It has been said there is no human characteristic that equates with this thing that we call courage. This argument points out all you have to do is look at a baby, who shows hunger, discomfort, contentment and fear, but no courage. Having given it quite a bit of thought, I tend to agree with this argument.
This thing we call courage is a person's ability to function effectively in spite of his natural fear. I suspect Alvin York was functioning in spite of his fear when he took on that German machine gun squad in World War I. And Audie Murphy was doing the same thing when he performed the acts that ultimately caused him to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II. Throughout the ages, men & women have found the will and determination to perform what appear to be heroic acts in the face of grave danger.
For the defensive shooter, this natural fear can be overcome by several things. Training and practice play a large role in this victory because they give us the ability to carry out a plan and the confidence that we can do well. In the same vein, having a defensive plan helps us to anticipate what form a criminal attack might take and devise a scheme to deal with it, knowing that the plan will have to be modified as we go along.
Determination also plays a huge role in overcoming our fears. We simply make up our mind that we are not going to be a victim of violent criminal attack. We will fight to the last bullet and then we will find something to use for a club. We will simply not give in to this cancer that has poisoned our society.
Finally, one of the best ways to control fear is to push through it with controlled anger. Now, mind you, I am not talking about a rage. I am talking about, "How dare him endanger me and my family!" "I don't want this to happen. I have tried to avoid this happening. But it is being forced upon me and I know just what to do about it!"
The defensive shooter should accept the fact, ahead of time, that he will have to deal with his natural fear. More especially, he should realize that he can function effectively in spite of that fear if he has given it prior thought, planning, and training. Fear does not have to paralyze a person—fear brings things sharply into focus and triggers the switch that causes us to put our defensive plan into action.