Tag Archives: situational awareness

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.


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.

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.

Rationalizing Our Decision to Carry Handguns

13 Feb

Our decision to carry a firearm for self-defense is at times, a controversial one. The position on gun rights is often attacked with false statistics and statements aimed at cultivating emotional responses that aren’t grounded in reality.


It is sad to see people who choose to carry firearms for their own defense demonized and considered dangerous, unstable, or even bad people.

It can be helpful to occasionally refresh ourselves with the reasons for our choice to carry and the positive impact concealed carry can make on our lives.

As author Larken Rose says in his article “Pro-Crash Extremists” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“Seat belts and airbags are designed to do one thing: make it so people can survive car crashes. So do people wear seat belts, or buy cars with air bags, because they want to crash? Of course not. They do those things so that if they’re unfortunate enough to find themselves in a dangerous situation, they’ll have a better chance of surviving it. (Read more about the public desire to carry handguns here)

Individuals who make the decision to get a concealed carry permit, attend classes, and spend many hours choosing the right handgun, ammunition, and carry system are not doing these things to cause trouble. They are engineering their own self-defense system. These are knowledgeable people who are taking responsibility for their own safety and protection instead of relying on luck or the police.

Taking responsibility for oneself is admirable and should be lauded, not treated as barbaric scare tactics or lies.

There are those who say that we wouldn’t need guns if we simply avoid dangerous areas and situations. These people also believe that the police will protect us.

Remember, these types of arguments are not based in reality. All one has to do is pick up a newspaper to see crimes committed across all spectrums of society. Shootings don’t only happen in bad neighborhoods. They happen in gated communities, too. As for the police protecting us, the fact of the matter is that they are not present everywhere 24/7, nor do we want them to be. Most of us cannot afford personal armed bodyguards either.

This reduces our options considerably and again, brings us face to face with the only real option at hand: carrying a firearm for self-defense.

A responsible citizen in possession of a handgun is prevention. If a criminal succeeds in killing someone, there is no cure that will bring them back.

How to Maximize the Brief Window of Opportunity After an Injury

7 Nov

The immediate aftermath of a life-threatening injury leaves a brief and critical window of opportunity.

It may be you or someone else who is shot, stabbed or injured by a blunt object. Image

There may be substantial bleeding, broken bones and other physical damage.

Often the injured person won’t feel any pain for a few minutes afterwards as a result of being so shocked. Take full advantage of this time to assess injuries and stabilize them if necessary because once the adrenaline wears off, they will begin to feel it.

One important note — if at all possible take a quick look at the wound(s) and make a mental note of what it looks like and the damage done. Then proceed with the stabilization. This will be very helpful for the soon-to-arrive medical personnel.

They may not want to undo the gauze or t-shirt you’ve pressed over the wound and if you can tell them roughly what it looks like, you will help them make the best choice when it comes to stabilization and transport of the patient.

They can also call ahead to the ER and let them know what to expect when the injured party arrives. All of this is simple information that can make a huge difference in correct and effective care.

Keeping one’s head through an injury is incredibly important. Your mental state can literally determine whether you live or die if you happen to be the injured party. Rehearse over and over in your head what you will think and do if you are injured. What will you say? Who will you call? Who and what will you think of and do to remain conscious and effective?

Author Alan Rose highlights the importance of the mental aspect of survival in his article “Wounded: First Aid to Survive a Lethal Force Assault” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“Case in point: A woman heard a negligently fired shotgun blast behind her and passed out; then she stopped breathing. Her pulse rate began to slow. She was dying. The medics could not find any wounds, and neither could the emergency room staff. Finally the doctor began yelling in her ear that she was not injured and would not die. Within a few minutes she awoke, and was discharged home in perfect health. (Read more about proper conduct in a shooting incident here)

These skills and preparations aren’t just for criminal shooting incidents. They are just as applicable to any life-threatening emergencies we might encounter, such as car crashes or hunting accidents.

We won’t always have the advantage of being injured in a major metropolitan area with a world-class ER just minutes away. A hunting accident could disable and kill us hundreds of miles from help. These effect, self-reliant coping skills can become useful at any point in our lives.

Why You Aren’t Quick Enough to Outshoot a Criminal

23 Aug

When we learn to drive, the phenomenon of delayed reaction is stressed heavily. When a vehicle is traveling at highway speeds, a one or two second lag time translates to hundreds of feet being traveled before the brakes are even applied. Image

Needless to say, relying on one’s fast reaction time to prevent accidents is a good way to get into one.  

Western novels and movies often focus on this reaction time issue.

In many situations, the gunfighter who drew first has the advantage — even if the other cowboy was mere milliseconds behind, he’s already lost.

This reaction time lag is important to take into account when we are running possible self-defense scenarios through our minds.

The good news is that few, if any attacks will take the form of an old western gunfight with eager fingers hovering over revolver butts.

If another person gets the jump on you, there will be very little you can do to salvage the situation. If someone has a gun pointed at you with their finger on the trigger, there is simply no way you can be fast enough to access your weapon, aim and pull the trigger before they’ve sent a bullet towards you.

The key is learning how to prevent violent self-defense situations from getting this serious and close to the edge.

Don’t allow the aggressing party to control the situation — don’t let your actions always be REACTIONS of what they do.

Author Michael Martin investigates this question in his article “Muscle Memory and Action Versus Reaction” on USConcealedcarry.com:

“If an attacker unexpectedly lunges at you with a knife, can you draw your firearm in time to stop him? Can you out draw an attacker if he already has a firearm pointed at you? When the threat ends, how quickly can you stop shooting? These hypothetical situations all beg the question, “Is action faster than reaction?” (Read more about wisely handling shooting incidents here)

For most self defense situations, we could all learn a thing or two by going back to that driving training we’ve all had. Things like looking far ahead down the highway and learning to anticipate what might happen by brake lights unexpectedly flashing. Keep an eye on that car waiting to merge, they might unexpectedly decide to merge into traffic.

The same holds true for street encounters in public. Keep both eyes open and remain aware of your surroundings. You will significantly reduce the incidence of surprises which will help eliminate the need for microsecond cowboy gunfighter style action.

Spotting that group of thugs hanging out on the street corner a block ahead of you and actively avoiding any contact with them is preferable to unexpectedly encountering them. This way, you’re less likely to encounter a situation where you’re forced into responding quickly.