Knowing what you can do is more then half the battle…
The belief that owning a gun makes you safe is as absurd as believing that purchasing a scalpel makes you a surgeon. In both cases, the blind act of owning these items alone without proper training, mindset, and planning for the item’s use actually makes you less safe.
So why would a large segment of the population fall prey to this belief? It could be images portrayed in the movies and on TV where even a novice shooter can run, jump, and flip while effectively putting rounds on target. It could be the hyper-enticing photos and images in popular gun magazines. Or, it could be well intended, but erroneous, advice passed from untrained friends, family, or gun-store sales clerks. These are first among many reasons that Aegis Academy emphasizes training and mindset (planning) over weapon selection as the most effective means of protecting yourself, the ones you love, and making a difference in your community.
At the very least, effective training incorporates the basic principles of safe firearm ownership, rudimentary maintenance, and safe operation of the weapon. Most firearm manufacturers enclose a short brochure on firearm safety and key safety aspects of particular models in the box with new firearm purchases and many states require a safe gun handling “test” of one sort or another prior to purchase. These measures are passive at best and in no way qualify as training.
Regardless of the venue, gun owners should seek hands-on instruction and training in the basics of firearm safety, maintenance, and operation in order to learn the proper techniques and avoid bad habits from the outset. Furthermore, the skill set required to safely handle and operate a firearm is perishable. Aegis Academy highly recommends periodic drills and both dry-fire and live-fire practice to maintain these critical skills and build the proper muscle memory for you to survive a violent encounter.
Developing the right mindset is truly the key to surviving a violent encounter. By recognizing patterns, identifying potential threats, and adopting techniques to avoid dangerous situations, you increase your chances of survival by reducing the probability that you will become a target. It is a fact that you will win 100% of the fights you don’t get into. However, the world is a dangerous place and bad things can happen to good people. Even with a functional firearm and training how to safely employ it, the lack of a plan can nullify any potential advantage over your attacker… you can endanger yourself and those around you.
Many experienced shooters believe they have an effective plan to cope with a violent encounter. We’ve heard it many times: “If I hear the glass breaking in the middle of the night, I’m just going to pull my .45 and head downstairs to put the bad guy down… you know, two to the chest… one to the head… Mozambique style!”
However, there are two truisms in combat, in law enforcement, and in neighborhoods across America: (1) the bad guy gets a vote and usually has the upper hand by choosing the time, place, and conditions of the attack; and (2) no plan survives first contact. The first step to surviving violent encounters is to develop a number of plans for a myriad of contingencies. Also, understanding that violent encounters may not necessarily be singular in nature, a series of “if this… then that” branches and sequels to the plan must be considered.
The key aspect to an effective “mindset” is having the will and commitment to rehearse the plans, contingencies, branches and sequels. Don’t take this too far out of context by initiating a violent encounter just to test your plan! Rehearsing the plan can be as simple as sitting down with your family to discuss different scenarios, defining each family member’s responsibilities, and walking through a series of possible reactions. During the rehearsal, ensure that the flashlights are where you “think” they are and that the batteries are fresh. In a safe area, perform a function check of your primary and alternate home defense weapon. Exercise the magazine by downloading the magazine and filling that ammo into a different magazine. This would also be a good time to check the function of the locks throughout the house, to include the windows and the garage. Take this opportunity to identify safe areas throughout the house that you could retreat to if escape was not an option. Place phone calls from this safe area to ensure that your wireless phone and cell phone have coverage from this area.
Recently, an Aegis Academy mentor had the unfortunate circumstance of an attempted home invasion. He describes the event as follows:
“This is actually the second time it has happened. Both were in supposedly safe neighborhoods. The first one was 17 years ago and even as a guy with a lot of firearms training, I responded to the attempted break-in poorly. As soon as I heard the break-in occur in the vicinity of the garage, I rushed directly to the sound of the broken door with a flashlight and a pistol, but no situational awareness and no phone to call for assistance. The flashlight was dying and the pistol still had range ammo in the half-filled magazine. I could have been quickly outnumbered and trapped in the garage or shot upon my own entry into the situation. Luckily, my uncoordinated but violent response was enough to thwart the wanna-be thief.
“Learning from this mistake and applying years of lessons-learned, my family and I were prepared for the second incident. The master bedroom is on the street level and our daughter’s bedroom is on the second floor. When we heard the intruder scaling the wall outside of our bedroom, without hesitation we employed the plan that we had rehearsed. With our daughter upstairs, there was no means for escape. With a pistol and cell phone “speed dialed” to 911, my wife went upstairs to take our daughter into the safe area on the 2nd floor. En route, she “covered” me as I made it to the safe to get the 12ga shotgun and remained on the 1st floor to confront the intruder. As the intruder made his way onto the porch, I gave a very clear verbal warning and turned on the porch light, leaving me in the darkened room to maneuver if necessary. This was enough to send the intruder back over the wall and end the attempted break-in.
Although both incidents ended in a similar manner, I survived the first one through pure luck and I’m convinced that having a plan increased my chances of survival exponentially during the second incident.”
In summary, there are three elements that will increase your chances of surviving a violent encounter: in priority order, (1) the survival mindset/plan; (2) the right training; and (3) the right tools. With the right mindset, you can identify and avoid a dangerous situation. If confrontation unavoidable, you should have a well-rehearsed series of plans to react to that situation. With the right training, you will be able to safely manipulate your weapon of choice under stress and/or duress. Aegis Academy is committed to making a difference in our community by making a difference one interested and proactive citizen at a time.
~ Howard Hall
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