Self-defense training? No. A fun way to improve gun-handling skills? Yes.

Self-defense training? No. A fun way to improve gun-handling skills? Yes.

One of the scariest self-defense situations is a false sense of security.

You know what I’m talking about. We’re human, so we’re superior not only because we have opposable thumbs, but because we can think, strategize, reason, and hope. The hope part, while awesome and critical to our long-term survival, can also get us into big trouble on occasion.

When most people buy a gun for self-defense, they immediately feel better, and sometimes even invincible. “Now, I’m prepared!” That’s the downside of hope.

Buying a gun no more prepares one for self-defense than the acquisition of an accordion prepares one to join the French Foreign Legion.

But don’t take my word for it. Consider the tragic case of a Franklinton, NC woman Tracy Williams. Her abusive ex-boyfriend, previously arrested 89 times, was reason enough for her to buy a gun and obtain her concealed carry license. When attacked yet again by the man, she fired once and hit him in the leg, at which point her gun jammed. She was unable to clear the jam or bring a second gun that she had available, into the fight. She ran and was quickly murdered. Her ex-boyfriend was able to not only load his gun but use it during the attack. It’s not fair to second guess the result of a dynamic situation like this, but practice and training certainly would not have hurt. Knowing “non-range” skills like malfunction drills and how to transition to the backup gun she had on her person might have made all the difference. The knowledge that a state-mandated concealed carry class is not preparation for self-defense might also have saved her life. Concealed carry classes generally teach laws, not survival tactics.

So that some good might come from tragic cases like this one, it’s always a good idea to reflect on how we can learn and do better. With that thought in mind, here are some shooting range habits that just might get you killed.

Focusing on your target

You’ve probably seen people at the range who fire one or more shots and then pause and deliberately look side to side. They’re not tacti-cool derpa warriors. They’re just developing a good defensive shooting habit.

The act of firing a handgun tends to encourage a tunnel vision habit anyway. You know, because of that whole focus on the front sight thing. And then there’s the desire to see where you hit on the target. After that, you’re focused on aiming the next shot. That’s great for deliberate and leisurely target shooting, but might get you killed in a self-defense situation.

Don’t take my word for it. Consider the case of Joseph Wilcox. After murdering two police officers at a CiCi’s Pizza restaurant, a married couple entered a nearby Walmart store. Firing into the air, they ordered customers to leave. Wilcox, a concealed carry holder, decided to intervene and challenged the husband of the perpetrator duo, unknowingly walking right past the wife, not suspecting her involvement. The wife then shot and killed Wilcox. Sadly, Wilcox focused on the man waving the gun and did not observe the other threat.

Firing one shot

In a self-defense shooting incident, you don’t get to decide how many shots are required to stop the proceedings, the assailant is in charge of that.

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