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How To Ensure Self-Defense Success

How can you ensure your success while carrying a gun for self-defense? Practice, practice, practice. With a little mindset thrown in for good measure.

Well it’s not that easy per se, but let’s walk through some ideas for helping you to be confident with a gun in concealed carry. The following drills can all prove very helpful in improving confidence while practicing at the shooting range. Use a timer or a friend with a watch to determine that you are within the time limits.


Starting at three yards, you will want to draw and fire in a close position (with gun close to the body)—what some would call the “retention” draw.  Fire two shots at center mass to simulate the fast-draw emergency self-defense situation.  Repeat it three times to make sure you can get comfortable with it, and time yourself to see trends in improvement over time.

At five yards draw, and fire one round with your strong hand only. Use your field of view to focus only on the target to test muscle memory and accuracy at that distance without obtaining a full sight picture.  Go for the quickest draw and delivery.  Repeat for a total of six shots.  Try to focus only on the target to determine your capability under quick conditions without sights.

How To Keep Your Handgun Locked and Loaded, Ready For Instant Use…

Back at three yards, back away from the target quickly while firing three consecutive shots at center mass.  You will want to retain control of the gun and keep the shot group as small as possible to determine your time to react and your control while moving away from an attacker.  Repeat for a total of six shots.

At seven yards, draw, shoot, and re-holster after making sure you have hit the target properly and that there are no other threats. Fire two shots, repeating for a total of six shots. This is to help you to understand the importance of post-shot awareness.

At seven yards (if your range or shooting area allows it), move side to side to simulate moving and shooting.  You will face the target and move from two yards or so off of target center across the face of target. Firing three shots on the move to impact center mass.  The goal is to not miss the target and to eventually pick up speed after the technique has been solidified. Repeat for a total of nine rounds. Reverse the starting position and the direction of movement and shoot nine shots in that drill as well.

These drills should be practiced often until there is a comfort level that is unmoved during stress or outside influence.  Using range safety is important as well; do not sacrifice safety to train, but do what you can to implement these techniques to give you confidence, ability, and experience in case a situation like this ever occurs in real life.

Remember that your awareness and understanding of your firearm are important.  Practice often, and use your firearm as you will carry it.  If it is carried cocked and locked, practice as such.  If it is carried in a purse without a round in the chamber, practice like that.  These are not holstering and re-holstering techniques; these are close-quarter and immediate-shot delivery sequences, and they should be treated as such.

Your capability in a self-defense situation is directly influenced by your repetition and your experience.  Simply wanting to perform well in such situations will not be enough to ensure that you emerge unharmed or alive from a self-defense situation.  Real practice, thinking, and mindset will help to contribute to your staying alive.

A Closing Note:

Remember that self-defense situations are not the types of situations that allow you a timeout or a large amount of time to get ready.  They are spur of the moment— stressful, dangerous and important moments.  Self-defense situations are those that rely on muscle memory, training, mindset, and personal capability. Much of the deciding factor in a one-on-one encounter where you might pull a gun is when and how your pull the gun out.  First and foremost, you do not shoot to kill.  Pulling out a firearm for self-defense is for threat elimination.  Secondly, although just as important: you do not pull out a firearm unless you are prepared to immediately and accurately pull the trigger.  You must know in advance that you are willing and able to pull the trigger. You must also know that you are safe to pull the firearm out and that you are in a position to stop the threat. Make sure you have exhausted other means of threat elimination or threat avoidance (i.e. running away, calling for help, etc.).

It is not necessary to use a firearm to prevent or eliminate a threat; often times, the threat can be prevented before it is ever presented.  Your mindset and awareness of your surroundings will be paramount to that type of success. There are consequences that come from the use of firearms in self-defense situations, regardless of your intent or the conditions.  You should be aware of the specific laws that govern your concealed carry ability, you should know how to handle yourself in certain common situations, and you should have a good idea of what you will do in situations you hope never to be in.  Preparation is key. You must know how to react and when to react.  You must also be able to control your emotional and psychological responses.

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