In my experience there are three categories of people when it comes to a gunfight.
- Those that NEVER want to be in one, so much so that they will not even consider having a gun.
- Those that wish they could be in the Old West and think they will be Doc Holiday Reincarnate.
- Those that have been in one and know what it is really like.
Those folks in category 1, I am not addressing today, That would take days and weeks of writing and ‘therapy’ to relieve yourself of these false notions, and propaganda that has been fed to you the majority of your life. I may address this in a podcast at a later date.
This article will be addressing the 2nd category of people as a person that fits into the 3rd Category.
I am not doing this to try and toot my own horn and say “I’m better than you”, I am just trying to give you some advice, relay my experiences and try to prepare you for what reality will most likely be.
1) THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO PULL THE TRIGGER
Most people who buy a gun, because they recognize the need for self defense, think that because they go to the range a few times a month and can hit center mass of the target that they are prepared to kill in defense of their own life or anothers life.
Unfortunately It is much more complicated than that.
An excellent book to read is called “ON KILLING” by Col. David Grossman, where he outlines how difficult it really is to kill another human being. He notes that it is MUCH easier to drop a bomb from 30000 feet where the people are never seen or look like little ants than say getting up close with a knife. One of the more amazing statistics was that in WWII, of those soldiers that fired their weapons in combat, they found that only 15-20% actually shot to kill, the rest fired in the general vicinity or over their heads. It is not a normal thing to try and take a life.
Later as training developed, bull-seye targets were replaced with human silhouette targets and other things like cadences were changed from “Jody” (a cadence about the proverbial guy back home with your girl) to ones that spoke of killing your enemy, blood makes the grass grow, etc. This lead to a near 80% rate of people firing to kill the enemy.
Shooting is as much psychological as it is physical (at the range).
I have personally seen it in combat where people froze at the sight of death, now this didn’t last long and 99% never had that again after their first time, however this was due to the fact that training kicked in. However our training was constant for years (in some cases decades) before this moment, so you need to be aware that going to the range a few times a month may not be enough.
Much like my previous post on “3 Biggest mistakes people make in survival situations” you need to mentally prepare yourself for this moment, be aware that you may “freeze”. I am not saying this is “ok” or that this may not result in your death, but you need to be aware of this possibility, not just in yourself but in others that may be in your “group”. If they freeze when the moment comes you need to not get in their face, or make them feel like “less of a man (or woman)” for doing so, it is a natural reaction. In fact this reaction is a good thing, it means that humanity and our compassion and what sets us apart from animals is still alive and well. A good thing in the general sense.
Now This is not going to be a whole article on “HOW TO” for training, but here are a few pointers.
- If you are not shooting at silhouette or “man” targets yet, do so. never fire at bulls-eye targets in my opinion. If you are training to defend yourself you WILL NEVER find yourself drawing down on a circle in real life. Use human silhouette or man looking targets, this will help your mind START to get around this process.
- Practice your draw and aiming at home every night for 30 minutes before you go to bed, at least a few times a week. Set up a silhouette target, mannequin, etc. in your garage/room, closet, etc. Make sure the weapon is unloaded, and don’t pull the trigger just practice drawing, presenting, and getting the proper aim. Start slow at 25% speed, in a few weeks, up the speed to 50%, next few weeks 75% and so on. After awhile once you have been doing 100%, start again at 25% speed and redo it again. Focus on the fundamentals, of drawing, breathing, sight aim/sight alignment, etc.
- Start practicing reading peoples body language in your daily life, and then use that on your dummy, start to practice paying attention to their eyes, shoulders and hands. I know its hard on a paper target, but pay attention to these things while still keeping your aim true, center mass. Most people will show you their intention to fire in their eyes/shoulders and hands moments before they pull the trigger.
2) THAT YOU WILL HIT WHAT YOU ARE SHOOTING AT
I have talked to a lot of people, and this comes up a lot. A conversation with my wife really helped bring this home to me as something that people have fantasies about when it comes to a gunfight.
My wife doesn’t shoot as much as I would like her to, and I bought her a small compact pistol, which she picked out herself. Suprisingly she is quite accurate with it (however I find most women are more accurate out of the gate than men, they listen and aren’t looking to “prove” anything), however I keep telling her that if I am away, etc. and she hears something at night to grab the shotgun. Because of this I want her to practice more with the shotgun. She is still quite antagonistic to this idea saying “its too much Ill just grab my pistol”. Which i reply that the shotgun is the premier home defense weapon, nothing beats it. I also pointed out to her that with 00 Buck she wont have to worry if she is shaking or isnt quite as accurate, more than likely in a confined space she will at least “wing” the intruder giving her enough time for follow on shots, or scare them off.
Her reply was that “Every time we go shooting I’m really good right? so don’t worry”.
This is a reply I hear from a lot of people, that they shoot well at the range so if anyone ever came into their house, they will easily put two in the chest and be safe.
This is a massive fallacy on their parts, and I hope NOT yours.
Think of some times when you have woken up and may think you have heard someone in the house, or when that brother, sister, friend may have popped out of nowhere and scared you, giving everyone but you a good laugh. This is what combat is like. That feeling of a increased heartbeat, palms are sweaty, you are shaking a little bit, this is what it will be like but by a factor of 10.
You will be shaking, perhaps not even noticing it until you bring your weapon up and are trying to line up the sights, and then see that you cant get any kind of really good sight alignment. Your palms will be sweaty and you will not have as good of a grip, and your heart will be racing making your weapon move up and down as you breath faster. All of this combined will equal inaccuracy, its ok, its normal.
Now when you are in combat this often happens your first few engagements, but after awhile you become deadened to those sensations and your training kicks in. The more and better training you have had the earlier it kicks in and you go on auto-pilot.
However most of use here don’t spend 40 hours a week training for this, we don’t live in that mindset 24/7 so we have to recognize that.
You must realize that you will probably not hit what you are shooting at, which is why you have to be careful and heed that old axiom of rang safety rules “know your target and what lies beyond”, meaning know if there are innocents or your kids bedrooms right behind your target.
3) THAT YOU WILL NOT BE SCARED
This fits in a lot with the previous misconception, however it is its own separate beast.
People don’t want to think that they will be “scared” when someone breaks into their house, or that if the SHTF that they will be scared if someone tries to rob their vehicle as you are driving to the grocery store. Most will say, “Nah, ill just start firing back, kill them and then move on”.
This is probably not the case. When rounds fly by you in combat, it is not like the movies, when you hear that crack, the sound of a round that almost hit you, you will probably start freaking out a bit. This is ok, its normal, recognize that its normal, when you do this you wont be freaking out that you are freaking out, wondering why you cant be Junior Rambo. Recognize it and you will be able to calm down and THEN get to work so to speak.
We are preppers, which means we don’t put our heads in the sand and hope for the best, we must look at every situation and see what our failings might be and fix them. This is another aspect of prepping, the mental.
When you are shot at or in a situation where you are in danger, the body’s natural response is to become afraid. Fear keeps us from jumping out of moving trucks at 70 mph, and for good reason. Fear keeps us alive.
However that fear can also get you killed, so recognize that fear is a normal part of the human experience, train for it, train yourself to overcome it and rely on your training, move past it and then get on with what needs to be done, that being defending yourself.
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