The Way of the Wheelgun: The Defensive Mindset, Pt 4

Posted on April 23, 2011 by

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Your Toolbox

Now we get to one of the most important and most misunderstood aspects of the defensive mindset: The toolbox. Simply put, the toolbox encompasses the sum total of the skills and equipment available to you at the time of a defensive “social incident.”

Beware the “I’ve got a gun” mindset. The saying is that “when all you’re holding is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” So it is that there is a tendency among some of us who carry guns to look to our guns as the first solution to difficulties. In fact, it’s supposed to be the tool of last resort. There are a lot of other tools you should have in your toolbox if you’re planning on carrying responsibly. Here are just a few.

Situational awareness – We’ve already given this fairly lengthy treatment. This is the most important tool in your toolbox.

  • Conflict resolution skills – Learn to apologize when it’s not your fault. Learn “turn away wrath” with a “soft answer.” Learn to speak in such a way as to make people more comfortable and more at ease instead of antagonizing them.
  • Tennis shoes – Good running shoes (and a body that’s in the right shape to make use of them) should be part of your toolbox. As Wyatt Earp said, “The best gunfight is the one that you can avoid.”
  • Willing to win and the mental trigger – This was the subject of our last post. It’s the second most important thing in your toolbox. If you don’t have this, you shouldn’t be carrying a gun.

The first three things in this list should be the first things you go through before a gun ever gets drawn. Is there a potential situation that might be avoided? Is there any way I can avoid a conflict with this person by ceasing the behavior that is agitating them, even if it means I have to swallow my pride? Is this person far enough away from me that I could reasonably extricate myself by fleeing the scene rather than shooting them?

The sad truth is that there are still going to be situations where the answers to all of those questions is “no.” And that’s where your skills and equipment come into play. And given that your chosen platform is a revolver (or maybe you’re considering it), developing those skills and equipment to their optimum level is going to be the focus of the remainder of this series.

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