Safety and Training

You’re Going To Be In A Gunfight Tomorrow! Are You Prepared?

Pick the right equipment

Let’s get to the crux of it—if you’re going to be in a gunfight and want to win, you have to have a gun. However, the truth is that many gun owners who get concealed-carry permits rarely carry a gun. I have heard the figure is less than one percent! Really? I could not find verification of that number; even if it is close to correct, I am very disappointed.

I ate dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant two nights ago and deliberately paid attention to each person who walked through the doors. I did not notice one who was likely armed. Granted, there could have been an incredibly smooth operator with a hidden gun in the place, but the skinny jeans and tight shirts on most guys and girls in the place quickly told me that it was very likely no one was armed.

Guns Are Uncomfortable

Graph showing which of Tom Givens students were in gunfight.
This data from Tom Givens shows the distances at which his students were engaged in gunfights. Givens has debriefed more than 60 students who have been engaged in shootings. Graph courtesy of Rangemaster Firearms Training Services.

Tom Givens, who founded Rangemaster Firearms Training Services out of Memphis, recently held an instructor-development course in the Chandler, Oklahoma area, and he offered a great insight about carrying guns.

It is much like an infant and shoes.

When an infant is born, the parents usually try to find the most comfortable shoes possible for the baby’s first pair. Unfortunately, after being born barefoot and living weeks to months that way, the first time the parents place shoes on those little feet, the baby throws a fit. It takes a few weeks for the baby to become accustomed to shoes, but it’s likely you are wearing shoes as you read this and have not thought about them all day.

Wearing a gun religiously is the same — at first, it sucks, and you might tend to whine about it. But after two or three weeks wearing the right gear, you pay no more attention to it than your shoes.

Start going armed!

Which Gun To Bring to Your Gunfight

If you knew with 100 percent certainty you were going to be in a gunfight tomorrow, would you prefer to fight with that J-frame lightweight revolver that has a really heavy double-action trigger pull, carried in your front pocket where it is very difficult to access? Don’t get me wrong: I know good revolvers have their place (as back-up guns, in my opinion), but think about what you will pick for your fight tomorrow with some logic.

If you knew you were going to a gunfight and your shooting hand might be injured, forcing you to shift the gun and shoot it with your support hand at an assailant holding your child, would you pick a handgun that was difficult to use with relative accuracy at speed? Would you pick a small pocket pistol with a very heavy, creepy double-action trigger pull for every shot that was also very difficult to manipulate under stress?

Or, instead, would you pick a medium-sized modern concealable semiautomatic with higher capacity and which was very reliable? Don’t you want to have one that you can operate at good speed with good accuracy and that was street proven?

Full sized or compact, either of these guns is going to be a solid choice.
Left: Full sized or compact, either of these guns is going to be a solid choice. Think about it — would you rather be fighting with a five-shot revolver with a heavy trigger pull or a good semi-auto with 13 rounds in it? Right: This is a $500 gun in a $15 holster. I hope you have spent the time and money to select your gear wisely. This holster and gun will be ripped off your body in seconds if a bad guy gets his hands on it. You get what you pay for!

I know my answer, and I can guess what yours might be if you know tomorrow’s gunfight is going to happen.  Both of us are probably going to pick the gun that gives us the most advantage. Most of the pocket pistols out there, as well as a large majority of the handguns sold at gun stores, and recommended by gun-store commandos, are probably not the ones you should pick in preparation for your gunfight tomorrow.

One more thing about gun selection: if you are a female and “the expert” told you to carry a revolver due to its simplicity and the fact your lower level of training dictates you need something simple, I want you to do two things. First, slap said “expert,” since he/she insulted you by saying that you could and would not train to a solid level of proficiency.

Second, do a little test. Shoot your revolver at a target five yards away with only one hand. Fire five shots as fast as you can get hits, one time with your gun hand and one time with your support hand (two separate strings of fire) into the center ring of an I.D.P.A. target. Count your hits in that circle. Then, go perform the same test with a high-quality, small-to-medium-sized semi-automatic like a Glock 26 or Glock 19 and see if your hit ratio and speed goes up significantly. I have had female students who could not even pull the trigger with their weak hand on their carry revolvers. Have you tried it with yours?

How about your gear? Have you tested your carry holster or carry method hundreds, if not thousands, of times to see if it’s going to allow you to consistently present the handgun very quickly from the holster?  Have you taken it a step further and jumped up and down, then rolled around on the ground a little bit to see if your handgun is actually going to stay in your holster? Your fight tomorrow will be more dynamic than simply standing still and shooting, like you do on the range.

Training for Your Gunfight

Your fight is coming, have you trained for it? Have you properly prepared? To answer that question, we must look at how fights occur, and more important, we must look at how we’re going to be attacked.

Tom Givens of RangeMaster has gathered some of the most crucial data I’ve come across in 15 years of teaching. There’s a significant amount of information out there that show how assaults occur, how people were attacked, and what worked to end those fights. The Rangemaster data also indicate what ranges the shootings happened at, and how many rounds the participants fired.

As confirmation, Givens’ data reflects the reported distances at which FBI and DEA agents get into shootings. Generally speaking, uniformed officers get into closer-range fights.

In relation to your gunfight, it’s probably going to occur in about three seconds, at three yards, and around three shots will be fired by you. Have you spent the majority of you practice on your presentation from concealment? That’s how you’re going to be carrying, so you need to be practicing to draw and hit with 100 percent certainty and 100 percent consistency with as much speed as possible. Remember, you are responsible for each round you fire. For your gunfight tomorrow, are you confident that you have practiced enough to hit with all of your shots? If not, are you prepared to deal with the aftermath of shooting someone innocent, like a child?

How about your one-handed shooting? Statistics show that you’re highly likely to be injured and hit by a bullet in one of your arms. In addition, there is a significant amount of our normal daily duties that require one of our arms becoming occupied, so the likelihood of having to fire with one hand is a very good possibility.

Have you trained to control the recoil on your handgun, manage the trigger, and get accurate hits with one arm? I hope so, because I am pretty sure you might have to shoot like that in your gunfight tomorrow.

How About Movement?

It’s been demonstrated that movement will increase your success in a fight if you can move out of the way of flying bullets. Is that something you practice?

Obviously, a moving target is more difficult to hit, but more important, when you present a moving target, you surprise the attacker and get out of his line of sight. Have you practiced your presentation while moving off-line to the left or right? Getting successful hits while moving is different than doing a fast draw while standing still. Hey, you’re going to be in a gunfight tomorrow! Don’t you think that’s a skill you will want to have?

Your Fight Is Yours to Win — Or Lose

Ok, let me ask the blunt question: Did you recently spend some time and money on training and ammunition? Or did you drop big money all on a new surround-sound system and plasma TV for the fall football season? One choice would have prepared you for your gunfight tomorrow. And one didn’t.

Hey, you spent the money and time to get your carry permit, right? That card should be enough to get you through your gunfight, because the carry-permit training is so intensive. The carry course prepared you for the fight tomorrow, didn’t it?

Having a gun is one thing; carrying it daily is another. But are you prepared to use it? Think about it for a second. Any time in your life you expected something would happen to you, you remained relatively calm and comfortable because you were in your comfort zone.

Pick the right equipment
Left: Drawing fast is one thing, but movement while doing so is a skill everyone should possess. Have you worked on offline movement? Right: Carrying a gun might be uncomfortable at first, but after a few weeks, you will rarely ever notice the gun. You will want to find a carry holster that is comfortable and allows you to carry a gun you would want to fight with.

So, knowing you’re going to be in a gunfight tomorrow, wouldn’t you rather have this thought: “I knew this would happen, let’s take care of business.” Or, would you rather say: “Oh crap! I can’t believe this is happening to me!”

Do you want to make slow decisions in your gunfight tomorrow?

What if you get shot? Are you mentally prepared to deal with the consequences of actually getting shot? If you have done your research, you would find a significant number of handgun wounds are not life threatening and allow the person shot to go home after appropriate medical treatment. When your gunfight occurs tomorrow, obviously you don’t want to get shot. But the possibility exists that in a gunfight, you might get shot. If that happens, do you want your mentality to be surprise, anguish, or paralyzing fear?

Or would you rather prepare your mind so that your response is anger instead, one where you get pissed off that you got shot, and you hunker down and return accurate fire, destroying your opponent? The point is, if you expect the possibility of getting shot, it won’t be a surprise. Whether you live or die depends on how you react to it at that moment.

How about your family? Does your wife or husband have any clue whatsoever what you’re going to do — and what you expect them to do after a bad man jumps out of the shadows and points a gun at you? It’s going to happen tomorrow, somewhere.

Will they expect you to give up your wallet? Or draw your handgun and shoot? Or will you move off-line aggressively and draw? Will your loved ones know to move, and if so, what direction will they go? Will they stay in the line of fire, or move laterally, and hopefully to a safer spot? Do your children know what you will do and what they should do when a bad thing happens tomorrow?

Your gunfight is coming. Are you ready? Share your plans in the comment section.


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Comments (35)

  1. Well I did read an article at one time that said the best self defense handgun you have is the one you have on you at the time you need it. So the author basically was saying whether you have a 22 cal or a 357 mag you have to make do with what you have. Makes sense to me.

    1. Agreed.

      When I can carry what I want it’s a full sized .45, either a Glock 21 or an XD. But there are times, when I have to absolutely be very low profile, and all I can manage is Kel Tec .32 with a laser and hollow points concealed in a belt carrier that looks like a smart phone case.

      You make do with what you have so practice and be proficient with all your guns. You never know when it might be all you have at hand.

  2. OK, folks, before you jump me, I didn’t mean it is all BS. I was concerned about fight avoidance and weapon selection. The info on training, movement, etc. looks sound. And I live in a carry state. No permit required.

  3. All BS. If I KNOW there is to be a fight, I stay home. Or I want my 12 gauge. Otherwise there are many trade offs. A Glock 19 is great, but there is nothing wrong with a J frame. An LCP (or baby Browning .25) is far better than nothing. Training and practice are essential. Know the law.

  4. Enjoyed your reply and had a good laugh. Tell the wife that its always better to be on trial for shooting someone than them being on trial for shooting you. LOL

    1. Thanks! I read your response to my wife and she grinned and said, “Yup, those doggone, white Republican males strike again.”

      BTW, she’s an excellent shot and swears by her Beretta 92. I know, it’s not state of the art, but she regularly punches the heart circle out at combat ranges, so I’m not going to argue with her about it.

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