Saturday, November 30, 2013

Training . . . Are you a “Soft Target”?


Soft: easy to press, bend, cut, etc. : not hard or firm

Target: a place, thing, or person at which an attack is aimed

When you hear law enforcement and the military types talk about “soft targets” they are typically talking about civilian targets that are seldom/lightly defended and thus are attractive to terrorists. Think shopping malls, movie theaters, churches, schools . . . any place where the casualty count can be substantial for the news media. And . . . this is an accurate description for these targets of opportunity. Any individual or dedicated group wishing to “make a statement” would surly migrate towards a “soft target” as opposed to a “hard target” like a police station or military base. It’s simply a matter of “economics” – a terrorist will get a much higher body count, for much less effort and stand a better chance at survival if he intends to survive that attack.

Short of becoming a hermit, avoiding shopping centers, movie theaters, church or pulling your kids out of school . . . there is little you can do to avoid many of these “soft target” environments. However, for you personally – for your physical being . . . there is much you can to that will help insure YOU are not a “soft target”. Let’s spend some time on that.

“The best way to win a gunfight is to never get into one.” This is a phrase that has entered the personal defense world and seems to have many authors . . . with perhaps “common sense” being the most identifiable one. There are many ways to increase your chances of this.

Don’t go to “stupid places”. Virtually all regions of the country – and all major cities – have areas that should eliminated from your travel plans. Crass? Perhaps – yet it true IMNSHO. Don’t go there – find an alternative store, church, social group . . . and it will reduce your opportunity to become a target.

Become “aware” of your surroundings. Follow Jeff Cooper’s “color code”. Follow the NRA’s “levels of awareness”. Loose the hoodie so you can see what’s going on around you. Ditch the ear buds so you can hear the sounds around you. Make use of reflections in windows to “check your six”. Scan – LOOK AROUND YOU – not just straight ahead, not at the ground but at what is going on around you. Check for “exits” – where would you go should a threat develop? People watch – prey are not observant . . . become observant. ACT if a threat develops – don’t “wish it away”, don’t “hope” it won’t happen. There IS NO HOPE – if a threat is developing . . . and you don’t act . . . you will be attacked – period.

Be able to run away. Sounds a bit cowardly – right? Yet, in the real world only the foolish (or the dead) flat out plant feet to fight if the opportunity exists to leave the scene quickly and avoid a fight. If you’re out of shape – it’s time to get back in shape. It will do you good physically while improving your chances to escape a fight. By watching your diet (no – not under the care of a food Nazi, just use common sense), getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day where your heart rate is elevated to an “exercise zone” and thrown in some strength training as well to build/repair muscle – you will be amazed how you begin to drop the extra pounds, have more energy and just plain feel better. Make it a “life style change” . . . NOT a diet. Quicker feet can avoid a fight . . . make yours quicker.

Take a “wingman”. Fighter pilots will not enter a dogfight without a wingman to help protect them from the enemy’s wingman. If at all possible, don’t travel to crowded areas – or secluded ones (remote parking lots/ramps for example) alone. There are times – perhaps most times – when this isn’t possible, but it’s much easier to not become a target, to become prey when there are two or more traveling together.

Learn to fight. In my childhood, this was just part of “schooling” the bully. You either fought or you were bullied throughout your school career. Today there are more “civilized” ways of handling the bully . . . that virtually insures perpetual victimhood and cements the bullying behavior in the playground bully. Power is taken from the “victim” and given to the “bully”. Not sure I can even explain how much this pisses me off. The bottom line though is we now have one or two generations around that have never been in so much as a school yard scrap. And, barring military training, law enforcement training, or a desire to learn a martial art – fighting is simply “not done” . . . until you meet some attacker on the street, parking lot or parking ramp. And then it’s too late. Learn to fight – not to break boards or do martial arts moves . . . but to just plain fight/brawl/kick/bite type of fighting. You are worth the investment in time . . . and you certainly are worth fighting for.

Learn how to use alternative weapons. An “alternative weapon” could be a knife, flashlight, kubaton, stick, hatchet, tire iron . . . the list is virtually endless. The point being that if you never consider alternative weapons, if you never “use them” in a training session . . . they will simply not occur to you in the event you’re attacked. And, if you’re not in the habit of carrying an easily accessible knife, kubaton or flashlight . . . then those alternatives and not available at all.

Become a “gunfighter”. Learn the skills necessary to truly defend yourself, your family and your friends with your carry weapon. PERIOD. A 4-hour carry class teaches you squat! Even extended course work with can only introduce concepts – they can teach you a new method of carry or improve your draw . . . but they DO NOT train you. Training occurs when you take these new skills that you were introduced to you to the range and you work with them, you practice them – you make them your own.

A word of caution here . . . KISS . . . Keep It Simple Stupid. MASTER the draw, MASTER everything from “metal on meat” to aimed shots at distance. MASTER putting multiple hits on your threat without “prairie-dogging” between each shot. MASTER your clothing in ALL seasons – range time at 10 below is as important as 100F. MASTER your clothing and equipment so it works well for your choice of weapons. Rather than focusing on “tacti-cool” . . . focus on simple and deadly.

Take your personal defense serious . . . EVERY FRICKIN’ DAY! I see a lot of students get all psyched for a specific class . . . perhaps a “run and gun” class, carbine class, a “shoot house” class . . . and all of this can provide good teaching for you. But, if your focus is preparing for the class . . . rather than putting on your defensive weapon to go to the mall . . . all the time on the tacti-cool range will have served no purpose if you are bleeding out on the mall floor with your defensive weapon safely tucked away in your gun vault at home. You last item of clothing that should go on your body each and every day is your carry weapon. And the first piece of clothing removed every night before you get ready to pack it in for the day, and placed at the ready, should be your carry weapon.

YOU are your best defense against become a “soft target”. It takes time. It takes effort. It costs money.

It could save your life . . .


  1. There are times when I've been viewed as such.

    *About a year ago I was accosted in a movie theater parking lot (next to a shopping mall) at night by two inner city people. I was getting into my (nice) BMW with my wife and daughter. When the handgun came out, the whole balance of power shifted. They thought that I was a harmless, disarmed, old guy with a nice car - easy mark.

    * I live in California at present, which means that I have CA license plates on my car. Twice when in other states, I've been targeted because of the license plates. In both cases it didn't turn out the way that the others expected it to. I realize that a California license plate may brand you as a liberal puke to many people - but it's not necessarily so. A tomahawk and a .45 often explains things better than words can.

    Hardening the target is worth the effort and cost. And in all cases, speed is fine, but accuracy is final.

  2. (PS) Additionally, attitude counts for a great deal. You have to be ready and willing to shoot first or to take the fight to THEM. The law will be on your side if you (a) understand the law and (b) are able to articulate why you did what you did, when you did it.

  3. Agree with LL on both counts... And being ALERT all the time. It's not that hard once you learn the mindset and commit yourself to do it. And carry EVERY day, you never know when you might need it (God forbid)...

  4. LL - Glad things went your way and an example of exactly what I was trying to relate. Agreed on attitude - if your are confident you are not prey, and act accordingly - a person probably will not become prey.

    Jim - being aware of your surroundings just makes so much sense to me. I am amazed at the number of things folks use throughout the day that simply blinds them to their surroundings. And agree on daily carry - does a person no good locked up at home in the safe.