Semper Paratus (Always Ready)
The weather was cool, but it was a nice evening for dinner downtown with his wife and daughter. Chris parked his truck in the adjoining parking lot as the girls jumped out and headed toward the restaurant to get their seat. He threw on his coat, locked up the car and turned to catch up with the girls already approaching the door of the restaurant. This night was like any other night and they looked forward to a good meal from a place they’d been to countless times. Chris’ hands were in his jacket pockets when he glanced at his watch to check the time then looked up to notice a young man in his late twenties cut him off on the sidewalk. He was immediately irate and yelling in Chris’ face, “What the f*ck bro! You got a problem?” Chris was thrown off, but quickly noticed the other two guys approaching their hostile cohort. The verbal assault continued as Chris slowly backed away while attempting to use his body language and words to de-escalate the situation. Nothing he could say seemed to deter the trio and tensions built when one of them put his hand in his jacket and asked Chris if he wanted to get shot.
What this guy didn’t know, is Chris is an avid shooter who carries religiously and that his .380 was already trained on him from the concealment of his jacket pocket. He had his hand on the weapon the instant the first guy got in his face. Now the gun was drawn from the sticky holster, his finger was on the trigger and ready to go without even the need to draw it from his pocket. The guy slowly pulled his hand out with his finger and thumb extended like a gun. In that instant of the slow draw, Chris’ mind raced between engaging the possible threat and restraint. He didn’t want to shoot this guy, but was this guy really pulling a gun on him? There was no way to know what was coming out of that guy’s coat. The thug pointed his finger and elevated thumb at Chris and said, “Bang!” then laughed. Choosing not to shoot and feeling relieved at seeing no weapon, Chris said, “You almost made a huge mistake.” This reignited their rage to which one of them stated, “Why? You got a gun, b*tch? I’ll take that sh*t from you right now!” While side-stepping the group, Chris replied, “You don’t need to worry about what I’ve got”. As their heads turned to follow his movement they picked up on Chris’ wife only 30 feet away, who already had her gun out of her purse and leveled on the group of thugs (as a side note, Chris’ daughter carries as well). Chris joined the ladies and instructed his wife to put the weapon away. They entered the restaurant, called the police to report the incident and enjoyed their dinner while waiting for the officers to arrive and take statements.
Chris told this account to me one morning at work…he’s my boss. An easy-going guy in his mid-fifties who never puts himself in dangerous situations and until that day, never had an incident where he nearly pulled the trigger on someone. It shook him up quite a bit. It even unsettled me when he told it. It could have easily been me and my family there that night instead…or it could have been you. Chris was ready to react. His wife and even his daughter were ready. Would you be ready?
Carrying concealed is one of the best forms of self-protection, but not everyone has the option of carrying concealed. Maybe you’re limited by the state where you reside, a country you’re traveling to, or even your financial situation. The focus here is that there are other options to mitigate threats and deal with hostiles.
Situational Awareness: Bad guys will often broadcast pre-attack cues that you can pick up on, but only if you’ve got your head on a swivel and are tuned into your environment and not your cell phone. What kind of neighborhood are you in? Is it dark? What are the bad guy’s concealment options/ambush positions in the space you’re in? What are your escape routes if you get in trouble?
When you are assessing the people in your area, are they lurking? What is their purpose for being there? Are they dressed appropriately for the setting? Do they have anything in their hands? Is their face/head obscured in any way? Is their behavior appropriate? Are they staring you down/casting subtle glances?
For more info on this check out: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
Strength in numbers: In Chris’ scenario, his wife and daughter were about 30 feet ahead of him. Had they been walking together, would the confrontation still occur? Maybe, but predators tend to target individuals and not groups; they want the easy ‘kill’.
Positioning is also a factor in groups, especially when you have kids or other ‘non-combatants’. The stronger defenders need to be closer to the anticipated threat (i.e. kids between the parents, etc.)
Be a hard target: Projecting anger can throw off a potential predator. If Chris had detected the danger beforehand, what would the bad guys think if he had his phone up to his ear and yelled into it, “What the hell do you want? I told you to stop jerking me around!” and so on? Maybe even acting dramatically pissed without the phone, throwing his arms up in the air and cursing under his breath as he storms by? They want the easy ‘kill’, remember? Obviously, this may not work in all cases, but it could have deterred the three douche-bags that were trying to out-macho each other.
Fitness: If you spend much time on this site, you’ll see a common theme often repeated. There is no substitute for physical and mental fitness! It is a force-multiplier that gives you so many more options for defense. If you’ve ever been in a fight, you know that it’s nothing like the movies. It’s messy, you don’t know what’s coming next, lots of improvising is required and help is not necessarily just around the corner. Fitness can mean the difference between life and death.
When you can control the distance in a dangerous scenario, your odds of survival increase exponentially. At the first sign of trouble, could Chris sprint past the first guy to the restaurant door? Or after realizing he was outnumbered and in their range, yelled, “Lookout!” while pointing behind them then bolting the instant their attention was diverted? If you train regularly and know your capabilities, you’ll be more able and willing to use dynamic motion to your advantage. Fitness also would’ve paid huge dividends if Chris were assaulted by the trio. He could better avoid going to the ground against multiple combatants and if he found himself there, fitness would help him get up and get moving. Fit people are harder to kill, it’s that simple.
Avoidance techniques aren’t always successful, so what made the difference in Chris’ scenario? And what if it had played out differently?
Chris had an awesome tactical advantage using the sticky holster with his gun in his pocket. Acquiring the firearm, drawing and aiming surreptitiously did not alert the offenders and protected the element of surprise (a key benefit to winning engagements). One could argue that if he drew the pistol from his pocket, the bad guys would have immediately fled. One could counter-argue that this could have been a catalyst for them to try and stab, ambush or disarm him. Keep in mind that these guys were only a few feet away. Besides, a wild-card (literally) in your pocket gives a feeling of great comfort and just imagine the bad guy’s surprise if Chris had chosen to engage them. The rounds would have easily penetrated his jacket and with such close proximity, it wouldn’t have been hard to connect with the target.
If you are carrying a weapon, make sure a round is chambered and practice your draw frequently! Don’t expect to have the time or even remember to chamber a round in the heat of the moment. Chris certainly wouldn’t have been able to charge the weapon without alerting the thugs and losing the element of surprise.
What if the guy that reached into his coat had pulled out a weapon? If he felt that his life was in danger and a weapon was presented, he should disable the threat. The nice thing about Chris’ circumstance was that his draw was concealed by the pocket. Had he been carrying in another manner (appendix, etc.), he would have had to wait for an opportunity to draw his weapon when the threat’s attention was diverted. Don’t draw on a gun that’s already out when the bad guy’s attention is on you! Wait for your turn to launch a counter-ambush.
If you don’t already have a concealed carry permit, get one and always carry your gun! If have one already, consider a sticky holster as a reliable option to give you the tactical edge.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It may not seem as manly, but avoiding the fight or running away is usually your best option! Practice using the tips above the next time you’re out on date night or in a populated area. Learn to become a ‘people watcher’, it’ll sharpen your skills and usually makes for some decent entertainment.
The bigger picture is if you wait to take things seriously until they directly impact your life, it may be too late. Like the homeowners who don’t get an alarm system until their house was burglarized, the parents who had no first aid skills when their child was blue and choking, or the man that finally decided to get his concealed carry permit after being mugged at knife point. Get the tools before you need them! When tragedy strikes, you have to be ready. You can’t count on a second chance.
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