Are You a Gear Junkie? Maybe You Should Train Instead…
By Kevin Michalowski // 11/04/2016
There is a segment of the self-defense community that really loves gear. I count myself in that segment, because I truly do love “stuff.” Guns. Holsters. Magazine pouches. Gear bags. Range bags. Targets. You name it and I will find it interesting and likely be thinking of a reason to buy it.
I will declare this emphatically: Most of that stuff is not required for effective self-defense. What is required for effective self-defense is training. I’ve already stated that I love gear as much as the next person. I am a gun nerd who gets great joy out of knowing the difference between cut rifling and polygonal rifling. Big-dot sights, three-dot sights, night sights, bull’s-eye sights…you name it, I love them. Some work better than others, but I still want to know about them all, shoot with them all, and be able to converse at dinner parties about them all. (This may account for the incredible number of dinner parties to which I am NOT invited.)
Still, I know that training makes the warrior.
No specific piece of gear will improve your performance in a fight. Sure, you may argue that you must have a reliable gun, but that’s a generality. I can’t with certainty say WHICH reliable gun will make you a better fighter. Because, again, the gear doesn’t instill in you the mindset and the tactics you will need to prevail.
Notice I said, “prevail.” I don’t want you to simply survive. I want you to win. I expect you want to win as well, but if you just buy gear and don’t train with it, you won’t be improving your odds of winning. Simple survival can leave you with bullet holes in you and a bad guy continuing his attack. Our goal is to stop that attack and, if possible, escape without getting hurt. To do that, we need to focus on situational awareness, conflict avoidance, and movement.
Those three elements of self-defense will serve you far greater than any piece of gear you could buy. And the great thing about these elements is you don’t need to go to the range to practice them. You can train them in your own home, out on the street, or just about anywhere.
Yes, I said train out on the street. That’s the best place to practice your situational awareness skills. Train by doing. Focus on your surroundings. Look for possible threats, escape routes, and areas of cover. You don’t have to dwell on these items to the detriment of your interpersonal interactions, but you should actively think about them. Don’t keep them always in the back of your mind. Bring them to the forefront from time to time.
Conflict avoidance is simply taking action when you have noticed something that may be a threat. Move to the other side of the street. Ask to have someone walk you out to your car in a dark parking lot. Take definitive action and don’t be afraid that by doing so people will somehow think less of you. Self-defense is less about fighting and more about avoiding the fight. If you start thinking like that, chances are good you won’t have to use your fighting skills.
Then again, when it comes time to fight, I really want you to win. I want you to fight ruthlessly and effectively. That means you need to make quick decisions and take quick action. When things go bad, you need to recognize that immediately and not waste any time thinking, “This cannot be happening.”
Instead, focus on the phrase, “This is happening now. I need to do something.”
Train to move. Your first reaction in a deadly force situation should be to move. Practice movement and combine that movement with your marksmanship skills. It is your last resort, so you need to make it count.
Instead of shopping for that new piece of gear this year, consider focusing on your training.