We write a lot about concealed carry, handguns, and shooting because that is our primary business and we love to shoot. Of course, we believe a handgun is the ultimate equalizer and a great choice for personal defense. It isn’t quite that simple, however. We like how Masaad Ayoob puts it – criminals don’t fear the gun; they fear the resolutely armed person. We make it a point in all of our classes to emphasize the crucial mental mindset necessary for personal defense with a firearm and we also tell why responsibly armed citizens want to avoid using a firearm unless it is absolutely required. We must do everything we can to deter the criminal beforehand and, with that in mind, here are a few ideas for making yourself a harder target.
*We must give a shout out and thank you to Mike Seeklander and Rich Brown at The American Warrior Society and associated American Warrior Podcast. They are not only experts in a variety of disciplines related to self-defense, but are leading the way in developing a proactive, multi-layered and comprehensive personal defense program. We agree with their philosophy and want to help spread the word. Please check them out!
This is the number one thing you can do to improve your personal defense plan. Criminals will choose a soft target over a hard one all day long. Physical fitness indicates to a criminal that you will not go down easily. No need to get into workout details here, just find something you like and get to work for at least 30 minutes three times per week. Once you get through the initial phase and establish a workout habit you can build or select a program toward a more specific goal. At this point, consistent effort will pay dividends in the long run.
We aren’t suggesting you strive to become a ninja in your spare time, but learning a few simple moves that you can perform instinctively with some power could save your life. Many times the confidence you’ll gain – and then outwardly project – from knowing how to throw a punch will be enough deterrent for the keen criminal observer. There are many fitness programs that integrate combative-type movements so maybe you can can kill two birds with one stone. YouTube can provide you with demonstrations on a wide variety of techniques or better yet, find a local trainer or gym that can get you started on the right track.
Develop Your Situation Awareness
In all of our classes, we emphasize the importance of situation awareness. Learning how to spot trouble and read people could be the difference in making a quick exit or getting caught in the crossfire. Most people don’t realize these skills can be practiced. Sit in your favorite park or at an outdoor cafe and take a few minutes to close your eyes and just listen. Can you identify the sounds around you? In the same spot, can you quickly identify exits, solid points of cover, and places for potential concealment? Watching people’s eye movement, facial expressions, hand movements and other body language can tell you a lot about what is about to happen. More importantly, any criminal that is paying attention will notice that you are paying attention as well.
Another part of your personal situation awareness is identifying and evaluating your own patterns of behavior. Do you always go to the store at a certain time of day? By yourself or with a friend? Do you leave valuables in a visible location or in an unlocked car?Does your pre-bedtime routine include checking all the locks and windows? Do you have a plan for the “bump in the night” situation? Criminals will try to exploit any pattern that leaves an opening for them to be successful.
Find A Podcast Or Two
Leverage the technology in your pocket to access a wealth of information. We listen to podcasts on a variety of subjects including news and politics, physical fitness, and personal defense. Many times, something I hear on a show will start me down a different path of learning, resulting in a new workout or a visit to Amazon to order a new book. Other times, expert interviews have helped clarify the finer points of low-light shooting or self-defense law. Constant learning will help you fight mental complacency and keep your skills and mind honed. You never know when a newly learned concept might come to your aid when you need it most.
A lot of “manly” guys shy away from carrying pepper spray because some may see it as a girly thing. The problem: if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you draw a firearm before your life is threatened, you may be escalating the situation and may have just opened yourself up to prosecution. Even worse, you might overreact and accidentally fire a shot that was not justified. Some situations may only require a blast in the face with pepper spray, or a zap with a stun gun, or a crack in the collarbone with a baton…or anything else that results in stopping the threat shy of lethal force. Better to have that option and not need it, than need it and not have it on hand. Most criminals will not want to engage someone that has a visible defensive tool at the ready and knows how to use it.
Developing multiple layers of personal defense makes you a much harder target. Situation awareness, physical fitness, basic combatives, less-lethal weapons, and firearms should all play a role for the individual. You can expand this concept to cover your home defense and vehicle defense as well.