While we’re a community devoted to the self-defense aspects of concealed carry, let’s not forget one thing: shooting is fun. Even training for self-defense or tactical shooting can be enjoyable: a day at the range getting some exercise and honing your skills is a good thing, and watching yourself improve can be a source of great personal satisfaction. However, as we’ve discussed there’s a lot more to this than marksmanship, or having the right gear.
This is going to be one of those articles. Today we’ll be talking about mindset, and the role it plays in self-defense. To keep things organized, we’ll be breaking it up into three parts:
- Getting Prepared
- Dealing with an Incident in Progress
- Handling the Aftermath
- First and foremost, check your ego at the door. Self-defense and preparedness are about ensuring that you’ll be able to deal with trouble when it comes looking for you, not so you can go looking for it. The goal is staying safe, not becoming a hardened street fighting badass. There’s a world of difference between a self-defense shooting and a gunfight—one that will matter if things go to court.
- Learn to understand the role of self-defense in your life. Like we’ve said, it’s not about looking for trouble. It’s about practicing situational awareness, understanding the signs of trouble and learning to avoid them, and being prepared for the most likely emergencies.
- Be careful with “what-ifs?”. This is one of the most dangerous mental traps, and among the easiest to fall into. Some what-ifs are good: “what if our home is invaded?”, “what if we get hit with a hurricane?”, “what if we have a car accident?”. However, it’s easy to get trapped in the world of fantasy “what-ifs?”: “What if a drug cartel assaults our neighborhood?”, “what if a clan of ninjas puts out a hit on me?”, etc. Stay realistic for your circumstances—and if you’re really worried about a clan of ninjas, it’s time to consider some lifestyle changes.
- Sit down with yourself and whatever higher power you put faith in and consider the moral aspects of self-defense with a handgun. Any firearm is a lethal weapon, and should only be used when the situation calls for such. In adopting the CCW lifestyle, you’re taking on this moral burden. Ask yourself the hard questions: am I willing to take a life in self-defense? Under what circumstances will I do so? Can I live with the fallout of that? I can’t give you the answers, but I can tell you that you should look for them.
Dealing with Trouble
- When an emergency hits, you’ll be dealing with both the emergency and your own fight or flight response, albeit dialed up to 11. This automatic reflex is designed to allow your body to deal with emergencies, but due to its mechanics really impedes rational thought and higher reasoning.
- As such, when your adrenaline is flowing, you won’t rise to the occasion so much as fall back on your training. Make sure you’ve drilled, practiced, and trained until you can’t do it wrong.
- Do your best to keep your situational awareness running, even in an emergency. It’s always likely there’s another injury/wounded person/attacker/etc.
In the Aftermath
- Call emergency services, first and foremost.
- Render first aid as needed. If you’re seriously wounded and relief hasn’t arrived, treat yourself first so that you can better help others.
- Try to remember that you’re not thinking clearly. Even when things calm down, the aftermath of fight or flight is still there. If injured, listen to the medical professionals when they arrive. If you’ve been involved, cooperate with the police and keep your mouth shut until your attorney gets there.
- When the dust—both immediate and legal—finally settles, take care of yourself. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder comes in many forms and has many causes. If you or those you care about suggest there might be a problem, get the help you need. There’s no shame in it—it’s part of protecting yourself and your family.
There’s a lot more that could be said, and we’ll be discussing some of the particulars in future articles. Until then, please email me with your thoughts or questions and stay safe out there.