The Most Important Non-Gun Thing You Can Do To Win A Gunfight

Fit old guy with a gun (courtesy vanityfair.com)

I’m sure TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia think they’ve got this one. The most important non-gun thing you can do to win a gunfight? Situational awareness! The sooner you identify a threat or threats, the earlier you’re aware of your potential egress, cover and concealment options . . .

the better your chances of surviving a potentially lethal encounter. Yes, OK, but — there’s something even more important.

Your fitness.

I’m fully aware that some People of the Gun have permanent disabilities. Conditions that remove fitness from the self-defense equation. For them, a firearm is a godsend; a tool that evens the odds against a stronger, more mobile opponent or opponents. Good luck to you all.

For the rest of us, being overweight and unfit can and should be a temporary condition.

Fighting — any kind of fighting — is an enormously tiring business. It puts tremendous strain on every system in your body. If you’re overweight and unfit, you will tire quickly. You will have a diminished [potential] capacity to think, move and/or act during the inevitable adrenaline dump.

If you’re fit you can hit harder, run faster and stay in the fight longer. You might just, you know, live longer.

This 58-year-old former OFWG lost 27 pounds following a ketosis-flavored (i.e. no flavored) diet. I got fit by taking Krav Maga classes. But I’m not going to tell you how to lose weight or increase your fitness. I’m simply saying do it as if you’re life depends on it. Because it does, in every way that’s important.

comments

  1. avatar strych9 says:

    You also have a very significantly larger chance of surviving serious trauma if you’re not significantly overweight. Like 30% better (or more in some circumstances).

    The reason for that trauma is immaterial. Gun, knife, car accident, work accident… doesn’t matter.

    1. avatar Red in CO says:

      Of course, that’s gotta be balanced against the fact that if you’re 400 pounds, bullets will have a far harder time reaching your vital organs!

      /sarc

      1. avatar BlazinTheAmazin says:

        I can tell your a glass is half full guy haha

        1. avatar pongo says:

          I’d rather say a stomach really full kind of guy…

      2. avatar MLee says:

        @ Red in CO
        The answer is obvious. Wear Red Ball Keds. You run faster, jump farther.

        1. avatar Colt Magnum says:

          Wow! I totally forgot about these ads. Thanks for bringing back a childhood memory.

      3. avatar strych9 says:

        True. But then there’s the hyper-elevated risks for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, heart attack and cancer.

        Being 400lbs, one of those is probably gonna get you and if you’re the type to get to 400lbs whichever one(s) crop up will probably eventually be the end of you.

      4. avatar Woodrow Call says:

        If a person is 400 lbs, it is harder for me to deliver effective direct pressure to a gunshot wound, or relive a TP with needle decompression, or about any other life saving medical procedure.

  2. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

    ok ok I get it I’m fat, and you’re not gonna sugar coat it cause I’d eat that too. Good news is though I am down under 220 again for the first time in years thanks to walking more, eating less, and doing a little yoga to help these bad joints regain some semblance of flexibility.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      It really is that easy, Bob.
      Early last year the wifey signed up for Quick Weight Loss Centers – by December last she had dropped over a third of her beginning weight. Knees didn’t hurt anymore, more energy, more endurance, better attitude, sleeping better, didn’t need as many medications…. Her life was improved in all the ways we hear stories about – couldn’t be prouder of her and she hasn’t been this much fun to wrap my arms around in a very long time.
      But now I know the secret: the secret that Quick Weight Loss and every other gym, clinic, guru, and trainer keeps from you until several months and hundreds of dollars later…
      Here it is: You. Don’t. Need. Them.
      Not really, anyway – all they are going to help you with is giving you the confidence, encouragement and moral support to do what you should have been doing all along: stop eating garbage, get up and do something strenuous for at least an hour each day, stop smoking, cut back on the alcohol, and get plenty of sleep.
      Isn’t that weird? All that BS coach taught us in Health Class wasn’t BS after all… who knew?

  3. avatar Darkman says:

    I call bullshit. I have known two people who survived dramatic trauma situations specifically because they were overweight. One was a stab wound that failed to reach an organ due to their size and the other was a gun shot. Being over weight can also be an asset during many disease fights as it gives the individual more reserves. This in turn helps to provide the necessary nutrition and energy to survive. This is well documented in several medical reports. While being over weight can in itself cause disease or injury. It is by no means a death sentence.

    1. avatar JasonM says:

      Do you understand the difference between an anecdote and actual evidence?

    2. avatar MLee says:

      @ Darkman
      Idiotic comment. I also know people that if they hadn’t been wearing seatbelts, they wouldn’t have drowned in the river after crashing into it. I know people who smoked two packs a day and lived to be 95 years old etc blah blah blah. Pointing out extreme examples is pointless.

    3. avatar strych9 says:

      “Being over weight can also be an asset during many disease fights as it gives the individual more reserves. This in turn helps to provide the necessary nutrition and energy to survive. “

      Yeah, cause the person who has the resources to become obese is suddenly going to run out of food to keep their strength up when they’re sick. Riiiiiiiiiiight.

      I’m not going to pass judgement here but this sounds an awful lot like a fat person trying to justify continuing to be fat.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        If I weighed 350 pounds, the extra food I’d have to buy to maintain that weight would buy a shit-load of extra ammo yearly…

      2. avatar Darkman says:

        Once again the uneducated keyboard commando speaks it’s trollish drivel. You sir(sic) are a dangerous idiot. Try a little education…You might learn something… although it is unlikely. If you had been educated you would have keep your mouth shut to begin with. Being over weight has less to do with the amount of food one eats as it does with genetics. Also having the “Resources Available” for food plays only a small part in obesity. Being stupid is a life choice. You have chosen poorly.

        1. avatar Arc says:

          Genetics this genetics that, if I had a dollar for every time someone used that excuse. Genetics make me fat, genetics won’t let me get a 300lb bench press, genetics prevent me from getting into competition shape, genetics prevent me from running fast!

          There are things that genetics affect, such as tendon insertion points, symmetry, shoulder joint type, and there are things it has little to no effect on, like being obese. Medical cases are extremely rare and are often hypothyroidism (you than thank the fluoride in your water for that!) http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2015/02/09/jech-2014-204971?sid=387994a1-4d28-493a-bef6-8fdf845ecbb0 . You can get thyroid hormones or even synthetic T3 from your doctor and throw your metabolism and energy levels back in order if this is the case. Genetics aren’t stopping anyone from getting treatment.

          Other cases are often low testosterone. Men with very low test levels are usually extremely docile / nice people, and example I’ve seen was in the medical profession. TRT (Testosterone replacement therapy) is covered under my insurance policy, its listed as testosterone cypionate, it may be listed at Depo-Testosterone.

          Carb sensitive? Limit your intake of simple carbs to less than 40 grams a day. Don’t eat carbs after lunch. Carbs are usually what make people fat. I blow up just at a milk shake.

          Being fat has a shit ton more to do with excess eating and being lazy, as in not even wanting to walk kind of lazy. HFCS, artificial sweeteners, a lot of frozen foods contain proplyne glycol (anti-freeze), check what you are eating and switch to non-tampered foods. Weight lifting and low impact carido (as in cycling, walking, stair stepper, swimming, etc) for the exceptionally heavy. Running with all the extra weight is not good for joints.

          I won’t say who, but the bigger people I know, they don’t move. They pound a meal then sit, and sit, and sit, and don’t want to walk for anything except the bathroom. They spend the day on their phone, tablet, whatever I-device, and literally don’t move. Everyone else in their family is normal, or even in good shape, fairly interesting that its the one doing the least activity during the day that has all the problems.

          -retired 0311, hobbyist weightlifter.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          Nonsense.

          Let’s look at some actual facts rather than your anecdotes.

          In 1960 the rates for obesity in the United States were approximately 11% of men and 14% of women. As of 2014 those rates moved to ~34% for men and ~42% for women. In 1960 50% of jobs required “moderate physical activity” today it’s 20%.

          According to the CDC in 1999-2000 the overall obesity rate in the US was 30.5% by 2013-2014 it was 37.7%. In that same time period childhood obesity went from 13.9% to 17.2%.

          According to the USDA the average daily caloric intake of an American jumped 20% between 1980 and 2000 and your average American consumed, yearly, 57 POUNDS more food in 2000 (195lbs) than they did in 1950 (138lbs).

          So ignoring changes in the rate/work since 1960 and skipping straight to the modern world you expect us to believe that changes in baseline genetics is responsible for a 19.19% increase in childhood obesity and a 19.1% increase in adult obesity in all of 14 years?

          Now, yes, some studies on genetics and obesity indicate that a small percentage of people have serious problems with weight due to genetics (This number varies between 2% and 6% depending on which study you’re talking about and these studies, self admittedly have problems controlling for environment but they’re the best that can be ethically done at this point). However, more people have thyroid disorders. Sorry, but the myriad of people you see getting soda and Cheetos while riding their Rascal around Wal-Mart… well they didn’t hit the genetic shit-lotto, they’re lazy and eating garbage.

          Further, recent studies indicate that what you eat and how you gain or lose weight MAY actually change your genetics in ways that you can pass on . Fat people who lose weight change their genetics in a way that makes their children less likely to be fat if they have the kid after the parent loses the weight. Interestingly GAINING significant amounts of weight changes your genetics for the worse and this can be passed on as well and as you might have guessed raises the chances that the child is obese. At this point however these studies are in their infancy and, quite frankly, not to be completely trusted since we really don’t know a whole hell of a lot about genetics in general, never mind the dozens of genes switching on and off in potential relation to this or what’s causing that on/off.

          However, regardless of the eventual outcomes of those lines of inquiry, what we DO know is that genetics is not destiny. Not only can your genetics change over time based on what you do, they don’t set anything in stone. They merely predispose you to certain things. Someone with genes that predispose them to being fat can still be a rock-hard, muscle bound Navy SEAL. It just takes them more work than someone who is genetically predisposed to athleticism.

          And, regardless of how you cut it the real killer would appear to be added sugars in our food. The amount of sugar in our food supply has skyrocketed in recent decades and neatly ties together with the increases in rates for being overweight or obese. Now, that’s correlation, not causation, but it has actual data to back it up that ties together nicely where your assertions here do not.

        3. avatar Arc says:

          Double post, but it needs to be said.

          I was also 245Lbs when I was ~14, it was due to excess eating and cooking a whole package of pasta per meal, along with half a jar of sauce, cheese, 1-2 table spoons of salt. Guess what happened when I wanted to run off to the military? There was no hand holding, or safety pillows, or professional nutritionists to tell me what to do, it was on me to go seek out places like T-nation, and other bodybuilding forums and learn what the hell I needed to do to get the weight off. Poor life choices got me there and better life choices can get me out of there. Not to mention, at the time, I doubt the military wanted whining children.

          I REDUCED my intake and didn’t starve myself, I was often lightly hungry, but not famished. Within a few months of reduction and exercise, the results were noticed by people in my community. It took two years to get all the weight off to a low point of 165. I balanced out to 185.

          Now I’m a civilian again, often lazy. I’m 250 again but I’m also a foot taller and lift iron inconsistently, and otherwise I look not-fat. In my peak, I was a lean 225Lbs and hitting the gym for 1-1.5 hours, six days a week, sometimes twice on some days if I felt really good.

          High frequency, short duration, is king for the un-enhanced.

    4. avatar Hank says:

      Well your absolutely right dark man. Keep eating, keep laying around, and keep getting fatter and fatter. When your a tremendous fatass at 500+ pounds in peak physical condition, let us know how perfect your life has become.

  4. avatar bobo says:

    well since you used that pic???

    I would say first thing!

    Grow a damn brain—the way they wrote the characters in that series—they are all MORONS!!!

    I fastforward through each episode rooting for the Zombies!!!!

    1. avatar BLAMMO says:

      I completely lost interest back in season 3 and haven’t watched since. I hated every character. Not one that was sympathetic or that I identified with. I wanted them all to die (and felt some satisfaction whenever one did). I’ve since heard about this guy Negan (sic?). Sounds like somebody I could have warmed up to.

      1. avatar Swarf says:

        Unfortunately for you, Negan has a habit of gutting ass kissers.

    2. avatar Mark says:

      Yeah, Rick apparently has such great situational awareness that he forgot to make sure his rifle has magazine in it.

    1. avatar maynard says:

      Exactly!!! A funny video being better than thousands of words.

  5. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

    while we can war game this all night I’m just gonna cut to the chase… Sometimes the will to win can outweigh the skill to win. There are hundreds of millions of examples we could all site for either side but it all boils down to luck or skill and sometimes it’s better to be lucky and stubborn than skilled and fit. Still that blue suit you wanna be buried in from your senior prom will look better on you if you’re close to your skinny high school size.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      DNA is the factor most important in determining health and fitness. I go to the gym and eat right and without Zocor and Cozar I’d be dead. My wife doesn’t exercise and eats crappy food and has normal BP, cholesterol and blood sugar.

  6. avatar Sid says:

    Absolutely agree

  7. avatar Josh says:

    Does loading the gun count? Cuz ole Rick up there on the pic seems to have forgotten his mag.

    1. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

      I’m squinting…can’t quite make it out but I wonder if that is a Cali/NJ -compliant “round-pusher” magazine, that holds no rounds itself but snugs permanently fixed follower up against the chambered round to let it feel like it’s in its “safe space.”

      The upside is the mag’s functional size may therefore be quite small….

  8. avatar Hank says:

    I know a guy who had a heart attack at 27. The threat is real. Heart disease is far more likely to kill you then anything else. The struggle is real too. I know this, between military and LE careeers I’ve gained and lost weight so many times it’s rediculous. The hard part, really, is keeping it off once you’ve lost it. Keep fighting the good fight, put down the fork.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      Get a routine of going to the gym at least four days a week and eat healthy.

      I nearly never “put the fork down”. I eat four to five meals and three to four large snacks a day (as a diabetic mind you). If you’re gonna get in shape you need to fuel the work it takes. IME when dude hit a “plateau” in fitness it’s usually because they’re not fueling up right.

      It’s not really about how much you eat (if you’re putting in the work). It’s about WHAT you eat. Fuck macros and all that other stupid shit. Balance your carbs to protein 2-1, make sure you’re eating enough and hit it hard with a good mix of cardio and weight lifting and you’ll lose/keep the weight off and get massively stronger surprisingly fast.

      My doc fucking loves me. I went from a 9.6 A1C to 6.9 in the first three months after my diagnosis and six months after that I was nearly off all meds with an A1C of 5.9. I actually had to slow down because my doctor worried that she couldn’t keep track of me well enough (she does actually have other patients) and that if I kept up at the pace I was at I’d kill myself with the medication they gave me.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Good for you! Your A1c is almost back into the normal range.
        And you are spot on about having fuel in the tank. I’m eating way more now with my work out regiment than I did before, but not gaining the weight back.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          The only thing that sucks is when you get close to getting off meds.

          There’s a point the docs call “the danger zone” where you’re not quite ready to come off the meds but taking them can put you in dangerously low blood sugar territory if you’re not very, very careful about it.

          There was a awhile there where I would wake up in the morning with wicked insulin hallucinations and have to slam a glass of OJ and eat a bowl of cereal immediately upon getting up. The same thing happened after dinner occasionally too which meant it was beer O’clock and time to eat something else right after that as well.

  9. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    In 2016, hiking at altitude kicked my butt. So back in May of 2017, I finally got tired of the 15-20 pounds I gained in my gut after retiring so I said fvck it, and joined a gym.
    Started out a little slow and worked my way up. I now do an hour on the treadmill at a 15 degree incline 4 nights a week. I dropped 20 pounds and feel a whole lot better.
    I seem to have more energy and last fall, I kicked the mountains ass! (Well, except for that one 10 mile hike, I kinda got my ass handed to me)

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Treadmills work but are *boring*. Unless there’s a nice backside using the ‘mill directly in front of you.

      Have you considered getting a decent mountain bike and getting your cardio fix thatways?

      1. avatar This m in Oregon says:

        The time zips by really fast. Most times, I think the machine has malfunctioned and gone into “cool down” mode too early. But a timer check, calories burned and miles travelled confirms an hour has passed.
        its a Planet Fitness so they have a bunch of TV’s to watch.

        1. avatar Gunr says:

          A couple of years ago I bought a cheap treadmill that was operated by walking power only, no motor. Took up too much room in our small living room, so eventually got rid of it.
          Since then I have just been walking outside, but there’s no way at my age and condition, I’m gonna do the 10,000 step thing. That’s for healthy folks

  10. avatar Ret1SG says:

    PF Flyers always worked for me! : )

  11. avatar Dan H says:

    Stephen King may be, in his personal life, a rapid anti, but he actually had a great turn of phrase for this the 2nd book in the Dark Tower series, where Roland observed that modern world police paid more attention to the weapons they wore than to the weapons they were, i.e. their fitness, probably their martial skills as well. Certainly applies to everyone, though, not just police.

  12. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Besides this, doing things like diet and exercise under an umbrella of self defense statistically protects you against the most likely assault to kill you which is obesity. By 14:1 or so.

  13. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

    Actually the best non-gun thing you can do to win a gunfight is…don’t show up for it.

    That’s Rule Number One.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      That’s only if you have a choice!

  14. avatar former water walker says:

    Yeah I need to get back in the gym. Various and sundry injuries are kicking my 64year old butt. Part of the problem is I used to be damn good. It’s hard to get going but I worked out hard for 45years and I can do it again…it’s all in your head anyway.

  15. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

    +1 on keto diet.

    It’s not for everyone though. If you’re in shape, no. If you exercise/work hard enough to burn the calories you take in, no.

    But if you know damn right you aren’t going to the gym, keto is a great way to lose weight and keep it off without starving yourself to death.

    This diet was pushed hard to truck drivers by a XM radio host Kevin Rutherford, and the ones that embraced it have shown phenomenal results. I’m talking 100 pounds off. Off blood thinners, off insulin. It got to a point where I could no longer ignore it.

    I’m not getting paid to say this. There is nothing to buy except quality food. Check it out, it might save your life.

  16. avatar jwm says:

    In the last 12 years I’ve lost 80 pounds. A steady, sometimes slow, weight loss. No yo-yo. I go for a long walk every day. I have a weight set in my man cave. I do outdoorsy stuff. Hunt, fish, goldpan. Just recently took up archery.

    Having said all that. What’s the average age of the street thug you’re most likely to be confronted by? 22?

    I’m in my 60s. If I have to fight the thug hand to hand I’ll likely lose. Especially if he’s drug fueled. I will not look for a fight. I will avoid a fight.

    But if you bring the fight to me…..I will kill you. No arguments. No threats. No sabre rattling. I will kill you.

    And take a chance with the jury.

  17. avatar anonymoose says:

    Meanwhile I’ve been watching Cannon every single night for about a year. If Bill Conrad can be fat and badass, then there is still hope!

  18. avatar Maxi says:

    Good ‘ol run, hide, fight.
    I would add “avoid” and “see” as the two steps before that. Avoiding stupid places with stupid people prevents most stupid situations, and to RunHideFight you must first be aware of the threat.

  19. avatar Ralph says:

    The odds of dying a violent death at the hands of a thug are much less than the odds of dying in bed from cardiovascular disease.

    I carry a gun 24/7 to protect myself, so it seemed silly to continue to let myself go to pot. I was diabetic and overweight and my cholesterol was a tad high. I unretired so I’d have a reason to get out of bed, got a job selling guns, bike to and from work in all weather and try to stay as active as possible.

    I’ve lost 30 pounds, normalized my BG and cut my A1C to 5.5, shaved about 40 points off my total cholesterol with the aid of healthy supplements (no prescription meds) while increasing my HDLs by 10%, cut my trigs by 200 points and still enjoy my martinis every day.

    Will any of this help me survive an attack? I doubt it. Because there’s no way I’m going to fight with some young punk. That’s his world. If I have to, I’ll shoot the [email protected] That’s my world. End of story.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Good for you Ralph. I think a lot of us would like to be reading your comments for years to come.

    2. avatar RidgeRunner says:

      I’m not so different from this; I had double-digit A1C, regular 180 blood sugar, smoked two packs a day. I look at pictures from then and I look like a camo parade float. The key to the article is “stay in the fight longer” if you have to. A family situation put me in a situation one Christmas where I had occasion to take on an ex-con 25 years my junior, a guy I would have stomped a mud hole in his ass were I his age. He thought he was tough and I was a walk in the park, and it would have been had not an early flurry on my part taken care of business and the fight right outta him. The whole thing over in probably 2-3 minutes, but I was breathing so hard I wasn’t right for two days. I used to drink a case of beer EVERY Saturday, I quit that, dropped the cigs, hit the treadmill an hour every day, and dropped 50 pounds. Now I’ve moved out to the country, carrying 50 pound bags of corn up the hills and general hard work is my exercise, I’m truly at 57 in better shape than I was at 35, without a doubt. A1C at 6 or less, blood sugar rarely tops 120, BP low. In a similar situation as Christmas 2011, I’m pretty sure I’d be able to “stay in the fight longer” if I had to.
      I feel GREAT. And I still wouldn’t want to get in a fight. Screw that. I just stay away from scum.

  20. avatar A O says:

    Running out of useful articles to publish on TTAG?

    1. avatar Joseph says:

      Quite the opposite. When talking about self defense, Especially armed encounters, situational awareness is THE FIRST thing a person needs to learn. Everything else is secondary to that, because the only gunfight you are guaranteed to win is the one you don’t have. I’ve tried it both ways. Believe me, avoidance is far and away the best choice. Learn it, know it, live it.

      1. avatar Chuck Fremont says:

        Exactly right Joseph.

  21. avatar skiff says:

    My dad worked at the US Rubber Company in Woonsocket, RI. My father of course insisted that everyone in my family wore KEDS. What a great commercial!

  22. avatar Chuck Fremont says:

    Excellent article. SA is critical and you don’t have it without fitness.

    I can see myself here. Truth hurts; have let myself slide. I’m not a 30-yr old paratrooper anymore, but I can do better than I’m doing right now.

    Thanks Robert for your honesty in penning this.

    De Oppresso Liber

  23. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    This may be the single best article, written on TTAG! The naysayers are either woefully misinformed or delusional. It’s just sad.

    I lost a great friend last year. 61 years old. When were young, we all knew he wouldn’t live too long…except him.

    The contributions from the folks who have found their fitness “zen” is truly inspiring.

    My input is, if you decide to purchase your own treadmill, don’t scrimp. The models you’ll find in Wal-Mart and other general retailers are built to the absolute lowest of reliability. They’re designed to last a couple of hours longer than the average consumer (Darkman). What’s worse, Consumer Reports tests them with a weight of 170 pounds. This gives a false sense of security to those of us who are more generous of proportions. Check out the Better Business Bureau to review the company/brand you’re considering. It’ll give you a pretty good idea of who you “might” trust. No company is perfect.

    If you want my complete recommendations and rationale why you might want to purchase your own treadmill, check out my video:

    RF – Where did you find your Krav Maga instructors? My search hasn’t come up with anyone I would consider competent.

  24. avatar Mikial says:

    It is understandable that if someone has a physical disability, they will have to make some adjustments in how they train to fight. But, to be brutally honest, there is no reason for the vast majority of people to be overweight. If you can’t exercise, or even walk around a lot, then eat less. It will serve you well in the long run.

  25. avatar Mike says:

    Just cut out sugars and soda. That’s the lazy solution. Yet it already gets you more than halfway there.

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