Sadly, many of us don’t prepare ourselves for self-defense with a gun the right way.
The problem, is that people go to the gun range, shoot some tight groups, and then leave thinking that their training is over. They don’t believe there is anything else to do once they’re done shooting at paper targets
Not the case …
Don’t get me wrong, here. You do need to get to the range as often as your schedule allows. I’m not discounting the importance of physically training. Truth be told, we could all use some more range time, right? I mean, I get there at least once per week, and still feel like I need more.
If you don’t get to the range to shoot, you need to make time for it. Taking it a step further than that, though, is training mentally.
Training mentally is one of the most important things we could ever do, so there is less decision making time, when time is of the essence.
But, what do I mean when I say “training mentally?”
I mean a couple different things, but on the most basic level, it starts with a simple decision. You need to know right now where you stand on various types of threats, so you’re better able to squeeze the trigger should the time ever come.
First, you need to believe that your life, or another innocent, is worth saving by taking the attacker’s life. This means that you understand the potential consequences of taking someone’s life, and the weight of the law that may come to prosecute you if they feel you acted unjustly.
One thing you must never forget, is that once you squeeze the trigger, you own the consequences of the bullet’s flight.
Here’s an example scenario:
Let’s say you’re in the local 7-11 one morning grabbing a cup of coffee. You’re on your way to work, so you’re in a hurry. Standing at the far side of the store, you add your cream and sugar when suddenly, you notice some yelling over by the entrance.
Instinct tells you to turn and look, and you see the clerk getting robbed at gun point. What do you do? Do you step in and save the day? You see the clerk each morning and are pleasant with each other. But, you don’t really know him.
Obviously, every situation will be different, but you should have a general idea of whether you’re willing to risk your life for his. Do you risk it? Or, do you preserve your life by hiding down the candy isle?
I cannot answer this for you, only some serious introspection will help. The answer is different for everyone, but this is something that you need to know beforehand so critical time isn’t wasted.
You need to know how/if you will act with your firearm, before that situation ever comes.
There are some things you should consider, to help you decide:
Do you have a family at home? If you do, you need to remember them before you act. There is a chance that you could die or be seriously wounded if you do decide to act. This is a decision you need to make before it happens
Then again, there is a chance that you could be the next target, if the bad guy’s eyes fall upon you, next.
Personally speaking, I feel as though I have an obligation to help everyone I meet. While each situation is different, I’ve already made the decision to squeeze the trigger if something like this happens in front of me.
It’s a decision I’m comfortable with. What you decide needs to sit well with you, too.
Obviously, if you or your family is involved, it’s a different story. Let’s say someone breaks into your house intending to do harm for a few bucks worth of jewelry.
You will likely have your gun at the ready, should the bad-guys come in to where you’re protecting your family.
I want to say right here, though, that it’s not usually a good idea to go looking for trouble—even in your own home. It’s always a good thought to stand your ground in battle than to walk into an ambush.
If you suspect someone is in your house, it may be a better idea to dial the police while you wait and only defend yourself when presented with imminent threat.
Does that sound cowardly? Let’s analyze this for a moment …
Truth be told, you don’t know what awaits you downstairs. Is there a gang of baddies down there rummaging through your stuff? Is there only one guy loaded up on crystal meth? If so, your lone pump shotgun may not even make a difference.
And now, it’s time for my version of side-note, myth-busters:
I can all but guarantee that the statement, “all they need is to hear is the slide-action (kuh-chack) of a shotgun and they’ll flee” is false. While it’s true that someone in their right mind might run, they may not if they’re desperate enough.
You’ve got a 50/50 chance of them actually running away.
Plus, it’s never safe to assume that someone isn’t high on methamphetamine or crack. If they are, they may not even feel the penetration of whatever projectiles you’re lobbing at them.
Unless you’ve got cameras placed all over your house, you won’t know what you’re walking in to. And even then, you don’t know the state of someone’s mind.
It should go without saying that if you just happen to walk in on someone in your home, and you’ve got your gun on you, it’s a different story.
There is only so much you can control when presented with this type of scenario, which means you need to be as prepared as possible to act, when the time comes.
Up to this point, the whole idea is to know that you have the resolve to put someone down when your family, or the convenience store clerk, is in danger. We will talk tactics at a later date. For now, let’s move on.
The decision to act, or not act, is just one mental obligation you have when you enter the self-defense lifestyle.
Just as important, is playing different scenarios through your head, visualizing yourself having to pull your gun, taking aim, squeezing the trigger, the attacker going down, etc.
I’ve often likened this technique to my daughter’s dance dress rehearsal. Before the big day, all the little dancers get together to practice their moves making sure they get them right.
This is the same deal with practicing in your mind. You need to have an idea what it could look like, even if your real critical incident will be totally different.
Granted, the above video is made for police officers on the job, but the same principles apply to those of us who carry firearms for self-defense.
Putting different scenarios in your head, like one attacker, two attackers, is your family with you, is it a break-in during the middle of the night, are you at a gas station, etc., will only help you be better prepared when the time comes.
Picture yourself drawing, shooting an attacker, etc. The more realistic your brain can make it, the better off you’ll all be.
You should also do this while at the range, with your gun in your hand.
The main point here, is that you’ll be better able to squeeze the trigger, if you’ve already seen yourself doing it in your head. Again, not perfect, and the actual situation is bound to be totally different than what you’ve thought up in your head. But, if you can see yourself doing something, you’re more likely to be successful at it.
Finally, you need to be mentally training yourself while your gun is in your hand at the range. What I’m about to say next may confuse you, but bear with me to the end because I have a point.
You need to mentally train by doing physical exercises before you start shooting, and even in between mag changes. Before you do anything, make sure your gun is clear.
Do some push-ups, jumping jacks, sprint back and forth, etc. Do whatever you need to do to get your heart rate up.
Then, pick up your gun, insert a magazine, and begin shooting at your target. People look at me like I’m nuts, and maybe I am, but the point here is to get your blood pumping fast enough to simulate yourself being involved in a shooting incident.
Studies have shown that the body goes into panic mode in situations like this. Your heart rate will be elevated, you’ll get tunnel vision, your body will begin to pull oxygen from your extremities so you’ll shake, your breathing will be erratic, etc.
Doing these exercises before you shoot will tell your brain how to compensate for your body’s lack of control when the time comes. This is one of the reasons why getting involved in competition shooting is a good idea. It helps to put that stress on your body, causing your brain to have to work through it.
Adding as much stress as possible to your training regimen, can only help.
Here is another idea: Add a timer and have someone else load your magazines with snap caps. Then, do some exercises, hit the stop watch, and run through a scenario to get your heart rate up with your mind working through the simulated malfunctions.
The key is to keep your mind sharp and able to work through just about anything thrown at it. The plus side to doing these things at the range, is that it’s also physical training. It gives a double benefit.
Lastly, another thing I always do, as well, is drink a huge cup of coffee before I go to the range. I never understood people who don’t drink coffee on their range days but do every other day of the week. Make it as realistic as you can so your brain can fight through.
Will a 12 ounce cup of coffee make my hands shake? Sure. Will I be more inaccurate at the range? Sure. But, they’re going to be shaking anyway in a critical incident, so why would I stop that for some bulls-eye shooting?
Besides, it’s more likely for me to be hopped up on caffeine than not, so that’s how I train.
The way you prepare yourself for self-defense with a gun, both physically and mentally, will help you get through having to defend yourself with your firearm. Starting to do it right now is one of the most important things you could ever do so that you can be successful when you need to defend yourself and family.
Make sure you stay tuned, because we’ve got a lot of good stuff coming your way. How do you train? Do you train mentally? Let us know in the comments below. Remember, this is an educational website, so we all learn from each other.
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