Defensive Mindset / Personal Assessment - The Decision to Defend Oneself

Episode VII / Defensive Mindset/Personal Assessment - The Decision to Defend Oneself

Surviving is as much mental as physical. Teaching the mental aspects of defending oneself is far more esoteric than teaching the physical and mechanical skills needed to survive . The world Is a dangerous place, and sudden violence can occur anywhere.

Awareness Is critical, the right attitude can save you from a fight you never saw coming. I read an interesting remark on the internet, “being armed is a mindset. You don’t need a gun to be armed.” True words that speak of the value of having a defensive mindset.

I have made a living with a weapon my entire life. In the U.S. Army as an infantrymen, my career in law enforcement, my time overseas as a contractor, and now in my role of general manager at Royal Range USA. Every day I observe people who carry firearms. Their comments and actions reveal that many of them are not mentally prepared to use their firearm. Many more haven’t taken a single training class to learn how to use their firearm properly for self-defense.

How many people do you know who have a firearm in their purse or in a glove box because someone else bought it for them and said they needed to have it? How many of those people would remember they had the gun if they were ambushed? Giving a gun to an unskilled and unwilling person doesn’t make them armed, just as giving a guitar to an unskilled and unwilling person does not make them a musician.

In my previous blog, I spoke about a number of important considerations to develop situational awareness, the foundation of a defensive mindset. Having a defensive mindset is a life choice. Defending oneself, their families, etc. starts with the decision to be mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared and proficient to the threats that we can be faced with at a moment’s notice.

A defensive mindset will help change the way you see at the world around you. Implementing the 5 key points of situational awareness are the first step:

1.     Don’t look like easy prey.

2.     Minimize distractions.

3.     Be aware of your personal area.

4.     Think like a predator.

5.     Listen to your gut.

The next step is to honestly evaluate your skillset concerning defensive tactics, edged and impact weapon knowledge, firearms experience, first aid skills, knowledge of applicable laws (do’s and don’ts), liability issues, and dealing with the after math of a defensive situation. Be honest with yourself, do you have the skills? What level of proficiency do you possess? Many people because they grew up in certain areas, either rural or urban, served in the military, or their relatives had a background in the military or law enforcement, lie to themselves and believe they are prepared.

Don’t make this mistake, do a true evaluation of the skills you possess, or don’t possess and make a commitment to become proficient. The below list of training should be considered by all when they are assessing themselves:

  • Mindset

  • Situational Awareness

  • Threat Assessment

  • Legalities

  • Patterns of Violent Crime

  • Conflict Avoidance & Deterrence

  • Psychology of Violence

  • Verbal and Non-Verbal Commands

  • Neural Psychology

  • Reactionary Gaps & Lag Times


Once you have a clear understanding on the above list, next you must make sure you are proficient in the 4 safety rules of firearms safety:

1.     All firearms are always loaded

2.     Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy

3.     Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target

4.     Be sure of your target and what is beyond it

The next step is assessing your proficiency in the 7 fundamentals of marksmanship:

  • Stance. The stance is the base for the handgun shooting platform

  • Grip. A proper grip aids in control-ling recoil and muzzle flip

  • Sight Alignment

  • Sight Picture

  • Trigger Control

  • Breathing

  • Follow Through

Once you have a solid base in the recommendations above, consider the list below:

  • Weapons Based Combatives (Standing and On the Ground)

  • Dynamic Ready and Dynamic Shooting Positions

  • Defensive Shooting

  • Marksmanship

  • Tactics & Maneuvers

  • CQB

  • After Action and the ramifications thereof

  • Emergency First Aid

  • Threat Recognition

  • Force on Force Scenario Training

In upcoming blogs, I will speak of the items on above and attempt to define them. There is a huge difference between an intellectual understanding and a conditioned and trained response through exposure and repetition.  Common knowledge is not common practice.

The list of bullet points above is obviously an abbreviated list.  However, what is important is how the suggestions above build upon one another and interrelate to create a solid defensive plan.  Understanding that these skills are indivisible from one another in a way that addresses the whole will allow one to achieve a defensive mindset with the skills necessary to apply them.