Monday, April 27, 2009

The Tactical Mind

I want to take some time to give some down to earth practical advice. Lots of us carry. If you carry to... this is for you.

The most important thing in a fire fight is not the type of weapons involved... its the minds of the collective participants. You fight more with your head than your hands. So just like you prepare your hands by drilling at the range... you also need to prepare your head.

You need to develop a tactical mind.

The first step to this is accepting the reality that this is a dangerous world, and combat is not only possible... at some point... its probable. Once you've accepted that you can take the necessary steps to insure the proper response... which is to kill the sorry son-of-a-bitch that tries to bring harm to you or your loved ones.

The next logical step once you've accepted reality is situational awareness. Now we humans have been conditioned to shut our brains off and wonder around on auto pilot. If you've ever seen zombie kids with ear buds walking down the street you know exactly what I'm talking about. You don't have that option. Your brain is on... and going thousand miles an hour... every second of the day.

This doesn't mean you're paranoid. It means you're awake. You should find yourself thinking about questions. "Where is my gun?" "If someone broke through that door just now... would I be able to respond?" "What would I do?"

Now on to step two... what happens when you find yourself in a fight? For all of psychology's faults... and there are many... it has provided us with some useful information about human emotion. So we actually know a lot about what you're going to feel when a confrontation starts. Obviously everyone is going to react differently... but we can speak in general terms and can certainly give you a starting point.

You may think you'll be afraid, but that's not likely. Fear actually takes a while to build up. Fear is the accumulation of negative thoughts. You won't have much time to be thinking negative thoughts. The first thing you'll feel is most accurately described as astonishment. You'll be utterly amazed that someone has suddenly attacked you or your loved ones. Its extremely important that you are able to recognize this and act accordingly. Another important thing to remember is what to do if you actually do have time for fear to well up. I'll give you the best advice I've ever been given when it comes to dealing with fear: Get. Pissed. Off. Yes... you read it correctly. You must make a conscience effort to convert that fear to anger. Humans function very well when angry. Not at all well when afraid... and yet the two are closely related. Its remarkably easy to convert fear to anger... so do it. After all... that son-of-a-bitch is trying to take everything from you.

These next seconds are critical. Seconds is all you have. Chances are the whole fight will be over in 30 seconds... especially if you keep your head. During the fight... it will be easy to get lost in a million different thoughts... and thus to just shut down and start squeezing the trigger. It happens to cops a lot. I know cops that have sworn they only fired 4 shots in a fire fight... but had actually emptied their 9mm's mag and stuffed the weapon back in its holster with the slide still locked back.

People that shut down like that don't do very well in a fire fight.

I'm going to keep this as simple as possible. You must allow yourself to think only this:


You must see the front sight. Make yourself see it. If you see it.... you'll hit the bad guy. One drill I do is firing as quickly as possible by relying on muscle memory to let my pistol fall back to the exact same position after recoil... and trying to locate the front sight before I can double tap. If I'm not able... I slow down a little.


Its all over. The bad guy is laying dead at your feet... where he belongs. Now what? Well do you want the PC 21st century version or do you want the truth? The PC 21st century says you're going to be terrified... shaken... upset... and traumatized because you had to shoot some one.

The truth?

The truth is you're going to be elated... exhilarated...and positively pumped. Food will taste better... Beds will feel softer... and you'll be at least an inch taller. Winning a fight, and that's what you've just done, doesn't traumatize us. It fires us up.

Winning a fight didn't become traumatizing until the lawyers got involved.

So lets sum up the Tactical Mind:

1) Situational Awareness. Be vigilant. Understand that fighting is a distinct possibility and make up your mind to be ready for it.

2) During the fight... concentrate on technique. FRONT SIGHT. PRESS. FRONT SIGHT. PRESS. If you find yourself being afraid... try to convert that fear to anger.

3) After the action... try not to strut around to much.


James Dixon said...

> Its remarkably easy to convert fear to anger... so do it

Believe me, in my case that's not a problem. I've always had a hair trigger temper. It takes a lot longer to get to it now, but when it goes, it still goes; and it's not something any sane person wants to see happen.

> The PC 21st century says you're going to be terrified... shaken... upset... and traumatized because you had to shoot some one.

Terrified. Not hardly. I already know what I'm capable of, and someone who tries to hurt my family deserves what they get. Shaken and upset, definitely. Fights (and the resultant loss of temper)have always done that to me, and I doubt a gunfight would be any different.

> The truth is you're going to be elated... exhilarated...and positively pumped

I doubt I would be. I'd just be happy that we were all still alive and that the sob wasn't.

Nate said...

James... the whole of human history dictates that you will indeed be pumped up. The adrenaline will see to that.

Clint said...

When I first bought my .45, I told the seller that I needed some ammo, too. He asked which kind I wanted. I told him that when (God Forbid)I shot someone, I didn't want him to ever get up again.

You gotta think through the stuff. I have spent my whole life living out scenarios. What would I do in this situation? That one? What if someone jumped out at me there? What would my reaction be? Stuff like that.

I seldom go anywhere that I am not looking at the tactical possibilities around me.

I used to think it was a 'guy' thing. But the more pussies I meet, the less I think that is true.

It is a man thing if that man wants to protect his own...

Nate said...

A lot of us are that way Clint.. and boys that aren't that way can't even begin to comprehend it.

Clint said...

It is kinda depressing that there are so many boys out there that just don't even know how to begin protecting their families.

I have been re-reading 1984. Good gravy, it looks just like today - just a few details off...

Now, what would I do if they tried busting in my door.....

Roci said...

Today, even having this discussion gets you labeled a whacko.

Clint said...

Well, I don't that any of us ever denied being a whacko by what passes for the definition of the word today.

I take pride in being a whacko.

A prepared whacko...

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Nate. I always enjoy and learn from them.

In what you term "situational awareness," I have been practicing that since I started going out in public by myself as a teen without brothers or parents tagging along many years ago. Routine behaviour for a woman who wants to avoid mugging or worse. I can't imagine being otherwise in this day and age.

When I see people of all ages with the ear buds etc, totally not paying attention to their surroundings, I just want to shake them awake. Stupid sheeple willingly making targets of themselves.


Anonymous said...

Good post Nate. I've enjoyed my life as a scary whacko nut-job.....mthead

Athor Pel said...

Look them in the eye. Yep. The spirit inside peeks through eyes.

Anonymous said...

I like the sights on that gun. I would like to replace the factory sights on my redhawk with something similar. Mainly the front sight.

I want the delta shape on the front, even if it was a square front site with the delta painted on or an insert or something. I have square sights and want something I can hold finer for longer range.


Nate said...

Its the Steyr sights from the M40. There is a company making some trapezoid sights though. Word at SHOT was they signed a contract with Taurus.

Res Ipsa said...

Good post.

One point to add to it, the last bit should be your statement to anyone who asks, including and especially the cops. Practice saying this in your mind, "I was afraid for my life, or the life of ..." and more importantly "that is all that I have to say".

Then when dealing with the cops or anyone else: STFU!

Resolve in your mind:
1. I will be arrested.
2. I am going to jail now.
3. There is no way to avoid this. The only way to avoid staying in jail is by wining my court case.
4. Nothing I tell the cops will be used to help me.
5. Everything the cops promise or say can and should be regarded as a lie.

If they press you for details and wont let up, ask to see the DA, when he arrives ask for a piece of paper; write on it, "my statement" under that write, "I was afraid for my life when this happened. I want a lawyer now. I have no further statement to make of any kind." Then sign it and have him sign it as witness. Then under no circumstance talk to anyone about what has happened, except your lawyer.

The aftermath of doing the right thing is another kind of battle you must be mentally prepared for. Resist the urge to talk or "get it out of your system". For Heaven's sake and the sake of staying our of prison SHUT YOUR YAP!

"I was afraid for my life"
"I want a lawyer"
"I have nothing else to say".
THEN, because your freedom is at stake, SHUT UP, say nothing else about what happened.

IF you are in an interrogation room, ask "Am I free to go?" if they say yes, GET OUT OF THERE, go home, go to a friends, get away from the cops, EVERYTHING YOU SAY WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU, say nothing and leave. IF they tell you that looks bad, shrug your shoulders and leave anyway. TELL THE COPS NOTHING unless your lawyer has had a chance to talk with you about the events and your statement.

IF they tell you that you are under arrest:

"I was afraid for my life"
"I want a lawyer"
"I have nothing else to say".
THEN, because your freedom is at stake, SHUT UP, say nothing else about what happened. No matter what they tell you or what other witnesses may be saying. SHUT YOUR MOUTH!

It's as important to drill those 3 sentences into your head as it is to learn a proper Mozambique or emergency reload. After a confrontation your adrenaline, hart, thoughts and mouth are want to go a mile a minute. You will be going to the cop shop. Like as not, you will be getting a free nights (or more) room and board. Holster your mouth, staying out of prison depends on it.

Nate said...

Good point Res. Thankfully its no where near that bad around here. To my knowledge a CCW holder involved in a shooting in TN has never actually spent a night in jail... I don't believe one has even been arrested.

Still... TN is not typical in this regard.

Vulture said...

Nate & Res,

Thank you. Seriously, thank you.

I don't know that anyone knows how they'll react in a life-or-death situation. Nate's tutorial is a godsend. Having the mindset ready in advance really IS half the battle.

And Res, you are 100% correct - we are in the 21st century. Self defense is a very iffy legal defense in some jurisdictions (like, for example, the People's Republic of Maryland, where I live). You used a weapon! In the eyes of many in these parts, that makes you a de facto criminal. As with Nate's instruction, yours is an important mental preparation that may save your life.

Anonymous said...

Here in the Welfare State, there was a shooting about a month ago.

Drunk guy thought he was at his own home, but was actually two doors down. Guy inside the house woke up to him trying to break in. Warned him. Went and retrieved a 9mm. In the mean time the drunk had broken in. Drunk guy is shot dead.

I think the shooter was within his rights. He did not kill a bad guy trying to harm him, but he had no way to know that. He didn't know the guy even though he lived two houses away.

One guy called in on a local radio show and said the drunk guy only weighed 140 lbs and he should have thrown him out or sat on him till the cops got there. Works fine till the bad guy has a knife. The caller happened to be related to the drunk guy.

Anyway, the moral of the story is not to make sure the guy really has hostile intent before you shoot. By the time he's killed you, it is too late.

Instead the moral is, don't get so drunk that you can't find your way home. Bad things can happen to you.

The shooter was not charged with any crime.


Erik said...

I posted on this same thing a while back. The military acronym is OODA, Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. got a few worthwhile links at the end for anyone interested

James Dixon said...

> ...that you will indeed be pumped up. The adrenaline will see to that.

Once a fight is over, the adrenaline has always drained away very quickly for me. The after effects of that adrenaline surge are what I'm talking about. Shaken is quite literal in this case, as a bad case of the shakes is one of those after effects. Of course, it's been years since I was in a physical confrontation, so I have no idea how age may have affected things, so it's entirely possible that you're correct now.

> Having the mindset ready in advance really IS half the battle.

Absolutely. That's something I hope I never lose.

mmaier2112 said...

Good advice, Res.

When I am carrying, I usually try to scope the area more thoroughly, sit in the corner or with my back against a wall, etc.

I wish I thought more tactically all the time, but I cannot carry to work so I am not in the habit of carrying all the time. That annoys me. I'm also not in the habit of carrying my Leatherman all the time either.

Oh well.

Erik said...


In many places your car carries the same legal status as your home. I don't carry inside of work (unless there is a reason to) so I leave it in the car so I can carry to and from work. If I didn't do that there would be no reason to carry at all, because I would never have it on me.

Erik said...

Umm, sorry for the incomplete thought. Your car is your castle, so to speak. If it is kept in the car they can't legally look for it or even use it against you. Plus if you work in a decent area the likelyhood of your car being broken into is slim, and any patrols done by building security decrease that chance further. Which is good, because that is about all that security, armed or unarmed, accomplish.

mmaier2112 said...

Non issue right now anyway. I let my carry permit expire.

John Quincy Public said...

"3. There is no way to avoid this. The only way to avoid staying in jail is by wining my court case." -- Res Ispa

And that's still iffy at best.

"I intend to prove that the defendant did willfully and knowingly murder Mr. Soandblank with malice aforethought. This can be easily seen by the fact that he had a gun. A gun that was also black; an evil color. That had features intended to prevent the shooter from burning his hands; a feature not needed on any weapon intended to be fired less than 40-hundred times per trigger pull."

You can see where I'm going with all this.

"And further, he duct-taped a pen knife to the end. That there makes it an assault weapon. Which as all Finnish people know, is only good for running up on your victims so as to stab them with your firearm. An assault weapon."

God bless lawyers and here's hoping they all catch the Mexican Flu. er... Sorry, that's racist isn't it? Here's hoping they catch the Beaner Bug.

Nate: Love what you did with the place. It looks respectable enough to mispeel words in.

Menschon said...

Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

Heard that somewhere.

Roci said...

I don't know that anyone knows how they'll react in a life-or-death situation...That is such a load of experientialist crap. The whole point of training is to gain confidence that you know exactly how you will act in a given situation. Why do you think the armed forces spend so much money on it? If First time combat experience was the only valid indicater of performance, then they wouldn't bother and everyone would go into war without training.

PORCUS said...

Amen, Res. Good advice.

As Nate says, there are different attitudes in different places.

Where I live, I don't get the feeling the local cops or DA would try to railroad someone. But they are still cops...with very 'superior' cop attitudes. I don't know if that attitude comes from the job stress; or if a-holes are naturally inclined to become cops. Maybe its both.

Nate said...

I said "react" and I should've said "feel".

We cannot control what emotion is going to well up within us at a given instant... but we can control how we react to that emotion.

Clint said...

Well, boys. Looks like they aren't even going to try to hide it anymore.

GM is about to stand for "Government Motors." They are trying to give away 89% of the company to the US Gov (50%) and the UAW (39%).

If you aren't preparing for SOMETHING, you better at least start practicing how to say, "Yes, comrade..."

PORCUS said...

"If you aren't preparing for SOMETHING, you better at least start practicing how to say, "Yes, comrade...""

Listen up, "comrads". Hard times are coming. It demands some deep thought and preparation. Thinking outside the box. Possibly doing things thing invite scorn and mockery from your neighbors.

What I'm about to say will (undoubtably) invite endless derision...but I'm goin' to say it anyway.


Anybody know what's the most ubiquitous form of motorized transportation on earth? Hint: It gets 150+ mpg. Its used to tote people, groceries, small animals and children (properly secured) throughout Asia. It was the only vehicle to complete the "Top Gear: Vietnam" race without any mechanical issues. Its been called the 'AK-47' of motorcycles.

Yes. I'm seriously considering buying a Honda Cub (actually a 101 cc Taiwanese clone). Dirt simple...reliable...efficient. I'll put a gun scabbard on it and build some panniers out of old 20 mm ammo cans.

Laugh if you will. I plan to stay mobile during the Obamapocolypse.

Nate said...


You need something that actually has a suspension. remember you're going to need to be able to go places most folks can't.

Find an old jap dual sport.

More reliable. Just as simple. Far more capable.

PORCUS said...

"Find an old jap dual sport"

I have no illusions about my capabilities - either as a biker (I just got my learner's permit) or a post-apocolyptic survivorman.

I don't plan on going anywhere further than the coffee shop downtown (pre-apocalypse) or the nearest lootable grocery store (post-apocalypse).

A total societal meltdown means everyone - except the exceptionally capable and equipped - is screwed.

I'm planning for what I can realistically handle. Something short of TEOTWAWKI..."Hard Times" as my grandmother used to say.

At any rate, the scooter route seems like a nice way to get to work or run errands around town without burning much gas...important when gas is expensive or unavailable.

Clint said...

Nate, I hate to admit it, but I am a motorcycle novice. I know next to nothing.

Perhaps you could give us a post where you discuss some decent options for those of us who are considering getting one for the upcoming times.

We may not plan on cruising down the parkways, etc on them, but do want to be able to get places, both street and cross-country.

I would appreciate such a post. If it came with links and picture, so much the better.

PORCUS said...

OT -

Arlen Spector has switched the Dems the magic '60' vote filibuster proof majority.

Not that Spector was a reliable republican vote before. But now there won't even be any debate.

The Dems can simply write Obama's wished into law without any debate, hearings, public hearings.

Batten down the hatches.

Anonymous said...

I'll second the request for motorcycle recommendations for the times ahead.

Also, thanks Nate & Res for the helpful information contained in this post.


Nate said...

Ok guys... I'll have a bike post up at some point this evening. Axe and you shall recieve.

Clint said...

Cool. I appreciate it Nate. Just don't try to sell us any of your old bikes... I suspect they have been rode hard and put up wet...

Kiwi the Geek said...

Thanks Nate and Res. This is a lot of stuff. How do you actually go about developing these habits?

I've heard that you can't use a gun unless the attacker has a gun (regardless of whether he has prodigious muscles, which I can't get for love or money) Probably depends on the state, I suppose.

I think about what-ifs a lot, but in verbal terms; I'm faced with a lot of verbal confrontations, but I've never been physically attacked. And when I talk about what-ifs and try to be prepared for situations and make decisions ahead of time, I'm always told that I worry too much, you can't plan for this, etc. But I don't think on my feet very well, and even when I have a planned response, I often flub it up anyway. How do you develop this?

Anonymous said...

I've heard that you can't use a gun unless the attacker has a gun (regardless of whether he has prodigious muscles, which I can't get for love or money) Probably depends on the state, I suppose.That may depend on the state. In England for example, you are required by law to let the bad guy kill you. (practically). In most cases, you need to be in legitimate fear of being harmed.

Here, if they are in your house, you can shoot them.

As for how you get the mindset, I don't know. I don't have it either. I tend to be antisocial and oblivious. I'd bet that Jeff Cooper has a book or writing that would be sufficient to learn from.

It occurs to me that I only own one of his books.


Nate said...

"I've heard that you can't use a gun unless the attacker has a gun (regardless of whether he has prodigious muscles, which I can't get for love or money) Probably depends on the state, I suppose."

That's not true. Assuming you don't live in NYC or Chicago or Boston. If you do... move.

You can legally use leathal force if you believe there is both intent and opertunity. In other words... a threat is not enough to justify shooting someone.. but if someone says they're going to kill you, then pulls a knife out... you can shoot them.

If you live in a state where it is not that way... then you should move. Now. As for in your house.. that has no bearing on the law in most states.

Kiwi the Geek said...

Nate, any idea where I can find a quick reference to the applicable laws in each state? (WI in my case)

And by that last statement, do you mean that if an intruder is in your house, it doesn't matter if he has a weapon, you can shoot him?

Res Ipsa said...

"How do you develop this?"

It is a choice.
I choose to survive.

One thing that boys do growing up is fight. We get hit. We play at war. We spend part of our "childhood" accepting that part of being a man is that we will one day fight, and we must win. To some degree this is natural for the male. For a female, it takes mental conditioning.

You have to think tactically. Do those "what if's". Play them out to the nth degree. What if that guy crosses the street and comes at me? What if he gets a knife out? What if I get cut? The questions have answers. I'm going to place my hand on my gun, reach for the mace etc. If he draws a knife, I'm going to use the gun/mace etc. If I get cut, I'm going to keep fighting even if it hurts. I'M GOING TO WIN!!!

One day we all die, I chose not to be defeated.

That is what you have to teach yourself and repeat to yourself. "I may die, I will not be defeated." "I may get killed by my own gun, but they will have to beat me to death with it, because I will have shot all the bullets." Tell yourself, I'm going to fight, tell yourself that every time the thought of "what if's" pops in your head.

If you are attacked, no matter what the cost, are you going to fight back? Once you answer that question the rest is purely academic. If the answer is to fight, then it all becomes about the HOW. The HOW is much easier to figure out than the IF.

Raggededge said...

If someone has broken into your home, shoot them. No state will prosecute you. None. Some states may charge you, but they will drop the charges, guaranteed.

szook said...

But....but....yoda said, "to the dark side anger will lead you...."

obviously yoda was an self contraditory idiot....or maybe that was just George Lucus talking there....

szook said...

But....but....yoda said, "to the dark side anger will lead you...."

obviously yoda was an self contraditory idiot....or maybe that was just George Lucus talking there....

PORCUS said...

"to the dark side anger will lead you...."

Well...there is an element of truth to that statement.

Which is why I choose to do all my killing as dispassionately as possible. ;-)

Clint said...

I just placed an order for another 100 rounds of .303 British and 50 for my .45 ACP.

Can't wait till they get here...

Anonymous said...

Porcus, make sure you get some chaps with your scoot.
Very important equipment, as Nate will attest to.

PORCUS said...

"Porcus, make sure you get some chaps with your scoot.
Very important equipment, as Nate will attest to."

No way! Chaps are gay.

Bill said...

Gun Question;
I have a line on an older, decent condition, good shooting, offbrand, stainless 1911. Any idea what it's worth?


Anonymous said...

I'll give you $50 for it.


Clay said...

How "offbrand" is it, Bill?

As in: Made by Abdullah in Darra, Pakistan"?

Bill said...

American brand, but I'd never heard of it at the time, and I can't recall it now. I would say it's about mid-80's vintage. I broke it down and the bushing for the spring (whatever it's called) at the front of the upper was worn, but the pistol shot well. It's had some serious trigger work done and has a fully adjustable trigger, and has extended safety and mag release levers. The grip safety feels like it's been loosened up, you can easily hold it closed.


Anonymous said...

It may be too late to expect response to this post, but it raises an important issue for me that I've been putting off - I need a weapon. Something that will do the job but not overwhelm me with size, firepower and ammo cost. I can't get out of here enough to shop for one, don't even know where to go but I don't want it registered if possible. If it must be then fine, but I'd just as soon not.

The big question is...I need ammo. Sounds like there's none to be found. If a .22 will kill a man on meth, then good enough say I. But can I find .22? Would anyone sell me a box? I don't need much. The good folks in the US Army taught me to shoot. Also my dad when all the other girls were playing Barbie.

I need help guys. I have always been alert as a snake and ready for a fight, aware of my surroundings, et al, since I've have had more than one run in with losers when I lived in LA and Dallas. I tend to automatically turn fear into rage and really beat the crap out of creeps that make me nervous - I don't mean to, it just happens. Anyhow, now that I'm fighting cancer, Im just a lightweight and can't rely on adrenaline or muscle strength to come through, so Im gunna have to shoot somebody.

Would anyone be willing to help me acquire a gun and some ammo? Its a lot to ask, but there will soon be nobody in this house but me anymore.

I could just use a tire iron I suppose, but there are days when that can be tough to lift. Mace, etc. seems gay. I want an intruder dead so I can put fuzzy reindeer antlers on his head and take photos for my Facebook.

I don't like to ask for help from anyone, but I suspect this is not to be dismissed. If I'm asking too much, forgive me and we'll all move on. I want to think I'm concerned about a reality that will not manifest, but that could be the Benadryl talking.

Alex (not anonymous)