Combat Mindset for the Defensive Shooter

by
posted on August 14, 2021
Sheriff Jim Wilson

Someone once said that good gear will not make up for poor tactics, but good tactics will make up for poor gear. And, I think that is something that the defensive shooter should keep in mind. We live in an era when new guns, new gear, and new ammo are being introduced on a regular basis. Now, being a gun guy, I certainly enjoy that but a fellow ought to keep in mind that a new gun is not going to win you a gunfight. It’s what you can do with that gun that really matters.

One old-time border lawman was fond of the Colt 1911 pistol in .45 ACP. Now, that’s not the later commercial guns, or even the 1911A1. I’m talking about a WWI pistol that he had probably learned to shoot during that same war. To top it off, he carried it loaded with 230-grain hardball, even after some good hollowpoint ammo became available. I happened to be friends with the man who had been this officer’s supervisor and was told that this old lawman had come out on top in some seven or eight different gunfights. The key, of course, is that this old gentleman was a true fighter.

Far more important than what a person carries is learning what Col. Cooper called the combat mind set, which boils down to fighting skills. What gives us a chance, and hopefully an advantage, is the ability to spot trouble quickly and early while there is still time to avoid an encounter or, if that fails, to prepare for it. 

The skilled defensive shooter also learns to create diversions, to incorporate movement, and to identify and make use of cover. Forget about standing spraddle-legged out there in the open like Marshal Dillon; that’s just so much Hollywood. The objective is to survive the attack, and to do it lawfully; looking cool while doing it is way down on the bottom of the list, if it’s even there at all. Looking good only matters if you are signed up for a beauty pageant.

Cooper included combat mind set in an equilateral triangle along with marksmanship and gun handling. In other words, in his view the three elements were equal. I would suggest, however, that combat mind set—fighting skills—are just a bit more important. Honing our tactics and fighting skills allows us to use whatever defensive tools we might have at hand to a greater degree. And that’s what wins fights.

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