Prepare Both Physically and Mentally. Your Life Will Depend on it.

“He was able to draw from a concealed carry position, aim with one hand, and fire off eight shots, all hitting the target and two finding the driver…”

I just got off the telephone with a former police recruit of mine. He is a veteran, went through the police academy, and went on to work armed security for a private company. He contacted me wanting to ask my opinion on an incident that happened to him recently while working plain clothes security at an abandoned apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida. This made me feel both proud that he would want my opinion and also grateful that he was alright and came away unharmed from this situation.

My former student told me that he was working security at an abandoned apartment complex, in plain clothes, carrying concealed. While working, a very intoxicated man who was on the premises attempted to run him down with a F-150 pick-up truck. The security guard (my student) was able to draw his firearm, and while trying to move out of the way, fired eight rounds one-handed at the front of the truck and windshield. He was able to hit the vehicle all eight times, striking the man twice in the arm, which caused the driver to miss him. Trying to run someone down in Florida is aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which is a felony by statute. And as such, you are legally justified to use deadly force to stop the threat to you or another’s life F.S.S. 776.012(2).

Let’s look at this. In the sense of self-defense, if someone is trying to cause you great bodily harm or death, such as running you over with a truck, you are justified to use deadly force to stop that threat. But what I want to point out is the ability or skill of the shooter in this situation. He was able to draw from a concealed carry position, aim with one hand, and fire off eight shots, all hitting the target and two finding the driver. All of this while moving. I remember this student in the police academy being a fairly decent shot, as most veterans are, but not so good that anybody would have thought he was capable of this type of shooting. But then he told me why he thinks he was able to shoot so well under these conditions. He practices on a regular basis with his firearm—not only regular two-handed shooting but one-handed and off-hand shooting as well.

This is very important to note. He practiced to directly correlate his ability to shoot and move and hit the target. This speaks highly of his training and skills.

As I said in a previous article on finding a firearms instructor as well as a training course, the ability to fire under circumstances that are less than optimal is important. I want readers to understand that you should practice not only punching holes in a piece of paper but practice moving and shooting. Practice one-handed shooting, shooting with two hands, and practice with the thought of your life or the lives of your loved ones on your mind. Because lives may very well hang in the balance of how much you have trained and how well you are prepared to fire that weapon.

One thing that I did talk to him about and want to stress is that you also need to be prepared to handle the mental aspects of shooting, both during and after. My former student was still coming down after the shooting, even a day later, and needed someone to listen and reassure him that he would be fine. The mental stress of a shooting is nothing to take for granted; I know this firsthand. You can help to prepare yourself both skill-wise and mentally by reading and learning about the effects of stress during and after a life and death situation. I recommend to all of my students a book I found to be very helpful—one I know has saved the lives of more than one officer after a shooting: On Combat, The Physiology of Deadly Conflicts in War and Peace by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. I have known Dave for about 20 years and have listened to and even hosted his talks on “The Bulletproof Mind.”

In the book and in his lecture, he talks about the physiological and psychological effects of being involved in a life and death situation. Regardless if you’re in a car accident, mass shooting, or are forced to defend your life, this is a great book and lecture that all who carry firearms for self-defense should hear and read. I have the book and lecture on audio file and listen to it about once a year just to reinforce his teachings. I recommended this book to my former student.

You should be prepared to undergo physical as well as psychological events during and after a self-defense shooting. All of us who have been there have gone through them. Maybe not all of the same ones, as each person is different, but we all share some of the same issues. Whether it is the effects of tunnel vision, sweating, loss of fine motor skills, or any of the other dozens of side effects from stress and hormonal dumps in the body, everyone has some kind of issue, and most more than one.

So prepare yourself. Carrying a firearm for self-defense is no joke. Practicing with your weapons in all different ways and preparing mentally are things that all who chose this path should do. Find a person with experience and that you trust to share your concerns or questions. Research, read and listen. The more you are prepared for what is to come should that fateful moment ever happen where you draw and shoot your firearm out of self defense, you will be better in the long run for having practiced.

You can find more information on Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s book here. If you have other questions or concerns that you think I may be able to answer, you can reach me at [email protected]

Chris Wagoner is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. He has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance Military Reporter and owner/founder of the Largest Military Videos Channel on YouTube “3rdID8487”.

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