I suppose I should start by asking; What are your goals when you purchase a defensive firearm (handgun primarily)? You had to have something in mind when you undertook the responsibility of the purchase of a defensive weapon. So with that you must have a context for which you chose the firearms use, concealed carry, home defense, personal protection, maybe it’s a back-up for your primary when on duty or carry weapon for off duty, maybe all the above? I expect that anyone who bought a firearm for defensive purposes set some sort of goal. Short term, long term, or easily attained or hard to achieve goals to keep you training and advancing and making you better prepared for a life threatening situation. They say set goals that are attainable. When you reach those goals set new ones to better you in whatever you do. Keep moving the goal line further and further down the field.
So if you have never really thought about it here are some goals I set for myself. Goals you should also consider as a defensive firearms owner. I will spend the rest of my life trying to achieve them and helping others who choose to do so as well by teaching and training.
I want to achieve the highest level of marksmanship and precision shooting ability in order to maintain a hit rate of a minimum of 55% when shooting under stress in a critical incident in lighted or low light conditions. I set that hit rate to 55% minimum with the understanding and knowledge of what is going to happen to me both psychologically and physiologically when under stress. Even with a 95-100% hit rate in practice, training, and competition I know my hit rate will fall drastically in a life threatening situation so I must maintain at the highest level of marksmanship. This level of marksmanship is reached by mastering the fundamentals of shooting; trigger control, sight alignment and sight picture, breath control, trigger reset, and follow through to a point where you no longer have to think about the steps when shooting. There must be a smooth consistent flow from start to finish of the process for each individual shot and into any subsequent shots that must be fired. Shooting as fast as you can and still maintain an acceptable level of accuracy to meet the needs of the situation. How will I ever know if I have attained that goal? I hope to never have to find out. In practice and training I push to get 100% of my hits in a precision shot (smallest target) in defensive shooting this is the ocular cavity of the head. Also 100% of my hits in a 8-10 inch circle of the high center chest area of the body. I want to do this shooting strong hand, support hand, and two handed. Always pushing the limits to get better.
I also want to achieve a high level of efficiency in my gun handling skills. Skills like loading, reloading, clearing stoppages and malfunctions, the draw and presentation. This is accomplished by forming muscle memories through perfect practice, perfect repetition, and high level training and learning the most efficient techniques to accomplish each task. Here again we are performing skills without thinking about the steps involved. A smooth consistent flow with speed to get on target when time may be of the essence. Bringing all of the skills to a point of response where we are not thinking about them but are doing them as a part of our response to a threat regardless of any position we might find ourselves in.
Another goal is to gain a high level of control over myself. Control psychologically and physiologically. Keeping control during the chemical dump that happens during a critical incident and physical affects that come with it. Using natural flowing chemicals to enhance performance. Keeping emotions in check. Calm, Cool, and Collected. This will help me to perform those physical skills we noted earlier at a higher level of efficiency. This done during training and stress inoculation through scenario training. The best way to master this is through actual experience in real life fights but not all of us will have that experience. That is why we rely on those who have and training. Optimal situational awareness is a part of this area as well. Always aware of your surroundings.
What is my ultimate goal? It is to be at levels, in all aspects (with or without a weapon), far above that of my attacker. To be effective and efficient in what I may have to do to save my life or the life of others. This will give me control of myself, control of my attacker, and control of the fight. The idea is to be on top of the fight and survive at all costs in a deadly situation. The more I expose myself to the closer I get to achieving my personal goals for defense of myself and others. I do all of this, as you should, in order to be responsible in actions and knowledgeable of the laws surrounding self defense should I ever have to use force to defend myself or others. I do this in order that I may act with reason and that I be found justified in my actions. I am building skills and a knowledge base in the hopes I never have to use them but will have them when I need them. Better to have the skills and not need them than to not have them and have need of them.
What are your goals for personal defense? Do you have commitment to achieving them? Many people buy a defensive weapon, shoot it a few times, clean it, load it, and put it in a drawer never to look at it again. They also expect super human skills to suddenly appear when they need them. I know you are out there. I hope that works out for you! Please for the benefit of all involved set your goals high and stay committed to achieving them.