The Mistakes We Make

We can't control everything that happens in a violent encounter, but we can eliminate some common unforced errors.

posted on July 29, 2023
Sheriff Jim Wilson

I make it a point to study reports of armed citizens who are forced to defend themselves from criminal attacks. In addition to this, I pay attention to comments about defense guns and personal defense from folks on social media. While I often get some good, useful ideas from these, I also see some mistakes that are all too common. What follows, in no particular order, are three of those mistakes that can easily be corrected with some thought and prior planning.

Not Enough Gun

The first is the guy who is only going to run a quick errand, so he grabs a small gun and drops it into his pocket. Now I am not knocking the fact that small defense guns are sometimes useful and needed, but I fear that too many don’t realize that the smaller the gun, the harder it is to get good, quick hits.

We should always keep in mind that the fight is going to be what it is going to be, not what we suppose it will be. We might have in mind that we might be in danger of walking into the middle of an armed robbery in that convenience store when, in fact, the fight occurs out in the parking lot or on the street before we even get to the store. The simple fact is, the smaller the gun, the more we must train and practice with it and that seems to be what many people aren’t getting enough of.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Another mistake is letting a suspicious person (Condition Orange) get too close to us before we begin to consider taking some sort of defensive action. Now I’m not talking about going all “Wyatt Earp” on some guy who is just wanting to ask directions. But when you sense a potential threat, you need to get your hands empty, think about dealing with your covering garment and give thought to your defensive options. You may stop his approach verbally, you may get something between you, or you may create distance. But you really don’t want him to get right in your face if you can possibly avoid it.

Out Of Date Training

Another mistake is generally made by those who rely on their military or civilian firearms training from years ago as being sufficient to deal with a criminal attack. When we do get these folks on the range it is usually quite clear that their abilities are lacking. They may be spending too much time living in the past and don’t realize it.

Now, mind you, I am not knocking this early training. But the fact is that shooting and other defensive skills are quickly diminishing skills. We regularly train and practice because that is the only way to keep tuned up. It also makes us aware of the changes that are occurring with our bodies as the years go by. In the end, it is not about what we used to do as much as it is about what we can do today, right now.

So, there are some mistakes that we are all susceptible to. Undoubtedly, you can think of other common mistakes that armed citizens make. We should all do that and make the necessary changes in our lifestyles and habits to create a harder target.


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