Help for Home Defense

June 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Carry, Equipment, Mindset, Self Defense, Training

shotgun and light

Or, what to have in your home besides your gun. 

Now that you’ve had some training in your home defense firearm and have practiced with it to be familiar how it operates, what should you have in your home for self-protection besides your gun? If you’re a new gun owner, all of this may seem a little bit paranoid, and I totally understand. Don’t be afraid, though, because the point of this isn’t to live in fear, the reason for all of this is to gain the confidence that IF something happens, we can deal with it. Fear and paranoia should not be our driving force, but rather the desire to live our lives with free from fear because we are ready for the absolute worst day of our lives. 

Okay now, what do you need in your home besides a gun? 

A Safe Room

If you’ve created a self-defense plan for your home and have strengthened your doors and windows, designating a “safe room” as a refuge place should be part of that plan. In that safe room, you should have … 

A flashlight or two

Ideally, more than one. There is endless debate in the gunblogging world whether you want a weapon-mounted light like this Streamlight or a handheld flashlight like this SureFire. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but my recommendation is get one of each. There is NOTHING handier for lighting up where you gun is aimed at than a weapon-mounted light, but sweeping the muzzle of your gun at everything just so you can see what’s there is not a good idea. Get one of each. 


There’s an old, old saying out there that “two is one and one is none”. If you’re relying on your landline for emergency communications, it WILL fail when you need it most. 

Now what? 

Well, for starters, have an old unused cell phone plugged into the wall in your safe room. Any cell phone with a SIM card in it can be used to dial 911, whether it’s on a plan or not. We have an ancient “candy bar” Nokia in the safe room that still holds a decent amount of charge as a backup phone, and it performs that job admirably. 


If (God forbid) you have to use your gun defensively, you’re going to be talking with the police, and that means paperwork, which you should have ready to go when you need it. Imagine that panicked feeling you get when you’ve been pulled over and you’re fishing around in the glovebox for your license and proof of insurance, but even worse. Have a copy of your driver’s license, gun permit (if needed), CCW license (if needed) and keep them handy. Those around-the-neck badge holders you get at conventions are PERFECT for this sort of thing. 

As for what you’ll say to the cops after a defensive gun use, that is another thing altogether. I am not an expert on this subject and my suggestion is do some reading on this subject and then consult with an attorney or a professional firearms instructor for more advice. 

First aid 

If everything has gone wrong and you’re in your safe room with your firearm, chances are, someone is going to need first aid, and a band-aid probably isn’t going to be enough. The infantryman’s first aid kit (IFAK) was created by the military for this sort of thing, and it’s a great way to keep everything together in one small package. Failing that, make sure there’s SOME kind of first aid kit in your safe room, and supplant that with an Israeli combat bandage or two. And if you haven’t already done so, get some first aid and CPR training as well. 

This may seem like a lot to think about, and in reality, it’s a lot more than most people think about their whole lives. I have good friends and family who don’t even have a hammer and screwdriver in their home, much less a first aid kit. How they hang a picture on their wall, I’ll never know. 

If you’re reading this, you’re not like them. You’ve realized that you and not the cops will be the first person to respond when something bad happens. The question isn’t IF you’ll respond, the question is how and with what. 

It’s ok not to be tactical.

April 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Carry, CCW, Competition, Mindset, Self Defense, Training

Shooting Shirts and stuffCraig “Sawman” Sawyer (who I met this week) has some thought-provoking words on the differences between combat and competitive shooting

Because there is no sudden, inter-human violent confrontation, civilian competition shooting simply is unlikely to present such stress on the shooter. If the shooter experiences this level of stress shooting in a civilian sporting competition, I’d have serious concerns about his ability to perform to any degree, whatsoever, in a real life and death confrontation. Conversely, just because someone has performed well in combat, that doesn’t mean they will necessarily do well against experienced competition shooters in their environment. Someone who trains extensively for perfect conditions will absolutely become very good in those conditions. We all adapt to the stimulus we’re challenged with most often. 

I agree with what he’s saying for the most part. I compete in USPSA Production, IDPA SSP and 3 Gun Tac Limited, which means the guns and equipment I use in competition are pretty much like the guns I use to protect my family. In the case of IDPA, they are, in fact, the exact same equipment as what I carry. Unlike a lot of competitors in that sport, I use an IWB holster and draw from an untucked t-shirt, rather than use a “shoot me first” vest and speed rig to gain a competitive advantage. I want the training and the practice I get ON the range to match up as closely as I can to what I’m likely to face OFF the range.  

I also agree with Craig in the futility of emphasizing “gun solutions” in practical shooting competitions. Competition, and most firearms training classes as well, tend to teach that gun solutions above all else, rather than a tiered response to different threats (or lack thereof. Gun guys teach that every personal defensive problem has a gun solution. The dojo teaches that every problem has a punch, kick or throw solution. Very few people are teaching people not in uniform how to integrate the two . 

The one thing I’d say about Craig’s article is the need for more understanding on the “tactical” side of the aisle about what we “civilians” need to know. We probably won’t experience combat, and we’re perfectly ok with that.

I don’t want to know what it’s like to lay down cover fire or call in an airstrike; that’s the military’s job, nor do I want to form a CQB stack and clear a room like a SWAT team. All I want to do is keep my family safe in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world. Nothing else is like combat: I accept that fact 100%. I didn’t serve in the military, and I know my limitations. I’m fully aware that competitive shooting doesn’t equal actual combat in terms of danger, stress level or having to dealing with chaotic situations. 

But I still want to keep my family safe. 

I wasn’t a smokejumper and I don’t know how to run a 3 inch line from the hydrant to the fire, but I still have a fire extinguisher and a fire escape plan. I’m not an EMT or a trauma surgeon, but I still have a first aid kit and field bandages nearby at all times. And I didn’t serve on the front lines as Craig and millions of other brave men and women did and are doing, but I still keep my eyes open and have the will and the means to deal with a violent threat near me at all times.

I know enough (I hope) to keep my family safe in case something unexpected happens. You do what you can, not what you should.

I fully understand that what I’m learning in the dojo or on the sparring mat isn’t actually a bar fight or a mugging. But it helps. I know that an IDPA stage isn’t really a violent robbery attempt. But it helps. I know a Figure Eight drill isn’t dealing with an active shooter. But it helps. 

Along with millions of other people, I’ve realized I am my own first responder. How I’ll respond in a crisis remains to be seen, and quite frankly, I hope I never find that out. But if it happens, I’ll do what I can to keep myself and my family as safe as possible. 

Todd Green, who has a history with Law Enforcement and is one of the top pistol trainers out there, says it a lot better than I can

Possibly the biggest benefit of competition is that it is often the most stressful shooting many people will ever be exposed to. While obviously not the same as being in an actual gunfight, shooting in a competitive event in front of peers and strangers will do a great job of showing you just how easy it is to make mental mistakes under stress. Learning to stay focused on the task at hand and building experience fixing mistakes under pressure both have legitimate real world payoffs. 

At the end of the day, there are pros and cons to competition shooting for the ‘defense-minded’ shooter. But, the pros are pretty universal and the cons are really only cons if you let them be. Because whether you stay true to your original purpose or give in to the dark side and become an absolute gamer, you’re still getting more time on the range and more experience shooting complex problems under stress. As long as you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that winning at a game makes you an honorary gunfighter, competition is a fun and effective way to become a better shooter. 

Oh, and one more reason to shoot IDPA or USPSA: They’re outrageously fun sports to participate in and the people you shoot with are some of the best people on earth. If you haven’t done so already, I suggest you find a range nearby and give them a try. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about yourself and your equipment.