The numbers of news stories about people who have been attacked by wild and domestic animals are very shocking. I also noted instances in these stories where people have defended themselves with their concealed carry pistols. While I was reading the news articles on animal attacks; I started thinking most people who learn to use a pistol for self-defense generally use targets shaped like silhouettes of people, the goal being similar to those of law enforcement officers and soldiers when they learn to hit center mass in high stress situations.
How many of us have actually gone to the range and practiced for such a self-defense scenario: an attacking animal? When considering shots to center mass of an attacking animal, if it is not stopped quickly it may continue the attack even after being wounded. The severity of injuries you may sustain may be minor to life threatening. After the injuries are treated only then would most of us begin to consider if the animal carried rabies or other diseases that could have transferred to us.
My personal experience with attacking animals:
One year my hunting partner and I were out hunting, after he shot a raccoon as it hung onto the side of a cottonwood tree. I went out through the snow that was knee deep to bring it back to our pickup on the hopes the local fur buyer would give us something for this critter. As I got closer and looked over the brush I saw one very angry raccoon looking back at me. It was very apparent he had only been wounded and as fast as he was moving it did not appear to affect its ability to chase me. I was able to fish my .357mag pistol, out of my coveralls while running backwards. I vaguely remember my friend laughing in the background as I screamed multiple descriptive adjectives to express my displeasure with this turn of events. I managed to fire my pistol, which stopped the raccoon. How I did it? Well I my instincts kicked in and I just pointed my pistol like my finger. Honestly I do not remember aiming; I was scared that he was going to get me.
Where to shoot for?
Shots should concentrate on hitting the Central Nervous System (brain & upper spine) to bring immediate incapacitation. This may call for multiple shots to this area to stop the attacking critter.
When practicing you need to keep it realistic, so practicing shooting dimes from 25yards away is not necessary. To get a good idea on what size of target to practice with, visualize what an average dog or coyote’s head looks like in size. Next mentally add three bull’s eyes. Where do you put them you ask? Well one of the simplest ways of determining the animals brain location is to mentally draw an X from the left ear to right eye and repeat from the right ear to left eye. X will mark the spot to aim for. If presented with a side shot aim for the base of the ear angling forward to where the X would approximately be. If aiming at the back of the head aim try to angle the shot forward once again towards the X.
I suggest your practice distances start at 1 yard working out to 15 yards. Concentrate on point shooting skills from 1 to 10 yards without using your sights. When your distances get beyond 10 yards you can add sighted fire, but remember action is faster than reaction. If ever faced with this situation, aimed fire may not be possible and you would have to fall back on to your point shooting abilities to stop the attacking animal.
Before everyone runs out and starts buying new .44magnaum’s and S&W .500’s as your new defensive pistol, the standard 9mm round is very capable of penetrating the skull or severing the upper spine on most small mammals to full-grown cattle.
To those who would call me cold and insensitive on this matter.
Why do you carry a concealed pistol? If the answer is anything other than for your self-defense and that of a loved one; I want each of you to consider, could you shoot an animal in self-defense? Could you shoot the same animal to put it down after it had been crippled? If you answer is no, or this question brings some type of doubt, I suggest you re-evaluate your reasons for carrying a concealed weapon for self-defense. I hope this may either reaffirm your reason, or give reasons to reevaluate your need to carry a pistol for self-defense. This may not be the ultimate tell all about your character. If your goal is self defense it should not matter if it is a wild dog coming after you while on an outing in the park or an assailant trying to kill you in a dark parking lot. In ether case now is a better time to reflect on if you are emotionally prepared to defend your self. The reality is not all assailants have only two legs, it is possible you could be faced with an attacking critter that is bent on making you their personal chew toy.
Remember! “Shot Placement is Critical and Only Hits Count”
Disclaimer: You need to check your local and state laws about using a firearm in self defense against an animal.