Three Self-Defense Lessons from NERF War

My seven-year-old daughter and I fought the onset of cabin fever yesterday with a couple of NERF guns. The Schnauzers were not well pleased, but I have no sympathy (the bitches’ barking constantly gave my position away). Lola and I had a blast. During the course of our battle, we learned some important lessons about gunfighting and defense against an armed aggressor. Of which I’ll share with you. Starting with ye olde fight or flight response . . .

1. Move!

It seems obvious enough: if you stand still, there’s a good chance you’ll get shot. And yet time and time again, Lola made like a statue as I was attacking. She’d fire a few shots in return and then cower and cringe. After yelling MOVE! at her four or five times, Lola eventually got the idea. And an extremely important idea it is too.

Most people fail to realize that danger doesn’t trigger the so-called “fight or flight” response. It’s fight, flight or freeze. The latter response is most people’s first reaction to danger. Someone facing a gun must actively fight to overcome their initial, instinctive lethargy. Remember the Florida School Board shooting, where everyone either moved slowly or stayed put? Like that. I mean, not like that.

In the video above, the boy attempting to clear his weapon is wasting valuable running time. He’s failed to get his priorities straight and pays the price. When he’s able to fire from a prone position, he fails to capitalize on the counterattack by getting up and running. When he eventually does so, and then re-engages, he’s out of ammo! Doh! Move, and move intelligently (see: lesson three below).

2. Attack!

If you can’t evade you must attack, no matter how large or well-armed your opponent. Lola had no problem with this part of the program, charging me once her concealment was compromised or her ammo exhausted.

Very few people are naturally inclined to take on an armed agressor. But fighting back is critical to successful self-defense. Part of the problem: popular entertainment has brainwashed people into thinking that guns are like death rays. Unless you’re Bruce Willis, once you’ve been shot, you die. Quickly. Truth be told, most gunshot wounds are survivable, and it’s better to be shot in a struggle than executed. Or worse.

In the video above, the largest of the three boys kicks some major butt, grabbing long gun guy’s weapon and beating him with it. Ah, but long gun guy knocks the muzzle away and takes the fight back to his opponent. Losing (off-camera). BUT it gives gun jam guy time to recoup and attack. AND long gun guy mounts another attack. Well played all!

3. Aim!

NERF gun bullets are low-velocity projectiles; you have to adjust your aim to hit someone at combat distances. Lola couldn’t get her head around that one. In the thick of the action, she couldn’t force herself to slow down and take the time needed to aim high to hit center mass. Or plot a comprehensive strategy.

When an animal can’t compute a logical path to survival, it flips out and does something stupid. A gazelle attacks a leopard. Hey, why not? Freaking out (a.k.a. panic) lies on the opposite end of freezing, but it’s just as dangerous. Again, when push comes to shove, you have to force yourself to slow down and do something unnatural: think! And think ahead.

Gun jam guy could have formed an alliance with long gun guy with a simple command. Or assumed a defensive position; moving close in to his opponent was an obvious route to oblivion. While it’s easy to second guess combatants after the fact, never forget that a combat mindset is more important than fighting skills or weaponry. And practice like ours or theirs is always a good thing—even though you might put an eye out!