shots back. You never want to risk a stray bullet hitting a bystander.

As a citizen carrying concealed, you are primarily interested and licensed to carry for self-defense. Most offensive shooting is best left to the police who are trained for such situations. 

Author Jim Malo talks about how sights are not usually needed in his article “Pistol Perfection” on USConcealedcarry.com: 

“One thing that may save you is the point shoulder (point shooting) method of firing your weapon. You draw the weapon, focus on the center mass of what you see coming at you, point the front of the weapon (the muzzle) at the center mass and press the trigger, using a double tap. You will be amazed at just how close the shots will fall.” (Read more from Malo at USConcealedCarry.com)

The process of lining up the sights adds time to your response and that extra second or two can mean the difference between surviving and getting shot. 

It is important to note that target practice at the range is still incredibly necessary. Using the sights to accurately place shots on targets helps you get to know your weapon better and use it more instinctively.

Practicing with your firearm helps imprint how it handles into your mind. Take every available opportunity to practice shooting both with and without using the sights. You may have to defend your life tomorrow.

Winning a Gunfight Means Getting the Most Accurate Shot Off First

9 Jul

For the sake of argument, imagine what it would be like if you learned to dguy aiming at targetsraw and fire concealed handguns from a very early age. At the same time you learned how to use silverware, button your shirt, and open doors, you would also be practicing and learning basic gun presentation skills.

Those acquired firearms skills would become a part of you. These skills would be as automatic as tying shoelaces.

Think about it — when was the last time you broke tying your shoelaces down into small steps and bit your tongue as you tried to remember the right knots? Probably not since you were very young.

Anyone who learned how to draw a concealed firearm at a young age would have a significant advantage in an armed encounter over someone who didn’t learn. For the early learner, the process would become second nature and require very little conscious thinking about the draw, aim, and firing of the weapon.

The point of this theoretical scenario is to illustrate the benefits of practicing your draw and firing skills until they become so automatic that you don’t have to consciously think about the acts themselves, leaving you free to focus on the threat.

Since almost no one has learned these skills as children, the good news is that you can pick them up as an adult with the proper application of practice and instruction.

Draw speed, fluidity, and smoothness all go hand-in-hand. Be careful of focusing only on getting your gun out quickly. The person who draws their weapon first is not always the winner.

The winner is the person who squeezes off the most accurate shot first. Your holster, carry style, and the smoothness of your draw all lay the foundation for that final accurate aim and shot.

Author Bruce N. Eimer, PH.D. talks about the theory of speeding up your draw in his article “The Need for Speed” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“Just because it happens to be a gun that you are pointing, [it] does not change the fact that the fastest path between two points is a fluid, smooth line. Drawing a gun just happens to be a natural human ability that does not have to be and should not be overcomplicated.” (Read more about speed and accuracy at USConcealedCarry.com)

As you are training and working on speeding up your draw? Try reversing your thinking on the process. Instead of thinking about how you can draw faster, try to identify what is slowing you down.

By removing things that slow you down, you can just as effectively speed up your draw.