At this time of year, between the holidays and cold weather setting in, it is natural to want to be in a giving mood. When encountering apparently homeless people or folks down on their luck panhandling, many of us would like to help. If you fall in to that category, do not let your guard down and be unobservant.
If you are reading this, you are probably a defense minded person to some degree. Maybe you carry a gun or some other form of self defense on your person. What you have on your hip will not make a difference if you are distracted and lulled into complacency - even if you have some training.
Here is how it can work. The seemingly benign homeless looking person is typically very kindly and gracious. He is often times exceedingly polite. Sir and Ma’am are likely used. The nicer the demeanor, the more likely an attack may follow. They do this to get you to let your guard down and get comfortable.
Another warning sign is when you are approached by a stranger and asked for something. How vulnerable have you become while you’re fishing for some change in your pocket? You are inattentive and if the person launches an attack, he will have a distinct advantage on you, whether you are trained or not.
“Do you have the time?” is another classic way for a criminal to catch you off guard. Criminals anticipate you raising your wrist, exposing the watch, and looking down. The other more recent anticipated move is digging in your pocket for your cell phone to check the time. The second one leaves you even more vulnerable than the first instance! When you do either, BOOM. That’s when the attack comes.
A safer way to give to needy people is through a reputable charity. If you feel compelled to give someone a few bucks on the street, keep in mind there are many “bad” people in this world that will kill you for what is in your pockets. Keeping your distance and your guard up is imperative. Don’t become a statistic.
We have students from all walks of life come through our defensive shooting courses. We see some interesting trends, particularly in our Level 1 classes. It is not unusual to see students that have never shot at life-like targets to shoot the weapons on the paper targets.
We teach early on that our eyes lead the way and the gun follows. We must identify the threat then we can point our gun. Once we identify the threat, our focus should go to our front sight as we were taught. Realistically, we know it may be impossible to not focus on the threat. We know that both of our eyes must be open to minimize tunnel vision. However, if you cannot help but focus on the threat, move your eyes to the vital zones. Determine where to send your rounds: center mass, head, pelvis then make the bad guy stop doing bad things. If you’ve taken our classes, you know we go over round placement in detail. As a responsible gun owner, this is how you must practice.
Target identification and discrimination is not just about identifying a threat, it is about identifying what vitals are available to you and ensuring items such as body armor are not in you way. We teach pelvis shots in our higher level classes for this very reason. It can be devastating but at a minimum it knocks the bad guy to the ground and gives you, the good guy, a distinct advantage.
Practice and reps are what we need to be proficient and automatic in our shot placement. Use realistic targets rather than bullseyes or blank paper.
Practicing with targets that you can change the weapon easily from a gun to knife to a cup of coffee is very useful. If you have a training buddy, turn your back to the target and have them change the item in the targets hand. When clear, turn and face the target and determine if a shots are required. To be clear: If threat is holding a cup of coffee, he doesn’t need holes in him. If threat has a knife and you’re 25 yards away he doesn’t need holes either. At least yet. Ensure your shots are going in the vitals. Think of it this way: if you were in a hand to hand fight, you wouldn’t punch your opponent in the hand, right? Along those lines, if you’re in a gunfight you’re not going to shoot the bad guy in the gun.
When you play the “what if” game either by yourself or with another like minded individual, remember that visualization is as important as proper practice. The more scenarios you play out, the better you will be prepared if things get pear shaped. Keep training!
Jim Benoit's thoughts on guns, gear, & training
CAJUN ARMS & TUSCARORA TACTICAL TRAINING
WEST CHESTER, THOMPSONTOWN, PA