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Gun gurus tell their students to dry fire practice at home. They reckon it’s more important than range time. True! Once you’ve learned how to hit a target from a static position, presentation, mobility and strategy become vastly more important than grip, stance or trigger control (assuming you’ve got those wired). But dry fire practice isn’t about marksmanship or accuracy per se. Done right it’s a logical extension of the old adage “train as you mean to fight.” In other words, dry fire means practicing what you’d do in a defensive gun use (DGU). And one of the things you MUST do is call the police . . .

Immediate access to your cell is vital for your self-defense. Not only does your ‘phone make it possible for you to call the cavalry at the beginning or during a DGU, telecoms are critical to keeping your ass out of jail after the event.

Miranda schmamanda. Whoever calls the cops first—you, the bad guy, the bad guy’s mates, unsympathetic witnesses—gets first-mover credibility. Give ’em the bare facts, making sure to describe yourself (so the first responders don’t respond by shooting you).

Ready? I thought I was—until I added the “call the cops” simulation to my “get upstairs and get the kid into the safe room” drill.

Drawing my gun from my outside-the-waistband holster I found couldn’t get my cell out of my right pocket without transferring my Caracal C to my weak hand. [NB: I’m right-handed.] D’oh!

Don’t laugh. Anyone who’s been in a SHTF scenario it’s the small stuff that trips you up. (I’m still trying to find a way to carry my mag and phone without belt clips.) For example . . .

Did you know you can make an emergency call from your cell ‘phone without entering the pass code? Do you know how to do that? When you’re at home you keep your phone on you or within reach and topped-up with juice, right?

The larger point: practice ALL aspects of a DGU, from using your command voice to telling the perp to take a hike (where appropriate), to finding cover/concealment, to gathering friendlies from DAYTIME locations, to calling the po-po.

SAFETY CHECK YOUR GUN and run both inside the home and concealed carry sims. Don’t worry (so much) about hitting a target; although we have a review on some neat in-home practice gear from LaserLyte and SRT in the hoppa [sic]. Lower the curtains and have fun. Clothing optional.

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  1. yes, cannot emphasise this enough. call 911. show that you did everything a reasonable person would have done to avoid shooting another. there’s going to be an investigation at length and with people who may not be in the civilian gun owners corner. if it’s at all possible avoid shooting.

  2. it also helps to practice with your off hand 2x as often with your strong hand. I am lefty but ambidextrious shooting. Spare mag in a pocket and cell and tactical light on right side

  3. While I understand the core point, I submit this article strays into “PII” territory.

    PII stands for Preoccupation with Inconsequential Increments, a Jeff Cooper term im borrowing for this response. I will not deny that calling the police is an important step-however, you first have to determine if there’s a threat before dialing 911 to begin with. Most of the time when there’s a bump in the night, the cause is innocent. Should the day come when that’s not the case, you’ll be too busy dealing with the threat to have the conscious thought of dialing the police. As a man who’s been down the dark path of drawing in self defense, let me just say the thought of calling the cops didn’t occur to me because there was no TIME to. By the time a threat appeared there wasn’t even time to blink, it was there and I had to respond on the spot. Only in the aftermath did I have the ability to consider contacting LE, and by that point the weapon was out of the picture.

    In static thought it sounds proper to call the police when you know there’s a threat. In reality, you’ll be too busy fighting for your life under time compression to think about touching your phone.

  4. I wouldn’t worry too much about the BG calling the cops first in a home invasion / hot burglary scenario. I have my issues with cops, but being stoopid ain’t one of them. If it’s your home and the front door or a side window seem the worse for wear, even the world’s most naive rookie will figure it out PDQ no matter who calls first. So, while calling 911 is certainly a good thing, it can wait.

    In a street confrontation, however, the first to make the 911 call will have the cred. If you’re licensed and the other guy has a long record, you should be okay once the cops sort everything out. Until then, you have a target on your back, so prudence would dictate that you make the first call. But if you’re both solid citizens, the issue could remain cloudy for a long, long time.

    • Fortunately for us, a bad guy that needs to be shot has probably committed several previous crimes before he got to the point of committing the kind of violence requiring lethal force from his victims. Not so fortunate for the previous victims , but good for us.

      I wouldn’t worry much about the other guy having more credibility than a licensed CCW holder.

      If both persons are solid citizens, then you should be able to de-escalate the situation to the point where lethal self-defense isn’t necessary.

  5. FWIW I always figured that’s why the alarm has a “panic button.” Central station calls the cavalry, and the big loud siren let’s the unwelcome know that he has lost the element of surprise and that help is on the way.

    Meanwhile my hands are free for more immediate issues.

  6. A long time ago a friend chased two guys away from his house who followed his wife home with bad intentions. The bad guys called the cops on him and he was arrested for brandishing. This left his wife and son alone in the house, fortunately the neighbor came over and sat with them while he bailed out.
    He should have called the cops right then and reported the incident instead of assuming the situation was over. Charges were never filed but he got printed and booked for the arrest anyway.
    Remember the cops are there to secure the scene.

  7. ‘… MUST call’. I respectfully but adamantly disagree. What one must do in a self-defense situation is to keep oneself and ones’ loved ones alive. That has to be the priority and every action taken based on that premise. Calling is A priority but depending on the situation it isn’t a MUST. Getting drilled while on the phone is a self-defense failure. Getting downstairs/to your loved one’s defense after they’re hurt/hostage because you felt calling the police was a MUST on the list of priorities is a self-defense failure.

    There is a saying in aviation– Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. Keep the aircraft under control, maintain your SA- talk to others after you’ve taken care of the first two or for assistance in carrying them out.

    You should prioritize calling 911 in the same manner IMHO. Establish the ability to keep yourself/loved ones safe, develop and maintain situation awareness, call 911 as time and conditions permit as soon as practicable. Yes, it’s a priority but it isn’t a MUST. Crew concept applies, if multiple people in your home- delegate tasks.

    The police can not protect you in the moment anymore than someone on the ground can fly your aircraft for you.

    You are calling for assistance– if someones’ trying to kill/injure you or your loved ones right now there isn’t any assistance a voice over the phone from 911 can provide.

  8. I can see your point on this, kinda.

    When trying to put myself in these what if situations I relate it too the closest thing I have to a dynamic event such as being shot at. Flying for the Navy.

    I have had ample training opportunities and only a couple, oh $$$$ opportunities to relate to. When things go south they beat the mantra of “aviate, navigate, communicate”. Fly the aircraft, get it under control. Figure out where you are and where you should be going, and at least start moving that direction. Only then call ATC and declare an emergency. It does you no good at all to declare an emergency if your still all elbows trying to fight the aircraft, cause you’ll die.

    Sometimes the clown in the back seat would pull the throttle to idle at 500 feet in that case you won’t have time to make a call but you might make a landing.

    Same thing applies here, if you have no cover and some sort standoff distance between you and bad guy reaching into your pocket to make a call is a bad idea. My inflated two cents anyway.

    • Yeah, the Navy managed to get the attitude into both of us. My civilian flight instructor prior to joining (but he was former USMC F4 pilot) put it as:

      For the guys on the ground, this is all a seat at the circus for them. Entertainment, a show.

  9. Robert has an excellent point. He who calls the cops first wins. Believe me.

    And Ralph, stupid cops exist and they are a huge problem. Just ask a smart cop. The whole Ruby Ridge fiasco came about because of a stupid federal cop. The list of cop screw ups that left people dead or put innocent people in prison is very, very long.

    Refresher: A lawsuit resulted in a decision for Randy Weaver and against his neighbor. In retaliation, the neighbor wrote letters to federal law enforcement agencies claiming Weaver was threatening to kill the governor, the president, and the Pope. Weaver was interviewed for four hours by federal agents, most of whom saw through the ruse and realized Weaver did not threaten anyone, he simply wanted to be left alone. However, one stupid agent couldn’t let it go. Weaver was “on the radar” labeled as a white supremacist and the ball was rolling.


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