Building The Combat Mindset

Going to the range and pressing the trigger is only the beginning of armed self-defense.

posted on September 16, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

Developing the skill needed to hit a target the size of a human at the average gunfight range is really not all that difficult. Most folks with any sort of coordination ability can learn to do it rather quickly. What that says is that the person has developed a level of shooting skills; it does not speak to their ability to successfully win a fight. And, yet, too many folks spend their time with the mechanics of shooting and devote very little to learning the other skills aimed at staying alive. Those kinds of survival skills are what we call the combat mindset.

Getting to a shooting range for practice requires an outlay of money and time, money and time that we don’t always have. Making oneself a harder target, through the combat mindset, can be practiced anywhere at any time and costs little or nothing.

To begin with, we want to continually improve our awareness skills. Forget the guy who says he is always aware, none of us are. But, we can increase our ability to be observant and that is very much an ongoing task. The further away we can observe potential trouble, the more options that we have in dealing with it. When we turn around and it is right up in our face, we are lucky if we have a single option with which to address the problem.

We also can work to improve our evaluation of our physical space. Where is cover and concealment and how can I use them? Where are the closest exits? We learn to look for these things in our everyday life before there is a crisis that we have to deal with. When we wait until faced with danger, our judgment is clouded by the stress and it is far easier to make faulty decisions.

We also learn that there are times to talk tough and times to be a bit more diplomatic. Verbal communication is the hallmark of the human race.  As we all know, talking can get us into trouble and it can get us out of trouble. If it is so important in our everyday lives, it is just as important in a potentially violent confrontation. A poor choice of language can change what was a rather minor automobile accident into a fight for our lives. And the right language can cause a home invader to lose control of a situation and decide it is time to leave before someone, namely him, gets shot.

All of these things, and others, are part of the combat mindset.  Improving our shooting skills is important, but it is only one small part of making ourselves a hard target for the criminals. Someone once said that the most important gunfight is the one that never happens.  That should be our goal but, if we can’t reach our goal we should have the skills to fall back on in order to survive.


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