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Are You Ready?

By Mike Boyle

Mike Boyle is one of the finest weaponcraft instructors I know. He is a retired law enforcement officer and IALEFI Board member who spear-headed the popular Master Instructor program that tours the country as part of IALEFI’s commitment to continuing instructor education. He works with me at Handgun Combatives LLC and I am proud to share his thoughts with all. - Dave Spaulding

Are You Ready?

A few weeks ago, I attended the 2012 installment of the SHOT Show which is best described as the world’s largest gun bazaar. For more than 30 years, the industry manufacturers have used the SHOT Show to launch new offerings and to familiarize buyers with their product line. With over 1600 displayers on hand, it is impossible to see it all. Even though I focused solely on products intended for the law enforcement and personal defense market, I still came up short on time.

Tactical gear remains the hot ticket at SHOT and this year was no exception. I’ve lost track of how many companies are putting their own spin on classic designs like the 1911 pistol and the AR-15. I did note a few new striker fired pistols about to make their debut along with a plethora of high intensity illumination tools. Just about all the major handgun manufacturers are now turning out small, concealable subcompact or micro-size pistols chambered for service calibers and this is very good news indeed.

I’ll confess to being a gadget guy and like the thousands of other folks walking the aisles, my shopping list got a little longer. But despite the sensory overload with the new gear, I got to thinking about what’s really important. Specifically, what does one really need to have together in order to stay safe.

As a career law enforcement trainer, I had precious little time in getting officers prepared for the hostile real world. To make the most of it, I constantly addressed 4 areas in my training which I deem critical to prevailing in lethal conflict. They include a winning mindset, sound tactics, skill and equipment suitable for task at hand. Time and time again, these concepts were addresses in our quarterly firearms training sessions as well other defensive disciplines. These same concepts hold true for responsible citizens who have taken up firearms to control their own destiny.

Although I plan to focus on the hardware side of the equation, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other priorities. Mindset remains the cornerstone of successful conflict resolution. Be aware and be willing. If you choose to go armed in modern society, you have a responsibility to stay switched on and remain vigilant of what is going on around you. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to see that you prevail, including using extreme violence. If you are not prepared to do this, you might want to reconsider taking up the gun.

I would also suggest taking in some serious training from a credible instructor or shooting school. Without this, it will be very difficult to get a serious handle on combat shooting essentials and basic tactics. Books and printed material are good to a point but are supplements rather than replacements for real, hands-on training.

Now, let’s kick around this business of equipment for a bit. Military semi-auto sporters are extremely popular these days and it seems that new models are being introduced weekly. But in the grand scheme of things, where does the rifle fit into the responsible citizen’s personal defense plan? Don’t get me wrong, I really like rifles and own a few myself. However, unless you are a soldier or a SWAT cop it’s unlikely you will have one in hand when a threat presents itself. Confrontations are fast and typically unpredictable allowing no time to access a rifle. You solve the problem with what you have or you lose.

To my thinking, most of our energy should be focused on the tool you will likely have at the moment of truth. That fair reader is a handgun, capable of stopping a determined adversary. If you’re serious about personal defense, a good shoulder weapon, rifle or shotgun, should be part of the picture. When you consider the post-Katrina chaos or the likelihood of similar behavior in the wake of a natural or man-made disaster, this only makes sense. The fact remains, that this would be a most unusual event. You are at far greater risk to falling victim to a common criminal than bands of looters, terrorists or the undead in the zombie apocalypse. Long guns are part of the mix, but most of our effort should be spent on becoming proficient with the pistol.

If you have made the decision to go armed, I consider it an all or nothing proposition. Either you do or you don’t. You simply cannot predict when danger will visit. If I could predict the future, I would have spent my time at the racetrack making a fortune rather than being a civil servant. Violence comes when we least expect it. Additionally, I’m also humored by folks who talk a great game but really don’t walk the walk. At the moment of truth, better a J-frame in the pocket than a customized 1911 in the glove box. Spend some hard earned cash on a good concealment holster and try to blend in. I go to great lengths to avoid the “contractor casual look” (BDUs, vest, boots & stylish shades) when running errands around town. Look like a nerd, jock or biker, not a man with a gun. I want the bad guys to be really surprised.

Like the Boy Scouts, you too should be prepared. Get some training, including some basic empty hands techniques. Tune into the proper mind set and carry that handgun wherever it is legally permissible. With your priorities squared away, you can maintain control over your immediate environment. You will be ready.