As much as some tactards would have us believe, self-defense is not an all or nothing proposition. The notion that you have to train daily, adhere to some strict doctrine, carry only certain firearms, ammo, and gear, and support your carry with multiple extra magazines, pepper spray, a striking instrument and a blade sharp enough to shave the abominable snowman is not just ludicrous, its paranoia at the highest level.
Based on the ravings of some so-called professionals, your failure to do all of the above means your only option is to hire them and their band of merry men as body guards, because you are inept. Alternatively, you can take their one-week shooting course and be just like them…tactical pants, tattoos, ball cap, and beard.
Self-defense is more of a mindset than a representation of equipment. In a life or death situation your will to fight, win, and never give up will account for more than all the gear you can carry. Additionally, your alertness and adherence to the Principles of Personal Defense, as presented by Jeff Cooper, is the primary key to your survival.
Mindset is the only all or nothing element of personal protection. For those with religious faith, the analogy is relevant; you must believe. It does not matter what you wear to church, how often you go, or how much attention you give to the sermon presented. You must, unconditionally believe. With self-defense you must believe that you will fight to the end, as hard and as long as is necessary, with all the violence you can muster.
Don’t let your feelings of safety be belittled by those who claim the .380 you carry is not sufficient to save you. Don’t think you have to kit out like a Delta Force operative to go to the grocery store. With the right mindset and minimal gear you can prevail. Learn to use what you will dedicate yourself to carry on a daily basis. Develop the mindset that you will fight to your last breath. Commit to confronting a threat with all the will, strength, and speed you can muster. And, more importantly, don’t live in condition white, with the assumption that the world around you is nothing but rainbows and gummy bears.
The minutia of self-defense and surviving a violent confrontation can be broken down to the point of nausea. Doing so feeds the families of gun writers – guys like me – and the multitude of new age tactical trainers. It has its place; it makes people think. But the truth is that the effective employment of a defensive handgun in a life-threatening situation is really a very simple task grounded in common sense.
If you can afford a training course and can dedicate one of the 52 weeks the year gives you to that course, intense dedication will allow you to leave that course with nothing more than a solid foundation. If you pick the right teacher, in a week you can learn to present your handgun swiftly, effectively engage a target out to about 10 yards, and develop the skills necessary to manipulate your handgun and keep it in the fight. That’s about it.
If you dedicate at least one day per month and about 1000 rounds to practice each year, you might be able to maintain those skills. The truth is most folks cannot meet that bar due to lack of commitment, lack of time, and lack of money. Forget the ninja bullshit, develop the mindset, and then master the basics.