There could be numerous reasons as to why someone might want to own a firearm, but self-defense tends to be cited as a major factor. Many people who own guns will practice their aim at home or at shooting ranges; carry out dry firing practice sessions, target shooting, drawing from holsters smoothly etc. However, although practice is imperative to getting a good feel for your gun, as well as developing laser sharp accuracy, it cannot really prepare you for when you actually do need to use your gun for self-defense.
The truth is that, during a situation when you are required to use your gun to defend yourself, your mind and body is very likely to be in a state of high stress. When we are in a situation where we feel under threat or we are attacked, high levels of adrenaline and other hormones are pumped into your blood stream. This can cause many physiological symptoms, such as shaking involuntarily, inability to hear correctly, tunnel vision, crying or laughing involuntarily, and even memory loss. It becomes very difficult for you to be able to guess how you will react in a situation where you may need to use your gun to defend yourself. However, there are ways you can start to at least get an idea of what your mind and body may go through. With this information, you can prepare yourself much more effectively.
1 Become of aware of your surroundings
What would you do if someone is walking very fast and closing the gap behind you? What if you spot the shadow of a person loitering outside your house? When you are surprised, you panic. When you panic, your body releases adrenaline. That in itself is not bad a thing; after all, it is adrenaline that gives us our natural fight or flight response to danger. But when you have never thought about what you would do in typical self-defense scenario, you are likely to over panic, and this can lead to serious problems. Practice being aware of your surrounding wherever you are, whether at home, at the mall, in the park…..anywhere! This does not mean becoming overly paranoid and expecting dangerous situations to be lurking around every corner, but training yourself to simply be aware focuses your mind to possible dangers. After a while, this will become second nature.
2 Planning and practice
Many of us have been part of fire drills at work and also when we were younger in school and college. The point of these drills is to instill a sense of ‘correct response’ to when an emergency fire situation happens. If someone does enough fire drills, they know exactly what to do, so much so that they don’t even think about it; it becomes the ‘correct response’. Soldiers learn this response to an extreme level, literally practicing again and again what they would do in different situations. When any of these situations happen, each soldier responds with the correct response automatically, without thinking. Of course, no one is asking you to have this kind of extreme correct response to different self-defense scenarios, but having a good idea of what you would do if, for example, you hear someone breaking into your house, you walk into a shop that is being robbed, you hear someone being attacked behind you etc, gives you a chance to have some sort of plan in your head. You will be amazed by how just thinking different scenarios through will help you if you are ever unfortunate enough to be in a self-defense situation.
By all means do target practice when you are at a shooting range, but try mixing it up a little and try shooting man-sized targets at a distance. Keep your gun in your holster and then shoot as fast as you can as soon as you unholster. In real-life defense scenarios, it is unlikely you will have the time to take your gun out of the holster and then spend time aiming. General target practice is fantastic for improving accuracy, and it will definitely help you when it comes to aiming in self-defense situations. But you must also practice how you would unholster your gun and shoot fast.
4 Test yourself under physical stress
In normal target practice sessions, your heart rate is likely to be at a normal rate, unlike in a stressful self-defense situation when it’s likely to be beating out of its ribcage! An emergency situation will also lead to an increased rate of breathing. You can never plan completely for how you will feel in this kind of scenario, but you can get an idea. Try doing something tiring, such as some fast running, push-ups etc, and then immediately pick up your gun and shoot your target. Don’t be deterred if your aim is worse than usual, that is to be expected. Keep practicing and you will find your aim gets better, despite the raised heart rate and shallow breathing.
5 Test yourself under mental stress
You can also train yourself to operate efficiently under stress. Try organizing ‘battles’ with friends inside a building using airsoft guns, or compete in a practical shooting match where you are being watched by a crowd and barked at by a range officer. Both scenarios can cause psychological stress, allowing you to practice shooting under stressful situations. Even just having a friend shouting at you randomly from behind while you fire at a target will help.
Nothing can prepare you 100% for how you will respond to a self-defense situation, but this should not deter you from at least trying to put yourself in similar situations mentally and physically that you can automatically draw upon if you ever need to use your firearm defensively.