Armed Self-Defense Skills are Simple, Difficult and Necessary

Woman gun range training practice

We go along, day after day, year after year, and then something happens to us that changes our perspective. I was talking to a young man not long after I wrote about armed defense. Each of the ordinary stories I covered included an advanced self-defense skill. The young man said he wanted to make his family safer. We talked about it for a minute. I think that’s where emotion raised its head, where truth and fantasy parted company.

Let me state the obvious. Protecting your family takes work. Knowing what to do is the first layer of self-defense. Armed self-defense is a skill that takes practice.

We often think that we can buy skill. I’ve felt that way myself. It’s true that some firearms will fit your hand better than others. That said, is the problem that your hands aren’t doing what you want them to do, or is the problem that your brain doesn’t know what your hands and feet should be doing?

Hardware won’t replace study and practice. Sometimes we have to climb over our ego and admit we have some homework to do. Let me give you a window into armed defense by looking at examples from my recent podcast.

In the first story, male and female intruders entered an apartment and attacked the occupants. This happened on a Sunday morning. What could be more ordinary? On a Sunday morning, it’s easy to imagine that everyone is taking it easy and our children would be home.

Right there is our first dose of reality. We need a safety plan at home. We have to talk with our family about what all of us will do if something bad happens. We also have to walk through that plan. The walk-through does several essential things. It changes words into habits. It also uncovers the errors that seemed good at first, but don’t work well in practice.

Who is going to call 911? Who is armed or going to be armed, and where will they be positioned to defend the rest of the occupants? It sounds simple, but I’m sure your third attempt at a walk-through will be vastly better than your first. It’s easier to learn in the daylight than to discover the problems at night when a stranger is attacking you.

Staying with this story, a female roommate shot the attackers while they were hitting the male roommate who opened the door. Shooting at moving targets is beyond what we learn in basic marksmanship. In this case, the attackers and the victim were both moving.

Speed, distance, and motion work together to complicate armed self-defense. Even though a gun works at a distance, we might have to get closer than we expect so we’re sure to shoot the attacker(s). Do you know what you can do and how much time you need to do it?

Your safety plan should also include calling your lawyer and getting help as you fill out the police report. That includes your roommates knowing what to say — and what not say — to the police. That information is only lightly covered (if at all) in most concealed carry classes.

In the second story, a defender had to move to avoid being shot. The defender then had to present his concealed firearm while on the move. He had to shoot at his attackers who were likely moving as well.

Firearms instructors teach classes where the students move and shoot. It’s called getting off the ‘X’. Some competitions includes moving targets and multiple attackers. Have you practiced redirecting fire from one target to another? Have you practiced shooting while most of your body is hidden behind a wall or a car?

In the third story, the defender was being robbed at work. The robber tried to push the victim into a back bathroom. That’s a horribly dangerous situation for the victim. He knew it and decided to fight.

The defender had to turn so that the attacker couldn’t reach the defender’s gun. The defender then had to create enough distance between himself and his attacker so he could rotate his firearm and point it at his attacker. That means the defender’s support arm was in front of his muzzle and between him and the the bad guy.

Armed self-defense attack

You want to see how that works before you have to perform it on your own. At first, you’ll want to practice that with an instructor making sure you’re safe.

I said that armed defense was both simple and hard. The contrast is complex and easy. Fortunately, we can deconstruct a new lesson into smaller incremental steps so that each new skill is easier and relatively straightforward. The hard part is admitting we won’t suddenly become John Wick when we hear glass break at night.

Many of us have taken some form of firearm training class. Please review those skills and continue to practice them so they’re available when you really need them.


This article originally appeared at Slow Facts Blog and is reprinted here with permission.