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The Jake Zweig SEAL controversy continues to simmer. The former Navy man makes for interesting drama queen TV at Top Shot, but he’s taking massive flak for being an a-hole. As well he should. The shooting show’s producers may abhor sportsmanlike behavior but Zweig’s Richard Hatch-like “I’m in it to win it” ‘tude reflects badly on America’s military ethos. Anyway, you can tell a real bad ass Spec Ops type (or not) by their lack of any resemblance to Zweig. They are as low key as you wanna be. Modest, self-effacing, non-confrontational. Except when it’s go time. Then they’re focused and extremely aggressive. In other words, they have two modes: off and on. So should you . . .

There’s nothing wrong with having fun on the range. Hanging out with your homies. Bustin’ a few caps. Checking out some new iron. Generally goofing off with guns in a safe environment (depending on the shooters, of course). But that has nothing to do with training for armed self-defense.

If you’re serious about training for armed self-defense—and if you’re carrying a gun at home or on the streets that’s a damn fine idea—you need to take it seriously.

First, you need some sort of training regimen. This isn’t a post about that so I’ll only say this: have a pro make sure you’re not doing something that will work against you in a gunfight. Like using the slide stop to release the slide. Or always emptying your magazine when you shoot.

Second, focus deeply and completely on the task at hand. If your ballistic BFFs are not part of the solution, if they’re not training seriously with you, they’re part of the problem. Go for parallel play; shoot next to them but not with them. If they come over to schmooze, tell them to give you fifteen minutes.

Second, spend some time visualizing. Other than real-life simulations, nothing puts you in the right frame of mind more than imagining a situation when you need to be in the right frame of mind. Get ready. Close your eyes. Mentally rehearse what you’d be doing before, during and after the shoot. Open your eyes and shoot.

As the OCD amongst you already know, rituals are good. A key word or specific breath can serve as a signal to your mind and body that something serious is about to go down. That said, make sure you vary and violate your own training routine from time to time so you’re ready for Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition.

Move with intent. Not speed. Total focus. If you’re lucky enough to be able to move and shoot, do so with determination. If something goes wrong, keep going. A shoulder shrug and a sheepish grin do nothing to train you to stay alive.

Once again, we’re into genetics vs. training territory. The people who are good at focusing in a crisis are, for the most part, born that way (Spec. Ops finds ’em). But people who are prone to panic can train themselves not to freak—IF they spend their range time based around the idea that this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around. ‘Cause it ain’t.

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  1. I know you and your friends are good at this one.

    “Second, spend some time visualizing. Other than real-life simulations, nothing puts you in the right frame of mind more than imagining a situation when you need to be in the right frame of mind. “

  2. I am starting to think that most OFWG would be better served becoming OSWG who are fit and know how to use their hands equally as well as a gun.

    It’s a win all around. Live longer, feel better, and have a better chance at defending yourself under a variety of scenarios.

    • +1 We always talk about avoidance, avoidance, avoidance. What good is situational awareness if you can’t get out of the situation fast and/or with force. If you were into self-defense culture before you could legally carry, you focus on what you can do. In order to defend ourselves we need to know ow to run fast, hit fast, and shoot fast. In that order.

    • Yes, if I was thirty again I’d kick every bad guy’s ass. But since I’m 63 and my ninja days are long past, I’d just rather shoot them. When you’re 63, you will feel exactly the same.

      I had a friend way back in the day (when I was 30) who was strong, well-conditioned and a black belt in an actual fighting art. We were all quite surprised when he landed in the hospital after he was mugged a block from his home in a good Manhattan neighborhood.

      Being in shape is a good thing for health, and also for SD. Being a good shot is better.

      • That’s true, right up to the point where you meet non-lethal force with lethal force.

        When all you have is a hammer, the entire world is a nail. A little more tools in our toolbox is always a good thing.

        A friend of mine is serving a 3 year suspended sentence for aggravated assault: He can’t own weapons for the duration of that sentence and there’s a good chance he won’t get his rights back at the end of his sentence. His crime? He showed a pistol when he was unsure if the person confronting him had a gun or not (he didn’t).

        Defense in depth is always better than a tripwire to a massive response. We OFWG (and at 47, I’m rapidly approaching the “O” part of that acronym) need more self-defence options than just the pistol at our side.

      • I couldn’t kick butt very well when I was 30, now I’m 66 and can testify to everything you said. It’s all true.

          • And training is exactly what was being discussed. Ralph was using old age and nothing else as an excuse for not keeping in shape. And has there ever been evidence of Stallone taking steroids? I don’t think he has or he’d be bigger – I personally know people who never took steroids and look like Stallone….they just spend an ungodly amount of time working out.

            • Stalone got busted in Australia for having steroids on him. I think he was caught coming through customs with the stuff.

  3. I’ve preached (and sometimes practiced) situational awareness for decades. It is far better to avoid the situation if at all possible. But at least be aware that the situation is developing as soon as possible, and finding your alternatives.
    Developing the muscle memory to get your defensive tool(s) into play as naturally as possible is invaluable as well. The one time I had to get my nightstick out (back in the days when I carried one on the job) to respond to a threat, it seemed to just appear in my hand. Fortunately I did not have to use it – but it was ready just in case.
    IMNSHO – good thoughts here.

  4. Range time is proficiency time, not tactical training time. As I posted in the combat accuracy thread, in the military you qualify at the range and learn tactics in field exercises. Our field exercises come when we are out and about in public and visualize where threats may come from and what our courses of action are. No matter what you do on the range you are only preparing yourself for self defense in an isolates situation where you can’t maneuver. Try walking around a crowded mall during the Christmas season and come up with plan of action if a shooter comes out of nowhere. When you engage brain in such exercise you quickly come to the conclusion that nothing you did shooting at range prepares for this kind of attack.

    If you have place and don’t feel too embarrassed practice two person tactics with a friend or your wife/significant other. Although my wife and I have never actually done this (for one thing my 85 year old mother-in-law would freak if saw us come down the stairs in tactical formation) but we have talked about what to do in a home invasion. (Best option is to let them fight through dogs and shoot them when they come at us in the bedroom.)

    I am a little younger the Ralph but I am an in shape old white guy. I can’t outrun a 25 year old but I still pretty agile and can move quickly for short distances. My first option is always to retreat when it is possible.

    • Interesting, your game plan is the same as mine, down to the dogs.

      Neither my wife and I are experienced in clearing a house, so, our plan is to grab a corner facing the bedroom door, she’s on the phone, I’m on the gun and woe to the bad guy that comes through the door.

      • My wife has the M-9 so she will be laying down a base of fire while I pop’em with the 1911 if they so choose to keep coming.

  5. If you are willing to take a punch in a fist fight, you probably will be okay in a gunfight, assuming you have some gun skills. When the adrenlin rush comes, it will either induce a fear reaction in your gut, or a determination to get it done. I think everyone knows themselves well enought to know which one will be their reaction.

  6. Regarding the “Jake Zweig is an a-hole” comment – are you honestly surprised? I’m sorry, but so far almost every single military person I’ve met in my life (whether they’re currently in, retired, reserve, etc) has been an utter “I’m better than everyone because I have a gun” jackass.

      • Yup, it’s absolutely me. I force them to say things like “Anyone who’s not in the military shouldn’t be allowed to vote” and “Only people in the military should have guns”. I also force them to bully civilians because they’re used to pushing around people with their guns.

        Also, if you bothered to actually read what I wrote, I never said all of them are like that – I’ve met a few who are genuinely decent people. I simply said that the majority I’ve met are arrogant jerks.

        I’m going to take a shot in the dark and guess either you’re in the military or have a close family member who is.

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