TTAG has never shied away from a simple truth about armed self-defense: a gun fight is a fight with a gun. In other words, it’s not so much about the gun as much as it is about the fight. It’s entirely possible an armed defender won’t be able to get their gun into the fight. Their firearm may fail (most probably through adrenalin-induced operator error). They may not be able to get a clear shot. Or miss. Or get shot first. As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to remind us “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” The standard Karate Kid response to this shit happens truth about gunfights: you must have an indomitable spirit! Keep fighting no matter what! OK, sure. So, how do you get one of them indomitable spirit things then? It’s easier than you think. Start with this . . .
It’s all about fear. Not to coin a phrase, fear is the mind killer. If you find yourself in a life-or-death struggle, your own fear is your greatest enemy. OK, second greatest; the perp(s) trying to kill you being number one.
If you’re paralyzed by fear, if you lose your ability to create and adapt a survival strategy according to changing circumstance, if you operate purely on instinct, you’re fucked. Or not, depending on nothing more than luck.
The good news: if you can keep your fear in check, you will be able to keep ye olde OODA loop spinning (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) even when it’s painful or seemingly impossible (e.g., after you’ve been ventilated by a perp). Here’s an excerpt from my don’t-bother-asking-it’s-out-of-print book HypnoHealth on the subject:
Some people regularly do things that could kill them: soldiers, pilots, stunt people, police, racing drivers and others. To keep fear in check, they have to come to terms with the worst case scenario. They have to say to themselves, ‘If something goes wrong, I’m dead. If I die, I die. It’s worth the risk.’ It’s not about confronting your fears. It’s a question of accepting them. You look at the bleakest possibility and tell yourself that you can handle it. Even if it’s the last thing you do. Only then are you ready to give it your best shot.
Obviously, I’m an egomaniac for quoting myself. Equally, you’re probably not carrying a gun as part of your job. So it’s not likely that you’ve gone through this whole accepting your death mental process thing. You carry a gun because you want to live. To survive a criminal attack. Surely the will to live is the source of the indomitable spirit. As ex 2.0 would say, ja nir.
A Zen priest learns that his village is being over-run by an army lead by a cruel general who takes no prisoners. All the other priests get the hell out of Dodge (updated version). When the general hears of the priest’s defiance, he storms into the temple, covered in blood (for dramatic effect) and roars “Where is this priest who dares defy me?” Our hero waves hello. “Do you not know that I am the kind of man who can run you through with a sword and not even think about it?” The Zen dude says “Yes, but I am the kind of man who can be run through by a sword and not even think about it.”
If you make your peace with death you can fight for your life without fear. Well, less fear. So have you made a will? Seriously. Are your affairs in order? ‘Cause fatalism is the anti-fear. And you can’t be fatalistic if you’re not prepared–mentally and practically—for the worst.
Train hard. Train smart. Train often. Prepare your equipment. Home carry. Maintain situational awareness. Use your imagination to mentally rehearse self-defense scenarios. Always see yourself as the victor. Then relax and enjoy life. What’s the worst that can happen? Guess what? It’s going to happen to you someday anyway. Deal with it.