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Archive | Why We Train

Building Your Mindset

Some jobs have side benefits that aren’t deducted from your paycheck. For instance, when I worked on a carpentry crew framing custom homes, instead of health insurance we received suntans, a great sense of balance, and all the strength training that could be handled during a work day. It seemed like a great deal at the time and I really enjoyed that line of work. Being a police officer is no different in this respect.

One of the largest “non deductible” benefits to this job is developing a strong sense of situational awareness. My work environment brings regular exposure to dangerous people, vehicle/foot pursuits, fights, robberies in progress, shootings, and more. This is what has become of most large American “inner” cities. Functioning well under these conditions will inevitably help build a strong mindset.

The average guy, who wants to be alert and prepared, most likely doesn’t have the opportunity to function often in these types of circumstances. That’s a good thing or we’d already be living “Mad Max.” However, without some real life experience and time/stress training it is difficult to fully develop your mindset. I want to start an occasional series of entries to share with the readers some of the things that I’ve learned along the way and hopefully help with that development.

Of course, I don’t even come close to knowing it all and I approach each new shift at work as a student of the harder side of life. Unfairness, sudden calamity, life changing mistakes, and a myriad of other dangers wait daily in the wings for the right opportunity to swallow the unwitting and the experienced alike. No man is ever able to rise above these facts and can only maintain his relationship with God and run the race of life to the best of his ability. I hope that in these following articles the readers will find at least a few nuggets to help guide the way should any treacherous situation come along.

Why We Train: Elderly Man Stops a Robbery

I always love to hear or read about common citizens who stop crimes in progress. These brave men and women take the initiative to prepare and equip themselves to defend the lives and property of themselves and others. Many good examples can be found in “The Armed Citizen” section of your monthly NRA magazine. The police can’t (and shouldn’t) be everywhere and, most of the time, we investigate the aftermath of a crime instead of preventing it.

Most likely the prepared citizen will rarely, if ever, be forced to use a firearm to stop the commission of a forcible felony. However, many hours of training and preparation can all of a sudden become one of the most important things in the world when called to put your skills into action for just a few seconds. This video is one of the best recordings I’ve seen of a regular Joe using his weapon to stop an armed robbery. We’ve all heard that, “God created man, but Sam Colt made them equal” and it’s never more true than right here.

Watch as two young thugs brazenly attempt to rob a Florida business but an elderly man, who likely appeared harmless to these brigands, sends them fleeing with some very discouraging fire from his pistol. I found a lot of satisfaction watching this man “equalize” and then conquer his opponents. America is in desperate need of more men like this who rise up and valiantly confront evil when called upon to do so!

Why We Train: Another Young Man Does Well

You may remember my recent post about an 11 year old who used a .22 to successfully defend his home. Recently, a 14 year old in Phoenix, AZ was forced into a similar situation while babysitting his three younger siblings. The home invaders tried the classic “if nobody answers the doorbell then burglarize the house” routine except it did not work out well for them this time. What I love about this story is not just that a young man used a firearm to save his young siblings from extreme danger, but the wise tactical manner in which he did so.

First, he moved the children to a safer part of the house and then he stood in the gap between them and the armed invader and took care of business. That kind of bravery and maturity demonstrated by such a young man is motivation for all of us. One of the best investments that can be made is in the proper upbringing of your children, and today this whole family is reaping the dividends. Situations like this are a stark reminder to help everyone you care about be prepared to do well during a terrifying event.

Why We Train: Moment of Truth

Those of us who take gun ownership and self defense seriously train very hard for the potential moment in time when life and all that is held dear hangs tenuously in the balance. Fortunately, many of us who prepare for this moment will never be faced with an actual test. Most of those who do face and pass this ultimate test will rarely be forced to have a repeat. Because so much is at stake, it is very important to prepare mentally and understand what you might go through. Doing so will soften the shock and leave you more capable as the after events unfold.

One of the most important parts of police and military training is receiving numerous “stress inoculations.” These are often best created through scenario/force on force simulation where the trainee’s performance is evaluated while under time and pressure. Successful completion of this training unquestionably helps and strengthens performance during real life incidents.

I want to introduce you to Jeff Dykehouse and encourage you to read his multi part story about the night he was forced to shoot a home invader in Grand Rapids, MI. The open way he shares his experience really resonated with me and I appreciate his willingness to offer the intimate details of his personal moment of truth. Fortunately, Mr. Dykehouse prevailed and has gone onto continued success in life. I hope that his story is highly beneficial to you and strengthens your mindset.

Why We Train: Legal Accountability

Action is always faster than reaction. This is never more true than in a high stress deadly force situation. It is important to properly tailor your training around this fact because anyone who is being victimized is forced to react from way behind to stop the threat. Unfortunately, you as the “good guy” will not have the advantage of being the first to act. This is why your best weapon is always your situational awareness.

Anyone who carries a firearm for protection should familiarize themselves with the important 1989 SCOTUS case, Graham vs. Connor. Here is a good summary if you don’t want to read the whole thing. While this case is directed towards use of force by police, the same principles are true for anyone who is lawfully armed. Knowing the standards by which you will be held legally accountable is paramount.

In short, the court held that any action used to protect yourself (and for the police to do their jobs) that is reasonable is legal. The court wisely recognized that these types of decisions made in a split second under extremely intense circumstances cannot be judged by the “20/20 vision of hindsight,” but only by the “facts and circumstances” known at the time. The severity of the crime and the differences in size and strength are also important considerations by which your actions will be judged.

With these facts in mind, consider the recent news story from Richmond, VA about a pizza delivery driver who recently shot a robber armed with a stun gun at around 2am. Is the crime of armed robbery pretty severe? Can anyone differentiate with certainty between a stun gun and a real gun in the dark? Were the robber’s actions inherently (and quite possibly verbally) communicating a threat likely to cause substantial bodily injury? The answers to these questions are clear and reasonable and so should the fate be of the pizza delivery driver in this case.

Disclaimer: This should not be construed as legal advice. Familiarize yourself with your local and state laws.

Why We Train: Be Sure of Your Target

Most serious shooters today have Jeff Cooper’s weapons safety rules engrained into their minds. These rules are simple to learn, cover nearly every training and real life situation, and have stood the test of time. When properly implemented they can nearly ensure the safe operation of any given weapons system.

America has largely evolved into a populous urban and suburban landscape. If a deadly force situation occurs it is likely going to take place in this setting. This means that being “sure of your target and what’s beyond it” should be of as much importance to the shooter as stopping the threat. The military maybe able to factor in “collateral damage” but you, the private citizen/LEO, will be held accountable to a high standard for any defensive action with a firearm.

After surviving a deadly force encounter, nothing would be worse than learning that your actions caused a life changing accident. No one wants to live with that kind of guilt or go through the slaughterhouse of civil court, where you’ve already lost even if you ultimately win (attorney fees and court costs = losing in my book). As a cop, I’ve seen the aftermath of dozens of shootings that terrified, wounded, and sometimes even killed people who just happened to be nearby or live in the area. The careless criminals who wreak this kind of havoc are rarely held properly accountable in our current (failing) system of justice.

Recently, a man in TN successfully defended his life during a robbery attempt in an apartment complex by a violent felon. Unfortunately, one of his rounds missed the target and went into an apartment with multiple children inside. Thankfully, no one in the apartment was injured and the threat was successfully stopped. I am in no way trying to “Monday morning quarterback” this situation as anyone who has been there knows how fast and chaotic these types of incidents are. Regardless, the incident is a stark lesson and warning to anyone that lawfully carries a gun for duty or protection as the results could have easily been tragic.

Why We Train: Fight For Your Life

Many of us prepare and train to protect our lives and those of our families, but fortunately, that training is rarely tested in a true life or death situation. It’s important to make the most of every opportunity to practice as you never know when you’re going to encounter a situation that’s truly “game on.” In addition to range training, I find it helpful to wargame different scenarios and think about what I would do if a situation suddenly became dangerous or confrontational. This is a great habit to be in as a cop, because all too often situations that I’m involved in do get ugly and it’s best to avoid being taken by surprise.

This video of a recent struggle between a Philadelphia police officer and a violent felon who has just committed a robbery is a sobering example of what I’m talking about. Lots of lessons present themselves here, but I will highlight just a few. It’s a sad commentary on the savagery of our modern society when nobody comes to the aid of the officer and the person who shot this video thought that was the best use of the phone instead of calling for help.

The officer practiced good weapon retention techniques in this situation and it helped save his life. A holster with retention is very important when carrying a gun openly in a “duty” status, but I would advise against it for concealed carry (YMMV). When the officer breaks free and goes for his gun to finish the fight, he’s tired. If you’ve never been there, let me assure you that adrenaline alone will not carry you through a fight. It will help get you off to a good start, but personal stamina is a huge factor that cannot be ignored. If you’re not physically prepared, you’re really not prepared at all.

All of us want to go home at the end of the day in the same condition that we started. It’s not a safe or fair world and a lot of things that happen in a life or death situation will be beyond our control. However, we can control our training and we should focus it on our mindset, awareness, proficiency and physical stamina.

Why We Train: The Economy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, you’re probably well aware of the fragile state of the economy of the United States and the rest of the world. I am not an economist, but the fact that we’re in big trouble is becoming more and more apparent. Anyone who at least takes a regular perusal through the daily news is probably well aware of how thin the veneer of our civilization is and how quickly it could be peeled away. If sudden economic turmoil were to grip our nation, I think it’s safe to assume that widespread disruptions to many basic services could occur quickly. If this were to happen, it could wreak havoc in large metropolitan areas.

My purpose here is not to tell you how to prepare for the possibility of tough times down the road, but to motivate you to reach out to those close to you and maximize your ability to help each other. If you need some motivation to spur you along, then look no farther than this amazingly well done five minute video. This is a problem that has no achievable political solution and runs deep and wide across party lines. Why else would a sitting US Senator feel the need to warn of a financial meltdown in 2-5 years? The bottom line seems to be that things which can’t last forever, won’t.

The sky is not falling… yet. If you haven’t done so, it seems the time is ripe to take an inventory of your personal situation. The good news is that wise and carefully measured preparations will not waste any resources. Hopefully you will find that any steps taken to improve your situation will not only provide peace of mind but will also deepen relationships and enhance your quality of life, regardless of circumstances.

Why We Train: Pass It On To Your Kids

One of the most important aspects of firearm ownership is properly passing on this heritage and mantle of freedom to the next generation. Of course, the first and most important step is to properly instruct your own children.

Imagine yourself in the following situation: armed home invaders are inside your residence and you have retreated to the bedroom with your children and have attempted to block the door. However, despite your best efforts, the brigands force their way inside, start shooting, and strike your 11 year old boy in the hip. Those seem to be nearly insurmountable odds, but this 11 year old boy has plenty of fight left in him. He was able to shoot one of the home invaders in the neck, critically injuring him and causing the other to flee.

They say “Don’t Mess with Texas” but I think there’s more to it than that which brought about this amazing end to the story. I don’t have any details on this incident besides the brief overview released in the news story, but I’m betting somewhere out there is a very proud papa who properly trained and equipped his son.

While bed wetting liberals around the country couldn’t possibly understand the rationale behind providing firearms for children and training them how to properly use them, I for one am very glad to hear this story of a family where the torch of freedom is being passed. Children are usually a lot more capable than we give them credit for. Range time and responsible firearm ownership being taught in the home is a great way to strengthen relationships and harness the abilities of our children. Say a prayer for this family and injured young hero, and take every chance available to be part of creating a lasting legacy of liberty in your home!

See the story and short video here.

Why We Train: Situations Can Deteriorate Rapidly

I recently came across an article written by a deputy sheriff in Louisiana who posted on Jim Rawles’ excellent site, SurivalBlog.com. If you have never checked out his site, I highly recommend poking around over there as he’s compiled a lot of excellent information and updates daily. Your first reaction to the story maybe something like, “Well, how come I didn’t hear about that on the news?!” I never realized how selective news reporting was in terms of crime until I became a police officer and had the opportunity to be on many scenes that received, or should have received, news coverage.

Today more than ever everything is politics. Local politicians are under increasing scrutiny to “do something” about terribly high crime levels in many urban areas. Often, part of that “doing something” means downplaying crime issues and working hard to re-classify crimes so that fewer incidents make it into the hard stats that get turned into the FBI annually. Big sports towns are especially susceptible as local politicians court teams and work hand in hand with local media to cultivate a positive image of a particular city.

I’m not crying conspiracy here, but as is often the case real truth must be searched for and you can’t depend on anybody to spoon feed it to you. Want to really know what goes on in your area? Befriend a local cop and you might get the straight scoop even though sometimes cops are punished for telling people the truth about their neighborhoods.

Anyway, I digress back to the point.  Read the following description of how fast near anarchy broke out almost immediately after a local power outage. Are you ready to deal with a protracted situation like this? Is it time to start heeding the warning signs and make that move to another location that you’ve been delaying? There are also some good preparedness suggestions at the end of the article.

Check out the full article SurvivalBlog.com.

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