After talking to some people over the weekend about the “dry fire” article, “Too Hot To Shoot,” I realized that I need to back up a bit and write more about self defense and why the exercises make that more effective. All of the dry fire exercises will make much more sense and be far more useful with that information.
Preparing to defend ourselves usually means starting with some serious self assessment and changing the way we do some things. Without this, a gun is apt to be of little more use than a paperweight. And, if you are counting on the gun to make the difference, more or less alone, you may wind up in worse danger than ever.
Vulnerability to violent attack or home invasion has a lot to do with where you live and where you work, play and shop. But statistics can only tell you so much, usually not more than how many such attacks are reported per 100,000 or so population in any given area.
That’s not nearly enough information, unless you are content to ignore reality and rely on your “luck.” And that would be true even if the statistics were complete and accurate, of course. Did you know that a large number of non-fatal attacks, usually without significant injury, and a great many thefts are never reported at all? Yet any one of those incidents might well have resulted in the death or serious injury of the victims. Add in those who are, increasingly, afraid to call the police under any circumstances, and you can see that trusting to either luck or statistics is probably not a good idea.
Very few people actually go looking for trouble, or are in a position to prevent crime committed against others, but everyone can do a lot to avoid victimization for themselves and their families. And each person who conscientiously works to decrease their own vulnerability actually increases the peace and safety of their whole community. (This is an important subject for a future article, but I don’t want to digress too far now.)
First, let’s consider what criminals look for. How do they decide whom to attack and why? Most, rather obviously, don’t want to take any chance of being hurt themselves, or being captured and prosecuted. They prey on the elderly, children, women and the disabled. Criminals, especially these days, have demonstrated that they prefer weak, frightened, victims who are unable or unwilling to defend themselves.
Most people are woefully unaware of the signals they send with their body language, posture, walk, and even their talk. The old adage is quite true: If you look like food, you will be eaten. If you are elderly, disabled, or generally fearful at any age, you may be sending clear signals to criminals that you would be an easy victim. If you stand, walk, and talk “tall,” demonstrating by all of your actions that you are aware and confident in yourself, the criminal is most apt to pass you by and look for an easier victim – even if you are young, old, small, female or in a wheelchair.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are psychotic killers who don’t really care whether or not they are hurt or killed. There are always going to be a few who target people at random, regardless of anything the victims might do or not do. There is no place on earth that will ever be 100% risk free, but such psychopaths are rare in this country. The goal is to decrease one’s every day vulnerability and make sound choices to improve overall safety for oneself and family.
So, how can you stop sending those weak, crime inviting signals? How do you become less vulnerable? I’m glad you asked.
Several serious studies have revealed that incarcerated criminals fear ordinary people who are armed much more than they fear the police. That is very encouraging, but far too many people don’t understand that there is a great deal more to effective self defense and reduced vulnerability than owning or even carrying a gun. And that is true no matter how well you shoot. Remember that the best possible “gunfight” is the one that never happens.
First, you must become aware of your surroundings. You must train yourself to be alert and anticipate danger early enough to avoid it or mount a defense. If your attacker gets his hands on you (or a knife into you) before you are even aware of his presence, you won’t have much chance to save yourself even if you are well armed.
Think about your “personal space.” How close do people come to you before you get uncomfortable? People who live in a crowded city are often less sensitive to people inside this “space,” and some people are disturbed long before anyone gets close enough to touch them. Most human beings have a natural, built in aversion to anyone or anything that they see as too close, out of place, or not perceived as “normal.” Yet a great many people have desensitized themselves to this and/or indulge in things that dull the perception or distract them from noticing it. How many people drive or walk down the street talking on the phone, daydreaming, ignoring everything else? Who is able to pay full attention to their surroundings if they are very sick, exhausted or under the influence of a drug?
So, the first requirement for effective self defense is to become aware of your surroundings, identify the people and things in your environment that do not “belong” or which might be a threat. This is called “situational awareness.” Read about this and the drills outlined on the linked page and begin to practice it. It may take some time and real effort to be comfortable with this all the time, but you should begin to reap the benefits immediately.
This description of situational awareness and the drills are taken from my book, “I Am NOT A Victim.” Look at this link if you are not familiar with it. The first chapter is the story of the man I had to shoot to save my life.
As always, your comments and suggestions are most welcome.