Monday, May 7, 2012
Preparation – You have all the time in the world . . . . right now.
There is a single instant for an individual when time runs out . . . . that moment when the situation changes things forever. In the realm of the individual that has chosen to carry a weapon for personal protection, it happens during the draw stroke – the time it takes for the hand to grip and draw their defensive weapon. They must transition from a mom, dad, neighbor, friend – into a warrior that is entering mortal combat. Someone will live and someone will probably die once the transition is complete and combat is engaged. Until that instant . . . . you have all the time in the world.
So, what would you do – with all the time in the world?
Obvious things, of course: tell those around you that you love and care about them. Work less, enjoy life more. More work on the old bucket list – less behind the grindstone. While these may be reflected on as your light begin to dim and your life’s spirit drains, perhaps a bit more time in preparation was in order.
You have all the time – right now – to do your absolute best to prepare yourself for a deadly encounter, to give yourself the very best chance to go home on your feet rather than in a box. I thought that perhaps a “preparatory inventory” might be helpful. If I was going to evaluate all the things that would be helpful to pay attention to – what would those items be? Let’s start on the “inside” and work our way “out”.
Mental Attitude: This can have many descriptions: “Warrior Mindset”, “Combat Mindset”, “Tactical Mindset” – basically it means that you have decided you are willing to do anything it takes to insure that you, your family or your friends will survive a deadly encounter. This is the most basic requirement for survival – you have to decide that you want to. Obviously the true test comes at the moment you chose to begin your draw stroke – yet training can do a great deal to get you past that point. “Target Practice” will not get you there; making holes on the range will not get you there. It takes more – much more; we’ll address that in a bit. But, without the proper mental attitude nothing else matters from here on – if you are unwilling to defend yourself, your family or your friends – you will not survive a deadly encounter.
Clothing: This is such a simple and easily overlooked part of preparation. It’s so easy to compromise your ability to carry your EDC gear because of how you want to look. Less clothing means less gear. Flip-flops, loose sandals, spike heels – all these mean less mobility and less stability. “Sturdy shoes”, “casual” rather than “skimpy” clothing, a “practical purse” rather than a “clutch purse” all provide you a better starting point to defend yourself. While a tube top and micro shorts may be sexy – while a muscle T-Shirt and Cargo Shorts may be comfortable and attractive – they may leave you weaponless.
Pay attention to your wardrobe. Could you run flat-out for a block? Could you transition from concrete to rock to grass and not loose traction? Can you conceal your weapon, a couple spare magazines along with a knife, flashlight and cell phone? Will you meet death today? Probably not, but if you do - go dressed to put up a fight and not to go along willingly.
Your Body: Your most basic weapon. So how are you doing staying in shape? Could your run for 15 minutes to escape an attacker? What does it take to get you winded? How does your body react when stressed? How strong are you? Could you climb a tree, ladder, house or fence? Could you absorb an array of body blows? How would you defend yourself? What I’m getting at is – take care of your primary defensive weapon – your body. Learn some basic hand-to-hand, work on your strength and cardio abilities. Honestly, I’m the last one to talk here. 21 years in the military, 62 years of life, a round of cancer has definitely degraded my physical abilities. Not an excuse, simply a reality. So, I adjust my training to make the best use of the strength, endurance and mobility that I do have.
Your Weapon: Let’s focus on your handgun first. Do you carry each and every day? Are you fully locked and loaded when you leave your bedroom? Do you remain that way until you disarm to go to bed? Does it fit you? Can you conceal it easily and draw it quickly? Can you use it? (and I mean more than simply punching holes on an IDPA target at 21 feet) Can you quickly clear malfunctions? Can you use it if one arm is shot to pieces? Can you quickly field strip your weapon, clean it and reassemble it without referring to youtube or the manual? Is it loaded with the most deadly ammunition you can find? Do you carry at least two spare magazines or speed loaders? When you face a deadly encounter – are you willing to place “metal on meat” and kill whatever is in front of you?
EDC: What do you carry each and every day? Is it useful? Will it help to protect and defend you? I’ve posted on this earlier so I won’t rehash it here. Develop yours, make carrying all of the items a habit.
Situational Awareness: Have you learned and do you practice methods to become aware of your surroundings? Whether you adopt Jeff Cooper’s “Color Codes” or the NRA’s levels of awareness, are you observing your surroundings, evaluating people and environments, determining what threats you may be facing? An unaware person is a much easier to attack than an individual that is alert and observant.
Are you still learning? Have you settled into a comfortable training regimen that revolves around range visits and target practice? Are you satisfied with a range visit a couple of times a year, sending a box or two downrange, punching holes in paper? Or do you push yourself, find new instructors, different shooting techniques and do everything you can to ensure you get the first hit, the best hit and that you put your attacker down quickly. Training should push you, stress you, introduce an environment that would be similar to a real-life encounter. It should include movement and engagement while moving – if you stand still you die, as simple as that.
Do you read on the topic of self-defense, weapons technology, training techniques, shooting techniques, military encounters, LEO shoot-outs? Are you spending at least some time every day adding to your skill set that will ultimately keep you alive?
First Aide? Have you taken a first aide course? Can you do CPR, stop you or your friend from bleeding out? Have you built a “Boo-Boo” kit and a “Blow Out” kit? Do you know how to best use them both? Do you carry them at all times?
As you scan my list, have you noticed some things that prompted an “I should really work on that” response? We all have areas of weakness – that’s not unusual. And, those areas of weakness will do us no harm until that moment comes when you reach for your weapon and draw it to defend yourself.
You have all the time in the world – right now – at this moment in time - to fill in any blanks. Make use of it, embrace it, be thankful for it – and use it wisely.
Because tomorrow, or next week, or next year . . . . it may be your turn to make use of all your skills to save your life, or your children’s lives or the life of your closest friend.